Sediment Wars

Since Harvard Cider’s inception, we have strived to concoct what we consider to be the best renditions of our ciders. These are ciders that are balanced, flavorful and refreshing. They are the kind of drinks that you can enjoy on a variety of occasions, mix with your favorite spirit or drink late into the night. As we have progressed, we have taken to the inter-web, the google machine if you will, in order to improve our process. Sometimes we use older, more archaic methods such as “books” to learn about more technical procedures.

The more we learn, the more we apply to our business and the more things shift. Sometimes the changes are small tweaks, but sometimes they are drastic. For example, our first batch of Missing Link was tart, dry and very bitter. Honestly it tasted like a hopped cider that had been steeped with spinach. I actually can’t believe we sold it back in December. To fix it, we changed our residual sugar levels and tightened up our hopping recipe to bring you what we package today. Paradise was significantly easier to scale, tweaking it ever so slightly on our second batch to bring the residual sugar down. However, the evolution of Anchor is grounded in a battle against sediment.

New Anchor (left) and old Anchor (right).
I love the cloudy look of Anchor. Our first commercial batch sat for a long time in its tank, well over a month, before we had our bottling line up and running. It produced a decent film of sediment along the bottom and gave a little kick of orange when it was emptied into a glass. Our second batch whipped through production and into bottles in under a month. This batch left a nice thick belt of sediment on the bottom of each bottle that resulted in a wave of sludge spattering into the glass. (Now picture John Snow drawing Longclaw as thousands of cavalrymen ride towards him.)

This was not what I had planned. I wanted a cloudy cider, but having floating chunks at the tail end of a pour wasn’t something we wanted in one of our flagships. It’s not that it affects the flavor, and it’s certainly not an improper technique, but it is difficult to ensure that our consumers know to be careful when they pour. What we want to avoid is the inevitable adverse reaction to chunks floating in a pint.

I believe that visuals can often be as important as the tastes that you enjoy. This is the reason that we spent so much time on our packaging and why we are concerned with how each of our flagship ciders pour.

After debating, laughing and discussing Game of Thrones amongst the Harvard Cider Crew, we ultimately think that providing a cider that is sludge-free is more important than maintaining that cloudy look. We aren’t filtering the cider, the flavor isn’t changing and the aromatics are exactly as they were inhaled in the past, but the visual experience is different. Anchor’s next round is to be lighter in color in an attempt to reduce the sediment slide that we have had in the past.

If you disagree with us, gather your pitchforks and swing by the retail front, hopefully we can talk it out over some cider.

About the Author

Mark Finnegan