I saw this recipe for English dry apple cider on HomeBrewTalk and thought it looked interesting (and I like cider). It’s a long term brew with people saying the cider only comes good sometime after the four month mark. The recipe itself uses store bought clear apple juice, yeast nutrient, and ale yeast. It also makes use of an acid (lime juice) and steeped black tea for the tannins. The cider seemed like a good (and easy) recipe for a smaller test batch and the only real cost to me would be the apple juice. I am switching out the lime juice with lemon juice (as we have tree in fruit), there’s English black tea bags in the pantry and I have a packet of (unknown) ale yeast from a brew can. There’s no “yeast nutrients” on hand but some Googling suggests that plain old bread yeast boiled in water for 10 minutes works well as a substitute. Finally, it’s coming up to winter here and I can leave the fermentation vessel and secondary outside and not worry too much about temperature control. So, it’s all systems go!
6L of store bought clear apple juice
The juice of half a small lemon
2 cups of water
7g packet of baking yeast
1 English black tea bag
Packet of ale brewing yeast
Boil a cup of water with the juice of a lemon for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, steep tea bag in hot mixture for 7 minutes. In another saucepan boil a cup of water with the packet of bakers yeast for 10 minutes. Let both mixtures cool to room temperature and tip both in fermentation vessel. Pour in apple juice making sure to get plenty of air into the mixture. Pitch the yeast, seal FV and let it ferment. Rather than use an airlock on my FV this time I’ve used a large rubber band and several layers of cling (GLAD or Saran) wrap to seal the top of the vessel. Apparently this works well and I can see what’s going on for once as my vessels are all opaque plastic. I didn’t take an SG reading as there’s not enough depth. I doubt I’ll bother except perhaps when I move it to a secondary. Expected FG is 1.000 or a bit less (it is DRY cider after all).
I plan on leaving it in the primary for a month, then into a secondary for another month or two before bulk priming and bottling.
30 May 2015 – I washed and sterilised the juice bottles today and racked off the cider from the fermenter into the bottles for aging for a couple of months. You can see the cider below. The bottle on the left was racked first and is quite clear, the bottle on the right was last and is quite cloudy. I tasted a little of the cider. On the nose it was quite a strong apple scent but had little apple flavour. It was extremely dry and the mouth feel and after taste was very reminiscent of dry white wine. There was a strong flavour of alcohol. I took an SG measurement at 1.004.
Update 18 July 2015
It’s been nearly two months since I started aging the cider. I put a bottle in the fridge today to cool and have had a glass back sweetened a little with regular apple juice. It is smooth and has a strong apple flavour. The dryness has dropped off a little and the dry harshness I noted a couple of months ago has gone. It’s also dropped out extremely clear. I guess because it’s flat it’s apple scrumpy. I’ll carbonate the other four liters and see how they turn out.