Is just ironic or absolutely ridiculous that while we have planted over 500 apple trees to make hard cider, we have never actually made a home-brew? It’s always been on the list of things we will get to, part of the just-in-time strategy for the whole operation. When we took Peter Mitchell’s course at Geneva, among the many brilliant things he said was that the mistake most people starting out in the cider business make is trying to do everything. I’m good with that; we are concentrating on growing excellent fruit. Neither of us particularly want to be a professional cider-maker–there is plenty of talent out there. We’ve had several show up at our front door with amazing home-brew. I’ve been much more interested in seeing what our new friends like Travis, Brian, Charlie and Jayson will do with our juice than taking on one more thing while trying to establish the orchard.
Nevertheless, it seems like a good next step to work on becoming conversant in the craft. There’s only so much to be learned from books and workshops. And I’d much rather make the beginner mistakes with bottled juice than my own, fresh-pressed from our orchard. Before we are awash in juice from our first harvest, we have some practicing to do. I’ve had some commercial juice and the other things we need for a while. Today was a perfectly fine day to put it all together.
Like most things I procrastinate on, this was much easier than expected. It took longer to sanitize everything than it did to open the juice, decant a small amount to taste, stir in some brown sugar, tannin powder, acid blend and yeast, and put an airlock on it. Two gallon experiments are now fermenting in the guest bathroom shower (easy to clean up if it bubbles over). That’s mostly it. It will take a few days to ferment, and there are some additional steps to getting it into the bottle, like deciding if we want to add a sweetener and/or carbonate. The hardest part might be waiting!
And with that, we became homebrewers of hard cider today.