Bear Swamp Orchard & Cidery


Certified Organic Hard Ciders and Apples

Racking Hard Cider

Here is part of a recent conversation with a cider making peer regarding lees and racking for those cider makers looking to opt out of conventional wisdom:

Q: I wanted to also ask you a more technical question about racking cider. I'm planning on aging our cider for quite some time on lees while in barrel, this is a bit of a left over technique from my wine making experience but haven’t done it on a large scale with cider and wondered if you've ever had any particularly good or bad results from leaving your cider on it's lees for an extended period of time? I know a lot of people rack off quite quickly but was happy to see you waiting several months. Do you do any lees stirring as well or do you just let your cider clarify?

Response: I see no real problem with aging on the lees, and we have, and do to a certain extent. I think it can add a certain flavor profile which is nice, a soft earthy kind of thing. This was our second rack (Jan 29th), the first was a couple of weeks ago. We pressed most of it in late october so we let it sit and ferment on its own for quite a while. At this point we are just trying to clean it up a bit and maybe see if we can get rid of some of the CO2 in solution. My foundation for cider making knowledge is to contemplate on how it would have been done a few centuries ago: Gather apples, crush, press, put juice in barrel, let ferment, tap from barrel and drink! Real Cider! Modern approaches are too sciencey and not enough art, and more often then not are driven by the bottom line (money).

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