Easy Hard Cider

I mixed up my first ever batch of hard cider yesterday and tonight (this morning?) it’s bubbling happily away. In case it turns out to be the best thing ever, here is what I did:

– Put 4 gallons no name, supermarket, unpastuerized apple juice into sanitized fermenter.
– Added 4 crushed Campden tablets and covered with saran wrap. Let sit 24 hours.
– Heat about a half gallon tap water, and dissolve 2 lbs white sugar and 2 lbs brown sugar.
– Add Acid Blend, Grape Tannin, Pectic Enzymes and Yeast Energyzer (in approx. amounts specified on packages) to syrup.
– Mix juice and syrup into primary fermenter.
– Pitch Wyeast Labs 3766 Cider and airlock it.

I did all that around 3pm yesterday afternoon. It’s now about 3am, so almost 12 hours and there is good activity in the fermenter.

I bought a 6.5 gallon glass carboy and used that as my primary fermenter for the cider. All my other fermenting has been done in plastic buckets and I wanted to see the process as it happens. Honestly, it’s gross. About 4 hours in, little blobs of yeast were forming all through the wort. When they got big enough the floated to the top and started to form an ugly mess. Now 12 hours later there is a fairly think kreusen (I think?) of yeast on the top of the wort and it looks pretty cool. Kinda creamy with brown splotches.

My goal with this cider was to produce a very sweet, potent cider. After doing some reading it seems that might be hard to do. Most homebrewers end up with very dry ciders. I guess the yeast they normally use (champagne) yeast will ferment every last drop of sugar out. The starting gravity on my finished wort was about 1.075 and most people say that their finishing gravity is 1.000 or under. If that’s what I end up with I should get something along the lines of 10% alcohol, which will definitly meet the potent goal. The sweetness will be a little harder.

Being a novice at this, I have some ideas that are probably terrible. I believe my homebrew store sells an additive that will kill the yeast in the wort. So I could wait till the gravity is about 1.020 and then kill it. I don’t know if that’s feasible. The other thing I was thinking was throwing the whole fermenter in the fridge which should knock the yeast out, let it settle and then siphon to a secondary. That would get a lot of the yeast out and should slow down any additional fermentation.

Who knows? Anyway, I am excited about it. The cider was so easy, and cheap to make I don’t mind experimenting a little bit. Should be a learning experience, and hopefully will give me something good to drink over the winter 🙂