At Texas Brewing we love all kinds of fermentables and we were very excited to offer cider kits. The cider kits are quite simple to make, and taste fantastic. So, let me give you a basic walk through of how to make one of our great cider kits.


The cider kits are designed on a 6 gallon batch size, like our wine kits. At Texas Brewing, we’ve been making them up as a 5 gallon batch. It gives them a slightly higher alcohol content and intensifies the flavor a bit. In addition to the cider kit, you’ll need 2 pounds of corn sugar and some good quality water.

 

So what equipment do you need to make up one of our cider kits? You’ll need a pot large enough to boil 3L of water and the corn sugar. One of our 5 gallon pots is great for this. You’ll need a stainless steel spoon, or plastic spoon, and a 6.5 gallon fermentation bucket (they actually call for a 7.9 gallon wine fermentation bucket). The size fermenter you use is going to be up to you. I happen to have a fermenter large enough to make these kits as a 6 gallon batch but I’ve also made them as 5 gallon batches as well.


The basic instructions are printed on the package. You’ll need to boil 3L of water along with the corn sugar. I like to just boil a gallon of spring water, it’s just easy for me that way. Meanwhile, you’ll want to use some Star San to sanitize your fermenter. You’ll boil the sugar and water, then add it to the fermenter. Next, add in in all the juice from the cider package. Then you’ll top up your fermenter to 5 (or 6) gallons, add the yeast, and then wait 7 days. After 7 days, there’s a flavor packet included that gets added. Then gently, I’ll say again, GENTLY…. stir your cider, then give it another 24 hours, and you’re ready to bottle, or keg.

 

These kits come with a sweetener packet. You can add as much or as little to the cider as you want. For a dry cider, just leave the packet out entirely. For a semi-sweet cider use half the packet, and for a sweet cider dump the entire packet in. We’ve usually waited until fermentation is over and given the cider a taste before adding the sweetener. For some we’ve added the sweetener, but most of the time we don't, because we tend to like our ciders more dry. It really comes down to personal preference.

 

Tonight I made one of our newer Cider House kits, the Peach Mango cider kit. I’m trying a bit of an experiment as well. One thing we’ve noticed is that the yeast puts off quite a bit of sulfur while it’s fermenting. I mean the room you ferment in is going to smell like a dirty fart, no joke. It will go away, I promise. We’ve had most of the sulfur dissipate by leaving the cider in the fermenter for an additional week. It also dissipates with time in the bottle. The thought is that the cider juice lacks some of the nutrients that the yeast need to be happy. So my experiment tonight was to add 1/2 tsp of the Wyeast Beer Yeast Nutrient to the sugar water boil. I’m hoping to add enough nutrients to minimize the sulfur production during fermentation.

 

Update: After a week of fermentation there was definitely a decrease in the amount of sulfur produced, at least the kitchen didn’t smell like sulfur. I added the flavor packet and the sweeter to the keg directly. I then racked to the keg and carbonated for 3 days. The first pint poured had a slight sulfur aroma, but the taste is fantastic. There is a noticeable peach flavor, with a subtle hint of mango. The base is a pear cider, and that comes through to some extent. Overall it’s a great kit, like all of them that I’ve tried so far. If you enjoy cider, come on in and pick up one of these fantastic kits!

 

-Mikey B

Mikey has been brewing since 1997 and moved onto all grain in 2012. He has worked at Texas Brewing for 4 years now. You can usually find him there on some Fridays and most Saturdays. He's also available by email at mikey@texasbrewinginc.com.