Cider is up and coming here in the Pacific Northwest as more cider makers tap into the draft drink business. Bars and taprooms are increasingly adding one or two taps as an alternative for people who haven’t quite developed a taste for beer. Cider makers are trending away from sweeter versions to drier selections, and are experimenting with dry-hopping. Serious Eats has selected 6 American Ciders for Hop Heads, or with a trip down to your local Whole foods, you can brew your own.
Brewing your own cider is simple, especially if you already home brew beer:
- Get a 1 gallon jug of apple juice. I get mine from Whole Foods.
- Get a packet of yeast. I had the best results from English cider yeast, but you can use ale, champagne, or yes, even bread yeast.
- For a drier cider, add a cup of table sugar to the jug.
- (Optional) Chuck in your favorite aromatic hop to taste. A half ounce works for me.
- (Optional) Add a half teaspoon of pectic enzyme for a clear cider.
- Pitch the yeast.
- Attach a blow-off tube with a #6 bung to the jug.
- After a few days, replace the blow-off tube with an airlock.
- After 2 weeks, bottle your cider with a teaspoon of table sugar for carbonation. If you use the Whole Foods apple juice, there will be a lot of sediment. Don’t bottle that.
- Wait at least another 7 days for the cider to carb up.
- Drink and enjoy.
I know a lot of brewers out there are horrified that I would suggest bread yeast, but it works, is cheap, and tastes alright. The yeast functions quite well too. My experiment with bread yeast started with original gravity at 1.040 and finished at 0.998 for 5.5%ABV (two weeks).
English cider yeast was far better though. My last batch of English cider started with original gravity at 1.050 and finished at 0.998 for 6.8%ABV (I left it for four weeks).
Both of those batches I didn’t add the table sugar, so be aware that the sugar content varies in each batch of apple juice. You can add sugar for more consistent results, but I don’t bother. I prefer to just bang together a batch as fast as possible and not worry too much about the details. I usually don’t measure gravities when I make it. One gallon is enough for about 8 12oz. bottles.
So go forth and experiment! Add hops to your own cider, or find a dry-hopped cider at your local grocery store or bottle shop and let me know what you think here or on Twitter or Instagram: @BeerMeetsWorld.