When I sought advice on making cider last year, the one thing everyone agreed on was timing – I should, the local gurus all said, leave it at least a year.
I don’t think my fermentation conditions were the best, truth be told. I put the vessels in the cupboard under the stairs, which is dark, but not particularly cool.
I also managed to grow mould in one of the carboys, but I’m pretty sure this is because (a) the carboy didn’t have a proper stopper (b) I had an accident with the emergency coronavirus flour sack and scattered the stuff all over everything. None of the other carboys, which were all properly sealed, had this issue.
I did try this cider at three months and at about eight months to see how it was developing. It was pretty raw but not totally unpleasant at three months.
At eight, it had begun to taste pretty mature and, it turns out, didn’t change much in the months that followed.
So how is it now?
It’s a gorgeous pale gold and very clear.
The aroma is ever so slightly vinegary, which isn’t a good sign, although the acetic aroma dissipates quickly and doesn’t carry through into the taste.
It is very dry, unsurprisingly, but I found a teaspoon of sugar per pint was enough to take the edge off.
I was very pleased with the taste and aftertaste. It has a crisp, clean, fresh apple character that hangs around for a while and does what cider should: brings the tree back to life, even when it’s out there, stripped and spindly.
Its ABV is about 6%, which appears to be the standard strength for cider.
On the whole, I’m pretty happy with the end product and look forward to seeing how it develops in the bottle. We didn’t add any further priming sugar or sweeteners but, even after a fortnight, there’s a slight hiss on opening, but no fizz.
It mulled nicely, too, providing a great baked apple background to clove and cinnamon.
We would have liked to make another batch this year but there was no way we were going to go to all that labour on our own, and obviously, our plans for a neighbourhood cider pressing party couldn’t go ahead, coz, Plague.
We’ll do it again one day, though, despite the fact we’re moving away from our lovely apple tree. Much like George’s Marvellous Medicine, there’s no way I’ll be able to recreate the serendipitous blend of varieties donated by our kind neighbours so it will be like doing it for the first time again. Next time, though, we’ll definitely use a straining sock.