Skip to main content

The Cider Experiments - Part 2 - Berry Medley Cider

In the previous post, we looked at three different ciders I attempted to make after reading Mary Izett's book Speed Brewing: Techniques and Recipes for Fast-Fermenting Beers, Ciders, Meads, and More.While none of the recipes I did were actually in the book, it is fair to say that the book inspired me to try them.

Based on Izett's suggestion that American Ale Yeast would yield a sweeter, fruitier cider, I decided to try fermenting three different juice mixes with it.

Mixed Berry Sweet Cider

The first cider created in this way was made using Ocean Spray's Berry Medley flavor Wave Juice Drink.  According to the label, it contains filtered water, cane or beet sugar, apple juice from concentrate, white cranberry juice from concentrate, fumaric acid, malic acid, natural flavors, citric acid, ascorbic acid, and carrot extract for color.  It has 21 grams of sugar per 8 ounce serving.

The recipe on this is incredibly simple.  Since the juice isn't refrigerated, that tells us it's already been pasteurized and should contain no wild yeast or bacteria.  That means there's no need to boil, as there would be with fresh juice or beer.  All you need to do is:
  • Measure 1/8 teaspoon of yeast nutrient
  • Sanitize an airlock and a stopper that fits the 64-ounce bottle
  • Open the bottle
  • Drop in the yeast nutrient
  • Drop in a third of a packet of Safale S-05 American Ale yeast
  • Put the lid back on
  • Shake the bottle a bit to ensure mixing of the yeast and nutrient
  • Remove the lid and insert the airlock and stopper
  • Allow the cider to ferment for at least two weeks in 65-75F temperatures
  • If the airlock doesn't appear to be bubbling anymore, you're ready to drink or bottle
To bottle the cider and carbonate it:
  • Sanitize five 11-ounce or 12-ounce bottles and a funnel that fits in the bottle
  • Sanitize five bottle caps
  • Put a carbonation drop in each bottle (these can be found on or local homebrew supply stores)
  • Insert the funnel
  • Carefully pour cider from the jug into the funnel, trying not to disturb the layer of yeast on the bottom any more than absolutely necessary
  • When the bottle is full, use a capper and one of the sanitized caps to cap the bottle
  • Put the bottles inside a cooler or other sealed plastic container and leave them in room temperature (65-75F) for two weeks
  • After two weeks, refrigerate and serve
Tasting Notes and Post Mortem

The cider carbonates very well and retains a champagne-like level of carbonation as you drink it.  The color becomes a bright pink, similar to a white zinfandel wine.  There is no head, and no lacing is left behind on the glass.  The flavor is very sweet, and the berry flavors come through clearly in both the aroma and flavor.  It's extremely easy to drink and reminds me of a berry-flavored soft drink.

Ingredients for this batch will cost about $4 total at current retail pricing, though you'll have to buy more yeast and carbonation drops than you need if you don't have them on-hand already.  

Unfortunately, I didn't take gravity measurements on this one, so I can't calculate an alcohol percentage.

If I make this again, some changes I'll consider:

  • We have fresh mint growing at the house, so I might make a mint "tea" with some vodka or grain alcohol and add it to flavor the juice.
  • I might also consider adding cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, anise, ginger, coriander, clove, or vanilla to it to increase the complexity of the flavor.  Although it's very pleasant to drink as-is, it feels more like a soft drink than an adult beverage.
Given that I already have a the bottling, capping, and sanitizing items around as part of my beer brewing equipment, the cost of a batch of this cider is low enough that I could try several different flavor combinations until I worked out something I really liked.  I could then scale that up to a five gallon batch (which would cost about $20-25 to make).


Popular posts from this blog

Things I've Learned Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 2

In the last post, I shared an overview of The Grainfather, recommended equipment to use with it, and an overview of the brewing process.  In this installment, I'm going to talk specifically about mashing and sparging. Having brewed over a dozen batches with it, I'm finally becoming very comfortable with the device, the mash process, and how to get what I want out of it. I don't consider myself a "master" of it yet, though. For those who have never done all-grain brewing, I want to provide a quick overview of the mash process itself. Mashing - With or Without The Grainfather The goal of mashing is to turn the starches in the grain into sugars. More specifically, you want to turn the starches into a mix of fermentable and unfermentable sugars that provide the flavor profile associated with the beer you are brewing. A sweeter beer might warrant more unfermentable sugars. A more dry beer will demand few unfermentable sugars. To a great extent, controlling the

Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 3 - Cleaning and Overall Thoughts

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced The Grainfather and discussed how to use it for mashing and sparging.  In Part 2, we talked about boiling and chilling the wort with The Grainfather and its included counterflow chiller.  In this final segment, we'll discuss cleanup and overall thoughts about the device and its usage. Cleanup Once you've pumped the wort from The Grainfather into your fermenter and pitched your yeast, you're well on your way to a delicious batch of homebrew.  Unfortunately, you've still got some cleanup work to do. The cleanup process in my experience will take 20-30 minutes.  It involves the following tasks: Removing and discarding the grain from The Grainfather's grain basket Cleaning the grain basket, kettle, recirculation tube, and wort chiller Cleaning all the other implements used in brewing (scale, scoops, mash paddle, etc.) At the end of the brewing process, there will be hops bags (if you used them), grain and other residu

Chapman Brewing Equipment 7 Gallon Stainless Steel Fermenter

Chapman's 7-Gallon Stainless Fermenter Recently, I found the Chapman Brewing Equipment 7-gallon SteelTank stainless steel fermenter on sale on Amazon for approximately $110.  That's about half the price of the other stainless steel fermenter I own, Ss Brewing Technology's Brewmaster Bucket. In fairness to the Brewmaster Bucket, the Chapman fermenter lacks a number of features.  The Chapman has no legs underneath it.  It's not designed to stack multiple fermenters on one another.  It has no thermowell or thermometer.  It doesn't have a conical bottom to catch yeast and sediment.  It also doesn't have a spigot you can use for bottling.  So the extra $100 buys a few features you're not getting here. That said, there is nothing wrong with this fermenter.  It seems very well made from 304 stainless steel.  There are good strong looking handles.  The gasketed lid can be clamped down for sealing and safety when carrying.  It even ships with a 3-piece airlo