I often make single variety hard ciders just to see what I will get. The worse case is that I don’t like how it turns out so I blend it with another cider or with an adjunct. With some apple varieties, I already have a good idea what cider I’m going to make when I press them. Sometimes, the inspiration comes after it ferments and I try it. Every once in a while, I don’t need any inspiration because the cider is a pleasant surprise.
Silver Sun Hard Cider was a pleasant surprise. It’s one of a few hard ciders that I have made that I could have drank right after the first racking. Normally, hard cider needs some aging to let the flavors mature and blend. I kept worrying that Silver Sun Hard Cider was going to change for the worse every time I sampled it. But, it never did.
What makes it so good? First is the apple. This hard cider recipe is made from 100% Mutsu apples, which are also known a Crispin apples in England. Like it’s siblings, Shizuka and Orin, the Mutsu apple cultivar is a cross between Golden Delicious and Indo discovered in Japan in the 1930s. The second is the yeast. I used SafAle S-04, which has an attenuation around 75-80%. This means it should have some residual sweetness, which it does. It stopped fermenting with a specific gravity around 1.010 or 10 points of sugar. That means it has around 8 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce bottle. That would fall into the semi-dry/semi-sweet range.
The hard cider is smooth and balanced. It doesn’t taste too sweet, it has nice apple and fruit aromas, and a slight tartness. Since I filtered it and aged it, it’s also a clear pale and almost silvery yellow. It’s the bottle on the right of my book cover.
It won’t always turn out this good, even if I use the same hard cider recipe. The next batch might ferment more or the apples might have more or less acid. That is one of the great mysteries and pleasure of making homemade craft hard cider. Just like wines have vintages, so to do apples. Every year offers the chance to make a hard cider that’s a little different. But different doesn’t mean better or worse. It just means different.
However, knowing how good a hard cider was one year, means it’s worth trying to recreate it again. Silver Sun Hard Cider is one of those ciders I’ll keep making because I know how good it can be.
Try making your own Silver Sun Hard Cider. Get the hard cider recipe from my Hard Cider Recipe page. You can also get my book if you have detail questions about making homemade craft hard cider.