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Home Brewing – Progress Update – Taste Testing

Today is another update on my first attempt at home brewing hard cider. In earlier posts, I talked about the 5 batches I started and gave progress updates. Links to those are in the resources section at the bottom of this post. The first bottle have been in the refrigerator for a couple weeks so we decided it was finally time to do some taste testing. My friend Ken came over to help with the “work.”

My First 5 Batches of Cider Fermenting

My First 5 Batches of Cider Fermenting

Cider Bottles

Cider Bottles

To review, here are the details of each batch:

Results:
Batch 1:
• Whole Foods organic unfiltered pasteurized apple juice with 24 grams of sugar per 8 ounces ($9)
• 2.5 grams Red Star Montrachet champagne yeast
Taste Test Result and Observations: This one was still cloudy. Since it started with unfiltered apple juice, we weren’t surprised or bothered by this. We tasted both the still and primed bottles of this batch. The still bottle actually had a little carbonation, which tells us the fermentation process wasn’t quite done. The primed bottle had more carbonation and we both preferred that one.

Batch 2:
• Kirkland (Costco) fresh-pressed apple juice with 26 gm sugar per 8 ounces ($4.50)
• 2.5 grams Red Star Montrachet champagne yeast
Taste Test Result and Observations: We only tasted the primed bottle of this one. It wasn’t quite as good as the batch 1 and almost seemed a little watered down.

Batch 3:
• Kirkland (Costco) fresh-pressed apple juice with 26 gm sugar per 8 ounces ($4.50)
• 4 grams Safale S-04 dry ale yeast
Taste Test Result and Observations: We didn’t taste this batch.

Batch 4:
• Motts apple juice from concentrate with 28 gm sugar per 8 ounces ($3.50)
• 4 grams Safale S-04 dry ale yeast
Taste Test Result and Observations: We tasted the primed bottle of this one. It was clear and had good carbonation. It was probably in between the other two but still not quite as good as the first batch.

Batch 5:
• Motts apple juice from concentrate with 28 gm sugar per 8 ounces ($3.50)
• 4 grams Safale S-04 dry ale yeast
• ½ cup Agave nectar added (128 grams of additional sugar)
Taste Test Result and Observations: We also only tested the primed bottle of this one. It was cloudy. Since this one started with filtered apple juice, I’m not sure why it was still cloudy. Maybe because it had the added agave nectar, it might not be done. It had the strongest carbonation. It probably had the highest alcohol content, but it still wasn’t quite as good as the first one.

Conclusions
First, I should admit this wasn’t a true taste testing. I think you’re supposed to taste them but not drink them. There was no way we were wasting it!

Overall I thought the first batch was the best. All of them tasted more like a white wine than the backsweetened store-bought products. There wasn’t much apple flavor to it. It was a taste that could grow on me. It probably shouldn’t surprise me that the organic unfiltered apple juice seemed to produce the best finished product.

While I felt the first batch was the best, it is also possible that the results became skewed as we did more taste testing. I was definitely feeling it. I’m no expert, so more taste testing will be necessary to be sure.

Please share your thoughts and opinions in the Comments.
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1 comment to Home Brewing – Progress Update – Taste Testing

  • Ken

    This was my first tasting of home brewed hard cider. I haven’t had many commercially produced ciders but I think I’ve had enough to compare.
    These were definitely not like the commercial hard ciders that were really sweet and strong apple flavor. They were closer to white wines.
    Jack did the note taking of the different types and did a great job of documenting our opinions as presented in this post.
    It seems the unfiltered cider did do the best.
    I dont think we can say there was any difference based on the yeast types used.

    I look forward to trying out a few more variations. -Ken

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