I'm just getting in to this cider/wine making hobby I've been trying to read up, but I want to be sure I understand a few things as I plan for some future equipment purchases.
I started out simply because I had a surfeit of apples this year and decided to try pressing my own juice. I kept most of it sweet for my daughter, but put about a gallon in a wine jug with a packet of yeast to see what would happen. It's progressing nicely. I don't expect anything great, but I'm sure it will at least be drinkable.
In the meantime I read about EdWort's Apfelwein. I happen to have a 5 gallon glass carboy that I inherited from my grandfather that I never had a use for. I decided to give the apfelwein a try. It is also now happily bubbling away.
It was so easy that I am now really taken with idea of producing all my own tipple. Obviously I want to see how this batch turns out and see how I like the taste before I start buying $100s worth of equipment, but I've got a number of questions that will hopefully set me on the right path going forward.
Ultimately, I'd like to be able to make semi-dry sparkling cider/apfelwein. From what I've read it seems that a good way to accomplish this is ferment dry, bulk age to improve the flavor, then keg it with an overdose of priming sugar and cold crash it before all the sugar is consumed. Is this about right?
One issue I have is that I have no kegerator and will likely never get one. I've looked into the Tap a Draft system and it seems promising for what I want to do. So... can I:
1) Ferment my juice in a 6 gallon bucket.
2) Rack to a 5 gallon carboy for secondary fermentation (perhaps with a little flavored simple syrup or frozen fruit for flavor variations)
3) Bottle in TAD bottles or gallon jugs or something similar for bulk aging.
4) After aging add enough priming sugar to carbonate and leave some residual sweetness then leave at room temp just until bottle is firm.
5) Put primed bottles in fridge to cold crash and dispense using TAD system.
Is this a reasonable sounding method or do I need to go back to the drawing board?
Alternatively I've thought about stabilizing with sorbate and kmeta after aging, then back sweetening and force carbing, but that would require more hardware and increased cost for CO2.
Am I on the right track? I appreciate your thoughts.