Last Friday night, we had a few people over the house and the time was right to break out the hard ciders. I had three to offer and here are some notes on all of them.

Cran-Apple Cider

Cranberry Apple Hard Cider

I made this one without much planning. I used Mott’s freshed pressed apple juice, some pure cranberry juice, and no other additives. It is the freshest of the three and it has a nice tartness. Knowing that Mike has an affinity for sour beers, I thought he’d like this one and he did. Although you have to think pink with this drink, I think it’s quite refreshing – not sweet at all.

Common Hard Cider

English Hard Cider

Although my hard cider recipe calls for an additional two pounds of white sugar, I made this one with no sugar and White  Labs English cider yeast.  After a couple of rackings to help clarify, it appears that there wasn’t enough yeast to carbonate it fully.  There are some bubbles you can sense at the beginning of the taste so maybe this cider could qualify as petillant. The body is medium, the apple aroma is strong and the finish is just crisp enough.

This hard cider was made with press juice from an orchard that makes it own commercial cider and celebrates heirloom apple varieties.   This one is tasty but maybe not lively enough to get high marks in a competition.  I am going to submit it in the fall to see what others think.

New England Hard Cider

New England Hard Cider

This one is the king daddy of them all. So much stuff went into this one – sugar, brown sugar, honey, raisins, maybe some light malt extract. Underneath it all, there is the vanilla smoothness from the oak spirals. It’s strong but goes down easy. Lots of pleasant complex flavors in every sip. I was happy this cider cleared really well and I have hidden a few bottles to have in a year or so to see if the flavors meld even further. It’s another one I will submit to competition to see what judges have to say.