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Brewing cider is pretty easy, but there are a couple of things to concentrate on to improve your chance of success:

  • Sanitation is key, keep some solution on hand (in a spray bottle). When in doubt re-sanitize
  • It is safer to wait longer than to rush things along
  • Wet glass is slippery. It's worth getting a pair of (kitchen) gloves and storing them with your kit
  • It's worth practicing a few times beforehand:
    • You can practice using the auto-siphon at any time.
    • Same goes with trying to fill bottles. It's worth attempting this a few times with water or sanitizer (solution)
    • You can also practicing capping the bottles so that you can verify you have the right bottle/cap combination

Note: All equipment you are using should be cleaned and sanitized prior to use (look for the “bleach” section)

The night before

  1. Verify that you have all of your equipment and ingredients
  2. Try measuring water with your hydrometer; if it doesn't read 1.000 don't sweat it, you'll just need to consider this offset when doing measurements later
  3. Read through the “Brew” day instructions and try to visualize the space you will need; think about towels, where you're going to place the fermentor (closets are good), think about how much time you might need
  4. The same goes with the night before bottling day … think about space and time requirements

"Brew" Day

A cider brew day can be as simple as cleanly pouring juice into a fermentor!

Equipment and ingredients:

  • A notebook or some way of taking notes
  • A starter equipment kit of at least 1 gallon (4L) capacity (fermentor, air-lock, and optionally a hydrometer)
  • 2L of Apple Juice without preservatives (Rougement or Allen's); ascorbic acid is Okay. The juice should be at room temperature
  • A yeast packet - beer or champagne yeast will work; beer yeast is the better (tasting) choice
  • Yeast nutrient

"Brewing" Process

  1. Thoroughly clean and sanitize all equipment (fermentor, air-lock, and hydrometer) with a sanitizing solution.
  2. Sprinkle the 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of Yeast-Nutrient into the fermentor.
  3. Check the gravity of your juice using your hydrometer (throw that sample out) and record it somewhere.
  4. Pour your room temperature juice into your fermentor. Do not exceed about 3/4 of your fermentor volume
  5. Spend a minute or so swirling/splashing the juice around in an attempt to aerate it a bit; pouring the juice can actually often be enough
  6. Sprinkle your yeast on top of the juice, trying to avoid clumps if possible (don't worry too much about it) … use the whole packet
  7. Assemble your air-lock and place it on top. When in doubt add vodka to the air-lock. If for some reason you don't have an air-lock you can actually just use aluminum foil to cover the top (look for photos on the internet)
  8. Cleanup and record some notes
  9. You should see some activity anywhere from 4 hours to 2 days later

The hard part … waiting!

  1. Leave to ferment for a total of 7-10 days … if it's still bubbling, wait until after that
  2. Clean and sanitize beer bottles at some point during that week and place aluminum foil over the tops so they remain clean

Bottling Day

Let's get that cider into those bottles!

Equipment and ingredients:

  • A notebook or some way of taking notes
  • Your siphoning and capping gear
  • 6 x 330ml (or up to 355ml) bottles
  • Either:
    • A small amount of table sugar (less than 1/8 cup) for bottling (corn sugar can also be used)
    • A small kitchen scale that will allow you to measure grams
  • Or:
    • Carbonation tablets (preferred choice, easy, but costs a little)

Bottling Process

  1. Thoroughly clean and sanitize all equipment (siphon, bottles if not done the day before, caps, etc) with a sanitizing solution.
  2. Rack (transfer) the cider back into a clean vessel (using your siphon)
  3. At the start of the transfer rack into the hydrometer vial so that you can measure later
    1. Either put a Carbonation tab into each bottle
    2. Or, proceed to rack the rest into the new vessel and estimate how much volume you have
      1. Use a calculator like this one determine how much sugar to use – probably about 15 - 20g. Target 2.5 volumes of CO2. Stir the sugar to dissolve (this shouldn't be vigorous, you're just trying to dissolve).
  4. Using a siphon hose or filling tube, fill the bottles within 1” of the top, but leave at least 0.25“ as headspace for CO2. Note that if you have a bottle that is not filled to within 1” of the top it is safer to pour it out than to risk over-carbonation
  5. Cap your bottles using new clean caps, or if you have swing top bottles lock those in place
  6. Store your cider in a warm place 20-25°C (68-77°F)

The even harder part … waiting … again!

  1. Wait a week, then move to a cool, dark place (fridge) for a further week to clear. None of us have the patience for that last week. Feel free to try one once it's cold - just remember to record your thoughts about it and notice how it changes during the week of “conditioning”.
  2. During that week go do some math. Take your two hydrometer measurements and figure out the ABV!
  3. The time has come! Gently pour the cider into a large glass, leaving any sedimented yeast behind.
  4. Celebrate!

About the waiting: when in doubt it is always better to wait longer. After going through the process a few times, you'll get a good sense of how long things “should” take and where to cut corners.

Take notes! And have fun!

Some photos:

cider_brewing.txt · Last modified: 2018/09/04 16:36 by