In a nutshell: making decent homemade hard cider is very possible!!!
Here’s the story:
When going to restaurants and pubs, I occasionally find myself ordering hard cider. BlackThorn and Strongbow are personal favourites as I find Perrys too mild for my tastes.
It doesn’t take a wine connoisseur’s palette to quickly realize that Hard Cider is 99.9999% apple juice (or fresh pressed sweet apple cider)
Me being the guy who can’t leave well enough alone, I decide to make some and share the experience with everyone here … good or bad result.
First begin by sanitizing everything that will come into contact with the juice. I used boiling water but you can also use a home brewing sanitizer.
Begin with 1 gallon of Preservative Free sweet apple cider or juice. The only additive allowed here is ascorbic acid (vitamin c). I used 70% cider and topped off with canned apple juice.
Using a hydrometer, take a Specific Gravity reading (SG) so you can tell the amount of sugar in your juice and thus the alcohol potential in your final product. My reading was 1.043 which should yield a final product of around 4.5%. Add sugar if you need to, I went without.
Re-hydrate 1/2 pkg of wine champagne yeast (Lalvin EC-1118) in 3 oz of lukewarm water for 10 minutes.
Pitch the yeast into your 1 Gallon primary fermentation vessel (glass carboy in my case). Plug with a bung/stopper and install the airlock which allows gasses out but not in. Put it in a cool corner of your basement and add time.
Day 0 - 3 Hours after adding yeast: 1 bubble through the airlock every 60 seconds
Day 1 - 1 bubble through the airlock every 5 seconds
Day 2 - 1 bubble through the airlock every 3 seconds
Day 3 - 1 bubble through the airlock every 3 seconds
Day 4 - 1 bubble through the airlock every 3 seconds
Day 5 - 1 bubble through the airlock every 5 seconds
Day 6 - 1 bubble through the airlock every 11 seconds
Day 7 - 1 bubble through the airlock every 22 seconds
Day 8 - 1 bubble through the airlock every 30 seconds
Day 9 - 1 bubble through the airlock every 40 seconds
Specific Gravity is now 1.001 ( Very Dry )
Add 1/2 tsp. of sugar per 500ml bottle and fill with your cider (at this point it’s called still cider and can be bottled as-is without the sugar which will induce bottle carbonation) and store at room temperature for 2.5 weeks. After that, put it in the fridge for a few days. Enjoy.
–Next time I would use Ale Yeast for beer and hope it doesn’t turn out as dry.
–When pouring, I first add 2 tsp of white sugar to the pint glass to back sweeten.
–From juice to pint glass takes 5 weeks (conditioning time included)