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Old 09-01-2010, 05:45 PM   #1
NorCalNate
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Default Simple Cider for Kegging?

Hello all, GREAT forum, I've been a 'lurker' on here for a while, and finally decided to ask a question. So, my wife agreed to my keg system only if I promised to keep a keg of cider on-tap at all times, and I'm finding it hard to make a batch that I like. I've tried many things but would prefer simple and inexpensive ingredients, don't like using additives and chemicals in my batches, and I do have room to cold-crash.

I'm finding lots of cider posts talking about bottling and aging, but I'm kegging and plan to drink it ASAP. I'm not a beer-snob or purist, I'd really prefer to use grocery store ingredients, or homebrew store stuff, but I'm not going to be crushing my own apples or visiting the mill (this time). Also, after reading a really good post here from CvilleKevin, I'm thinking I'll use Safale S-04 yeast. And temperatures in my area (Sacramento) are fairly high this time of year.

Oh, and I'm hoping for a cider that has a strong apple flavor, fairly high alcohol, and some sweetness. Any help and/or recipes would be much appreciated!!



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Old 09-01-2010, 07:00 PM   #2
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Here's how I do it for five gallons... Get five gallons of cider (preferably UV-pasteurized, but no preservatives); you can get suitable stuff from Trader Joe's here in Chicago. Put one gallon of cider aside. Pour a little of the remaining four gallons of cider into a sauce pan; dissolve 1 lb. of crystal sugar, 1/2 lb. of brown sugar and 1/4 tsp of potassium metabisulfate (to ward off wild yeast; if you don't like it because it's a chemical, you can probably get by without it) into the sauce pan and heat until dissolved. Cool and pour mixture into a carboy. Add the rest of your four gallons of cider to the carboy. Pitch yeast (Safale S-04 should work fine).

After a couple weeks (or when fermentation stops; gravity should be at or near 1.000), keg your cider and cold-crash it. Once it's down to around 35°F, add the final gallon of cider. Force-carbonate and you're done!

FYI, that should give you cider around 6.8% ABV. You can adjust the sugar content to tweak the alcohol content.



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Old 09-01-2010, 08:04 PM   #3
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I'd start with a few one gallon batches to see what you and your wife like and what works best with your juice. Get the best tasting juice you can find. Dont pay attention to how sweet it is because you can always add sugar if you want. Pay attention to the flavor you get in your mouth after the sugar fades and the finish. You should be able to get decent juice at a produce store or farmers market, as well as places like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, etc who sometimes buy from local producers.

For S04 you can just pitch the yeast with nothing else, let it ferment until its at 1.006 to 1.015 (to taste), then cold crash. It doesnt get any simpler than that. If you want some variety, try one gallon with US05 and 4-6 oz of turbinado, or another with just about any liquid wheat yeast (I havent had much luck with dry wheat yeasts).
If you want to cover some more bases, do a gallon of S04 with 6oz of wildflower honey, a wheat with orange blossom honey or US05 with some malt. Those will all be good and give you some more idea of what you want to ultimately go for before putting the effort into a keg batch.

I just mix sugar and honey right into my juice and roll the carboys around on the floor until it dissolves.

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Old 09-01-2010, 08:43 PM   #4
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Thanks guys, that's the kind of info I was looking for! I'll probably be doing this batch in a week or two, and will report back.

And CvilleKevin - I thought that pic of your batches and kegs was awesome! I found it inspirational...

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Old 09-17-2010, 01:35 AM   #5
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just buy some local fresh cider toss in some yeast (I like safale-04), some cinnamon sticks, and i like to also put in a can of frozen apple juice concentrate to boost the sugars a bit.

Puts the OG at ~1.05 @ 68*F

If you finish at ~1.00 @ 70*F

you end up with 6.5% ABV

Add more apple concentrate to back sweeten (if wanted) and feel free to bottle as you would a normal beer. (add bottling sugar and bottle and cap)

After about a week taste one and see if it is carbonated enough, if so pasteurize the batch if not let it sit for another 3 days or so. Be sure to check the bottles every 2-4 days because if you don't they will become bottle-bombs. (read this thread about it http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/easy-stove-top-pasteurizing-pics-193295/) its super simple.

or just put it in a keg and forget the bottling stuff.



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