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How to Make Hard Apple Cider

      Greetings! I bet you're here because you're a cider enthusiast as myself, and thinking about brewing your own hard cider. Well you have come to the right place! Store bought brands such as Strongbow and Angry Orchard are great and all, but brewing cider yourself opens up a whole new world of possiblities. It's pretty simple and straightforward too, which is nice becuase the end product really outways the small amount of time you have to put into it. Which in turn means that you CAN brew a wonderful hard cider that will rival store bought brands and exceed every expectation! Experiment, have fun, and enjoy!
gallons of apple cider
apple juice musselmans

Ingredients and supplies:

5 gallons of Apple Cider/Juice with no preservatives. Pasteurization is fine and of course freshly pressed is the best
White Labs WLP775 English Cider Yeast, Cider House Cider Yeast, or Safale US-05 Ale Yeast
2 glass carboy's or plastic food grade buckets that have a capacity of 5 gallons
Rubber stopper and airlock (the size of stopper depends on the opening)
A can of frozen 100% real apple juice concentrate or 1 package of brown sugar
Corn sugar or 1 package of carbination drops (only needed if bottling)
Sanitizing solution such as Star san
5ft of Siphon tubing (5/16" food grade tubing)
(Optional) 1 bag of Xylitol sweetener - Using any sweeter that yeast will not eat is fine
(Optional) Campden tablets - use only if brewing with fresh pressed cider - what are Campden Tablets
(Optional) Pectic Enzyme - used to clearify the cider - what is Pectic Enzyme
(For cider version 2.0) 1 packet of potassium sorbate - what is Potassium Sorbate
(For cider version 2.0) 1 packet of campden tablets

(For cider version 2.0) 1 extra gallon Apple Cider/Juice for back sweetening

(For cider version 2.0) Brown Sugar for back sweetening

Orginal Gravity: 1.052

Final Gravity: 1.00

Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%

Step One:


Sanitize and Prepare for Liftoff!

Think of it like building a house, the foundation must be strong and level, otherwise after it's built it could crack and crumble. The same is with making a good hard cider, the strong foundation will be the sanitation process and the first fermentation. In order to get started just follow the steps below and take your time. Most important; Enjoy!

1. In order to prepare all the equipment for brewing cider, everything will need to be cleaned and sanitized first. Rinse everything with water, and if needed use a little dish soap. After that, find a large bowl or a brewing bucket to fill with warm water and mix in the sanitizing solution. Normally it's around 1oz per gallon. Toss in your stopper, airlock, funnel and any other tools into the solution. Those items will need to stay in the sanitizing solution for a minimum of 2 minutes.

2. For cleaning the carboy or brewing bucket, just add the correct amount of sanitizing solution directly to it and fill with hot water. Swirl around and let sit for a couple of minutes before pouring it out. This round of sanitizing is fairly quick and easy since we don't have too many variables to throw into the mix! Also if you're using Star San to sanitize, the foam is fine to leave in there, it will not hurt your cider.

Step Two:

Mix in the ingredients

1. Fill the carboy with the desired amount of apple cider or apple juice.

2. Next add the apple juice concentrate or brown sugar. For this 5 gallon hard cider recipe I will use both (1 can of apple juice consentrate and 1/4 cup of brown sugar) If using frozen juice concentrate let it thaw and then pour it in or if you're using brown sugar use about ¾ cup per gallon. I prefer using the concentrate along side the brown sugar because it seems to give the hard cider more of that apple flavor. If brewing more or less then 5 gallons of cider, use 1/4 can of frozen juice consentrate per gallon or 3/4 cup brown sugar per gallon.

3. (Optional) Add Pectic Enzyme in order to clarify the cider. 3/4 of a Teaspoon per gallon. This is optional becuase it will not change the taste, just make your final cider not so cloudy looking.

3.1 If brewing using fresh pressed cider add campden tablets, and lightly seal with stopper/air lock. Wait for 24hrs until continuing to the next step. Campden tablets will kill off any wild yeast that came from the apples/press/equipment..

4. Next add the yeast, with a standard 11g packet of yeast, put in around 1/5 packet per gallon. Or if using that wonderful English cider liquid yeast, pour in the entire tube.

5. Finally fill the airlock with vodka, water or sanitizing solution to the indicated mark. Push the airlock into the rubber stopper then put that puppy into the carboy.

That my friends is how you start off brewing a great hard cider!

Step Three:


1. Let the cider sit and ferment for 1-2 weeks until bubbling stops. The optimal temperature for the fermenation process is between 67-75 degress fahrenheit.

2. The day before the cider gets racked into the 2nd carboy, its a good idea to set the carboy on the counter or at a higher location. That way before its siphoned the sediment has a chance to settle to the bottom and doesn't get shaken up right before it's racked.

Step Four:

Racking and Second Fermentation

Welcome back after a couple weeks of watching your bubbling cider!

1. Everything needs to be sanitized, just as we did in step one. (The siphoning tubing, 2nd carboy, airlock , and rubber stopper and anything else that will be used in the final rack.

2. Set the empty carboy at a lower location then your filled one to make the siphoning go easier.

3. There are a couple of ways to siphon (as tempting as it is to just suck the end of the hose, there are much better ways! You're liable to just start drinking it and never stop! Plus it would be pretty bitter at this point! J ) NOW that we got that out of the way!
Option 1: Purchase an Auto Siphon, it will let you siphon in as little as 1 inch of liquid and make life a lot simpler. Around $10 at your brew store.
Option 2: Fill the siphon tubing with sanitizing solution and plug the end of it with your thumb. Put one end in Carboy #1 and the other end in carboy #2 then let her rip. It should start flowing and it's up to you if you want to drain the excess solution that's in the tube into a cup instead of directly into the carboy #2. The little bit of soltuion that's in the tubing going into the 2nd carboy won't hurt anything at all.

4. At this point fill the 2nd carboy. Now is the time to decide if the hard cider should be any sweeter. I always put a little in a cup and taste test to see if it needs to be sweetened.

5. (Optional) If the cider needs to be sweeter, it can be sweetened with a non-alcohol sugar such as Xylitol, Stevia, or Splenda. Any sweetener that the yeast will not eat is fine. For this recipe I'll use half a cup of Xylito or roughly 2 Tablespoons per gallon to sweeten.
5.1 (Optional) At this point any natural flavoring can be added as long as the fermenation has come to an end. Use as directed by the manufactor, normally around 1/4 teaspoon per gallon.

6. Install a freshly sanitized rubber stopper with an airlock in it (make sure of course the airlock is filled back to the mark)

7. I let the cider sit for approximately 3 weeks in the 2nd carboy. 3 weeks is not a magic number either, it can sit in the secondary for up to 3 months!


Step Five:


Botta Bing Botta..Bottling time has come!!

1. 5 gallons of hard cider will fill around 50 bottles. I always try and save my bottles to reuse them. Remember NO twist off bottles!

2. One more round of sanitizing is needed. Same steps from above, just different equipment. e.g. the siphon tubing, bottle caps, bottle capper and bottles etc.. Using the same exact method; fill the sink or use a large bowl/container.

3. Sit the carboy on the counter or a higher location where siphoning the cider will work well.

4. Next use your favorite racking technique.

5. Once the siphoning starts plug the end with your thumb as each bottle is filled with cider. Or better yet purchase a $0.90 valvue stopper, it really does make a world of difference to have one of these puppies!

6. Fill the bottle to the lower part of the neck. I like to fill all my bottles before capping

7. Next add a carbonation drop or a 1/2 Teaspoon of corn sugar to each bottle in order to make it carbonated. (Skip this step If your going for a still or dry cider with no carbonation.)

8. Cap the bottles and sit them in a dark area from anywhere between 2 weeks to 6 months. I prefer 6-8 weeks! Hard cider does get better as it ages. It seems like the apple flavor in the cider becomes more distinct the longer it sits.

To easily remove bottle labels a couple of essentials are needed.

-5-6 gallon plastic bucket/container or use a sink.
..And it's that simple

1. Fill the plastic bucket ¾ full of warm water and add a scope or two of Oxiclean
2. Mixed the solution around and submerge the bottles in the solution upright so the liquid sinks them to the bottom then you can get more in the container.
3. Let them sit for 1 hour.
4. See how easy the labels come off!
5. Wash out bottles completely with water and use a wet towel to get excess adhesive off the bottles.
*Remember use a bottle brush to thoroughly clean the inside of the bottles*

Cider Version 2.0

Recipe v2.0 is only if you plan on kegging. It will also work if you're bottling still cider.

In this updated version, we will be "back sweetening" the cider to bring out a more natural sweet flavor. I believe this is how all the major brands do it.
The quick run down: We'll be stabilizing the cider to prevent further fermentation and then adding the same natural flavoring back to the hard cider. This only works for kegging becuase we have to kill off the yeast first, so if you're bottling and want carbontion you would need the yeast to feed off the sugar. With kegging you can create carbonation by forcing CO2 into the cider. This method would also work for bottling still cider.

1. After the hard cider has been racked into the keg, add the recommended amount of campden tablets and potassium sorbate then wait 24hrs. This will prevent any further fermention by killing off all the yeast. Potassium sorbate is a preservative that is completly safe and is used in cheeses, yogurts, etc.. If you're anything like us and feel uncomfortable about using something that has chemical sounding names, just do a little research and you should be at ease. Here's a good place to start: Potassium_sorbate

2. After 24hrs add the apple cider and 1/4 cup of brown sugar to the hard cider. Mix in the ingredients with sanitized utensils.

It's that simple! The only down fall I can think of at this point is you'll be lowering the Alcohol content down just a bit by adding in addtional cider. My final gravity for the orginal recipe is 1.0. I'll be adding the final gravity for version 2.0 today: 10/27/2013.

Version 2.0 Gravity

Orginal Gravity: 1.052

Final Gravity: 1.010

Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%

Step Six:


Sit back and be amazed at how well your hard cider turned out! Now invite some firends over for a tasting party!

Cheers :)

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