So, Just a quick update:
All the cider is finished and almost all gone now.
But here's what I went with and how they turned out.
For all the recipes below, I let the original 5 gallons of cider and 3lbs of honey ferment for 2 weeks through primary. After that I split the batch as outlined below.
For the original cider (Through Primary):
1) Pear Ginger:
I added 1qt. of R.W. Knudsen's Organic pear juice and a piece of ginger about the size of my thumb (very scientific I know) to a one-gallon jug and topped off with cider. The ginger was julienne to get more surface area. This sat for 3 weeks in secondary before being moved to tertiary for an additional 2 weeks. Priming and Back sweetening was accomplished with some frozen AJC.
2) Black berry cider
I took a pound of frozen black berries and soaked them in vodka for a bit, then put them in a one-gallon jug and topped off with cider. These sat in secondary for 3 weeks and tertiary for 2 weeks as well. Priming and Back sweetening was accomplished with some frozen AJC.
3) Pomegranate cider
This cider had 12.5 oz. of Lakewood Organic Pomegranate concentrate added to it. Same fermentation schedule as the previous two. I added the concentrate to secondary in this one to see how much of the tartness of the pom concentrate would be removed in fermentation. Priming and Back sweetening was accomplished with some frozen AJC.
4) Black Cherry Cider.
This Cider sat in a 3 gallon secondary as just cider. I then used 12.5 oz. of Lakewood organic Black Cherry concentrate as my priming sugar when bottling to maintain as much of the cherry flavor as possible.
5) Hopped Cider.
Similar to the Black Cherry, this sat in secondary with the remainder of the cider till roughly 4 days before bottling. I added 1oz of Cascade whole leaf hops to a gallon jug and then filled with cider. Let is sit the four days. Priming and Back sweetening was accomplished with some frozen AJC.
6) Just plain cider, no back sweetener or priming. Sort of the control group if you will.
Official tasting results with random scores!
#6) 8 points - Plain Cider. Without any AJC to back sweeten it was very dry and lacked body
#5) 14 points - Pom Cider - Lacked some carbonation and still held onto the pucker factor of the tart pom concentrate
#4) 28 points - Pear Ginger - This was my second favorite but I think the pear was a bit subtle and lacked some pop but with a good mouth feel.
#3) 30 points - Black Berry - Very clean but more subtle than the others since it was whole berries and not a juice concentrate.
#2) 31 points - Black Cherry - Definitely more fruit forward and sweeter since the black Cherry was used for back sweetening.
#1) 36 points - Hopped Cider - Hands down the crowd favorite. The AJC added some body and the hops added so much complexity to cider. Definitely my favorite and it won over even non-beer drinkers, which was surprising. Since the hops weren't boiled there was no bitterness, just aroma and taste. Delicious.