Brewing cider is a snap with a cider brewery pouch, a few basic pieces of homebrewing equipment, and 3 to 4 weeks of waiting time. You can find the needed equipment in individual pieces at your local brewing shop, or purchase a kit like the Deluxe or Standard Brewcraft USA's Homebrewers Starter Kit.Before getting started, be sure to read through all the directions, as once you cut open the cider pouch you must begin the fermenting process!
At a Glance
What You'll Need
Step 1: It is extremely important to sanitize everything according to the directions of your sanitizer. A failed batch of 6 gallons of cider is worth crying over! Consider sanitizing a pair of tongs in as well, so you can grab the other items easily.
Step 2: While the equipment is soaking in the sanitizing solution, prepare 3 quarts of boiling water for Step 4.
Step 3: Very carefully, cut across the top of the brewery pouch. You’ll see a dry compartment and a wet compartment. Remove and set aside the Cider Yeast, Cider Sweetener, Cider Essence, and instructions from the dry side.
It’s a good idea at this point to read the included instructions, as they should always be the most current from the manufacturer. Empty the juice from the wet side into your sterilized fermenter, squeezing out as much as possible.
Step 4: Add 3 quarts of boiling water to the juice in the fermenter.
Step 5: Add 2.2 lbs. sugar or dextrose and stir until completely dissolved.
Step 6: Top up to 6 gallons cold water, stirring well. Use thermometer to ensure liquid temperature is between 64-82ºF.
Step 7: Decide if you want a dry, off dry, or sweet cider. If you want dry, do NOT add the sweetener. If you want off dry, add half the packet of sweetener. If you want sweet, add the full packet. Add the Cider Sweetener now, as well as the Cider Yeast packet. Stir well.
Step 8: Fit the airlock into the hole/grommet in the fermenter lid, making sure it’s securely in to prevent air exposure. Fill the airlock with water as indicated by the instructions of your airlock (this will usually be filled halfway). This prevents air from getting into your brew, but allows the fermentation gasses to escape.
Step 9: Your printed instructions may not say to take an initial hydrometer reading, but we suggest doing so, as it’s a good baseline. Your specific gravity (SG) should approximately be between 1.050 and 1.070.
To take a sample, either use sterilized tools to pour a sample into your hydrometer jar, or put the sterilized hydrometer straight into your bucket fermenter. Read at the bottom of the meniscus. Record that reading for future reference.
Let the Fermenting Begin!
Step 10: Put the fermenter lid on the bucket, making sure the seal is fully intact. Leave the cider to ferment between 68-77ºF for at least 6 days. Know that the cooler it is, the slower the ferment; the warmer, the faster it will go. Use the tips here to help with fermenting in cold weather orwarm weather.
Step 11: By the 6th day, or just after, the airlock should greatly slow or stop bubbling altogether. Check your specific gravity (SG) with your hydrometer to see if it has dropped to within two points of the cider’s needed specific gravity. You can find the expected final specific gravity information on the cider instructions. (For instance, for pear cider, the expected final SG is 1.007.) If it hasn’t, simply put the lid back on and let it ferment a few more days before checking again. For safety reasons, NEVER bottle your cider until fermentation is complete – you will know this is the case when the SG stays the same for 2 days.
Step 12: Once fermentation is complete, stir the Cider Essence into the fermentation bucket, using sterilized tools to cut the packet open and stir in the essence. Put the lid back on, tightly, and let it ferment 24 hours.
Bottling Your Cider
Step 13: Sterilize all bottling equipment, including all your bottles, bottle filler, auto siphon, siphon assembly, and corks or caps. It is important to inspect your bottles for cracks and chips;DO NOT take any chances – discard anything questionable to avoid an explosive accident.
Step 14: Siphon your cider into bottles and leave 2 inches headspace, measuring from the very top of the bottle. Try not to siphon any yeast sediment from the bottom of the fermenter.
Step 15: Before sealing, add carbonation drops according to the directions on the package.
Step 16: Seal bottles by closing the flip top lids. Store bottles in a warm place for 5 days.
Step 17: After 5 days, move the bottles to a cool dark place to clear, for 1 week. You may want to keep your cider in a large plastic bin, just in case one explodes.
Sip and Enjoy!
Step 18: After 1 week, the cider can be consumed, however, the manufacturer recommends allowing the cider to sit another 2 weeks for a smoother tasting and feeling cider.
Step 19: Chill the cider before serving. For clearer cider, you can pour it through a strainer, or just carefully pour it into a glass or pitcher. For a cider with natural cloudiness, simply swirl it gently or turn the bottle upside down and back again before pouring it into a glass or pitcher.
Step 20: Find a comfortable chair, kick back, and enjoy your cider!