Every year I go to a cider making party up between Seneca and Cayuga lake. The owner of the place we go to has about 20 apple trees of different varieties (golden delicious, macintosh, etc) as well as concord grapes growing on his property. He has an old cider press as well, you can see it in the picture below. The apple grinder used to be run by a hand crank, but it has been replaced with an electric motor and drive belt. The press part is still operated by hand, with a 5 foot lever when the cranking gets hard. We put out about 240 gallons of cider this year...it was a great year for apples up there. We could have easily kept going but we ran out of containers to put the cider in! Anyway, I had been talking to one of the guys about making my own hard cider/beer, so he showed up with two 5 gallon water jugs, bungs, and airlocks for me to take home.
This pic shows the press, I am standing on the right side of the picture in the hat. There is a hay wagon to the left on this pic, filled with exactly on shitload of apples.
Here is a little under 10 gallons of cider after killing the wild yeast, and adding in champagne yeast, yeast nutrient, tannin, acid blend, and pectin enzyme:
And he is as it sat last night, transferred into some secondary containers, all glass at this point, 8 gallons worth of hard cider. They are going to sit about 2-3 more weeks before I begin cold crashing and bottling. I am not sure if I will try to carbonate some, or add some sweetness. The problem with adding sweetness is that if you add real sugar, the yeast will turn it into alcohol, and release more CO2. If you add sugar and bottle, you can let it sit for awhile, then test carbonation, and then cold crash or pasteurize to halt the fermentation of the added sugar...I had no idea it would be this complicated until I had already started fermentation!! Right now it tastes a lot like strongbow cider from england, flat, with a tangy bite and not much sweetness. It is about 5.5% ABV, so it will have a nice kick to it.
I'm totally new to any sort of brewing, so I have been doing a lot of reading and getting a little overwhelmed, but it is fun so far. I'll let you know how it tastes after sitting a while longer and bottling it up.