Cider Corner: Why Some Cidermakers Say Raw is the Way to Go

There’s more than one way for cidermakers to get the apple juice they need to make cider.

Among those ways is using raw apple juice — the method some cideries believe produces the best end result.

Passionate about Fresh, Raw Juice

Benny Farber, co-founder of Benny Boy Brewing in Los Angeles, said raw apple juice was best for fermentation and was overall way more dynamic than other forms of apple juice that cideries turn to.

“Our approach to cidermaking is to let nature do the work and let the apples shine,” Farber said. “With raw juice, you get the apple juice in its purest form. Pasteurized juice tastes different because it’s cooked. You can taste the difference even at the end of fermentation.”

​Twin Star Orchards and Brooklyn Cider House​ use​ a mix of cider apples and heirloom apples and let the flavors shine on their own.

​Founder and Cidermaker Peter Yi said they try to keep it as pure as possible.

​”​We never add any additional flavors​,” he said​. ​”​Our Raw and Half Sour both undergo wild fermentation, so we want consumers to know they are natural ciders.”

Challenges and Work-arounds

The challenging part at the beginning was finding raw juice at commercial volumes, and also a place to store it, Benny Boy co-owner Chelsey Rosetter said.
“Because we’re dedicated to using only California apples, we had to work hard to find an orchard that could produce the volume we need, while not being too far away,” Rosetter explained. “Apples are only harvested once a year, so we really have to plan ahead. We met Jake Mann from the Five Mile Orchard a few years ago, and his third-generation family-run orchard up in apple country, Watsonville, California, was the perfect fit for us.”

Brooke Glover of Swilled Dog told Brewer in a previous interview her cidery needs to honor apples as the main ingredient, but believed complementary flavors in cidermaking were OK, as was sourcing juice to work though your orchard’s limitations.

READ MORE: Letting Apples Speak for Themselves

“Additional flavors are meant to complement the amazing apple flavor,” she told Brewer. “Consumers are still interested in sweeter ciders but I believe would be more interested in drier ciders if they were able to find and explore them on the shelf at the retailer level.”

Glover said that although Swilled Dog make​s its own juice​, it​ also supplements​ with other juice since most of ​the cidery’s trees are still young.

​”​It takes a long time, a lot of tasting and blending to get the right juice to make the cider what you want​,” she said.​ “That means looking for great suppliers that know their process and​ being​ consistent​.”

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