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Making hard cider

ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get alongRegistered User regular
edited June 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
So I've made some hard cider that will put you on your ass. My gravity reading is telling me nearly 13% and I'm excited about my final product. Its currently in some 5 gallon carboys that I had planned on reracking into 1 gallon carboys. My plan was that whenever I wanted a glass of my hooch I'd just open one up and poor myself a glass. Replace the lid and put it back in the fridge. However I'm being told that my hooch will quickly turn shitty. Since this stuff has been carbonated my informant is right I think. Unless I drank the entire gallon quickly (no friggin way) I'm afraid it will lose carbonation and turn shitty.

Do I have to bottle this stuff? I really do not want to because I don't even have any bottles. I don't want to buy a shitload of bottles, I don't want to store them, and I don't want to have to keep sterilizing them. I also don't want to buy caps and deal with the arduous task of bottling like 30 gallons of hard cider. I just want to get sauced.

So H/A do I have to bottle my hooch?

Shogun on


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    FagatronFagatron Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Not if you throw a party!

    Fagatron on
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    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    No, you don't, although bottling does make serving easier. I'm of a mind that any alcohol you make at home should be stored in mason jars, handled or not, to get that real moonshine feeling going. They're a lot cheaper than other types of bottles and easier to clean/deal with -- if you do want to store some.

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    BoutrosBoutros Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    To stay carbonated it is going to have to stay under pressure. Your best options for long term storage are bottles and kegs.

    Bottling is really not that bad. I always use 22oz bottles, it's easier than doing almost twice as many 12s. You could also get 750ml bottles or even bigger ones from your brewing supply store. You might need champagne corks to hold the pressure of carbonation though. You could get soda kegs, but that is a lot more capital investment and it is a bit more complicated.

    Boutros on
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    RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    You could always use beer bottles, which are generally readily available amongst my friends.

    You would have to clean/sterilize them though.

    Filling them isn't horrible if you have a friend to help, just one of you operate a valved siphon hose, filling them, and the other capping them (of course requires a capping press and bottle caps).

    Ruckus on
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    Dropping LoadsDropping Loads Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    This really depends on 2 things: 1, is your stuff carbonated, and 2, did you filter the yeast out? If the yeast are still in and alive, it will get nasty fast as you will rapidly accumulate oxidation products. If you filtered, your alcohol concentration will prevent most background contamination, but you can still build up oxidation products with the tannins present in the juice. If you made your cider from store-bought juice rather than farm-pressed, this is less of a concern.

    In addition to the immediate storage question, high gravity cider is closer to wine in how the flavor improves with age. Bottling lets you keep it for a year or more, and you'll be quite impressed with how smooth the flavor will get. I don't see a way around bottling. One thing I recommend is to use the "Bench Capper" rather than the "2 hand capper", both of which are shown here: (or any other random homebrew website, I just took the first one I found.) If you carbonate your cider (I use maple syrup as a finishing sugar to make a sort of apple-champagne), most recipes call for strong carbonation, and it can be hard to seal the caps accurately enough with the hand capper to handle the extra pressure.

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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Like invisible said. Bottle 'em up. If you want, get large bottles and some growlers. Also, call a buddy and have him come over and help you bottle, as mentioned earlier. This is what I do, and someone who helps me knows they're walking away with some homebrew of their own in exchange for their time.

    Darkewolfe on
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    LineNoizLineNoiz Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Sanitize a balloon. After opening one of the carboys and pouring a drink, stick the balloon inside the carboy and inflate. When the balloon is as full as you can possibly get it, tape the end to the outside of the carboy, plugging the carboy opening with the balloon. The volume taken up by the balloon should provide enough pressure to keep the cider carbonated, and the pressure inside the carboy should keep the balloon in place. Next time you want a drink, pop the balloon (don't let it fall in the cider...) and repeat the process.

    I have no idea if this will actually work.

    LineNoiz on
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    ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Thanks for the replies chaps. It did not occur to me that I could use bottles larger than 12oz and after doing some calling around town I can get bigger bottles for cheaper. I think bigger bottles are the way to go as you could just open one of these things and chug it and be done. Storage won't be as big of an issue either. Now I'm really going to wish I had some labels though.

    Shogun on
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