Making ‘En Chêne Hard Cider

I’ve been exploring the use of wood as an adjunct for hard cider. I’ve definitely been having a lot of fun with it. I need to not get carried away this season or I might end up aging every cider on wood. Hmmm… That might be a brilliant idea. Well, ‘En Chêne is a dry hard cider made from Newtown Pippin apples and aged on heavy toasted French Oak. If I messed up the translation, I apologize in advance for my bad French. This hard cider and my ‘Oaked version were spawned from a filtration experiment gone slightly awry. I decided to take advantage of my mishap and do a further test by aging identical bases on two similar woods: America heavy toasted oak and French heavy toasted oak. You can explore that experiment more here.

Hard Cider: French and American Oak
Hard Cider: French and American Oak

This post and the ‘En Chêne hard cider recipe page are to share how you can make your own ‘En Chêne hard cider. I definitely hope you will try it. It has already turned into a “friend favorite” as well as one of my wife’s favorites. My target was to make it like a sparkling wine with sweet vanilla and caramel notes supported by a solid acid base with some tannins. I was successful. As you will see, I carbonated this to around 3.25 volumes CO2 so I bottled it in sparkling wine/cider bottles. These used the 29mm crown caps. I filtered it, probably too much, to make it extremely clear before aging with heavily toasted French oak. I used cubes for my oak but I’ve also tried spirals and honeycomb, which are all intended to increase surface area and speed the process.

The base is Newtown Pippin apples. The apples that I’ve pressed have ranged in sugar from 1.065 to 1.072 SG and the total acid from 9.5 to 16 grams per liter of malic acid. It’s a very old American apple that was discovered around the start of the 18th century. For reference, Thomas Jefferson planted these on his farm. If you are thinking about planting a multipurpose apple, Newtown Pippin and GoldRush would be near the top of my list. They both have great texture and storing capability along with a nice acid base. This makes them good for eating, great for cooking, and with a touch of tannins, a good cider apple too. I used my current favorite yeast, SafAle S-04. Here’s a picture of the hard cider in its finished state.

Oaked Hard Cider
‘En Chêne Hard Cider

Check out my ‘En Chêne Hard cider recipe using the below link. If you want to learn more about how to make your own hard cider, get a copy of my book. It is now available in both ebook and paperback formats.


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