Friday, January 24, 2014

Latest from Cory's Ciderlab

In between large batches of beer, when all my current bottle capacity is full, I like to experiment with small batches of cider.  I'll reiterate today that I really enjoy cider because the ingredients are cheap and can be easily purchased in small quantities at any supermarket.  I love brewing beer, but it is a bit more hands-on and ingredients are usually (for good reason) purchased in larger sizes for larger batches, as it takes about the same amount of time (and the same amount of dishes) to make 4L (one gallon) of beer as 20L (five gallons) of beer.

Cider is a different animal, and is easier cheaper to do wacky experiments that may or may not turn out well.  This batch is another experiment on my part that hopefully turns out tasting better than my stout rolls...?

I was inspired by some honey in our pantry that had crystallized in the cooler temperatures of the house.  I had tried to rescue the partial jar of golden crystals by heating the whole jar in hot water.  This softened some of the honey, but it recrystallized that very night.  I'm sure a really frugal cheapskate (not me, right??) would have kept it to heat and reheat whenever she needed honey, but that wasn't me... mostly because I could use it for brewing.  I would not let it go to waste.

We bought a replacement (and pretty cheap) jar of honey and I set the crystallized jar aside for the next brew.  I was bottling a small vodka bottle batch of cider this week (not worth a post, if that can be believed) and decided I'd set down more cider while my brew cycle was between big 20L batches of beer.  The honey would make a perfectly acceptable fermentable addition to the cider, as I usually add some extra sugar or other fermentable to my ciders for some extra kick and dry flavor.

At the supermarket, I was looking at the sugar selection to buy some brown sugar, my old cider standby, to add to the batch.  I had my hands on the regular brand of brown sugar when I saw another bag peeking at me.  It was 30 cents (per 500g, about one pound) cheaper than the brown sugar.  "Muscovado sugar?" I asked myself.  It was labeled as "unrefined cane sugar."  I had heard of beer and cider brewers using things like "invert sugars" and some unrefined sugars to enhance their brews without the harsh tastes that white refined table sugar will create in brews.  I was curious and it was cheap, so there wasn't going to be any argument from me.

Ingredients and procedure:

Approx 150g honey (softened in hot water)
Approx 250g (half the bag) Muscovado sugar
Approx 100mL (about 1/2 cup) brewed black tea (for tannins, discussed in another cider post)
1/4 teaspoon yeast nutrient (yes, I'm mixing Imperial and Metric measurements)
3L Sun Grown Apple juice (85 cents per liter- cheapest I can get without and apple tree)

1.  Mixed the honey, sugar, and yeast nutrient in a saucepan with some hot water over low heat until everything was dissolved.

2.  Poured some apple juice into the saucepan to cool the mixture to a plastic-water-bottle-safe temperature.

3.  Poured whole saucepan into the 5L plastic water bottle- followed with the rest of the apple juice.

4.  Topped up with cold water to approx. 4.5L and to bring the temperature down to 19 degrees C. (66 degrees F.)

5.  Sprinkled white-packet cider yeast from Homebrew West, my supplier.

Original gravity- 1.054.  Should finish out at about 6% alcohol by volume if everything ferments out all the way.

...And that's all she wrote.  It will go under the sink for a few weeks now to ferment out.  Check back here for the results and the taste test!

4.5L of hard apple cider in the fermenter before fermentation
Cider in the Fermenter


  1. Looking forward to hearing the results. I love cider and have thought about brewing it myself.

    1. Thanks for reading. I'll put up an update in a few weeks. It's bubbling away heartily under the sink for now. If you want to get started brewing in Ireland, there is a great Irish homebrew community forum at - Lots of great people there.


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