Shortcuting the brewing process
November 27, 2012 9:19 PM   Subscribe

I was going to make hard apple cider with champagne yeast for a party on Dec. 8th but wasn't able to start it in time. I know the brew process takes 14 days, but is there a way to speed it up?

I have a bunch of packets of EC-1118 yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae). I have a friend with all the equipment. I haven't bought the apple juice yet. Is it important to let the process go through all 14 days? Is there a way to speed it up? Is there some other thing I could make in a mere 10 days?
posted by brenton to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could always give the fast wine from grape juice method a whirl
posted by edgeways at 9:28 PM on November 27, 2012

You'll end up with more residual sugar, less alcohol, and a cloudier product. Also, if you're expecting anything like a commercial cider you'll be disappointed. Unlike beer, cider really needs to age for a while, though not nearly as long as most red wines. Bottom line: it will be sweet and yeasty, which may or may not be a problem.

By the way: make sure your juice is preservative-free. Potassium sorbate and the like will make it very difficult to ferment the juice.
posted by jedicus at 9:34 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

nthing jedicus: home-brewed ciders are usually left to age weeks or months before bottling. (Example thread.) You'd probably end up with something sweet, yeasty, cloudy and flat. If you start now, you'll have it good and ready for next year's party.
posted by holgate at 10:14 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

To get something palatable you'd really want much more than 14 days. Your cider will be yeasty unless you, in a sanitized process, siphon the cider off of the yeast that will settle into the bottom and into a new sanitized container that you then leave alone for a coule months.

If you stop it mid way through primary fermentation to drink it will be extra yeasty.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:12 AM on November 28, 2012

Probably too late to get hold of some but, Oztops will make you really tasty, drinkable cider with whatever yeast you like in between 3 and 5 days (depending on how dry/alcoholic you want it). The tops are reusable and come with yeast and the whole kit works well with other types of juice as well. The end result is not cloudy, is very fizzy, and is sweeter or drier depending on how many days you go for (the yeast is all done by day four regardless).

I'm guessing it's all in the pressurisation because the process is nothing like what other people are describing up there, although it might be in the small batch size too, so maybe take a look at how these work and see if it's something you can adapt if you can't find them or anything similar.
posted by shelleycat at 1:00 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding that OzTops makes a perfectly lovely cider in just a few days that's easily as good as most commercial ciders. After five days, it's bone dry. (I prefer it a little sweeter, so I blend with fresh juice.) Stick it in the fridge and it drops bright in no time. There's a chill haze, and occasionally a hefeweizen-like cloudiness, but that's about it.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:44 AM on November 28, 2012

My ciders are bone dry after a couple weeks, but it takes at least a year before they stop tasting yeasty. It took me a few years to figure that out, because they never lasted that long, but now I keg and wait a year. You won't have it for Dec 8 *this* year.
posted by pjaust at 5:33 AM on November 28, 2012

nthing that it will indeed be yeasty and not that good. I just started drinking the cider I started last year in November and it's great, but it takes a while.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:59 AM on November 28, 2012

Best answer: Incidentally, if you are attached to serving something alcoholic that you've made at your party, there is a trick that will allow you to clarify the yeast out of your cider and make it at least drinkable. If you add Isinglass, or Icelandic fish bladder extract, it will crash the yeast out of solution much faster, which should give you a cider that will not taste so complex but will be both somewhat alcoholic and still sweet from unfermented sugars.

Your local winemakers supply store right near you on Colorado Blvd should have some.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:38 AM on November 28, 2012

Best answer: I made hard cider a few years ago with no major process. I bought plain unprocessed apple juice, sprinkled 1/4 teaspoon of champagne yeast in it and left it in a warm place, lightly capped, for about 5 days. I poured the majority of it into a new container, trying not to transfer the sludge. Then I capped it and chilled it to drink.
It was sparkly and had a light kick. I made it so that my Civil War reenactor friends would have something akin to the era to drink around the campfire. Definitely no complaints.
posted by PJMoore at 9:33 AM on November 28, 2012

Response by poster: Good info everyone. I especially appreciate the info on how to brew correctly and am making a batch for next year. :) This year will have to be an odd hack or we'll skip the home brew. Not sure yet.
posted by brenton at 9:10 AM on November 29, 2012

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