Posted on October 27, 2015
Hard Cider is becoming more and more popular both as a commercial drink and also with home brewers. Cider can be very easy to make and has about the same turnaround time as beer. Making hard cider can be as easy as pitching some yeast into juice and calling it a day. We recently made a few batches of cider so I wanted to briefly go through the process for you. As always if you have questions give us a call or come in. We are waiting to help!
When making cider you always need straight juice with no preservatives. Though fresh pressed apple juice from an orchard is ideal it isn't always obtainable. There are some great orchards here in California and now is the time to get some if you are willing. It is currently harvest season for the apple trees. If you can't make it to an orchard you can still find some great juice at grocery stores. Again just make sure it is pure juice with NO preservatives. Keeping it simple with juice and yeast will work but it is also fun to play around with other ingredients i.e. adding other fruits, vanilla beans, spices, brown sugar and maybe even hops? My wife came up with these three different blends:
~Orange Spiced tea and cinnamon sticks with champagne yeast.
~Chamomile tea and honey with WLP005 British Ale Yeast. (Our favorite)
~Pitched a Berliner weise strain with a tradional hefeweizen strain and also Lacto strain with the intent to see if we could get a nice banana, clove and tart cider. (The jury is still out on this one as we are letting it sit a few months.)
We primed and carbed these ciders just like we would a beer with priming sugar. You can also skip this process if you prefer a still cider. Ciders generally don't require a long aging period to smooth out like a mead or wine would.
For these ciders we got juice from the store due to time constraints. Our family has an orchard east of San Diego in the mountains that we plan on visiting hopefully in the next week to press some fresh apples to get our juice for some future batches.
A lot of people opt for the the champagne yeast in their cider. This will always work and ferment out the sugar but will leave you with a very dry and crisp cider. If you are wanting a sweeter cider there are a number of other wine strains you can use that will leave some residual sweetness. I really like using the British ale strains for a sweeter cider as it also imparts a little bit of fruitiness as well. I always add a little bit of yeast nutrient as well to make sure the yeast has a good shot at a quick and healthy fermentation.
We also carry kits for making 6 gallon ciders from Apple, Pear and Mixed Berry. They already come with the juice and yeast. We have tried these in the past and they yield a great tasting cider.