I am planning on tasting my cider in the fall (6 months from pitching yeast) and seeing how the flavor is then. How much would the flavors improve aging for a year? 2 year? 5? 10? At what point would I see diminishing returns?
My second (ever) batch of cider is currently entering secondary fermentation, and has left me wondering how long I should age my Cider.
The first batch of cider I made was done "hastily" and I consumed it within a few weeks of bottle conditioning. The flavor tasted like biting into a green apple and was very dry since I didn't back-sweeten it. Based on the common knowledge available this appears to be characteristic of "young cider", whose flavors I would like to try mellowing out by aging.
I found that a period of 3-6 months is the typical recommendation for aging cider. I've also read forums on home-brewing sites that higher ABV ciders benefit more from a longer aging period. The initial hydrometer reading of my cider tells me that I can ferment up to just under 10% ABV if I ferment the cider dry (which my yeast seems to do). This is a bit higher than the typical cider abv.
As a side note about long aging times I'm not really concerned about the cider becoming vinegar (see cider notes*), so I don't think that is a factor for me. Obviously I don't really plan on aging my cider for super long periods of time (longer than 20 years), which I think would be excessive.
Cider notes (FYI):
- Small 1 Gallon batch
- Lallemand Belle Saison yeast
- Simply apple juice
- Additive: white refined sugar bringing abv from 6.6% abv -> 10% abv
- Additive: Pectinase (Pectin Enzyme) for clarifying juice
- Aiming for bottling at secondary fermentation (based on the currently clarity of the brew (golden-translucent) in primary fermentation, I do not believe I will need tertiary fermentation)
- Xylitol backsweeting, aiming for 24 grams per 12 fl oz.
- 1/4 cup Dextrose for back carbonation (4.1 Vol of Co2 according to this calculator @ 70 degrees F)