During the last IBU meeting, one of the members, Mike, brought in a hard cider for a few of us to try. I’m not usually a fan of hard ciders, but I gave it a try. It was fantastic, and with a dead simple recipe, it’s easy for brewers (anyone really) of all skill levels to try. I started a batch of this today. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe:
- 5 Gallons Apple Cider (Cub Foods Brand, Indian Summer, to quote Mike, “the cheapest stuff you can find”) just make sure it doesn’t have added potassium sorbate!
- 2 lbs Light or Dark Brown Sugar
- 2 Split, Scraped, and Chopped Vanilla Beans (for secondary)
- 2 cans of Apple Juice Concentrate (to keg)
- Dry Ale Yeast (I used Safale S-04 I’m told it doesn’t matter)
- Sanitize fermenter of your choice
- Add Brown Sugar to the fermenter
- Pour Apple Cider over the sugar which will mix it up and aerate
- Add Yeast
- Ferment until done (usually goes to 1.000 or a little higher)
- Sanitize secondary fermenter
- Add 2.5 tsp of Potassium Sorbate to prevent further yeast growth
- Add 2 split, scraped, and chopped vanilla beans
- Rack cider on top of Potassium Sorbate and Vanilla Beans to mix
- Let it sit for a week or so
- Sanitize a keg
- Add concentrate to keg - If you have frozen concentrate, heat it in a pot on the stove until it’s slightly warm, and then pour it into the bottom of the keg. If it’s the liquid kind let it come to room temperature, and then pour it into the keg.
- Rack the cider on top of the concentrate
- Hit the keg with 30psi to seal the lid and vent headspace.
From fermenter to glass, this cider takes as little as four weeks, however, Mike is recommending at least six. Also of note, adjusting the amount of concentrate will affect the sweetness of the final product. Typically this cider weighs in at around 7.5% ABV. A note on the vanilla beans: Here in Des Moines these can be hard to find, and when found, they are often expensive. It was recommended that I look on EBay of all places, and that the Arizona Vanilla Company, often has great prices online. I took the recommendation and I’m happy with the quality of their product.