Terry Bradshaw Vermont Calais, VT Orchard-Crafted Hard Cider in the New American Tradition



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'Round the Cider Barrel

Batch Specifics



Apple Press Blog

Considerations for Operating a Commercial, Non-HACCP Cider Mill in Vermont




I don't mess around with specific 'batches' so much any more, but am constantly blending from different lots and years according to taste.  But here's an example of what I used to do:

Batch Codes

Individual batches are coded first by the harvest year, followed by a letter. 

KMS= Potassium Metabisulfite
PME= Pectin Methylesterase
OG= Original Gravity
SG= Specific Gravity



All juice squeezed on Lost Meadow Mill. Four Squeezes...

1) North American Keeve / 'Common' Cider

Blend- 2 Liberty: 1 Haralson: 1 N. Spy: 1 Golden Delicious/Pinova Mix. Squeezed 10/15/05. No OG or pH taken.  Macerated pulp for 2 hrs with 4 ml PME / 15 gallon batch, 70 g CaCl,  and 50 ppm KMS. Pinch of dry DYW-80/ R-2 yeast from morebeer added to the top of the keeve barrel (30 gallon HDPE juice barrel).

10/29/05- No brown cap, racked to cellar into two carboys.  Left behind ~ 3 gallons thickened, gelly juice/funk at bottom of barrel.

Slow, nearly stuck ferment (1.050 by 1/12/06).  By Jan/Feb she was smelling pretty funky and sulfurous, so added a teaspoon of yeast nutrient and a pack of Red Star Premier Cuvee dry yeast. Ferment picked up, settled down to 1.005 on 5/07/05, when it was racked.

8/16/06: Finished dry with excellent fruit aromatics and flavors that last long into the profile.  I am pleasantly surprised by this one, and at one point began to wonder why I'm messing with all these European apples.  Nice clean golden hue.

2) New England Style

Squeeze 10/15/05. Blend- 2 Liberty: 1 Haralson: 1 Golden Delicious: 1 Northern Spy: 1 Gala: 1 NY 74828: 0.5 Eurocider Mix (first harvest of dabinett, chisel jersey, and michelin). OG 1.052.  Added 50 ppm sulfite, 10# white sugar, 4# brown sugar, 3# raisins (new gravity 1.078). Pitched EC-1118 and DYW80/R@ dry yeasts.   Fermented in 30 gallon HDPE barrel in back yard for one month.

Racked to corny kegs 11/13/05, sg 1.072.  11/26/05, sg 1.059, added 1 lb medium toast oak chips that soaked in 750 ml Old Crow Bourbon, split between the four cans.  I also added the bourbon they were soaking in, which we'll learn later may have been a mistake.  Cold fermented in cans, vented pressure from cornies manually a couple of times a week. Racked from cornies mid February, tossed oak chips (sg 1.038) .   Racked 5/07/05, sg 1.002.  Carboys cleared well by mid-May. 

5/20/06: Nice cider taste, actually a really good batch but the bourbon flavor is a tad over powering.  I like bourbon, though, so I'll have to enjoy this batch even if it falls a bit out of the guidelines.

8/16/06: Bourbon flavor is ageing nicely and integrating well with the cider.  Many folks seem to like this batch the best of this year's, but the nearly 9.0% abv may throw them off pretty quick.

3&4) European Blends

European varieties are from Poverty Lane/Farnum Hill in Lebanon, NH. All squeezed 10/30/05. Pulp macerated 2 hrs with PME and 150 ppm KMS. After squeezing, a couple of grains each of W15 and EC1116 yeast were floated on the top. 

Blend 3- 2 Yarlington Mill: 1 Ashton Bitter: 1 False Yarlington Mill: 1 Liberty. OG 1.052.

Blend 4- 3 Dabinett: 1 Chisel Jersey: 1 Liberty. OG 1.054.

bucketkeeve1.JPG (54364 bytes)From each blend 1 carboy was fermented without keeving, and two buckets were keeved.  Initial keeve, done in cellar (~50 F) was pretty good, bottom gel but little brown cap.  On 11/07/05 keeved juice was racked to glass, where it keeved again, beautifully. Keeved ciders fermented slowly, with OG on 5/08/06 1.011, 1.020, and 1.032 on 4/08/06 for blend 3, blend 4, and blend 3+4 respectively.  SG for non-keeved euroblends on 4/08/06 was 1.000.

3keeves.JPG (80072 bytes)All euroblends were racked into corny kegs on 4/9/06 with 50 ppm KMS for dry and 75 ppm KMS for sweet ciders.

05SQ3K: final gravity 1.011, alcohol 5.0%.  Medium sweet cider with assertive tannins but low acid to balance out the sweetness.

05SQ4K: final gravity 1.020, alcohol 4.2%.  A touch on the sweeter side with soft tannins.  This is a good 'introductory' cider to folks who like (or expect) a little sweetness and less bitter bite.

05SQ3+4K: As is would seem, a pre-ferment blend of the two above squeezes. Moderate tannin level but rather high sweetness at a final gravity of 1.030.  Will be used in blending.

05SQ3:  Final gravity 1.000, alcohol 6.6%. Dry, assertive.   Strong apple aromatics with hard, bitter tannin finish. A true connoiseur's cider, and likely an acquired taste.

05SQ4: Final gravity 1.000, alcohol 6.6%. Dry and smooth, not particularly acidic.   Tannin soft and subdued, a little thin. Very smooth, easy drinking. A West Country-style session cider.

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Gingerbrook Farm mill, 10/17/14. Variety mix- 4 Haralson: 6 Liberty: 6 Nova Easygrow: 5 Redfield: 1 mix crabs (flame and prunifola). OG 1.052, pH 3.15. All treated with 75 ppm KMS. Keeved all but one control for two weeks outdoors, at about 50 F day, 30's at night.  Keeved ciders recived roughly 0.3 ml pectin methyl esterase (Thanks Gary!) and 3 g CaCl per gallon. Pretty good bottom keeve developed but cap never rose.  Racked off of bottom gel first week of November into 2003 barrel and eight carboys.  All fermented pretty slowly, with barrel fermenting a bit quicker than carboys.  Unkeeved control did not ferment noticeably faster than other carboys.  Racked all carboys 3/05/05 at around 1.025.

By mid-June all carboys dropped clear and had finished around SG 1.020.   Barrel was clear and fully dry by this time.  Three 125 ml packs Wyeast 4007 ML culture added to barrel on 5/17/05.


Kegged Carboys (04 BCDEK), transferred barrel to carboys to clear.

04 Carboys (A-E, CK, K): All keeved except control K, from above blend. All performed similarly in ferment, working slow and finishing right around 1.020. Finished very fruity, quite sweet, deep red in color, with a distinctive anthocyanin character from the Redfields.

04 Barrel: Above keeved blend, fermented in trusty cellar barrel.  Fermented much faster than carboys, and totally dry. Flavor a bit tarter, with solid Brett/barnyard character.

The best drink from these batches, in my opinion, is a 2:1 blend of the barrel and carboy ciders, making for a medium sweet beverage.  With the heavy use of Redfield in this blend, these ciders came out pink/red, so much that they were docked in the competitions they were entered in.

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Two squeezes this year:

1)Gingerbrook Farm Mill, variety mix- 8 Liberty: 6 Haralson: 4 Jonafree: 2 Nova Easy Grow: 1  McIntosh (Rogers Strain): 1 Redfield.  60 Gallon squeeze divided into two HDPE barrels with  90 ppm KMS; 1.5 oz / 30 gal NaCl; 1 oz / 30 gal CaCO3.  Left outside for ~2 weeks at 38-60 F to allow for some sort of keeve, then siphoned into cellar barrel (old Can Whiskey, used for cider in 2002) 10/19/03.  15 gallons reserved for fermentation on its own.

2) Squeeze 2, Jaffrey Hand press. Variety mix 1 Aston Bitter: 1 Stoke Red: 2 Pinova: 1 Golden Hornet Crab.  Squeezed 10/19/03. 10 gallon yield.  Added to previous squeeze, all racked (45 gal sq 1, 10 gal sq 2) into the cellar barrel.

03Bar: Above mix,barrel fermented. Bone dry, tart, tannic, and a little horsey. MLF culture (Enoferm Alpha) added 3/7/04.

03Car: Squeeze 1 only, nice slow ferment in glass.   Finished a little fruitier than 03Bar, medium sweet (1.008).

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All material Copyright Terence Bradshaw 2006-2013

terryb at lostmeadowvt dot com