When life hands you lemons, most people make lemonade. I prefer to make alcohol.
This recipe starts out with an all-natural, preservative-free organic lemonade (which I found for silly cheap by the caseload at a market near my house). The benefit is that the final product tastes that much better, and its way less work.
This recipe results in a smooth, balanced, not too sweet not too sour hard lemonade. Its absolutely amazing with a muddled spring of mint and lots of ice on a nice hot summer day.
Bearchell's Hard Lemonade
20 Litres Santa Cruz organic lemonade
750 mL blueberry honey
10 organic lemons
Lalvin EC-1118 champagne yeast
2 Litres water, or as necessary to top up the primary
¾ tsp Potassium metabisulphite
¾ tsp Potassium sorbate
6 cups dextrose to back sweeten, to taste
Pour the lemonade directly into your primary, being sure to splash vigorously to introduce lots of oxygen. On your stove top, boil 2 litres water in your kettle, remove from heat and stir in honey. Return to heat and simmer for 30 minutes, removing any scum that forms on top. Meanwhile, wash and peel organic lemons using a vegetable peeler. Be sure not to peel any white pith along with it. Remove honey mixture from the heat and stir in lemon peels. Quickly cool to room temperature and add to the fermenter. (The extra step with the honey and lemon peels adds more flavour and increases the alcohol content, which wouldve been lacking otherwise with the lemonade I chose.)
Stupidly, I didnt measure the OG, but the final was around the 1.000 mark.
Prepare and pitch the champagne yeast as directed on the package. Ive read about some folks having trouble at this stage- my yeast started up within 24 hours and I didnt have any problems. It bubbled away at about 16/17 celsius for 3 weeks.
Rack to a secondary and let it sit for a week. I tasted it at this point. All of the sugar had fermented out into alcohol so I was left with alcohol and lemon juice. Yowzers. Time to back sweeten!
Add the metabisulphite and potassium sorbate to the secondary to kill the yeast and let it sit for 3 days. Prepare a simple syrup (1:1 ratio of dextrose or cane sugar and water) on your stove top. Allow it to cool, pour into your bottling bucket, and then rack your lemonade on top. I would recommend doing this to taste- so start with about half and gently add more sweetener until youre happy with it.
Unfortunately, you cant bottle condition this stuff for fizz because of the sulfites, but you could probably keg it. No matter- if you really want fizz, just top up your glass with a splash of soda water.
So how does it measure up? Lets put it this way: this recipe makes a batch of about 23 Litres hard lemonade. I had a BBQ and decided that rather than bottle it all for the party, I would just let people help themselves to the spigot on my bottling bucket and then bottle the rest the next day. Well, it was all gone by about 11pm. The dirty pigs drank it all up!