Hard Cider Batch #1 – On Tap (and Kegging System Added)

As I previously wrote, I have added a kegging system to my equipment (bringing my total to about $1200 into this hobby). I picked the kegging system up at a local place in Cincinnati call Corny Keg. The place is basically a warehouse with kegs. The deal only made sense because I wanted new and I could I pick them up locally to avoid shipping costs. In hindsight, I almost still wish I went with Midwest Supplies because their pricing is just too good and Corny Keg didn’t have a distributor. Midwest Supplies actually has a “Master’s brewer’s equipment kit with kegging setup” and it comes with an insane amount of equipment for the price. Now that I’m trying to piece it all together, it would have been the better way to go.

I decided to go with two new five (5) gallon ball lock kegs and a new three (3) gallon ball lock keg, with the standard hookup and a ten lb CO2 tank and regulator. I am missing a CO2 distributor (splits the lines for more than one keg), so for right now I’m only operating at a single keg, which is fine for right now. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my goal is to bottle, carbonated, and store them long-term (years). I will do this via beer gun, and the current plan is champagne bottles, corks, and cages.

hard cider kegging system

hard cider kegging system

Back to the task at hand though, Batch #1 finally on tap. I do not have a kegerator yet, so it is at room temp (about 66 degrees.) I need to do a little more research on pressure, but for now I pressurized at 12 PSI, and after a week I would say it was too carbonated. Not a hard fix though, set the CO2 lower and bleed the tank. It’s weird though, because I saw this chart on Kegerators.com and thought that 12 PSI wouldn’t be enough at my temp. Regardless of my chart, my personal experience is that it has too much carbonation. I’m a little worried my regulator isn’t working as intended, but I’m not sure how I would actually be able to test it.

For any newbies, the process of kegging is extremely simple. You simple unlock the top of the keg opening, open the keg, sanitize inside, put your hard cider in, seal it back up, and put the CO2 onto the keg. There are “In” and “Out” markings for the CO2 “in” and the liquid “Out.” You can also tell which side the liquid is going out because there is a long metal straw that assures the liquid is sucked up, where as the other side has nothing. All of the hookups are done via ball lock and the hoses are connected with clamps that are tightened via screwdriver. Very simply process of hooking everything up, and it’s pretty straight forward. I’ll save someone some trouble though, grey or whitish hookups are for CO2 and black hookups are for liquid output (below picture of white/grey).

hard cider filling up keg

hard cider filling up keg

 

kegging hookup

kegging hookup

 

kegging hard cider

kegging hard cider

As you can see above, here is a picture of the batch on the kegging system. I left it alone for about a week to allow the CO2 to do it’s work. There are ways of speeding up the process (like rolling the keg while on CO2), but I’m in no rush.

Final thoughts on Batch #1, I’m very happy to have my first batch on keg, but frankly I feel things could have gone better. I did not care for the apple concentrate I used to back-sweeten. It’s not terrible, but I really wish I would of just bought more of the cider and turned it into concentrate. The final flavor is determined so heavily by that last back sweetener, and this apple concentrate just didn’t mesh well for me. I also think it could have aged a bit longer. It’s possible that the aging process will be unaffected by me choosing to keg, but I think it would be best to allow the other batches more time to age. Although don’t get me started about my batch with WLP775, because I just don’t see it aging into anything I particularly care to drink, but that’s another post to come.

Thank you for reading.

Update: Picture of Final Product. The hard cider has a bit of a “beer-ish” tone to it, but overall it’s good. I do detect the smallest hint of vinegar, but maybe I’m being too critical.

Nottingham Ale Hard Cider

Nottingham Ale Hard Cider

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Nick
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Great stuff! Keep posting!

  2. Hard Cider Project
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Appreciate it.

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