After enjoying several offerings from local California cideries I thought it was time to make my own. Homebrewtalk.com was an invaluable resource in learning about making good homebrewed cider. As I researched further I learned how ridiculously simple it is. Making a delicious cider is literally a fraction of the ceremony involved when brewing a beer.
If you’re already brewing beer you probably already have 2 of the 3 basic things!
- Clean and sanitized carboy
- 100% preservative free apple juice
The most important part is sourcing your apple juice and making sure it does not contain any preservatives. Avoid the juices that contain sulfites as these types of preservatives will inhibit fermentation. It is pretty easy to find preservative free 100% apple juice from any grocer. Trying your local farmers market is also a great option but it’ll be much more expensive. Or if you’re lucky and live close enough to an apple orchard you can often times buy juice directly from the orchard or if you’re really feeling ambitious buy the apples and press them yourself. The truth is you can make a delicious cider from any of these options.
So I bought 4 gallons of apple juice for about $25. I had a yeast cake ready to go from a Belgian Tripel that had just finished fermenting so I opted to use that. The Belgian yeast I used was WLP503. The cool thing about cider is that you can use wine yeast or beer yeast. Wine yeast will most often finish much drier and may require some back sweetened whereas beer yeast might not finish as dry. Lastly I made sure to wipe down the bottles of apple juice with some StarSan and basically dumped them into my carboy with a sanitized funnel and slapped on a fresh airlock. Done! Super low ceremony indeed.
The visual aspects of the fermentation were different from what I am used to seeing with a beer. One thing that I noticed was the lack of krausen. There was some krausen, but it was pretty light. I also didn’t notice any visual signs of fermentation until about day 3.
I let it sit at room temperature which was about 68F for 3 weeks and bottled it up with some leftover carbonation tablets I had sitting around.
I let the cider condition in the bottle for about a week and I must say I was pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out. Given the results I felt like I didn’t have to try really hard. It is sort of an odd feeling since when brewing beer there is a lot of preparation and planning that I do. Maybe it was beginners luck or could it be that making hard cider is really this easy? As I expected it didn’t require any back sweetening, it was light, slightly tart, very refreshing, and perfectly carbonated.
Tonight I’ll be sharing some of this cider at a New Year’s Eve party. Cheers to a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!