We started making cider in our apartment in Denver, Colorado in 2015. As our friends can attest, we have come a looooong way from that first batch. We started with grocery store-bought apples juiced in a juicer in our kitchen and fermented with white wine yeast. It was definitely not delicious, but we knew it would take time and practice to learn for ourselves how to make a good cider.
Fast forward to 2017: we moved back to New York City and bought a house on Long Island. We finally had the space and access to local orchards to expand our home brewing operation. Over three years we made 40 different runs of hard cider with various combinations of apples, yeast strains, and additions like grapefruit rinds, blackberries, vanilla beans, peppercorns, lemongrass, oranges, clove, oak...you get the picture.
We also started experimenting with carbonation. Still cider is delicious, but we're suckers for bubbles. We collected empty champagne bottles from our local wineries -- yes, Long Island wine country is a thing if you didn't know -- for years, cleaning and sterilizing them so we could use them for in-bottle carbonation. We kept all the bottles in the basement in case they exploded. (To my disappointment, they never did.)
Over the years we started to settle on the elements that made our cider good -- the right blend of apples, yeast, and proportions for our four favorite varieties: a classic hard cider with Saison yeast, a cider hopped with a blend of Citra and Cascade hops, another with blueberries, and the unexpected sweetheart of the group, one with jalapeño.