For those of you hooked on Pruno, you might want to take note, as this is far easier to make (assuming you AREN'T incarcerated), and much nicer for your pallette.
In my ongoing efforts to trim costs, as well as learn new (read : old) skills, I decided that it was a good idea to brew my own alcohol.
In university, I began by copying the methods of my father, who had dabbled (and still does), with brewing his own beer and wine. Not being a wine drinker, I stuck with beer. And oh what beer we brewed... Chocolate mint beer at Christmas, and then a series of "heavy metal" beers with theme names like Bronze, Chrome, Steel and the dark, weighty "Iron". Exploding bottles and entire fridges filled to the gills with old stubbies are also fond memories of that time.
Anyway, beer is fun, but it does take a fair more effort than I wanted to expend. Boiling the wort, sterilizing hundreds of bottles, vapour locks, carbuoys, caps and cappers... It takes hours of time to really successfully obtain a few cases of beer. Technically, this is still probably a decent investment in time. With the price of a case of swill approaching $30.00, for many of us, that represents an equal number of hours working "for the man" - something I'd always readily trade away to do the work directly for myself.
Enter, apple cider...
Brewing up apple cider is so easy, you'd be nuts NOT to try it after this.
What you'll need :
- *pasteurized* apple juice (NOT raw juice unless it's REALLY raw, and has absolutely no preservatives in it)
- yeast (Champagne is the best. Bread is the worst. Buy a few packets at your local winemakers for cheap, you won't need much at all. I bought about four packets at least five or more years ago, and I'm STILL using the same yeast. It keeps forever.)
Optional components :
And the process :
- add about 1/4 teaspoon of the yeast to the bottle of apple juice.
- cover with something to keep out dust, bugs, wild yeast. (I use those little metal cups in the picture)
- wait a week or two, until the bubbles which appear after a few days slow down or disappear.
- bottle and/or drink.
As for the extra notes, there's not much, I don't want to make things overly difficult or confusing for myself, or for you... If
you are interested in the actual alcohol content of your cider, you need to use a hydrometer. Take a reading before you add your yeast, and then again when it is time to bottle your cider. Most hydrometers that I have seen already have the potential alcohol scale marked off, so you can just subtract the potential from the final, and the difference is your content. Mine has ranged from about 3.5 to 7, depending on how long I permit the fermentation to last. If you bottle while there are still visible bubbles in the juice, then you will likely get a more carbonated beverage that "pops" when you open it. If you wait until the bubbles are completely finished, the cider will be more flat, but also more potent.
I use a hose to bottle, as you get less yeast and sediment in your finished product, but it's not harmful to drink. In fact, it sounds more like a miracle food!
Serve nice and cold from your fridge, and enjoy the notion of getting a buzz from something that probably takes less effort than making a special trip to The Beer Store!