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sqlhawkn 12-06-2012 08:31 PM

Equipment Question
What equipment should I start out with for making cider? Should I look into a kit? I see beer kits and wine kits out there but which one would serve me better with making cider? Or should I avoid a kit and buy the necessary pieces individually so that I don't end up with parts and pieces that I will not need?

Thoughts / Suggestions????

Thanks for everyone's help!

sketerbuck 12-06-2012 08:36 PM

A beginner beer kit should work great. If your going to bottle in beer bottles you will use everything in the kit. You might want a glass carboy for long term aging.

roadymi 12-07-2012 12:53 AM

When we started I went to LHBS, told them I wanted a "quality" kit. He set me up with everything I needed and upgraded the components he felt necessary, major changes were a floor corker, glass carboy, instead of plastic.

3 years later we are up to 8 or more carboys, multiple fermenters, a kegging system, Wine racks for over 300 bottles. It is an addiction I think.

Husher 12-07-2012 01:25 AM

For making cider you obviously need a carboy (or fermenter - but I prefer glass)
If you go glass, assume it'll break, and it never will. So only carry the thing in a milk crate and you'll be fine.
Also, you can bulk age in a glass carboy and no questionable plastics (maybe) in your drink.

If you plan on doing a secondary, then two carboys. You should move cider off the yeast cake after 3 months.
Also, get a bottling bucket (a plastic bucket with a spigot), a fill stick, so you can attach it to the spigot and fill your bottles easily. You may need to buy an inch of PVC pipe to wrap around your fill stick and then have it fit into the spigot. Works well for me.

Plus you'll need an auto siphon to transfer the cider from your carboy to the bottling bucket. or primary to secondary.

I consider a wine thief and a hydrometer optional. In glass, fermentation is obvious and quite fun to watch. I bought both but used each only twice (12 batches so far). If you keep in the primary for 3 months, there's really not much risk of incomplete fermentation.

Obviously bungs and airlocks, and use vodka in the air lock if bulk aging. Always have a spare airlock in case you crack it or something.

I never really looked at the kits, but if a kit covers what I described, got for it. But I don't even use my plastic fermenter anymore, only glass (for beer and cider). If you use a plastic bucket for cider or wine, you can't switch to beer as it will leave a flavour in the plastic which is transferred to your current batch. With glass, you can bleach the hell out of it and use for whatever purpose as long as it's clean. With proper care, they live longer than you. And if you slip up or carry when wet, you get stitches.

If you decide to brew beer, cover the carboy with a TV shirt to prevent skunking. And be sure to get a carboy with a gallon more space than you need. I used 6.5 gallon carboys for 5 gallon batches. Though It's about half a gallon too big - I could to bigger batches.

Also, I just buy used carboys as they're much cheaper, and the made in Italy ones seem to last better than the made in china ones (I heard). Be warned I did buy one with a small crack in it, and used it three times before discovering the crack. Nothing bad happened, but I got rid of it since a crack could slit for no reason when full of beer and I didn't want to take the risk.

Sorry if this sounds opinionated but I figured you asked for opinions so here you go. This is what I do and would recommend to any buddy looking to start.

HAREEBROWNBEEST 12-07-2012 04:55 AM

Norther Brewer has good starter kits. Sometimes they give you a free brew extract kit with your purchase.

sqlhawkn 12-07-2012 12:52 PM

Awesome information - I can use all of the help that I can get! Pretty sure I am going to use the glass carboys instead of the plastic buckets. This way I can use them for other types of brewing.

sashurlow 12-07-2012 05:29 PM

plastic bucket... If you want to try wine with fruit (which needs to ferment on the pulp), then a plastic bucket is needed. Since wine and cider are very similar in brewing techniques you might want to give it a try sometime. For me personally I brew cider in 6 gallon carboys and put into a five or three gallon carboy for the secondary. Wine goes from bucket to carboy.
A bucket with a spigot is very nice to add bottling sugar and transfer to the bottles.
Some other thoughts... A funnel to put your cider in the carboy. You will need cambden and pectic enzyme. And don't forget sterilizer. An autosiphon is worth every penny.

Husher 12-07-2012 08:16 PM

Here's another small piece of equipment that may improve your product, or at least lighten the load of work and cleanup.

Here's what I do with Beer;

I do my beer thing on the stove and when cooled and ready to add to my carboy, I dump gently into my bottling bucket. I elevate the bottling bucket onto my kitchen counter (actually before adding wort), and connect a food grade hose to the spigot. The other end of the hose terminates a few inches within a glass carboy.

I release the Krakken (kidding - beer), and let wort flow from bottling bucket into the carboy, aerating in the process. This avoids the stirring with a paddle (less to sterilize, clean), no possibility of splashing by mistake (been there, cleaned that), and you have a more effective aeration than could be done by hand. Lots of foam will be created with this method. All you have to do is hold the hose for a few minutes and pitch your yeast when done. Just make sure the wort doesn't run down the side of the carboy. Make it drop into the center of the bottom.

Also, the aeration cools the wort slightly so you'll drop a few degrees with this method.

So I would recommend 2 feet of food grade hose from home depot. I imagine the aeration process is much similar with cider, unless you feel comfortable just shaking the carboy around when half full. That completely depends on how big the carboy is, and how tight your thumb is on the bung.


Husher 12-07-2012 08:19 PM


Originally Posted by sqlhawkn (Post 4658758)
Awesome information - I can use all of the help that I can get! Pretty sure I am going to use the glass carboys instead of the plastic buckets. This way I can use them for other types of brewing.

One thing I always prefer about glass. They don't recall it. It seems every 5 years they redefine what is safe and remove additional chemicals from food grade plastics. Last one was the Biphysmenol scare.

Plus they do acknowledge that plastic DOES get into your feed/beer/whatever. it's just at an acceptable rate. In my opinion, no amount of plastic in my food is acceptable, so glass is the only way to go.

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