Before you say anything, yes I prefer beer too! But a cider is always a nice change, especially in the warmer months. As a brewer there are also good reasons to give cider a go if you haven’t already including…
- It’s a great alternative when you haven’t got time to make beer- brewing beer takes hours, making cider can take as little as 5 minutes.
- It gives you the opportunity to experiment with ingredients and yeasts you may not have used before.
- No other equipment required, as a beer brewer you’ll already have everything you need.
- Even if your not keen on cider yourself, I’m sure you’ll have family, friends or partner that loves it, nicely bottled it’s a great personal gift.
I’m far from an expert on cider, but I’ll share what I’ve learnt from personal experience, as well as a couple of recipes that worked for me…
The definition of cider varies depending who you want to listen to, or what country your in. In the UK it’s law that a cider must contain at least 35% apple juice, and a traditional English cider is 1.2% – 8.5% alcohol content (the first recipe I’ve got for you falls in this category). Continental ciders can be 3.5% – 12% (the second recipe I’ll show you). CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) says that “real cider” must be at least 90% fresh apple juice, in the US, there is a minimum of 50% apple juice and it’s also referred to as “Hard Cider” in reference to a cider that contains alcohol. And if your in France, it’s only a Cider if it’s made solely from apples.
In Australia we’re similar to the UK in defining cider, therefore if I wanted to sell the second cider commercially (9.5% alcohol volume) it would be considered a wine for the government’s greedy taxation on alcohol . But let’s not confuse things any further, I’m a home brewer, and I’m calling it cider. For the purposes of this blog, let’s define cider as- A beverage made from fermenting juice made up of at least 50% apple juice, with an alcohol content of more than 3% but less than 12%. I declare this cider definition copyright of the state of onebedroombrewer.com 🙃
Like any good chef will tell you, it all starts with quality ingredients, keep this mind when it comes to your cider. Unlike a beer where you have to wait for the end of the boil to sample your wort, simply taste the juice or juices that’s making up the majority of your cider….the end product will taste similar minus the sweetness. The first recipe I’m got for you contains simply Golden Circle Apple & Blackcurrant Juice, the juice itself is clean and crisp, and a nice flavour without much depth- that’s exactly how my cider turned out. The second recipe used an organic apple cider which has depth and a richer earthy flavour, it created a solid backbone for the featured flavours of mango, chilli and ginger. The number one rule in choosing your juice- MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO PRESERVATIVES! Your yeast is there to corrupt and infect your juice in the best possible way, preservatives do the opposite. Malic Acid (naturally derived from apples) and Vitamin C are fine. Also you want to avoid added sugar, as this will effect your alcohol content, the second recipe I’m giving you is an exception (sometimes mistakes are a positive). I’m yet to make a cider from freshly squeezed juice, but it is recommended to boil the juice first to kill any bugs. All the juices in my recipes were available at Woolworths.
I prefer my cider sweeter rather than dry, so I’ve done a little research on the matter. I’ve used lactose exclusively in my first cider and lactose and stevia in the second. They are both non fermentable sweetners so they won’t effect ABV, fermentation or bottle carbonation. Lactose is derived from milk, so be aware if you or anyone drinking your cider is lactose intolerant. Lactose is only 1/10 as sweet as sugar, however it adds body as well as rounds off sharpness/dryness, for these reasons I found it a great addition to my cider recipes. Stevia is quite the opposite, it’s a natural sweetner derived from a plant of the same name. The stevia I used (pictured below) claims it’s twice as sweet as sugar, I found the claim about right, available at Woolworths. But stevia in it’s purest form is up to 400 times sweeter than sugar, so read the label carefully depending on the brand, and taste it for yourself before adding.
I used Safbrew S-33 in my first cider, it’s an all rounder ale yeast often used in Belgium style beers, it leaves a residual sweetness which was ideal since I didn’t back sweeten, and minimal sweetness coming from the lactose. Safale US-05 would be a good alternative. For my second cider I used a champagne yeast, Lavlin EC-1118, this stuff is a beast of a yeast, and it’s needed to achieve the high alcohol content. It will leave your cider a little dry hense why l back sweetened. Here a video of this bad boy in action..
Ok…here’s my recipes..
SIMPLE A&B CIDER (Apple & Blackcurrant Cider)
4.35 litres- Golden Circle Apple & Blackcurrant Juice- room temperature (I only chose that amount as it’s the most convenient to buy 2 x 2 litres, 1 x 350ml)
230g- Lactose- it seems like alot but chillax
1/2 packet ( 5-6g) S-33 yeast
Add the lactose via a funnel in your sanitised carboy, then add 2 litres of the juice and give it a good shake to dissolve most of the lactose. Pour in the rest of the juice, add the yeast, give a swirl, done! Insert your santised bung and airlock, and leave to ferment for 2 weeks, preferably at 18-20°, then bottle or keg just as you would beer.
THE WEST COAST WITCHES MANGO AND CHILLI CIDER (Mango, Chilli & Ginger Cider, I altered her recipe adding ginger and lactose and unsure what she back sweeten with, but respectfully naming it after her)
3 litres- Organic Tasmanian Apple Juice- room temperature
1.5 litres- Golden Circle Mango Nectar- room temperature (actually mango nectar ” fruit drink”)
1 1/2 cups- White Sugar ( just one cup if you want if you want less punchier closer to 8%)
Lavlin EC-1118 yeast (whole packet)
4g- yeast nutrient
Later on- a scorched chilli of your choice, I used a habanero, 2 small blocks of fresh ginger (1 cm), 3 teaspoons stevia, bentonite
I rehydrated the yeast as per packet instructions at I think 35°-40°, make sure you let it cool down to room temp before pitching. Put all your apple juice and lactose in your santised carboy and shake to dissolve most of the lactose, then add the mango nectar followed by the yeast nutrient and the yeast, give the carboy a gentle shake and insert you sanatised bung and airlock, ferment at 20°, and enjoy the fireworks!
After 10 days- siphon into secondary fermenter and add the scorced chilli in a hop sock so you can take it out when needed.
After 12 days- have a taste to see how much the chilli has infused, I was a chicken and took it out, but mine could have done with more chilli flavour. If its spicy enough, take it out, it can get too spicy quickly. Don’t worry about the overwhelming alcohol smell/taste, it will chill out after cold crashing. If you like your cider a bit sweeter after tasting add the 3 teaspoons of stevia. Add the 2 small blocks of ginger no- hop sock needed, optional of course if your not keen on ginger. Reseal with airlock.
After 13 days- this step is also optional, add your Bentonite (wine finnings) following the directions on packet. This is more to give the cider clarity then anyting…about the looks, not the taste.
After 19 days- cold crash for 3 days.
After 22 days- keg or bottle. I kegged mine, forced carbonated and was into it 2 days later 👌
I’m brainstorming a few blogs at the moment…
Until then, happy brewing 🍺
I wanted to add one more recipe, because this one tastes great….a slightly creamy sweet Cherry Cider 🍒
2 litres- Cherry juice
2.75 litres – Organic apple juice
1 tablespoon- white sugar
1 teaspoon- Vanilla bean extract, or one Vanilla bean..
Same process as the A+B Cider recipe, except add the Vanilla bean or extract on day 5-6 of fermentation, and just leave it..
I also added 3 teaspoons of Stevia dissolved in a little Boling water before kegging (or bottling) if you like it sweet, delicious!