Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bangin' Out a Quick Cider

Distracted tonight... a lot on my mind... brewing and blogging just to occupy myself. Since I have everything on hand thought I would throw together a quick hard cider. I've done 4(?) ciders now...? So easy, so cheap. Total no-brainer to keep the pipeline full. The important thing when buying the juice is that it has to be 100% juice with no preservatives. Read the ingredients. If it says "Potassium Sorbate", it won't work. Preservatives keep the yeast from growing. Obviously fresh, local cider is better, but that isn't easy to find this time of year.

So... cider is cheap. I got juice today for $2.99 a gallon. 5 gallons of juice ($15) I also used 2-ish lbs of corn sugar ($2-3) and a cup of raisins (idk a buck?) and a packet of dry ale yeast ($3) so 5 gallons of cider for around $20...

Also, cider is easy! It took me 25 minutes to put this together... including cleanup! Compared to 5 hours for an all grain batch of beer. No boiling necessary...

First step, as always is sanitation. Sanitize fermentor bucket, airlock, knife, and cutting board.

Next roughly chop a cup-ish of raisins, and put in fermentor. While not necessary, I like to add raisins to add a little body to the cider. Also, I could be wrong on this point, but I think it adds nutrient that lessens the stress on the yeast. My first cider stank up the house as it fermented, smelled like sulfer (a phenomenon known as rhino farts on the message boards) likely caused by lack of nutrients for the yeast in the apple juice.

Next pour about half of one of the gallons into the bucket. Then add the corn sugar to the remaining juice, cap, shake to dissolve, and finish pouring in. Again, corn sugar is not necessary. All I am doing with it is boosting the final alcohol content.

Add the rest of the juice. I pour from a few feet up with a lot of splashing to aerate.

I didn't bother taking a gravity reading on this... I know from previous batches it will be high. 1.070-1.080 if I let it ferment to 1.010 it will be aproximately 8-9% alcohol...

There are a lot of options for yeast. Some recipes for Apfelwein (not much to compare with commercially in the U.S.) would use a dry champagne yeast, and let it ferment all the way out. After aging, you end up with very very dry champagne-ish cider. I've made it, and I liked it, but I prefer a little residual sweetness. I'm using a clean dry ale yeast, nothing fancy. Also, as I said in a previous post covering my last cider, I'll stop fermentation early to keep some sweetness and body.

Pitching (adding) the dry yeast, is as easy as sprinkling on top.

Seal up the fermentor, I use whatever rotgut vodka happens to be in the liquor cabinet to fill the airlock. You can use water or sanitizer also, but no bad stuff will grow in the vodka. And if it something happens and it gets sucked back into the fermentor, I would rather have a shot of cheap vodka in my brew than old water or worse sanitzer... I'll throw it into the closet for a week and check the gravity. If it's where I want it to be (1.010), I'll keg it and chill to stop fermentation.

Cider can be as easy as pouring 5 gallons of juice into a sanitized bucket and adding yeast. Well... that's assuming you are kegging... I would like to cover the bottling process (total lie) for you, but I hated bottling... by far the worst part of homebrewing. I will however provide a link that covers the process with a lot of great tips on how to make it easier. Bottling article from homebrewtalk. Homebrewtalk.com is probably the biggest wealth of knowledge on the interwebs for homebrewing. Most of what I have learned has come from that site and it is always my first recommendation for anyone looking to get started brewing.

Anyways... I am full rambling now. Full avoidance mode. Guess I'll call it a night, back to work mega early for my first day back from vacation... Later.

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