(Closed) Home Brew Hard Cider & Beer

posted 8 years ago in Food
Post # 3
Member
405 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

I don’t have any tips, but I’m interested in what others have to say. Homebrewing is awesome. I’d love to brew cider (if I had more space).

Post # 4
Member
1638 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Fiance bought a huge beer kit but we’ve been too busy to make any! I’m hoping after the wedding & honeymoon he can start it up and get it out of the garage! lol.

Post # 5
Member
2392 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

We brew – it’s mostly my fiance’s thing, but I help out.  I’ve never done cider, though I think he may have.  I can ask him later today when I get home – feel free to PM me if I forget.

Post # 6
Member
348 posts
Helper bee

I homebrew cider.  I’m assuming here that the high alcohol content and dryness/lack of sugar is a lot of what you mean by “like weird champagne.”  Personally, I like this style, and getting it is the whole reason that I brew myself rather than buying commercially available hard cider.  But if you want something that is sweeter, it’s possible, although technically a bit more challenging.  The basic issue is that the same process (bottle-conditioning) that makes the cider carbonated also makes it dry.  The yeast are transforming the sugars to carbon dioxide in the bottles.  If you want there to be sugar left, you have three basic options.

1. Get a kegging system that will allow you to force-carbonate the cider.  This will allow you use yeast that die at a moderate alcohol content, add more sugar after they die, and then carbonate the beer with a keg rather than in bottles.

2. Back-sweeten the cider with a sweetener that yeast can’t digest.  You would add the sweetener when bottling.  The yeast would convert the actual sugar to carbon dioxide, but the sweetener would remain.  I know some people use Splenda for this, there may be other options.  Personally, I don’t love it as a choice, because adding artificial sweetener to my homebrew seems weird, but it might be something to research more.

3. Use a yeast that dies at an alcohol concentration less than would be produced by the conversion of all the sugar in your original juice.  Monitor the alcohol content of the cider as it sits in the carboy closely, and make sure to transfer it into bottles while the yeast is still alive and working.  This way the yeast will continue to ferment in the bottles, but only up to a point, and will then die and fall out leaving some sugar still in the cider. This is the option that will probably produce the best results, but it requires careful calculations (of the original sugar content, and of the alcohol content through the brewing process) and monitoring.  It will also leave you with some sediment in the bottle.

ETA: if you want to follow up the technical information, i highly recommend the cider pages at the northern brewer forums, http://forum.northernbrewer.com/

Post # 8
Member
348 posts
Helper bee

Your husband is right. In general, an ale yeast (or one specifically for cider) might be better.  Something for wine or champagne is going to tolerate a much higher level of alcohol.  This forum thread has some suggestions: 

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/semi-sweet-bottle-conditioned-cider-yeast-trials-58656/

You can also do a varient of this technique where you bottle the cider, open a bottle every so often to test the sweetness/carbonation, and when you get to the level you like, kill the yeast with heat.  Some people have suggested running bottles through your dishwasher, although I might be a little scared to do that.

Another point with cider is that the quality of the initial apple juice matters a lot, especially if it end up on the dryer side.  Once the sugar is gone, it really starts to matter how good the original juice was.  Now is a great season to get good fresh juice (ie, non-hard cider) from local sources in most parts of the country, and it really makes a difference.  Good luck!  It’s so rewarding to drink stuff you’ve made yourself

Post # 9
Member
2392 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

@historienne: Whoa – that’s awesome.  Is it wrong that I kind of want to stalk you and try your cider now?

I believe lactose is a non-fermentable sugar that can be used.  There may be others, because personally I am lactose intolerant and really would not like to find that in my beer or cider.

Post # 10
Member
171 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

My hubby (it is so awesome to say that!!!!) is a homebrewer. He brews beer mostly but has dabbled in cider. I will get his input and get back to ya!

Post # 11
Member
206 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2010

LOVE home brewing! If you’re looking for something sweeter, try an “apfelwein”. They’re super easy to brew and pretty tasty! Northern Brewer has an excellent selection, but if you know your stuff it’s usually cheaper order the ingredients seperately. Otherwise, definitely go with the kits. What kind of beer are you brewing? We’re doing 3 for our wedding – a Sierra Nevada style pale ale, a honeyed orange peel/cinnamon/clove amber or brown and big, “smack you in the tongue” India Brown Ale. Mr. C is a total hophead, can you tell? 🙂 Saved us a TON of money on the bar fees too – always a good deal.

 

Three cheers for home brewing! Good luck!

Post # 13
Member
159 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2018

I’m so excited to see so many homebrewing bees!  I got my husband started about two years ago and now we not only keg but also grow our own hops!  Yeah for homebrewers!

Post # 15
Member
348 posts
Helper bee

Glad I was helpful.  It’s funny, I actually don’t do most of this stuff just because we make pretty dry ciders on purpose (my husband is English and really misses the style of cider you can get there) but I really enjoy figuring out how it all works.  But there are lots of people on the brewing forums with way more experience than me, I definitely recommend poking around there for awhile to get a sense of the options.  

@Entangled: good to know about the lactose.  While it’s definitely a drawback that so many people can’t eat it, it does sound like a better option for those who can than Splenda!

Post # 16
Member
206 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2010

@AnnieAAA: That Fall Festival sounds mouth-watering! In fact, my mouth is watering lol. I’m off to one of our local breweries for their latest “Hop Odyssey” release. They’ve been releasing a distinct hop beer every month and tonight’s is their “Super Fresh H-O-P” – all Ohio grown hops pulled right off the vine and put in at flameout for some insane hop flavor. A very nice way to end a crazy day, if I do say so myself!

 

@tallgal: we grew our own hops this year as well, but they turned out pretty puny and light. Any tips??

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