Ok, I like to have a tap or two dedicated to non-beer. Either cider or a soda that mixes well (ginger beer or something custom) is nice for people who keep gluten free or just won't enjoy a beer, even if I go out of my way to make a "non beer beer" for them to try. Plus, I don't always feel like a beer. Particularly if I'm having ice cream on a hot day or something, I would rather drink a cider than a pilsner. My challenge has been that the only ciders I ever made that I actually enjoyed and thought were good and professional-quality were made with really expensive apple juice or otherwise required renting an apple press or something like that. I had tried plenty of "Mott's/Treetop" recipes and all seemed either too boozy, too dry, or just weird-tasting. A bone dry cider made with fresh crabapple juice is going to taste great, but dry ciders made from storebought stuff never worked for me. I am sure that some of those past recipe failures were my fault and not the recipes' faults, but I think I finally streamlined everything down to what makes a cider that is cheap, easy and will make a perfect beverage for someone who wants it to taste like Angry Orchard/Woodchuck/Magner's.
5.25 gallons of grocery store brand (Raley's) apple juice (no preservatives other than ascorbic acid/vitamin C)
6 g pectic enzyme
1 tsp wine yeast nutrient (brewcraft/generic)
S-04 fermented 62F, then raised to 70F when fermentation was nearing completion and lagered at 34F for 2 months
Backsweetened in the keg with 60 oz (5 cans) old orchard apple juice concentrate (defrosted).
It came out crystal clear, beautiful, and pretty much perfect. It may be slightly too sweet for me (I will try 4 cans of concentrate next time), but it's everything I wanted -- a cheap cider that would please people who want homemade Magner's and that I still enjoy. I probably didn't need to lager it that long -- it just took me a while to have space for it. The next batch I will try giving it a shorter lager time and less sweetening. I like that Target sells that apple juice concentrate in cherry-flavored, too, as I have specifically been asked for "cherry cider" before and not wanted to go through the effort of making the real deal the hard way.
One thing I want to note -- I only used an ale yeast this time after trying it several times with wine yeasts and dedicated cider yeasts and never liked the results. Too cloudy or too funky or not enough body. Plus, my wife is very sensitive to sulfites, and I prefer not having the use them. I read advice somewhere that S-04 followed by Windsor and London ESB were the best dry yeast options and I feel like I got a much better performance out of S-04 than I got out of the more specifically-designed yeasts.