Beverages seem to rule my world. Don't ask me how this has happened but it has. I happened to fall into a job in the specialty coffee/espresso industry about 5 years ago and it is a great place to be. Lots of good people and tons of the best coffee. If you buy your coffee from the grocery store. Don't. If you think you enjoy your espresso at the mermaid or some other chain do some research and really try (I mean really really look) for good espresso shop in your area. There is a world of difference and you'll know it when you taste it. If you can't find one give me a shout and tell me where you live.
Anyway enough about espresso for now. I grew up in Seattle during the renaissance of the micro brewery. I can remember buying cases of Ballard Bitter from a small "hole in the brewery" shop that was Redhook for my Uncle at Xmas because "you couldn't buy it in Wenatchee". I've been known to enjoy a beer or two and was even lucky enough to have friends who home brewed that taught me the joy of making your own.
I don't recall if I turned away from beer a few years back or turned towards hard cider. Maybe it was the six pack and a 22 nights at Evergreen. After finding a good cider or two my favor just seemed to drift away from beer. Cider is like coffee in a way, you think you've had it and enoyed it from some of the larger more readily available brands. You really haven't drank a good cider until you have located some "micro brewed" artisan crafted small batch ciders. Cider is a true American tradition, is one of the first fermented drinks produced in this country and it is NOT SWEET. To me a great traditional cider is well balanced and usually dry, however I'll make an exception here and again. I'll get into that topic a bit deeper eventualy I'm sure.
So for the past 3 or so years I've dedicated a good chunk of my free time to making my own hard cider. I've probably made 20+ batches, I've read plenty of books about it, experimented with juices, yeasts, sugars, honeys and other adjuncts. I even got to press apples last fall and fermented that. Pressing cider yourself should be the goal of any self respecting serious cider maker. Not only can you ferment single varietals, you can also test your hand at the art of blending apples. Something that should sound familiar to the coffee folks. I've been wanting a press for years and never got around to getting one.
About a week or so ago I noticed an entry in my Craigslist rss feeds I had searching for a cider press all across the State(Washington). I figured since well we are a pretty serious apple producing State and do have the once self proclaimed "Apple Capital of the World" I'd be sure to find one eventually. Anyway there it was in Spokane's classifieds... Cider Press $550. Some quick and wise consultation with the girlfriend and a call or two to my brother who lives in Spokane and I knew that this was possibly the press I'd been waiting for.
The press was exactly what I had been looking for; a Happy Valley Ranch American Harvester Double-Tub Cider & Wine Press. I called the press's owner, asked a few questions, was told it was owned by a little old lady and only used to go to the grocery store and church. In all seriousness it was owned by a little old lady and it was supposedly used once. The next day I transfered $550 to my brother's checking account. Since he was coming out to Seattle last weekend I was able to get it fast. There is most definitely something to be said for instant gratification.
My hard cider making days using our local cider press may not be completely over as it is an economical and quick way to start a batch. My new press will allow me to ferment single varietals as well as some custom blending.
Apple season here I come. Coincidentally if you live in the Olympia area and have apple trees drop me a line.