View Full Version : Cider Brewing and appreciatiogn thread...

03-30-2003, 07:31 AM
I hate beer.

For me, just about every beer I've ever had, from Budweiser to Sam Adams to Kiltlifter tastes the same. Some might be more"beer" tasting than others, but they're all the same.

Several years ago, my moms boyfriend bought me a bottle of Hornsby's. It was as if the heavens had opened, and poured little drops of ambrosia onto my parched tounge. Angels themselves sang, and the sweet sweet nectar of the beloved apple took on new meaning.

Later on, I would try K, and Ace, and Strongbow and Blackthorne, and I would learn that Hornsby's and Wyders are the Budweiser and Coors lite of the cider world. Decent, and better than nothing, but not of the same calibre as the others I would find.

About a year ago, my good friend Sasha brewed up his own batch, and it was really really good. I caught the bug... I've been reading and planning on brewing up my own batch of cider as soon as I could.

In May, we're moving into an apartment with a walk-in closet. I am planning on setting up my carboys and beginning that walk down the road to lovely golden cider that I made myself. Wish me luck.

But I do have a question... I know there are a lot of folks on here that brew their own. I don't know how many of them have brewed cider, but I'm hoping it's a few.

Several of the books I've read mention that durign the initial fermentation, the cider will foam up and out of the carboy. I'm concerned of the mess that this may make. So how much are we talking about here, for those that have done this before.... a couple of tablespoons of foam, or a metric buttload of foam?

Thanks for the help and advice.

If you've had a great cider, speak of it here. We must spread the word of the best use for the humble apple....

03-30-2003, 10:51 AM
I too never could stand the taste of beer. A dozen years ago while visiting friends in London, we'd go to the pubs. I tried a pint of the local favorite beer, but it still tasted like beer.

Then I noticed that they had cider on draught. I had some experience with hard apple cider growing up near apple orchards with cider presses where you could get fresh cider. This would start to get hard after about a day. It was an interesting way for an underage teen to drink without appearing to be breaking the law.

Basically hard cider makes itself. It gets cloudy and slightly carbonated. I'm sure there's more sophisticated ways of making it, but as a teen, not much could be easier.

One fall, when working as a supermarket clerk, customers kept bringing back gallon bottles of cider they bought which had become cloudy and gone hard. Several of us gladly took them back, took the bottles back into the storeroom, strained the cider through a clean apron, and voila, a very passable hard cider available throughout the shift.

Back to London. As I started running the pubs, I tried many varieties of cider. As you said, it was if the heavens had opened. I found you could even buy cans of cider on the trains. This is where I tasted my first can of Strongbow! It instantly became my favorite.

Getting back to the states, I found several ciders, but no one carried Strongbow. Finally, last year, I was in a British pub in Monterey and asked what kind of ciders they had. The waitress read off 3 or 4 and they she said "Strongbow."

"Strongbow!" I replied, "My God, I've been looking for that for 11 years." It turns out that they had to make a special trip to a distributor in San Jose to get it, but it was available.

Long story short, I searched around, bitched and complained to various local liquour stores unwilling to order it, when finally when I was about to give up, I checked our local Beverages and More again before a Halloween party. The cider aisle had no Strongbow. I grabbed another brand, and for some strange reason, took the long way to the checkout.

Lo & behold, on an endcap at the very back of the store was a stack of cases of Strongbow! I dumped the other cider, threw a couple cases of Strongbow in the cart, then went through the cookie aisle to grab some ginger snaps. (Ginger snaps are an amazingly complimentary snack with cider.)

Let's all grab a hard one and toast Johnny Appleseed!

03-30-2003, 01:22 PM
I loved WoodPecker Cider (from England, I believe) but I can't find it anymore :( So now I drink WoodChuck (from Vermont).

Mmmm, cider. I'll have to try the other brands, if I ever find them.

03-30-2003, 02:23 PM
This site (http://web.bham.ac.uk/GraftonG/cider/homepage.htm) may give you a start, Tristan.

And here are some other sites for cider makers over here in case anyone's interested:

Bulmer's (http://www.bulmer.com/) makers of Strongbow, Scrumpy Jack and Woodpecker among others.
Weston's (http://www.westons-cider.co.uk/)
Thatcher's (http://www.thatcherscider.co.uk/)
Sheppey's (http://www.sheppyscider.com/)

Be careful though. In the West Country where they make most of the cider over here there's a saying that the locals all have broken noses because cider makes you fall forwards when you've had "enough". ;)

03-30-2003, 02:44 PM
Originally posted by Slainte
I loved WoodPecker Cider (from England, I believe) but I can't find it anymore :( So now I drink WoodChuck (from Vermont).

Mmmm, cider. I'll have to try the other brands, if I ever find them.
Another look at the Bulmer's site shows that they make Woodchuck too.

04-02-2003, 01:50 AM
Woodchuck is pretty good stuff.

To date, I think my favorite I've found (other than homebrewed) would be Ace. Really tasty.

BevMo is usually a really good source for cider.

I should be starting up my brew in May, and once it's done I'll post results. Wish me luck!

04-02-2003, 07:44 AM
I've made my own cider, but never completely from scratch. I've only done it three or four times, using a kit, and was never completely happy with the result. One time, I threw a metric buttload of peeled and cored apples into the carboy as well, and that turned out pretty good. It never foamed out of the carboy, though this has often happened with certain beers I've made (it depends mainly on the type of yeast used, and temperature involved).

When I say that the cider wasn't that good, I think that was primarily because I found that the stuff takes a LOT longer to age than beer. A month old, and it was still flat and sweet. I drank one bottle of the batch I made with whole apples in it at about six months old. That was nice.

As for commercial cider, the Australian made Strongbow isn't bad, but even the dry version is too sweet for my taste. Mercury brand from Tasmania is very, very good, but it's hard enough to find here in Sydney. Good luck finding it overseas.

04-02-2003, 08:51 AM
I did a fairly extensive search online for cider-brewing tips a while back, and there seem to be about as many ways of making cider as there are people making cider. There aren't as many hard-and-fast absolutes as you find in beer making, because you don't have to boil wort for a particular amount of time, or at a particular temperature, to make things happen.

One site reported a two-stage experiment. One year the guy tried to make a gallon each of about nine different ciders using different juice blends that were available from local orchards, to try to find what he and his friends thought was the best overall juice blend. The next year, he used that juice blend to make a dozen different gallons of cider using all different yeasts-wet, dry, and one that was fermented using airborne contamination. The taste test said that the airborne turned out best. :dubious:

To prevent blowoff, (a) get a bigger carboy (they make them in 6 gallon sizes, which is pretty big, which can take the standard siphon-starting caps), and 6 1/2 gallon (which is really big, but can't use the caps easily). I've gotten blowoff making beer in the 6 gallon carboy, but never in the 6 1/2 gallon.

I made a batch of cyser (mead made with apple juice rather than water) using the following recipe:

For each gallon of pasteurized, no-preservatives-added apple juice, boil a pint of water and add a pint of honey for a few minutes to sterilize the honey. Add some yeast nutrient. Let it cool. Put it all in a carboy and pitch an appropriate yeast (I think I used a champagne yeast).

Went down like apple juice. 26 proof. Drank 3 in an hour and a half and THEN did the math, thinking, "Hey, that's like having nine beers in an hour and a half!"

I won't be doing that again...

To make straight cider rather than cyser, you'd just leave out the honey/water mixture; it wouldn't be as strong or as sweet, but it'd be pure cider. Also, the great thing is that if you're making straight cider and you're having problems with blowoff, just don't put so much in the carboy. With beer, that's not really an option.

04-03-2003, 02:24 AM
I wonder wht the legality would be of trying to get together a Cider exchange... someone here in the states could gather up a few bottles of some of the American brands (woodchuck, hardcore) and send them to a UK and Down Under doper, and vice-versa....


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