Originally Posted by Bender
Hard cider in the US isn't what it is on your side of the pond, and you have what I am craving. Back about 10 years ago I had to travel a lot and did a several week stint in England. I got hooked on cider there and have been trying to replicate it since. The brands I remember are Blackthorne and Strongbow. I like both, my wife prefers a sweeter cider.
The acid idea may add what's missing in my dry ciders (where were you this morning?). How do you back sweeten? Solve these problems and I promise to use grey instead of gray and use an extra u wherever possible.
Ha ha! "we" just happen to be nearer to the source of the orignal language
As for Blackthorne and Strongbow, in truth, they're pretty low on the league of desirability to a "true cider fan" (I'll call it cider if it's fermented and apple juice if not - irrespective whether it's cloudy or not). I'm a little spoiled for choice as I live about 15 miles along the road from this hallowed site
and let me tell you, after tasting some of their offerings, you'd know the difference between "factory rubbish" (Magners comes to mind for some reason) and "real" cider
I'd guess that it depends whether you're actually juicing the apples yourself of whether you're buying the juice in.
I haven't much of an idea which varieties of apples you can get easily/cheaply, but if you went for apples/juice that's aimed at drinking, then it's probably mostly sweet/eating apples (and it shouldn't matter if, as juice, it's got some vit C/ascorbic acid in it).
Then you'd want some sharp/cooking apples or the juice of them.
The blend would be up to you percentage-wise.
Then test the pH, I like to knock it down to about the 3.0 mark or so - but again, it's up to you - here's a good link
that might give you enough of an idea as to what you want to try, though I'd suggest experiments of 1 gallon at a time - until you're getting close to what you like.
Then, if it were me, I'd be adding some tannin. I usually use grape tannin as it's easily available at the local HBS - the last batch I made was 1tsp per gallon (you might want to start/try a little less - I'm on about imperial gallons, not US).
Yeast ? well as most ciders here are between 6 and 8% ABV, you shouldn't need anything that makes rocket fuel. I understand that there's a table of yeasts around somewhere (sorry I haven't got a link for it) that says which might be suitable - I just use the one that's sold as "cider yeast".
I also tend to take a jug of the juice/must before pitching the yeast and that's what I add any of the additives too and then give it a damn good whizz in the liquidiser (notice the anglo-saxon use of the letter S instead of the Americanised use of Z) which adds a good amount of oxygen to the must/juice.
You shouldn't need to add much, if anything, in the way of sugar the juice should have enough. You'd want to be looking at an SG of between 1050 and 1060 (1060 would be just over 8% ABV).
Then it's just a case of brewing.
Once it's dry, you can filter it, then when it's being bottled between half and 1 tsp of sugar to each pint/500ml's (either direct or added as sugar syrup) to the bottle - but that will ferment a little more, naturally carbonating the stuff so to actually sweeten the taste of it, you'd need to work out how much "non-fermentable" sugar/sweetener to add. Lots of the HBS carry artificial sweeteners, some stock lactose. It's up to you.
I'm no expert I've just managed to make a few brews that have turned out well, by experiment - and read a lot of s**t about making cider. Hell, if you're juicing the apples yourself then read up about "Normandy Cider" to see the differences in how it's made in France.