How Is Cider Made?
One of the biggest questions we get is “how is cider made”? So today we are taking a deeper dive into the process of making cider from apple to glass.
Step 1 – Harvest
Simply, cider is made from apples and fermented with yeast to create alcohol. The cidermaking process is similar to winemaking, except we start with apples instead of grapes. Cider starts in the apple orchard. Every fall, orchardists harvest their fresh apples for eating and for making cider. Most of our cider is made from what we call “dessert” apples, which basically means it is made from a blend of apples that you would typically see in the grocery store. Think Golden Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, Gold Rush, Fuji etc. Traditionally, cider was made from cider apples. These apples are much too bitter to eat fresh, but they make fantastic cider. These apples are in very short supply in the US, but we hope to use them to make special releases.
Step 2 – Press
These freshly picked apples will then be cleaned and pressed into juice. Century Tree Cider will use 100% fresh pressed juice in every cider we make. We will not use apple concentrate that has been reconstituted with water.
Step 3 – Ferment
Here’s where the fun begins. When our fresh juice arrives, it will be pumped straight into one of our stainless-steel fermenters. If we are co-fermenting with another fruit, we will also add it into the fermenter. We will then add a commercial yeast and nutrient to help kick off fermentation. We typically use a white wine yeast, but occasionally we experiment with beer and wild yeasts. We tested over 15 different yeasts before we decided on our house yeast. We take scientific trials seriously here at Century Tree Cider. Our cider is fermented at a low temperature to complete dryness. The glycol jacket on the fermenter allows us to maintain a constant low temperature, even in those hot Memphis summers. It may take longer, but it makes a difference.
Step 4 – Blend
Once the cider has finished fermenting, it will be racked to another tank for blending. Racking is a term that refers to moving or pumping the cider from one vessel to another. It is important to rack cider because during fermentation the yeast dies and falls to the bottom of the fermenter. The dead yeast, or lees, continue to break down and can cause off flavors or odors in cider if left in contact with the cider for too long. Once the cider is racked into the blending tank, the magic begins. Blending can be as simple as combining different blends of cider to create a complex, original dry flavor. It can also be as complex as adding multiple different types of hops, fruit juices, honeys, botanicals, and spices. Our blended cider then sits and ages anywhere from 2 weeks, for our typical ciders, to months or even a year for special releases. We won’t stop at ordinary cider.
Step 5 – Bubbles
Once blended and aged, our cider will be transferred to the brite tank. A brite tank refers to a tank that allows for carbonation. Unlike most cideries, who typically filter their cider before transferring to a brite tank, our cider will be completely unfiltered. This allows us to keep a rich mouthfeel and not strip our cider of all its deliciousness. We worked so hard to ferment and blend an innovative cider, why would we want to filter all of that back out? After arriving in the brite tank, the cider will be lightly carbonated to add a few bubbles.
Step 6 – Package
Our cider has finished its process and is ready to be packaged. We will package the cider in kegs for your favorite in house experience. If you would like to take the party home, our cider will be available in crowlers to go from the taproom. Our goal is to eventually start packaging our cider in 12 oz cans available throughout Memphis.
Step 7 – Drink
Finally, you can enjoy your new favorite cider!