I finally completed bottling my 2011 pressing on Sunday. That's right, in August.
My reason for such a late finish is simple: back in April I managed to trip over one of the plastic jerrycans I use for fermentation, disturbing the settled yeast and turning the cider within from the usual beautifully clear to a murky yellow cloudy cider. I thought a few months standing would settle it out, but sadly that was not the case and to cut my losses I bottled the resulting batch of cloudy cider last weekend.
I don't like cloudy cider. For me it has too many associations with either badly kept Weston's Old Rosie, cloudy fake Real Ciders whose brand names I won't mention here, and the public fixation with "scrumpy" as some kind of gold standard of authenticity. My ciders have always been as clear as I can make them.
So I'm left with 40-odd bottles of cloudy cider. An interesting pressing that suits cloudiness as it happens, an experimental mixture of dessert apples and a hedgerow find of an unusually bittersharp crab apple. I guess you'd have to taste it to understand where I'm going with it, but for the apples that went into it I think I've got the taste I was trying for. I hope after a year or more in the bottle, particularly if I let them get really cold this winter, the cloudiness will have settled a bit and I can pour a mostly clear glass from them.
Looking at the remains of the yeast at the bottom it was clear what had happened. Dead cider yeast creates a skin on top of itself when it settles, and the unexpected violent agitation had broken that skin. Pieces of it were visible, in contrast to the intact mat of yeast that is normally left after bottling.
I'll be doing my first pressing in a few weeks, the orchard is full of ripening apples. Unexpected to be bottling so close to harvest.