I have always loved apples.

As a kid, one of my favorite parts of Autumn was the apple harvest. Roadside stands with bushel baskets of apples seeming to reach the rafters. Jugs of cider, not Pomme Sunday but the sweet kind, filled from a spigot sprouting from a wooden barrel.  Apples for pies, apple cake, applesauceā€¦and even applesauce cake!  I grew up with all of it. 

That was in Connecticut, but eventually I made my way to the Hudson Valley and Catskill, New York. 



For years my friend Mike and I talked about making hard cider.  He grew up in Saugerties with cider that his grandfather fermented in the cellar under the house. The same wooden barrels with bung stoppers and a wooden spigot.  Raisins added for the yeast on their skins, a couple of orange peels for flavor and lots of brown sugar to supplement the apple sugars and take the ABV through the roof.

Mike and I would always talk of buying fresh juice from one of the orchards across the river and trying our hand at the old craft, but Fall would pass to Winter and somehow we never got around to it.  Then seven years ago we made that first batch of cider.  Our technique was composed of equal parts Mike's memories and stuff gleaned from the internet.

You could drink it but, really, it was terrible.


It got me wondering just why

it hadn't tasted, well, great. 

All the ingredients were good

so it should have been fine.  I started researching the topic and quickly realized that the simple process was incredibly complex when you looked beneath the surface. Magical really, in the way that we humans have used the yeast organism's judo moves to transform simple juice into a wonderful elixir.

The next year I made 20 gallons and it was pretty good.  I looked at all the craft breweries that were springing up and making great beer and thought, "Yeah, I could do the same thing with cider."

And here we are today...

MIKE & I drinking fresh-pressed juice.