Final Cider Batch of 06 Racked

Yesterday I racked the final carboy of 06 hard cider to a secondary, which brings the year’s cidermaking almost to a close.  (“Racking” just means transferring the cider to a different fermentation vessel, leaving the accumulated sludge of yeast bodies behind on the bottom.)  This year we fermented a total of six 6-gallon carboys of cider, plus a 3-gallon batch of apple-cranberry wine.  That is about double last year’s production, and we’ll see how that quantity holds up; last year by the time we were done with gifts and holiday celebrations there was relatively little left for everyday use.

This particular batch was pressed in early November from a mixture of apples, largely McIntosh, Elstar, Macoun, and Wickson, with a few Golden Russets and some Dabinett that Broc gave me.  The cider tasted great fresh, with a potential alcohol of about 7%, but it acted funny in the carboy at the start, before I pitched the yeast.  Most of the solids flocculated and settled to the bottom, leaving the majority of the carboy almost transparent, more like apple juice than cider.  But once the yeast got to work it looked pretty normal, and it fermented happily enough. 

 I tried a new technique of putting the carboy out in the garage for 24 hours or so to slow the fermentation prior to racking; this reduced the bubbling and allowed the cider to clear a bit more before I racked it.  It seemed to work pretty well, and the raw cider tasted clear, bright, and pleasantly tangy, with a gravity just a point or two heavier than 1.000 and modest tannin.  It was also significantly lighter in color than some of our previous batches, almost a straw color, and I think it will turn out to be nice, light, refreshing stuff. 


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