After the first step of brewing that I showed you all in our first post, we did a quick transfer of the whole lot into a bucket so that we could clean out the yeast that had settled on the bottom. Once cleaned out, we transferred it back into the glass carboy and let it brew again for another week. We could have bottled it at this point, but we hoped that this quick cleaning out of the yeast and the settled solids would lead to a clearer final product.
After 3 total weeks of brewing and bubbling in the carboy, it was bottling time. We saved a lot of old bottles and growlers but still needed a dozen 22 oz bottles. At the same time we also bought some priming sugar and caps. (Dan had the capper.) The priming sugar is a small packet of corn sugar that is perfectly measured for 5 gallons of cider. This adds just the right amount of sugar for the yeast to feast on in the bottles to create the perfect amount of fizzy carbonation. Putting in too much sugar would create too much pressure in the bottles which may cause them to explode. (No one needs exploding glass bottles.)
As you can see in the video, all of this process involves a lot of sterilization of the utensils and a siphoning tube to transfer the cider from carboys to buckets to bottles.
We tasted the first bottle about 10 days after we bottled it and was surprised at how much of a kick it had. It was definitely on the drier side. We had been so used to sweeter ciders that are mass produced today that we didn't realize what real cider tasted like. It smelled really good and definitely held true to it's estimated 8.5-9% alcohol because we felt the buzz pretty quick. Shawn did some research and we found that back in the day of Thomas Jefferson, when clean water was harder to find than cider, people would drink cider instead of water.
Since then, we've been drinking it really slowly, taking a bottle or two to parties and enjoying a bottle between us every now and then. What we've noticed is that as it ages, the kick is replaced by a softer apple flavor. We thought it was good at first, but it just keeps getting better. We're thinking about saving a bottle or two for 6 months to a year to see how it ages.
All in all, this was a project that was not only really fun but really rewarding. It feels so good to know that we're getting drunk off of our own hard work.
In case you were wondering, the total cost breaks down to:
$60-Rental of cider press
$20-A dozen 22 oz bottles and caps (Which we can reuse for next time.)
$20-Yeast and sugars
Total: $100 (We think. We can't remember for sure. This is also thanks to our friend Dan who had all the equipment.)
For Christmas, I bought Shawn a bottle of dry cider at a fancy beer store in Wallingford which was $14. We tasted it, and though it was really good, we decided ours was better. (We're not biased or anything. :)) If we calculate the amount of cider we made based on the price of the store-bought kind, we came to over $325 dollars worth of cider. Yeah baby!
Final thought: We want to do it again.
Oh, and here is the YouTube link to the video. http://youtu.be/Qpz8AcZi8YU