In today’s blog we are going to cover an easy step-by-step hard cider homebrew recipe and technique…
…but first, if you want the homebrew hard cider experience without wasting precious time and money in trial and error attempting to brew it yourself, we have just the right medicine for you!
To start we recommend the Brooklyn Brew Shop Hard Cider Kit to assist you in the following steps below.
Their kit includes:
1 Gallon Fermentation Jug
1 Racking Cane
1 Tubing Clamp
1 Screw Cap Stopper
3 Hard Cider Yeast (3 packets)
3 Sanitizer packets
Equipment NOT included but necessary are:
Two weeks after your brew day – 10 empty non-twistoff bottles (swingtops work best if you do not have a bottle capper and caps)
Ingredients not included but necessary are:
1 gallon apple cider
3 tablespoons honey for bottling
After you’ve made certain you have all the necessary equipment and ingredients above in your arsenal, it’s time to move on to the following step:
You’ll be surprised to learn that sanitization is the most important step of them all. Reason being that if things are not completely clean, your yeast will die (or another strain of yeast will take over) and you will not be drinking delicious hard cider, but rather a bland, watery concoction or hard vinegar.
Dissolve half of your sanitizer packet with a gallon of water in a container.
Save the second half of your sanitizer packer for when you bottle.
Soak everything you are going to use (fermenter, funnel, tubing and screw cap stopper) and let air dry on some paper towels. If it isn’t totally dry when you are ready to start don’t worry.
Keep the extra sanitizer in a container for now. You need a little to sanitize and fill your airlock and chances are you’ll want to re-sanitize something later.
NOTE: If you are using a different sanitizer than Brooklyn Brew Shop’s No-Rinse Sanitizer follow the instructions for your sanitizer.
STEP #1: Get Cider
Find any cider pasteurized (UV pasteurized is perfect) and preservative free (avoid cider containing potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate in it’s ingredients). Your local farmer’s market or natural grocer are great sources. Remove cider from your refrigerator and let warm to room temperature.
If juicing your own apples, or using unpasteurized cider, bring your cider to a boil and let cool to room temperature before the next step.
STEP #2: TIME TO FERMENT
** Place the funnel in the mouth of the fermentation jug and pour your room
temperature cider into the fermenter.
** Toss the entire packet of yeast in.
** Now shake AGGRESSIVELY. You’re basically waking up the yeast and getting more air into the cider.
** Attach sanitized screw-top stopper to bottle. Slide rubber tubing no more than 1” (2.5 cm) into the stopper and place the other end in small bowl of sanitizer. You’ve just made a “blow-off tube” allowing for CO2 to escape.
** Let it sit for two or three days or until vigorous bubbling subsides. This is when fermentation is at its highest. You may notice bubbles and foam at the top of the cider. After bubbling calms down, clean tubing and ready your airlock.
** Sanitize, then re-assemble airlock, filling up to line with sanitizer.
** Insert airlock into hole in stopper.
** Keep at room temperature for two weeks without disturbing other than to show off to friends. (If cider is still bubbling, leave sitting until it stops.)
** In the meantime, drink cider or beer with self-closing swing tops, or ask for empties at a bar that has some. If you have a bottle capper and caps, you can save two six packs of non-twist off bottles instead
STEP #3: TWO WEEKS LATER, BOTTLE
** Thoroughly rinse bottles with water, removing sediment.
** Mix remaining sanitizer with water.
** Fill bottles with a little sanitizer and shake. Empty after two minutes,
rinse with cold water and dry upside down.
** Dissolve 3 tablespoons honey with 1/2 cup water. Pour into a sanitized pot. You will be siphoning your cider into the same pot in the next steps.
— Carbonation comes from adding sugar when bottling, so if you filled your jug with less than the full gallon in the last step, use less honey when bottling. Using the full amount can result in your cider being over-carbonated.
** Siphoning (It all happens fast. Practice on a pot of water a few times to get the hang of it first if necessary).
A. Attach open tubing clamp to tubing.
B. Fill tubing with sanitizer.
C. Attach sanitized tubing to the short curved end of your sanitized racking cane. Attach the black tip to the other end – it will help prevent sediment from getting sucked up. It will probably be a snug fit, but you can get it on there.
D. Pinch tubing clamp closed.
E. Remove screw-cap stopper and place racking cane into jug, just above the yeast sediment at the bottom.
F. Lower end of tubing not connected to racking cane into sink. Suction will force the cider up and through the racking cane and tubing. Open tubing clamp, let sanitizer flow into sink until cider just starts to flow out of the tubing, then clamp shut. Open clamp on tubing, allowing cider to flow into pot with sugar solution. Tilt jug when cider level is getting low, but be careful in not sucking up the yeast sediment.
** Siphon cider from pot into bottles, pinching tube clamp to stop flow after
** Close bottles.
** Store undisturbed at room temperature for 2 weeks.
STEP #4: TWO WEEKS LATER, DRINK UP AND ENJOY!
** Put bottles of cider in the fridge the night before you drink them.
** Drink and share with a couple of your friends and family if you’re in the, “Look-I’m-A-Hard-Cider-Brewing-Professional” bragging type (smiles), assuming of course you’re the sharing type.
STEP #5: “THE WAY OF THE BREWMASTER”
Feeling like showing off your advanced brewing talent? Here are a few insider tips that is sure to impress your friends (even yourself!):
** For ‘sweeter’ results, use cider from McIntosh, Mutsu, Empire, and Bulmer’s Norman apples.
** For ‘tarter’ results use cider from Winesap, Jonathan, Cortland, or Roxbury Russet.
** For a more ‘deserty’ flavor, Add cinnamon, clove, star anise or vanilla. If using vanilla split the bean and let soak in a cup of water, then add that water to your cider blend
** For ‘Perry’, simply substitute apples for pears for traditional English pear cider.
Try any one or more of the above advanced tips below and watch as peoples eyes light up like a Kid on Christmas day at your creation, then wait for them to tell you what the recipe is only to follow up with, “It’s a secret” (smile).
That’s all there is to it. The steps may seem a bit daunting initially but after your first one or two successful brews it becomes second nature. Take each step carefully starting out and concentrate on each step being successful. It can take up to 4 weeks+ to have consumable hard cider so take your time.