Black & Gold Cider is made from two of my favorite apples: Arkansas Black and GoldRush. I enjoy eating them, though I recommend cutting up the Arkansas Blacks as they can be a little hard. However, they both have a fair amount of tannins and acid as well as aroma. Adding peels from both apples creates a very fruity hard cider with a nice level of astringency. Besides adding some nice tannins and aromas, it also gave the cider a wonderful orange color.
For this hard cider, I used White Lab’s English Cider Yeast (WLP775). This as the third pitching, or what I call generation where I harvested and reused the yeast. This yeast is expected to ferment dry but leave fruity apple flavors. It’s fermentation temperature is warm at 68-75F (20-23C). My apples yielded a starting gravity of 1.064 with a pH of 3.45 at 75.5F. I added the peels from approximately 4 pounds of Arkansas Black apples and 4 pounds of GoldRush apples. I used pectic enzyme to clarify my juice post pressing and I racked the clarified juice off the pectin dregs.
This cider is dry, mildly tart with fruity and honey aromas. It finished with a gravity of 1.001. I carbonated it to 2.2 volumes CO2, which gives it just enough carbonation to help release some of the aromas. Besides the peels, I also fermented it with a mixture of heavy toasted American and French oak cubes. I carried these forward through the aging process as well. Fermenting in oak (or with it) can let some of the tannins and other compounds be processed by the yeast during fermentation. I liked the effect. I think it contributed to the complexity of this cider, which has been approved by several friends.
Here are quick links to my Black & Gold Cider recipe as well as the recipe section where you can find inspiration from a multitude of hard ciders recipes.