Chris: I’ve been brewing hard cider for many years, but have switched to other brews in recent years because I haven’t been able to find any good unfiltered juice for the $4/gallon that it used to go for during the fall. However, I have been long intrigued by the thought of starting the brewing process earlier by pressing my own juice, and so I decided to try to beat the market by pooling resources with some friends, buying about 1/3 ton of apples, and hosting what I ended up calling an old fashioned apple pressing party and potluck. We had a great time and learned a lot about apples and apple presses, especially the part about why good apple juice no longer costs $4/gallon.
So I went about collecting juice orders from about 10 friends, and tried my best to guess at how many apples would be required to hit the 40-45 gallons that we all wanted. Based on a number that turned out to be way off base, that came to 630 pounds. After factoring in the cost of renting a cider press and crusher from a local brewing supply store, I guessed that it would cost somewhere around $8 per gallon, which sounded pretty reasonable compared to the $12-15 that organic unfiltered apple juice can cost in the store, especially if I could also pick the kinds of apples that were going into the juice (Honeycrisp are Jessica’s favorite). Too bad my information and my math were wrong. Continue reading