Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Hard Cider Making Process, As I Understand it

My wife took me to a brewpub last week for my 38th birthday. We had never been there before so I sampled a flight of beers and found a brown ale that was quite good.  My wife is a wine drinker but being a brewery they didn't serve wine. They did have a cider however which was her first and she enjoyed that just as much. So guess what I’m brewing next? You guessed it, a cider.

This will be my first cider so I did a little reading and watched a couple videos and here is what I came up with as the process.

Prepare for Fermentation
  1. Since It’s not the right time of the year for fresh cider and I don’t know if I can get any locally I went ahead and purchased several gallons of Musslem’s 100% Apple Cider for the musk which is apparently what you call cider you’re going to ferment.
  2. Check the Original Gravity of the cider with my hydrometer.
  3. Add ¼ teaspoon of Potassium Metabisulfite or 1 Campden tablet for 5 gallons of unpasteurized cider. This kills wild yeast introduced from the skins of the apples and some bacteria. Let sit 24 hours. (Using pasteurized)  
  4. Add Pectic Enzyme to help clarify the cider 12 hours after adding the Campden tablet.
  5. Add 5tsp LD Carlson yeast nutrient because cider does not provide the amount of nutrients that wort does for yeast.
  6. Add yeast and ferment for 5-10 days.

Rack to Secondary
  1. Check Final Gravity, it should be 0.999
  2. Rack into secondary and let condition and clarify for 1-4 weeks tasting along the way until you’re happy with the taste and clarity.
Prepare for Kegging or Bottling
  1. Add 2.5tsp/5gal of Potassium Sorbate to prevent further fermentation if you’re not naturally carbonating and you want to add sugars for sweeteners. Otherwise use un-fermentable sugars like xylitol for sweetening.  Let sit 24 hours. 
Sweeten Sample to Taste 
  1. Draw a measured sample of cider
  2. Add apple taste with concentrated apple cider (frozen and dripped into mason jar) or Organic Apple Concentrate
  3. Sweeten with Wine conditioner or other sugars / artificial sweeteners
  4. Take a hydrometer reading  (maybe 1.01 or there bouts)

(I ended up adding all the concentrate from 1 gallon of frozen cider and 1 500ml bottle of wine conditioner for my 5 gallon batch)

Sweeten 5 Gallons to Taste
  1. Scale up concentrate and wine conditioner for full 5 gallons from sample , add to keg or bottling bucket
  2. Take a hydrometer reading to check against sample hydrometer reading

The ingredients are being shipped to me as I write this so I haven’t tested this out but I’ll write a follow up after I've started fermentation. Wish me luck and if you have any advice please leave it in the comments.

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