I just tasted my first batch of this cider. I followed the recipe pretty closely but used 8oz of Cara-pils instead of the wheat for head retention and increased body. I did this because of the various posts about how you shouldn't use wheat in an extract "brew", and so on. I used Trader Joe's organic apple juice which is very full of apple solids and seems to be good quality. I also put in some pectin enzyme to try and help clear it out a bit and stop it being cloudy. I used S-04 yeast, IIRC. No starter - just threw it in.
I fermented for 3 weeks at about 65-68F and it finished out at 1.006. It was still pretty cloudy towards the end and took quite a while to drop out compared to my experience with fermenting beer.
I bottled, waited two weeks (yeah, I know I'm supposed to wait three) and tried it. WOW - it's great. The DME and speciality grains (Crystal 60) really added some residual sweetness. On the nose it's almost like a caramel apple smell, and the taste has a strong apple flavor with nice acid bite, with a slightly sweet aftertaste. I think the balance of sweetness vs acid is just perfect and I would definitely describe it as a mostly dry cider, but not a bone dry cider. Perfect for my taste buds, and I generally dislike sweeter beers.
Body and head retention is excellent and it drinks very much like a beer in that respect. Clarity is great (perfectly clear), but the bottle conditioning drops quite a bit of sediment that pouring disturbs and gives a slightly cloudy beer if you're not careful. I'm sure additional bottle conditioning and fridge time will solidify that sediment and make for a clearer cider with easier pouring.
Anyway, Brandon, this is a great recipe - thank you! I encourage everyone to follow your advice and do the recipe as stated in the mega post with the possible exception of switching out the wheat for cara-pils - both of which should not have a taste impact.
I have thought about switching out the Crystal 60 for some Crystal 120 as Brandon recommends for cheaper/more-tart apple juice but I'm torn on that because I'm finding the current recipe to be pretty damn good. I'll leave it another week before trying another bottle as the second bottle I opened had weak carbonation.