Articles Comments

The Beer Circle » Brew It Yourself » Novice Homebrewer: My First Cider – The Adventure Begins

Novice Homebrewer: My First Cider – The Adventure Begins

I’m not the best homebrewer.

Those familiar with my attempt at a “Liver Lascerator Lager” in college recall the results: an overly-aggressive attempt at bottle priming to boost the ABV resulted in disaster – an overly-sweet, under-alcoholic mess.  Think of a Miller Lite with a tablespoon of sugar added, and you’ll have a decent idea for the taste.  As such, my first attempt at brewing a beer didn’t go so well, and I haven’t attempted it since.  Until now.

Inspired by a post on one of my favorite tech blogs, Ars Technica, I decided that this looked remarkably easy.  So easy, in fact, that even I might manage to not screw it up.  I found that I already had almost everything I needed, aside from a few key components. Digging through the comments on the Ars Technica post, I found an even easier Apfelwein recipe, and I ultimately decided to somewhat blend the two.

The folks at MyLocal Homebrew Shop were extremely helpful, pointing me in the direction of their ideal cidering yeast, Mangrove Jack’s M02 Cider.  They additionally suggested that I subsitute brown sugar for corn sugar, which will leave some unfermented sweetness in the final product.  I’m looking for a drier taste, but I’m also not looking to brew rocket fuel, here.

Another step I took is to self-pasteurize the cider.  This was not strictly necessary – but was done in the interest of making the experiment scientific in nature.  Unpasteurized cider will contain organisms of unknown type and origin, and by heating this appropriately (baked to 200°F in the oven) before letting it cool and introducing our own yeast, we were able to kill off any unknown nasties that may have been lurking in the cider.  Some, however, like to roll the dice.  Sometimes it works out.  We weren’t in the gambling spirit.

Batch #1 (Mr. Beer Fermenter #1):
2 Gallons Self-Pasteurized Farm Cider
1 lb Brown Sugar
~1/2 packet M02 Cider Yeast

Batch #2 (Mr. Beer Fermenter #2):
2 Gallons Apple Juice
1 lb Brown Sugar
~1/2 packet M02 Cider Yeast

Batch #3 (Growler):
1/2 Gallon Apple Juice
1/4 lb Brown Sugar
Remainder of M02 Cider Yeast

After properly sanitizing everything, we loaded all the components into two Mr. Beer fermenters belonging to guest writer Brian Reitz, as well as a growler I’ve got laying around. We wound up with three batches, currently fermenting in our basement brewery.  I’ll be monitoring it in the coming weeks to see how things are going – I’m not entirely sure how long I’m going to let this thing run.  And then, I might bottle-prime with supplies from the Mr. Beer kit, or head straight to growlers.  One thing I know not to do is carbonate in-growler; the results can be catastrophic.

Any suggestions?  Have you attempted a cider before?  Let us know!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last updated by at .

Written by Garrett Miller

Garrett brings a somewhat different perspective on beer to the table. While always thrilled to try any new, exotic brew that finds itself his way, Garrett finds that he's often quite satisfied with reliable, common craft choices. As such, Garrett is a fan of trying and reviewing these (admittedly less expensive) beers, and using them to introduce the exciting, flavorful world of craft beer to those not-yet-acquainted. Garrett’s favorite styles are IPAs and bourbon stouts, but won’t turn his nose up at anything. Find Garrett Miller on Google Plus

Filed under: Brew It Yourself · Tags: , , ,