On October 11th, 2010, I added a couple pounds of brown sugar to five gallons of unpasteurized, preservative-free, freshly-squeezed apple juice, along with a packet or two of champagne yeast, and then ignored it for almost three months. Today I decided to taste it.
For some reason I didn't record exactly what I put in the initial wort (uh, I don't actually think it's called "wort" when brewing cider; I don't know what the correct word is), but it was something like:
- 5 gallons apple juice - freshly-squeezed, unpasteurized, un-preserved from Sweetland Orchard
- 2 pounds brown sugar
- 2 sachets yeast (two different kinds of champagne yeast, but I don't recall what kind, specifically)
I did, however, record the original specific gravity of said mixture (1.062 @ 80°F ~> 1.064) Here's a short video of the airlock on October 12th - the day after I started fermentation. The yeast was very excited to convert sugar into alcohol!
Fermentation remained quite vigorous for the first couple weeks and then slowly tapered off. As long as the airlock continued to bubble I was content to leave it alone. Recently, though, all signs of fermentation have ceased, so I decided it was time to take a peek. I removed the airlock and decanted 3/4 cup to see how it was doing. I first measured the specific gravity (.996 @ 57°F ~> .9955) and calculated an alcohol concentration of 9.0%: somewhere between a very strong cider and somewhat weak apple wine. Then I was obligated to taste it. It's difficult to describe in text; suffice to say I was not unhappy with it. Definitely tastes of apples, somewhat more sour than I expected it to be. Very dry (as intended) and still a bit yeasty (it hasn't been through any clarification processes, nor do I intend to do that). At this point it's sufficiently drinkable but since it's completely flat I'm not done with it yet.
The next thing I'm going to do is clean & sterilize twenty 1-liter bottles, put a tablespoon or two of sugar into each, fill them with cider and cap them off. Hopefully, fermentation will re-start and the little yeasties will convert that additional sugar into a little more alcohol and plenty of carbon dioxide gas. In a sealed vessel this process should carbonate the beverage within a couple of days.
Finally, they'll go in the fridge (to stop fermentation lest the bottles explode) and, shortly thereafter, they'll go into my tummy.