Let’s face it – sometimes we just don’t have the time to brew. Between work, kids, school, and life in general, there’s just no time to squeeze in a 5 hour brew day. I made it my goal at the beginning of the year to brew at least one batch per month. Whether that is one gallon or ten gallons, I want to keep my skills honed.
This month has been pretty exhausting for the Small Batch Brü household. Hurricane Harvey had us occupied at the beginning of the month, and then we took a trip to Ireland for 10 days. After returning from our trip to Ireland, we found the most recent Berliner Weisse to be terrible, and we want something to fill the keg…and quick! I also need a second beer for the annual Dixie Cup homebrew competition.
And so the quick and easy cider experiment was born. After a little research we decided on the following process. Here is all you need to make your own quick batch of cider when you just don’t feel pulling out your usual brew day setup.
We decided to go with store-bought, preservative-free apple juice from Costco. Store-bought apple juice, by law is pasteurized. There’s no need to pull our your boil kettle unless you’re using fresh juice straight from the orchard.
- Star San – You still need to keep everything free of unwanted critters.
- Fermenter – I decided to go with the 6 – gallon Fermonster
- Air lock and stopper
Feel free to find an orchard nearby selling fresh juice, but if you’re using store-bought be sure that it is free of chemical preservatives – specifically sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate. These chemicals are yeast-killers. The apple juice concentrate is mostly to add a little extra sugar for a dryer finish. As well as a little added apple flavor.
- 6 gallons of fresh-pressed (preservative-free) apple juice by Kirklands
- 2 containers of apple juice concentrate from the freezer section of the grocery store
After perusing the forums I decided on a dry packet of Nottingham yeast. I’ve had luck with Nottingham in my beers lately so I figured it would be a nice clean yeast for this occasion. From what I’ve read, cider does not necessarily need any yeast nutrient, but I decided to add some anyway since I had it in my cabinet.
- Danstar Nottingham dry yeast
- Wyeast yeast nutrient
The “Brew Day”
- Sanitize your fermentation vessel, airlock, stopper and lid
- Dump in apple juice concentrate
- Pour in apple juice (I went with 5.5 gallons in my 6-gallon Fermonster)
- Cider OG is typically 1.048-1.050, but I didn’t measure it this time
- Pitch yeast and nutrient
- Seal the fermenter up with a sanitizer-filled airlock and wait!
I saw fermentation after about 16 hours. This being my first time making cider I didn’t really know what to expect. Since there is no protein in the apple juice, there is no kreusen like you see in fermenting beer. Instead there are just bubbles sitting on top of the fermenting juice.
Your fermentation should last anywhere from 5-7 days. From there you can either transfer to secondary to age and clear or just transfer straight into your keg or bottle. If you’d like sparkling cider, add some priming sugar to your bottling bucket. For 5 gallons, use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of corn sugar. If you’re kegging, then gelatin in the keg should produce a brilliantly clear finished product.
We were finished with this brew day in about 20 minutes. So if you just don’t have time to break out all of your equipment, consider this quick and easy cider brew day. I’ll update this post with the results of our finished cider. As of September 21, I am away for work and won’t be able to sample it until a few days after this post goes live.
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