Hard apple cider is one of the easiest alcoholic drinks that a home brewer can make. And my personal favorite to drink on a cool evening. As with anything that you make always use the best ingredients that you can get. I am lucky enough to have access to an apple orchard on our family property and can press my own mix of apples. Mmmmmm fresh cider out of the apple press is the best part of fall. Now for the basics of making hard cider.
- 5 gallons of apple cider (fresh or store bought)
- wine/ale yeast of choice. (I use Nottingham ale yeast for the majority of my batches. But it is a matter of taste preference)
- 5 campden tablets (only needed if you use unpasteurized cider)
- 6 gallon glass carboy and airlock
If you have never brewed any type of beer or wine before you will need to remember the first rule. STERILIZE everything that will be touching the cider. Any brew store will have something you can use to sterilize the carboy and many bottles. I use unscented bleach for my sterilizing. One cap full per gallon of water is all that is needed. Add and let sit for 20 minutes to make sure that all the little critters that might be in it are dead.
Pour the cider into the carboy and add the crushed campden tablets. Cover the top of the carboy with a cloth and rubber band it around the top (you don’t want fruit flies to get in and contaminate it) Let sit for 24 hrs for the campden to kill the native yeast. After the wait time add in your yeast following the instructions on the package for how to re hydrate it add it into the must (yes it is called a must after you add in the yeast). Last but not least add the air lock to your carboy. After a couple of days it should start bubbling and your cider is on its way to making a wonderful beverage. Let bubble and ferment for 2-4 weeks or until all the sugars are converted to alcohol. With no added sugar to your batch you will end up with a hard cider that is 4%-7% alcohol depending on the varieties of apples that you use. At this point you can either decide to make it crisp and bubbly or kill off the yeast and make a flat cider. I prefer it with a little carbonation over a flat batch. Stay tuned for part 2 on how to bottle and prime your batch of hard cider
How to Bottle your cider