In the realm of craft beverages, few pleasures compare to the crisp, refreshing taste of a well-crafted glass of artisanal cider. The process of cider making is a captivating blend of science and art, where nature's bounty is transformed into a drink that delights the senses and awakens the palate. Join us on a journey through the apple orchard, presses, and fermentation vessels as we explore the intricate world of cider making from orchard-to-glass.
The Orchard: Nurturing the Apples
Every cider journey begins in the apple orchard, where rows of trees stand tall and proud. The choice of apples is pivotal in cider making, as different apple varieties contribute unique flavors, sugars, and acids to the final product. Traditional cider apples, often referred to as "bittersweet" or "bittersharp" apples, strike a balance between the cider tasting too sweet or too tart. These apples are distinct from the commonly consumed "dessert" apples, which tend to be sweeter. Stable Craft sources our Virginia apple varieties from Silver Creek Orchards to retain the highest quality and locally derived ingredients.
Harvesting the Bounty
The art of cider making lies in the careful selection and timing of the apple harvest. Apples should be picked at the peak of their ripeness, as this ensures an optimal sugar content and flavor profile. Handpicking apples minimizes bruising and ensures that only the best fruit makes its way to the press.
From Orchard to Press: Crushing and Pressing
Once the apple varieties are harvested, they embark on their transformational journey. The first step is crushing the apples to create a pulp, often referred to as pomace. This can be achieved using a range of equipment, from traditional wooden presses to modern mechanized systems. The pomace is then pressed to extract the precious juice, which forms the foundation of the cider. Our juice leans to the slightly more acidic side of the pH scale, which results in a semi-sweet/dry cider.
The Alchemy of Fermentation
With the apple juice extracted, the magic of fermentation takes center stage. Yeast, those microscopic organisms, are introduced to the juice. As they consume the sugars in the juice, they produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. The type of yeast used and the fermentation temperature greatly influence the final flavor and aroma of the cider. This is where our artisanal cider maker's expertise truly shines, as they guide the fermentation process towards the desired outcome.
Blending and Maturation
Much like a symphony conductor blending different instruments to create harmony, our cider maker blends various batches of cider to achieve a balanced and nuanced flavor profile. Some ciders are best enjoyed young, while others benefit from aging, often in oak barrels. The maturation process imparts complexity, depth, and character to the cider. Post fermentation, our Brazen Cider is 8% ABV and then we blend it down to 5% ABV to make it an easy-drinking cider. Looking ahead, Stable Craft Cidery is focusing on new flavors that will bring a higher ABV dry cider and a granny smith apple cider to the taps. Featuring strong aromas of green apple on the nose with notes of tart apple on the palate, Sly Dry Cider 8% ABV will be releasing on Friday, September 8th! Make sure you come out to Stable Craft for a cider tasting and follow us on social media to stay up to date on future cider events!
Cheers to Cider
The culmination of the cider-making journey is the joyous moment when a glass of the finished product is raised for a cider tasting. The aroma dances from the glass, and the first sip offers a symphony of flavors that speak of the orchard's terroir and the cider maker's skill.
Artisanal cider making is a timeless craft that intertwines the natural world with human ingenuity. From orchard-to-glass, every step in the process is a testament to the rich tapestry of flavors that the earth provides and the craftsmanship of those who transform them. So, the next time you savor a glass or cider flight of Brazen Cider, Just Peachy Cider, or Blackberry Cider, remember the journey it took, from the carefully tended apple orchard to the skilled hands that nurtured its transformation.