In early October of 2012, I decided that I wanted to make a hard cider. I had grandiose dreams of pressing my own apples for about ten minutes. After poking around online for a while, I realized that pressing apples would be a shitload of work for (according to the internet) likely very little payoff, and possibly a horrible disaster. So I ditched the ideas of fresh-pressed cider, and opted instead for a tasty take on Apfelwine, which seems like a good (and safe) route to take given that it was my first foray into cider-territory.
I had purchased a brand new carboy for the occasion (Side Note: Do NOT use the same carboy to ferment beer afterwards, I ruined a batch of Pale Ale because I wasn’t thinking), and I was ready to go after picking up the following ingredients:
- 5 Gallons of Tree Top Apple Juice
- 2 lbs of Dextrose
- Red Star Cotes des Blancs Yeast
I based this on the original recipe posted on winemakingtalk.com. As you can see, the type of wine yeast is different from the original, which is because the helpful people at Larry’s Homebrew advised me that they have been happier with the ciders made with the type of yeast that I bought.
As I pitched the yeast according to the package instructions, I poured some of the apple juice from each bottle into the carboy, and then divided up the dextrose into the partially full apple juice bottle, and shook them up to make the sweet sludge easy to pour into the fermenter.
After pouring the pitched yeast into the carboy, I stopped it with the bung, gave it a good shake, and placed the airlock.
The original recipe advised filling the airlock with vodka rather than water. I was glad that I followed this advice a few weeks later, as I found the corpses of nearly half a dozen flies drowned in the airlock by the time that it had finished fermenting. I can only imagine that they died happy… or at least tipsy.
After that, I waited. It was kind of a pain in the ass actually. That hefty carboy of sickly sweet smelling liquid was shifted to and fro as I brewed and bottled at least three beers, and there were a few times when I glared at the giant bottle, wishing that it was filled with IPA instead of apple juice. But still I waited.
I had read that I should bottle after about a month, but I let the concoction go for nearly 45 days before finally getting around to it. I followed my normal bottling process, using 3/4 of dextrose in a cup of water to try to ensure a little fizz.
And then… I waited longer… and longer… and longer still. In fact it took more than four full months in bottles for it to reach a drinkable state.
Here’s my timeline:
October 7 – “Brew”
November 21 – Bottle
Around Christmas – First try… disgustingly sweet
May 18 – Shared with friends… good reviews all around.
The final product has the light color of apple juice (as you would imagine), a light body with a little bit of fizz, and a crisp, dry flavor, like biting into a good apple.
Make this recipe. It’s delicious, and well worth the wait.