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Graham's English Cider

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Freezeblade

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Ever since my last trip to the UK, I have fallen in love with a good dry English cider. It has become my goal ever sense to re-create a English-style cider using store-bought materials. After adding different forms of tannin and acid, using all sorts of ale yeasts to ferment the juice, and I think I have come up with a great recipe that pretty much anyone can do, getting a quaffable re-creation of a cider one could get across the pond. Finishes dry to off-dry, around 1.002, 6.4% abv. Taste is most comparable to the Samual Smith Organic Cider you can get here in the states.

Graham's English Cider
5 gallons Treetop (or equivalent) Apple Juice
4 black teabags (English or Irish Breakfast)
3 key limes (or one regular lime)
1 pack s-04 yeast
(yeast nutrients as needed)

Directions
Add juice of lime(s) to 3 cups of water, bring to a boil then turn off heat. Steep teabags for 7-10 mins, cool for a few mins then add to carboy. Add nutrients and juice into carboy with an aggressive pour to help aerate the juice. Add yeast, put an airlock on then place in a cool (60F-70F) environment.

Primary for one month, then rack to secondary, topping off with juice. Leave in secondary until crystal clear (usually 2-3 months or so from pitching) then bottle with 4oz priming sugar.

Takes about a month to carbonate, tastes good after 3 months, but just gets better with age. I usually start opening bottles about 5 months after pitching.

Here's a glass after a good amount of aging, so you can see how clear it gets


Just as a note, I've gotten into the habit of just starting a batch of this cider every time I brew using a bit of the same yeast as the beer, and have had great success with WLP005, WLP023, WLP026, WLP028, WLP037, WLP775 and nottingham, however these all seem to take longer to age and clear compared to the s-04, but are all slightly different in flavor profile, I'm sure any other english yeast would work great in this as well.

Cheers!
 

stevenryals

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I just started this one on Friday. Added in a couple lime wedges for fermentation.. lets see how it turns out..
 

Coastarine

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My last cider was just juice and S-04 which I really enjoyed but it was damn tart! I can't see wanting lime juice in there but I bet the tea adds something interesting. Are either of those traditional methods, or just things that you tried?
 
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Freezeblade

Freezeblade

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My last cider was just juice and S-04 which I really enjoyed but it was damn tart! I can't see wanting lime juice in there but I bet the tea adds something interesting. Are either of those traditional methods, or just things that you tried?
It's not traditional in one sense, as with normal cider making you wouldn't need to add tannins or acid, as the apples that you'd be pressing would contain these already. The tea and lime are used more as replacements for adding grape tannin and acid mix from the LHBS which is usually quite expensive if you compare it to the materials I used, and are traditional in the sense of country wine making, where the fruit may be low in acids or tannins.

As for it being tart, it may seem tart when it's young, but smooths out over time, giving the cider perceived body and fullness, making for a pleasant drink.
 

stevenryals

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can't wait for 7/7/09, so i can get a taste of this bad boy ;)
 
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Freezeblade

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what do the tea bags do for the cider?
juice made from "cider apples" contain more tannins than juice made from "eating apples." The latter is what treetop and other commercial juices mostly contain. The tea adds tannins into the juice to simulate the tannin content of juice that is made for hard cider production.
 

like2brew

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juice made from "cider apples" contain more tannins than juice made from "eating apples." The latter is what treetop and other commercial juices mostly contain. The tea adds tannins into the juice to simulate the tannin content of juice that is made for hard cider production.
awesome, thanks for the reply. trying to learn something new every day
 

BrewCF

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Do you just steep the tea bags in the water/lime juice mixture and throw them away, or do the tea bags themselves go into the pirmary?
 

Fuzzyfella

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I've never tried making cider before but would love to give it a go. I live in Ireland we don't have 'Treetop' apple juice here. Is this a pure apple juice or a juice made from concentrate?

Regards,
Fuzzy
 

Fuzzyfella

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I've never tried making cider before but would love to give it a go. I live in Ireland we don't have 'Treetop' apple juice here. Is this a pure apple juice or a juice made from concentrate?

Regards,
Fuzzy
 
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Freezeblade

Freezeblade

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I've never tried making cider before but would love to give it a go. I live in Ireland we don't have 'Treetop' apple juice here. Is this a pure apple juice or a juice made from concentrate?

Regards,
Fuzzy
Treetop, Motts, all of these are your standard cheap apple juices, usually from concentrate, and are nearly always clear. I have used (with success) the following brands, but any other would probably do:

Treetop, Hanson's, Motts, Albertson's brand, Smart and Final's brand, Kirkland, Various Trader Joe's juices, Martinelli's, Ralph's Brand, and a few others, it's pretty hard to mess up the recipe, just use some store-brand juice and let it go.
 

IanP

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Late to the thread - apologies!

Have you tried making cider with freshly-pressed unpasteurized apple juice, as I have bought a few times from farmer's markets? Would this make the tea bags etc redundant, or are there problems with whatever may be lurking in the unpasteurized juice?
 
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Freezeblade

Freezeblade

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This recipe is for dry cider, and was geared twards that, but if you wanted to make a semi-sweet or sweet cider you would have to add an unfermentable sugar such as splenda, stevia or lactose at bottling, to taste of course, along with your priming sugar.

(or you can learn to like dry cider :D)
 

jdwest32

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im going to try this recipe. Am i supposed to boil it? is there a concern about bacteria or wild strains of yeast?
 

Laughing_Gnome_Invisible

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I'm just curious. Is this recipe based on a bottled cider that you tried in England? Or is it intended to be more like the scrumpy that you can by on tap in the South West?
 
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Freezeblade

Freezeblade

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I'm just curious. Is this recipe based on a bottled cider that you tried in England? Or is it intended to be more like the scrumpy that you can by on tap in the South West?
It was influenced greatly on a variety of ciders I had on tap in pubs when I was in London and Belfast, I tried to do the Scrumpy, but that sort of thing is much harder to duplicate, as the flavor is very dependent on the source and freshness of the pressed juice, as well as the fermentation method. The goal of this project was to make a good tasting pub-style cider from pre-processed mass-produced cheap apple juice readily available in most stores.

The only imports that really make it here are the Sam Smith's ($5 a 22oz), Blackthorne ($4 a Liter), Strongbow ($10 a sixer), Mangers ($11 a sixer), and Aspall ($6 a 16oz bottle), The latter two are pretty good, but overall, it's very expensive to find even a decent tasting english-style or imported cider, so this project was very much about economy as it was taste, and besides the Aspall I think my recipe blows all the the previously mentioned out of the water with sufficient aging, especally when you consider that a 5 gallon batch costs about $22 (I don't count the cost of tea or limes, as I always have them around, and I usually just use a bit of yeast from the starter of the beer I'm brewing that day).
 
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Freezeblade

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im going to try this recipe. Am i supposed to boil it? is there a concern about bacteria or wild strains of yeast?
with store bought juice there is no need to boil. if you got it from a local fruit stand that was fresh pressed, then use camden as directed on the package, but don't boil, it will set pectins. Also, when I use local pressed juice I don't add any tea or lime unless the taste of the juice itself is obviously lacking it, to answer a previous question.
 

blue_bmw2

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I am planning on brewing this tomorrow. Does it make a difference in using key limes as opposed to the regular persian limes found in most grocery stores? im having trouble finding fresh key limes. Thanks!
 
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Freezeblade

Freezeblade

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I am planning on brewing this tomorrow. Does it make a difference in using key limes as opposed to the regular persian limes found in most grocery stores? im having trouble finding fresh key limes. Thanks!
the juice from one regular lime should be fine, around here key limes are cheaper, so that's what I usually have around.
 

blue_bmw2

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Thanks for the help. I'm very excited about this recipe and i know my English girlfriend is excited to have something more traditional for her to drink. Thanks for the recipe.
 

snazzy

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Just whipped up a batch of this. I used lemon juice and tartaric acid instead of the lime but every thing else is the same.

Hope this turns out well. Thanks for the recipe.
 

stevenryals

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hows this taste? mines aging now.. been abotu 2 1/2 months since primary.. still have a month or so left of initial aging..

what should I expect?
 
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Freezeblade

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hows this taste? mines aging now.. been abotu 2 1/2 months since primary.. still have a month or so left of initial aging..

what should I expect?
It should be dry, but not bone dry, apply, a bit sparkling, and very refreshing, as noted. hope you enjoy it.
 

robertjohnson

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I've got a gallon experimental batch going with juice and a can of concentrate, starting gravity 1.062. It's been fermenting about three weeks. I've got tea bags and an acid blend sitting around and I'm interested in trying this out. Is there any reason I shouldn't add in some tannins or acids when I rack it to secondary? I'd probably create the mixture and then put it in the oven at 175 or 200*F to pasteurize it without boiling, then cool it to temperature and toss it in...
 
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Freezeblade

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Sounds good, as long as you are sure that you pasteurized the acid and tea mixture, I wouldn't know how much acid blend though, I've never used it myself.
 

jdwest32

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I just racked to the secondary after 2 weeks in the primary. i deviated some from your recipe by adding honey in the primary. OG 1.090 and i added 64oz of Pear juice to the secondary. gravity before adding the pear juice was 0.999 and is is bubbling right now. I tasted a sample and it tastes real bad and it is very cloudy. it also smells real bad. is that normal?
 
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Freezeblade

Freezeblade

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I just racked to the secondary after 2 weeks in the primary. i deviated some from your recipe by adding honey in the primary. OG 1.090 and i added 64oz of Pear juice to the secondary. gravity before adding the pear juice was 0.999 and is is bubbling right now. I tasted a sample and it tastes real bad and it is very cloudy. it also smells real bad. is that normal?
Taste: Cider at two weeks old will probably taste kind of funky, especially because you upped the gravity so much with fermentables. The higher the OG, the longer your cider will take to taste good. 1.090 is moving out of the cider realm and heading to the apple wine realm.

Cloudy: The cider (or in this case arguably apple wine) is 2 weeks old. If you notice in the OP I say to primary for one month, then secondary until clear, usually about 2 to 3 Months not weeks, so I fully expect what you have to be very cloudy at 2 weeks.

Smell: Did you add yeast nutrient? seems like you are experiencing the fabled "rhino farts" which, if you do a search on it here at HBT probably comes up with a bunch of results, this could have been fixed with a yeast nutrient addition.

Overall: I can not vouch for the quality of anything besides the original recipe, besides switching the brand of juice and yeast. I have tried sugars in it, but found that not only does it take much more time to age out (at an OG of 1.090 Before adding pear juice, I probably wouldn't touch this until 10 months or so after pitching), but it also dries out the cider even more, which at 1.002, where this cider usually ends, is fine and dry enough for me, I don't like it any drier. I know it is tempting to treat cider like beer, but these things take time, be patient with it, "the yeasts know what they are doing," as I have said before. RDWHAHB.
 

jdwest32

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i did use yeast nutrient. i used a 1/4 teaspoon. was that enough? if not is it too late to add more? i racked it because i did not think it would hurt and i can see what is going on in the secondary. maybe i should have stuck to the recipe but the inner chemist in me made me do it.
thx
j
 
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Freezeblade

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I thought I'd post up a picture of a quite old specimen I poured up today. This one was pitched on 9/10/08, the yeast was s-04 and the juice is treetop. I wanted to show how clear this stuff can get with some time. and oh man, is it tasty.

 

khiddy

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I've got a carboy full of EW Apfelwein going right now, but I have six gallons of Tree Top that I just picked up at Costco, and I think your recipe is going to make it into the rotation tomorrow. Sounds delightful!
 

jdwest32

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I thought I'd post up a picture of a quite old specimen I poured up today. This one was pitched on 9/10/08, the yeast was s-04 and the juice is treetop. I wanted to show how clear this stuff can get with some time. and oh man, is it tasty.

wow that looks good. you pitched on 9-8-2008 when did you rack and bottle?
 

stevenryals

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how was it when you bottled? did you taste? was it clear-ish? smell?
 
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Freezeblade

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how was it when you bottled? did you taste? was it clear-ish? smell?
When I bottled the cider was very clear (although not quite crystal clear, as the picture is), the smell was nice and apply, but the taste was green. I don't know how else to describe it, but there is this flavor that is associated with dry cider that is too young, it's not apply at all, or even fruity even, just kinda...I guess sort of bitter. Needless to say, that's why you let it sit for a while, this pint after aging was perfectly divine, apply, fruity, a little tart and with a nice mouthfeel. A perfect example of why dryer ciders need aging.
 

stevenryals

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cool, moving mine to a third-ary :) tonight.. and kegging in about a week or so.. just trying to help with clarity.. pitched back in early march.. can't wait to have a taste in a month or so..
 
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