We started the day with high hopes, although we had to struggle to keep perspective once things started to go wrong. Not big things, mind you, just nuisance issues that slowed us down. Like the pressure washer not working because the cleaner didn't dissolve properly so was clogging the input filter. That took some time to diagnose and then was fixed in very short order.
Finally we got started using gravity to feed into the 1,000 litre pallet tank. Well, it did get a bit complicated trying to get a vacuum into the 25 mm hose, so we just hooked it up to the top outlet (at the 800 litre mark). One down, one to go, and then the big tank.
The second pallet tank was a bit more problematic and so we pulled out the winery's pump, and fiddled around with it until we got it started (it can be very temperamental). An hour or so later we were finished and had the vat emptied. About 10% loss due to lees, which was what we were expecting.
Once we got the vat emptied it was time to clean it out. This time I chose not to climb in, but we used the pressure washer to good effect and in no time we were ready to transfer from the big tank. 4,800 litres via the slow pump was going to mean it would be after dark before we finished, and while we were waiting we rushed over to Pete's to fit his new water tank that had just arrived. While there we took a look at an old spa pump of his, which with just a single $3 part would hook up to the lines we were using. May as well give it a go, we were going to be finishing at least 3 hours after dark at this rate.
Back to the winery and we find that the transfer is only half way through, and would be at least another three or four hours to go, so we hook up the spa pump, nothing to lose at this stage, and fire it up. Whoah! it pumps it through at more than 5 times the speed of the old pump, and we are done in no time at all. In fact, it looks like we could probably have done the entire transfer in just over an hour! This entire experience has been one of discovery and learning, and this is just another learning issue.
The good news is the cider is coming along nicely. Very nicely. Even better news was we only had a little over 4% waste through lees, much better than we expected.
A clean out of the evacuated vat, and top up from the pallet tanks and we had 5,000 litres of cider that now needs to sit for at least 3 months, and a little over 1,000 litres of scrumpy we can bottle for the winery. And it was just on dusk. Great timing! We would even have time to get home and tidied up and go out to Trivia night at the local pub. Now that put a smile on our dials, I can tell you!
It may be a little premature, but we even have our website up and running at Snake Gully Cider
Now if we can just get the bottle suppliers to deliver the right bottles we may even get some of this scrumpy bottled before it is too late and we call it cider. Amazing that you tell them the product code you are after, stress it needs to hold pressure, and even then they send you bottles for water! Ah well, we'll get that sorted out. Then the next battle is label printing. So much to do, and with a full time job and a number of open source projects to work on, time management is a little haphazard.
For the uninitiated, scrumpy is effectively unfiltered, unfinished cider. So it tends to be before the malo-lactic fermentation kicks in, and is therefore a little sharper and a lot less smooth than true cider, and is often cloudy due to suspended yeast (as it is technically still fermenting). Ours is much better than most, tasting a bit like sparkling apple juice, only with a kick! It can really sneak up on you.