BJCP feedback, one dimensional

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Jul 28, 2016
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Lee's Summit
I just started getting into cider making about 6 months ago. I have not done much reading on the subject at all. I have been making beer since 2016, but not all of my friends/neighbors enjoy beer like I do. I tried my hand at making a simple cider and I ended up winning a festival and scaling up at a local brewery. As many of you know, festivals and BJCP competitions are two different animals. I am happy with a score of 35, but I want to improve my score. I have attached the scoresheets as an example of the comments I have received for my tart cherry cider.

I have entered that cider into a couple of comps now and I am getting the same feedback: one-dimensional. My recipes are very simple, so the note seems correct. I use generic store bought apple juice, ferment with nottingham, add 3 pounds of tart cherry puree to secondary, and back sweeten with juice/flavors to a specified gravity number. I don't pick and press mine own apples, I don't have that kind of time. One judges sheet mentioned lack of tannins. Will adding tannins add depth and complexity? Does actual cider have a more complex depth of flavor?

All thoughts and opinions are welcome.


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Acid and tannins are a requirement in cider, and such comments from judges are common. Ideally both should come from the apples, but with store bought juice and even with fresh pressed from an orchard that's not always possible. If you consistently get the same comments (as I have) You need to start experimenting with additions after fermenting. Acid is easy, powdered malic acid is available. Tannin is a bit tougher because it takes 3 weeks or more before the effects are evident. A white wine tannin like FT Blanc can be added at pitch, but how much would depend on what you're starting with. My problem is that I don't know anyone with a trained pallet who can identify what needs to be added. This year's cider was secondary on oak for a couple months, so I better not get "needs tannins" comments come comp time.

36 isn't bad at all.
Tart cherries have plenty of tannin.

Competitions are always a crapshoot. If you enter some more competitions, you might get higher scores, and no other judge might say anything about insufficient tannin. Don't take one judge's word on anything! I always recommend entering each beverage into AT LEAST 3 competitions, then pay attention only to the feedback that makes the most sense to YOU, and toss out the others.

Your scores look great. I would see no reason to change anything at all. If anything, I might seek out some more complex apple juice, and/or maybe juice some crabapples which would increase tannin and acidity and complexity. But that's really just being picky IMO.

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