I have to admit, one of the things I like the most about making hard cider is how easy it is.
I’t’s not much cheaper than beer though. Off the shelf grocery store apple juice is still 3-6$/gal and local fresh stuff can be even more. Getting my hands on 5-6 gallons of fresh pressed juice from a local orchard is the goal, since if I am going to the trouble, I want to at least start with something a bit better than “Tree-Top” or “Langers”. Even though those would work.
My hope is that showing up at the local orchard with a 6 Gal carboy might get me something right off the line. This would be good for two reasons: One, you cant it get it any fresher than that, and two, if you can catch it before they pasteurize, you have to option of letting the naturally occurring yeasts on the apples go to work. It’s a bit of a gamble though.
I’ve done cider a few times before. A couple of them I have “iced” into a Apple Jet-fuel product typically called “Apple Jack” and it was pretty popular when I brought it to a couple beer nerd gatherings I’ve attended over the last few years. Fractional freezing is technically the process and I’ve posted about it before.
Here is a forum thread clearly documenting the many processes and options as far as yeast, whether to pasteurize or not etc. I’ll be making some cider this winter and trying a few methods