So I'm relatively new to brewing, and due to a distaste for beer, have found a sweet haven in hard ciders.
I've had a lot of difficulties in the past finding information on how to brew ciders, as most of the information on the web has been about brewing beers.
My first attempt was with a friend, and we started off simple enough: Gallons of unpasteurized cider + yeast = hard cider.
Our results were decent. A nice clear brew, with plenty of flavor initially, and with some of the brew, we attempted cold distillation to make a harder drink (with decent success considering. Clean crisp and apple-y but to those that drank it without abandon, it certainly packed a punch). We bottled, we had bottles that popped, (I have yet to figure out how to kill off my yeast), and about a year later we went back to try the cider we bottled again. Tasted watery as hell.
Well, a year after that, I figured a cold distillation of the pre-fermented cider (basically freezing and draining while it melted, creating a more concentrated, sugary, apple-y cider while having mildly cider-y ice crystals remaining), and a reduction from about 20 gallons of cider to 10 gallons of my more concentrated cider, (not exactly 2-1 but tried for close) would help decrease the water content, and thus, hopefully, turn out a better flavored brew. Freeze distillation was chosen because I hadd read that heating the cider could have some interesting effects on activating the gelling properties of the pectin among other things.
The experiment went all right, except for a few small hiccups. The concentration did some wonky stuff to how the brew reacted. After a month or so with no bubbly action seen within the air lock after about 2 months, I racked with the hope of introducing more yeast and seeing what happened. Big surprise when the carbonation was indeed present in the brew, but simply due to forces I do not understand, the carbonation did not release. (BTW, the watery excess from my pre-fermentation seemed to ferment on its own possibly from wild airborne yeasts QUITE fast). It also tasted sugary, but a bit bitter, which discouraged little old second attempt me. I stuck with it though and racked every two weeks. I ended up with a cloudy but gorgeously tasting cider about 5 months in. Because it was cloudy I decided to give it a bit more time before bottling. Instead I ended up with a sour (but no bitter) brew that somehow still got notice from those I tested it upon. (most of the beer brewers I talked to said "not enough sugar" but "had some really wild complexities"). I let it sit for the rest of the year, undisturbed, until I tossed it almost exactly a year after starting it to start a fresh batch. Reading a little on the forums about how aging in bottles can really affect that taste profile, I truly regret doing so (or at the very least, I should have tried it a year later).
So this year, it's back to the drawing board. Doing much the same as the second attempt, but with the first racking closer to the 3-4 month mark (just did the first racking at about a week and a half ago), but am hoping to add sugar at future racking intervals, possibly by using a mixture of raw sugar and apple juice (basically as a medium closer to the cider I started with, rather than diluting with water).
A secondary experiment is going with 3 gallons of Pomegranate juice with additional raw sugar (no concentrating), which seems relatively promising thus far.
Using WP720 yeast this year, mainly choosing it on the fact that a mead yeast might deal with a syrupy starter better, but Mostly with this project I'm heading into no mans land from what I can see, and am just having fun with it.
I'm more than happy to take any advice you all might have, especially if you have any about the addition of sugars, and anything that might help me in killing of my yeast and stopping the brewing when it's time (obviously something I haven't done well the first time 'round).
But anyhow, Hello!