How To Make Hard Cider
Hard Cider is a relatively simple beverage to create. Unlike beer, nature has already done the hard part in creating a complex juice with all the flavors, vitamins, and minerals required for a successful fermentation. To create Hard Cider in your BEERMKR, it’s as simple as pouring in fresh pressed, natural, or organic juice, and starting the machine.
Now don’t get me wrong, you can make your Hard Apple Cider as complex as you’d like. You can add cinnamon, honey, mulling spices, or Steam Hops, or even dry hops! BEERMKR gives you the easy flexibility to create a beverage that is entirely your own. We’ll go over the basic steps to making Hard Cider in your BEERMKR and highlight the steps at which you can add other ingredients.
One of the benefits of BEERMKR is that it pasteurizes, but doesn’t boil. This means the temperatures get hot enough to kill bacteria and make a safe drinkable product, but not high enough to destroy the delicate flavors in the apple juice. Without BEERMKR the process involves using chemicals such as potassium metabisulfite to sterilize your juice. With BEERMKR, we can skip the chemicals and just toss in the juice and hit brew.
Step 1: Collect Your Juices, Apple or Otherwise
- Option 1: Pre-Packaged Juice. By far the easiest way to do this is to buy juice from the store. Make sure to buy natural, not-from-concentrate, juice that is free from preservatives. Apple juice is ideal for hard cider, but you can go wild here and mix and match. Most natural juices are pasteurized which prevents them from needing preservatives. Preservatives will prevent the yeast from fermenting your cider. Look at the ingredients label and make sure you only see one ingredient: apple juice.
- Option 2: Press Your Own Juice. This is far more involved, but it is extremely rewarding. If you have an apple tree at your house or if you came into a windfall of apples somehow, you can always press them yourself. Most cideries will source specific varieties of apples to create the flavor composition they are looking for. From eating apples you’ll know how different each variety can be so creating your own blend of apple varieties can be extremely rewarding. You’ll need a fruit press and those are available for around $100. Some homebrew shops have fruit presses available at harvest time, so be sure to check around your area to see if any presses are available.
Step 2: Collect your recipe ingredients, if any
Now is the time to figure out what else, if anything, you’re going to put in your Hard Cider. This can be anything you’d like. Hops, berries, honey, brown sugar, spices, different fruit juices, etc. Most things you can just add to your GrainBasket in your BrewTub. If you are adding hops, we’d recommend waiting until fermentation to add those. See the table below for the recommended amounts of each ingredient type.
Step 3: Pour your apple juice into your BEERMKR
Measure out 5200ml of juice. Install your BeerBag, WasteBag, and SqueezeBar like normal. Add your servomyces yeast nutrient. Then pour your 5200ml of juice into your BEERMKR’s BrewTub.
Step 4: Add any additional ingredients to the BrewBasket (Optional)
Take your additional loose ingredients from Step 2 above and add them to your GrainBasket. This works great with raw fruits, frozen fruits, spices like cinnamon sticks and nutmeg, and even honey and brown sugar. The sugars will dissolve and flow through your cider. Without the grain up there from a normal beer recipe to soak up the special ingredients, you can pretty much add anything to the GrainBasket! See recommended amounts below.
Step 5: Brew
Start a MKRKIT Brew in your machine and select the Hard Cider MKRKIT. The BEERMKR will pasteurize your juice and incorporate all of those delicious ingredients you added. This will take about 12 hours.
Step 6: Pitch Yeast
When you get a notification on your phone, come back to the BEERMKR, remove the SqueezeBar and GrainBasket, and pitch yeast. If you are using SteamHops, now would be the time to add them. The yeast will go through a complete fermentation.
Step 7: Add Dry Hops (Optional)
Making a dry-hopped hard cider? Add your dry hops when fermentation is complete and the cider goes into the rest phase. You’ll get a notification on your phone when the time is right.
Step 7: Back-Sweeten With Sugar (Optional)
Fruit juice is almost entirely fermentable, so all that sweet sugar will be converted into alcohol and you will be left with a dry cider. You can add sugar, honey, or unfermented juice to back sweeten after fermentation is complete and the cider is cold enough to shut down yeast activity. Make a simple syrup on your stove or in the microwave and pour it into your brewtub. If using juice, just pour 12oz into a coffee mug and microwave it until it boils, let it cool a bit, then pour it into your brewtub. Give the bag a few pumps to make sure all of that liquid sugar gets into the bag. Now it’s time to transfer to your BEERTAP! Warning: only back sweeten when using the BEERTAP or another keg-like device that you force carbonate and store cold. This new sugar will be eaten by the remaining yeast if the temperature is allowed to rise above 40º, so always store back-sweetened cider cold in your refrigerator.
Step 7: Transfer and enjoy!
Remove the bag and place it in your BEERTAP. Screw in the included CO2 cartridge and store in your refrigerator for 2 days to carbonate. Enjoy!
Suggested Additions and Amounts
- Fermentable sugars: Apples alone give enough sugar to produce a 5%-7% ABV hard cider. Adding more sugar during the brewing phase will result in a higher ABV. For every ounce of sugar you add, your ABV will increase 0.2%. Most commercial ciders are between 5% and 7% ABV so use that as a guide to craft your sugar profile.
- Honey: 0.2% ABV per ounce
- Brown sugar: 0.2% ABV per ounce
- White sugar: 0.2% ABV per ounce
- Sweeteners: Natural juice is completely fermentable by yeast, so unless you add a sweetener, your hard cider will be very dry. You can either back-sweeten per Step 7 above, or you can add a non-fermentable sugar in Step 4. Non fermentable sugars will sweeten your cider and will stick around after fermentation.
- Non-fermentable sweeteners (Erythritol, Xylitol, Stevia, etc.): 0g - 200g sugar equivalent.
- These can be found in the baking aisle of your local grocery store as sugar alternatives or Keto sweeteners.
- Sugar based sweeteners (White sugar, brown sugar, honey): 0g - 200g, or unfermented apple juice, 12oz.
- These are best added as a simple syrup immediately before transferring to the BEERTAP or keg then stored below 40º F for the duration of the cider’s life. Warming up the cider will restart fermentation and will over carbonate the cider. Do not use sugar based sweeteners if you plan on naturally carbonating in bottles. The bottles will explode.
- Adding unfermented juice will reduce your ABV slightly.
Additions: Below is a list of suggested additions and recommended ranges. These are best added to the BrewTub during initial setup.
|Ground Cinnamon||2g - 4g|
|Cinnamon sticks||1 - 3|
|Allspice||2g - 4g|
|Whole cloves||1 - 4|
|Vanilla beans||1 - 2|
|Vanilla extract||1 tsp - 2 tsp|
|Cider mulling spices||2g - 6g|
|Pumpkin Pie Spices||2g - 4g|
|Dried Orange Peel||15g - 45g|
|Dried Grapefruit Peel||5g - 15g|
|Lemongrass||5g - 15g|
|Frozen Fruit||4oz - 16oz|
|Fresh Fruit||4oz - 16oz|
|SteamHops||10 - 25 IBU|
|Dry Hops||6g - 12g|