Black Rock Nut Brown Ale Beer Kit Review 2020

After my successful crack at a bohemian pilsner, I turned m y 'beer goggles' to Black Rock’s ‘Nut Brown Ale’ beer kit

Like WilliamsWarn beer kits, it also made in the famous New Zealand Speights Brewery.

review nut brown ale beer kitThe kit is pitched by Black Rock as a “malty, deep amber coloured beer with a balanced harmony of crystal malt and hops to create a notably clean taste with a malt accented flavour.”

So shall we see if what I brew gets anywhere near that carefully crafted piece of PR spin?

The preparation of this beer is very standard


Sanitize your gear thoroughly.

Add the kit and a beer enhancer. You will certainly need an enhancer else, your ale will be too thin and have a poor mouth feel.

After pre-hydrating it, I added the bog standard brewing yeast that comes with the kit. I understand that every yeast packet from the Black Rock contains the same yeast which they call ‘Premium Dry Brewing Yeast Sachet’.

I could have got a yeast that was more properly matched to make an ale (such as maybe the Nottingham) but I’m keen to see what the kit delivers.

And now I did something a little hypocritical.

While the Nut Brown Ale kit comes with green bullet and pacific gem hops, I added goldings hops to add a lil bit of delight. The key thing for this beer is that it should be fairly light on hops so as to not over bitter your beer.

Then I wrapped the fermenter in sheets and left it in the shed for 9 days where it bubbled away quite nicely.

Let’s talk about this kind of beer for a moment.

The Brown Ale style initially gained popularity in the down and dirty pubs of England, where beer guzzlers expressed a need for beer that was both flavorful and complex but at the same time mild enough to be a session beer.

Bottling day came and the beer was duly bottled.

And then I waited a whole two weeks before even trying my ale. For me that’s an eternity but this is what a patient beer brewer must do if he wants to make quality tasting beer.

So, how did the ale taste? Did it reach lofty heights of flavour as suggested by the PR spin?


I made a simple beer. 

It tasted earthy and brown. 

I can’t say that the goldings hops did anything amazing for the beer but they certainly helped leave a nice aftertaste on the tongue. One could certainly appreciate the malty flavour of the beer so the description of the product bears out somewhat.

The verdict: The Nut Brown Ale kit from Black Rock is a handy example of the beer. It’s not flash in the pan but for the home brewer that’s conscious that some beer kits can be ludicrously expensive, this particular kit gives good value for money.

Update: I have brewed several Nut Brown ales since this initial review and I can confirm that as I've become a better brewer, these ales have become even more drinkable. 

How to prevent home brew beer gusher explosions!

beer gusher explosion

Have you ever opened a home brewed beer and it just gushed out like a pent up volcano that just had to blow its load?


It's hugely disappointing.

A foamy wetness that signals failure.

You've put in all that effort to may you brew and then it literally just splashes all over the kitchen sink or worse in front of your mates you're having some beers and BBQ with.

So what can you do about bottle gushers or 'bottle bombs' ?

There's a couple of ways to prevent gushers and they are pretty simple.

Clean your brewing equipment to prevent gushers


The first one, which isn't a solution but a warning, is to ensure that you have maintained excellent sanitization practices with your brewing.

There is nothing more disappointing than realising your brew has been contaminated with infection when you open bottle after bottle and be confronted with a mass of foam that gives Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park a run for its money.

You've set off a beer bomb!

So the lesson here is clean your brewing equipment!

The second way to prevent beer gushers is dead easy:

Don't put so much sugar in your bottles! 


I've learned this one the hard way. 

If you place too much sugar into your bottles, the yeast will go to town on it as part of the secondary fermentation and produce an excess of CO2.

When that happens, you're on a trip to gusher town.

So, it doesn't matter if you are placing sugar in the individual bottles or priming the whole brew, cut down on that sugar.

My personal rule of thumb is that for a 750 mls bottle, a FLAT tea spoon of sugar is more than enough to get a great level of carbonation.

If you want to employ a quicker method, you could try using carbonation drops. If using those, put two in a 750 mls bottle and one for a 500 mls bottle.

Batch priming with a correct amount of sugar is a good idea to ensure a correct amount is consistently applied across each bottle.


You were not a patient grass hopper


If you bottled your beer before primary fermentation had finished you run the risk of gushers.

If this is the case, you can simply vent your beer by opening the beer cap very slightly letting the CO2 escape. 

You can then re cap the bottle.

You'll need to be patient this time.

It's getting hot in here...


I also have a theory about gushers but I don't have any proof or evidence that I'm right but I think that if you open 'warm' beer, it is more likely to gush. When I say warm beer, I simply mean beer that hasn't spent a day in a fridge chilling out. 

I did an accidental experiment the other week when I noticed I had a couple of gushers in a recent brew.

It was the first opening of a new batch so I was a bit disappointed. The next night I put two bottles in the fridge and had a cracked one open the after work the next day. 

And no gusher!

I suspect warm beer temperature allows the carbon dioxide gas to escape quicker than a cold beer. 

So it's hardly scientific proof but I'd be open to discussion on it!

Be careful of exploding glass shards and shrapnel


Several brews ago I walked into my 'man shed' where I keep my beer and I thought a nuclear 'beer bomb' had been set off. There was green and brown glass everywhere and the smell of beer in the air. 

What had happened was my beer had actually become infected and the CO2 build up from a runaway yeast had caused a beer to explode. 

I suspect that the explosion caused a minor chain reaction of sorts and the bottles closest to the original exploding bottle blew up due to the fragments of glass that flew their way at presumably very hostile speeds!

This thus serves a reminder to keep your fermenting beer out in a place where glass explosions cannot harm people. At the very least keep them out of eyesight level of little and big people. 

Covering with a old sheet can prevent glass missiles being shot at faces. Or place them in a card board box if you can. 

But the best way to fix this problem is to not over carbonate with sugar!

How Cryo hops & 'lupulin powder' can replace the need for traditional hop pellets

How lupulin 'Cryo Hops' are changing the beer brewing industry 


The concept of making beer hasn't changed much in several hundred years but the methods recently have. While hops have been used for many a year, one company in America might have found a way for a genuine step change in hop use with their innovation of collecting lupulin powder.

You might already know that lupulin is the part of the hops that brewers utilised to make beers hoppy as that's where the good alpha acids for brewing come from.

using lupulin to make cryo hops
In case you didn't know, the alpha acids are converted into bitter iso-alpha acids during the brewing process, and essential oils and are what give beers their varying hoppy qualities.

YCH Hops, a grower-owned hop supplier based in Washington, America has created a new process where the lupulin is extracted from the hops and is collected in powder form and marketed as Cryo Hops.

You might well ask, what's the point of this?

Efficiency gains in making beer are the short answer.

Beer hops are often made into pellets form for distribution and preservation. The process of making the pellets actually breaks down the acids and oils meaning the effect on the beer requires more hops than one perhaps needs. Enter lupulin powder which has the superior percentage of 'herbs and spices' over hop pellets meaning that less quantity is required.
Ekuanot hops are quite popular

YCH boasts that their product "offers twice the resin content of traditional whole-leaf and hop pellet products" which basically means you only need to use half as much.

YCH Hops initially started to market their powdered 'Cryo Hops' with the brand name "LupuLN2" to commercial brewers in America.  The reviews are in and breweries switching as result.

How is lupulin powder made into cryo hops?


The powder extraction process is simple in concept. The collected hops are subjected to cold temperatures inside a nitrogen atmosphere. This limits any oxidation of the sensitive resins and oils in the hop. The hops are 'chilled and milled' and the lupulin is forced from the lupulin gland.

The little guy has not been forgotten though - a small home brewer, you can buy the powder from Amazon!

How to use Cryo Hops

It's dead simple - you can simply dry hop the Cryo hops as you would with your ordinary pellet hops. You don't even need to make a hop tea!
cascade cryo hops


What variety of cryo hops are there?


YCH Hops have produced Mosaic, Ekuanot, Citra, Simcoe and Cascade versions of LupuLN2. 

The benefits of using Cryo Hops


You can see the appeal for commercial brewers - less volume means better storage and transportation costs.

The other benefit of the powder is that their use in place of traditional hops means less 'green material' is left in the beer, improving clarity by reducing sedimentation and better beer brightness.

You can see why home brewers who don't have commercial means of clearing beer will love using the powder!

I haven't found any information how long the powder can be used before it loses its potency.
Given the apparent early success of lupulin powder with the American brewers that have used it, we expect that its popularity will slowly begin to spread across the Continent and then the rest of brewing communities the world over - provided it's sold at a cost-effective price relative to the economics of using traditional hop pellets it should do well - indeed the prices on Amazon seem pretty fair.

When to add 'rice hulls' to the mash

Have you ever had a stuck sparge when there's simply no wort exiting the tun? 


What a way to slow down your brew day! 

Sure, you can give your mash grain a bit of stir and try and remove the blockage and get going again but what if you could add something to the mash to prevent another stuck sparge?

Enter the use of rice hulls to prevent a stuck mash.

Rice hulls are the exterior layers of grains of rice.

When rice is harvested, the hulls are cast off because they are not for eating.

Once the hulls have been washed and dried (which removes flavor and color) they can be used as a filtration agent for getting the wort out of the mash.

They work by creating some space around the gritty and grisly mash particles so the wort can flow out of the mash tun. Given they do not add any flavour to the wort and are pretty cheap to buy, rice hulls are an excellent solution to a brewer's need to prevent a stuck sparge or lautering process.

Rice hulls offer a natural, easy way to help prevent a stuck mash!

rice hulls add to the mash

Use rice hulls when sparging a high gravity beer


It is a good idea to use rice hulls when you're brewing a high gravity beer with a big grist. This applies especially to beer recipes that demand high percentages of speciality malts and wheat and rye beers.

This is because these grains have higher levels of protein and beta-glucan than compared with barley grains and these elements cause the wort to be more viscous than other brews.

How much rice hulls should I add to the mash?


Many brewers seem to use hulls at a percentage no greater than 5 per cent of the total grain bill. In reality, a common measure is 1/2 lb per 5 gallon batch.

When do I add the rice hulls to the mash?


You can simply mix them into your dry grains before you infuse them with hot water.

Can I sparge with oat hulls instead of rice?


You sure can. 

Like rice hulls, oat hulls are the shell of the oat grain. 

Given they are pretty much inedible and no good for making porridge with, they have found other uses as filters. They act in just the same manner as rice hulls and do not any impart anything into the wort.

They are commonly used when brewing rye or wheat beers, the same as rice hulls.

Do I have to worry about rice hulls absorbing water?


Worry? 

Perhaps that's the wrong word but if you are the kind of brewer who likes their beer exactly as the recipe demands, then yes, the hulls can absorb water. 

So, what do to? Soak them in water prior to use so you don't have to even think about it.

Given there can be the odd bit of dust in them, give them a rinse in a colander before soaking.

Do I need to sterilize the rice or oat hulls before adding to the mash?


Some people do but I really can't see the point as the wort is about to be boiled within an inch of its life in the brewing kettle on top of a gas burner with masses of BTU which should kill any bugs that were hiding on the grains or hulls. 

What now? Go read the Star Wars crawl or something.

How to make 'prison hooch' (AKA pruno)

Hooch.

Making an alcoholic brew out of fruit juice is a classic cliche of many a prison movie or television show (looking at you Orange is the new Black - but it's based in reality and you can indeed make 'prison hooch' out of fruit juice with a bit of yeast thrown in.

It's that simple...

how to make prison hooch

Making alcoholic fruit hooch - Prison Pruno


Did you ever watch the trainwreck of a show that was Orange is the New Black on Netflix? 

The character Poussey made her prison hooch in a plastic bag using fruit...

Fun fact before we get into it, some elephants have been observed to bury watermelons, come back once they have fermented, and get drunk. 

So clearly nature intended us all to drink fermented juice at some point...what is wine after all but chemical love?

Prison 'hooch' has plenty of interesting slang names - toilet wine (because it is hidden in toilet tanks while fermenting) and buck, raisin jack and one form of it called pruno, is extremely popular - it got its name from the use of prunes as the sugar base.

What are the ingredients of prison hooch?


In prison, you're probably going to juice all the fruit you can such as oranges, apples, plums, and apricots. 

Prisoners can't magically get their hands on brewer or baker's yeast but they can up their odds by throwing in a couple of pieces of bread (yes, yeast can survive the baking process). I have no idea how this happens, it seems counterintuitive to this author... 

There can also be natural yeast found on fruit too... it's everywhere in nature!

Extra sugar is very helpful, and prisoners have also been known to throw in packets of tomato sauce, jelly crystals, hard candy, basically any sugar that can be fermented!

In the real world, you can simply add baker's yeast or brewers yeast to a bottle of orange or apple juice, softly cap the lid, and then wait for the yeast to work its fermenting magic.

One thing to consider is that some juices contain preservatives that will kill off the yeast. Fresh juices and products that contain sulfur dioxide, benzoate, potassium sorbate, and diethylpyrocarbonate may be fairly difficult to ferment.

If you intend on using pineapple, consider that it contains enzymes that can be hazardous to yeast, though some yeasts are stronger than others and if you are worried about this you can always boil your juice before pitching your yeast.

How to make fruity prison pruno cocktail AKA hooch?


In prison, it's often done with a plastic bag that can be sealed. The fruit is pulped up, bread added, and then sealed. It's then placed somewhere warm, such as a toilet where it can ferment for 5 - 7 days (depending on if the guards find it). Else whatever is available is used - buckets & bottles.

In the real world, you seriously probably just want to make a nice homebrew cider. If you want to give it a crack though, by all means, use the plastic bag but we suggest you simply use bottled juice and you ferment in the bottle itself. 

This will also prevent spills and mess!

If using the bag technique, any vintner will remind you that fermentation produces CO2, so you will need to burb the bag each day to release this gas build-up.

If brewing from a bottle, you can use a balloon  or condom with a small hole pricked in it as a release valve of sorts:

prison hooch with balloon release  blow off valve


What does this homemade cider or orange hooch taste like?


In my personal experience, it will often turn out quite bitter, or tart. 

If you've an iron cast stomach, give it ago. I could only manage half a glass before I mixed a glass with a 50:50 split with a lemonade, so becomes a kind of fruity seltzer.

A hand trick to account for the taste is to add some artificial sweetener or Stevia. 

How long does it take to make 'prison hooch'?


5 - 7 days is a pretty standard length of time but the more time the better. 

Once fermentation is complete, your pruno juice is now ready to drink - you may wish to chill this overnight in a really cold fridge to help let any sediment fall to the bottom of the bottle. In the brewing vernacular, this is called cold crashing.

There's nothing stopping you from using a hydrometer to take a gravity reading - when you have a few daily readings the same, then primary fermentation is complete. 

What is the alcohol content of prison hooch?


Temperature conditions, ingredients, and time of fermentation are some genuine variables that will determine the ABV of pruno or prison hooch can range from as low as 2% to as high as 14% which is similar to strong wine. 

A batch that high will knock you for six, which is exactly what you want it to do in prison right?

That will all depend on how much sugar is available to ferment. It will also be hard to drink. 

orange juice prison hooch

Can you make a prison hooch out of Gatorade sports drink?


I get what you're thinking - if you drink, you get a hangover but if you drink a brew made of Gatorade then the electrolytes will help you wake up as fresh as a daisy!

You actually can ferment such sports drinks but you need to change the game a bit - pitch a high amount of yeast and add additional sugars.

I've heard the use of honey can make an OK wine.

Whatever sports drink you choose to use, you should boil it to try and kill any preservatives present,

It's probably not really worth your time...

How safe is prison hooch to drink?


You may have heard the stories from US prisons where prisoners have suffered from botulism which has been attributed to brewing alcohol in prison. If botulism was involved, it would have been caused by unhygienic and un-sanitized conditions, rather than the process itself.

So if you using clean brewing equipment and sanitizing with cleansers like sodium percarbonate, you'll be just fine.

For the record, you can't get methanol poisoning from homebrew either.

Making hooch is a 'cheap' and effective way to make some alcohol. 

Understand that there's a variety of reasons as to the quality of booze you may make. Rember, results may vary and you make have to experiment somewhat before you settle on the kind of hooch you fancy. 

⇒ How do I tell if my beer fermented properly? (I really want to drink it)


How to tell if beer brew has fermented?

Fermentation is the name of the game when making beer.

If you don't have fermentation taking place, you simply don't have beer.

You have just have a 23 liter bucket of watery malt.

Homebrewers can face fermentation stage issues and a common problem is that fermentation has not begun. A typical sign is that there are no bubbles coming through the airlock.

how to tell if beer fermented

But is no bubbles in the airlock really a sign of a lack of fermentation?


The first thing to bear in mind is that it can take at least 15 hours of your Earth time before the CO2 bubbles start gurgling through the airlock. 

So don't go drowning your sorrows just yet if the bubbles haven't started. If you think that your beer hasn't started brewing there's some problem-solving you can do. 

If you are using a glass fermenter you can look for a dark scum that rings around the water level mark. You can probably see it through the standard white fermenter drum as well.

Or check for signs of foam or the krausen as it is affectionately known. Give it 20 - 48 hours before you start to worry.

If using a plastic drum you might be able to see through to check for the scum. Another trick is to take out the airlock and try and peek through the whole to identify scum or foam.

Also, did you firmly seal your fermenter? If not, the CO2 is possibly passing out via the lid and not the airlock meaning the pressure build-up is not sufficient for gas to pass out the water trap.

We're going to assume your fermenter is in a warm place and not in some shed where the temperatures are approaching zero degrees centigrade. Your yeast will go to sleep if this is the case.

You could also check the gravity by using a hydrometer.

I'll assume you know how to use one.  The beer has usually finished fermenting if the final gravity reading is  1/3 to 1/4 of the original gravity. This, of course, means you took an original reading when you first prepared your beer.

You did do that right?

If you have the same reading 24 hours apart - that's your final reading and an indication that the fermentation is finished. 

Don't bottle your beer just yet, let it mellow for a bit longer.

The longer the better your brew will probably be. If you are a beginner brewer, trust me on this. Let you brew rest up just a little bit longer than you may have the patience for.

Brewing is a game of patience, and those who wait are rewarded with good-tasting, clear beer

So why weren't there any bubbles in the airlock? 

That's a fair question to ask.

It could be that there was a leak that allows the CO2 to escape (to teach you to suck rotten eggs, those bubbles in the airlock are carbon dioxide gas, the by-product of fermentation).

You may have not tightened the drum enough or possible not screwed in the tap properly.

It's a good idea to check this is the case before you worry too much.
  • If you didn't see any signs of fermentation it could be that it's too cold to brew.
  • Is your batch of beer in a warm enough place?
  • If you're brewing during summer months, it's probably not too cold.
If you've left your beer in a cold place in the shed, then it may be too cold. If it's too cold to brew in your 'man shed' - say it's the middle of winter, you might want to bring your brew inside the house.

You could consider wrapping it in blankets or old sheets (I do this all the time just because that's what I learned to do at University in the cold, windy town of Palmerston North, NZ. This is a handy trick and will help to keep the chill off your beer. I think this trick works best if the beer is already warm enough to brew. 

Maybe leave it in the laundry if it's a warm place?

When I brew in winter I will often leave the fermenter our the warm kitchen or living room at least overnight so that the fermentation process has a decent chance to start. My wife hates that but still drinks the beer so go figure. 

Some brewers like to use heat pads (try the Mangogrove Jacks one) or panels to keep the beer at a consistently warm temperature. If you do wish to use a pad, you'll need to be able to store your brew close to a power socket so the heat pad can operate.

Yeast issues?

Another more serious reason for beer failing to ferment is yeast failure.

This may occur if the yeast has become dry. This is why you will hear a constant refrain from expert beer users to only use fresh ingredients.

In the case of a beer kit brewer, this means to not purchase old stock as the yeast could be too old (I do suspect however this is a bit of a housewives tale - as stock should rotate fairly regularly). 

However, in our experience, we haven't had this problem with a beer kit yet. 

A key trick is to add (pitch) the yeast at the appropriate temperature - if using a beer kit you will be well off to generally follow the temp instructions - you especially do not want to add the yeast if the solution is too cold as it may be hard for the yeast to get traction - and whatever you do, don't add yeast to boiling water (if that's what you are using to mix everything together) - as that will almost certainly kill the yeast and ruin any chance of your beer successfully fermenting.

So in summary here are some problem-solving tips:
  • Check for leaks that allow the CO2 to escape - tighten the fermenter drum
  • Look for foamy residue - if you see it, you're OK
  • Look for scum residue - if you see it, you're OK
  • Make sure the temperature is appropriate for the kind of beer you are making
  • Consider using a heat pad to ensure a consistent brewing temperature
Image credit to Quinn Dombrowski via Creative Commons Licence

How to make homebrew hard cider

Brewing apple cider guide


When I was a lad, I lived in a place called 'the fruit bowl of New Zealand', that place being Hastings.

There were apples everywhere, in the orchards, on the farms, on every corner. 

Open the newspaper and four or five would fall out! 

And never once did I think about making them into cider.

And now that I live miles away from the orchards of home, a good cider reminds me of years ofapple picking and thinning and driving a hydra-ladder around an orchard to help pay for university fees.

But you came here to learn how to brew an alcoholic (hard) cider, so let's get on with it. 

If you've brewed beer before, it's the same concept of fermentation but with some slight variations to the preparation of the basic ingredients and the addition of a few handy remedies to augment the cider's flavor. 

As always when brewing, it's very important that all your equipment is exceptionally clean and properly sanitized.

how to brew apple cider


So what do we need to begin making hard cider?


If you think the first thing on the list of things you need is apples or pears, well, you'd be right.

But it's not that simple.

When brewing cider, not all apples are created equal.

Ideally, you'll have been able to harvest some late-season apples, maybe even some which have naturally fallen from the tree. This is because these apples have high amounts of sugar in them, and as any brewer knows, sugar is great for fermenting!

Having a mix of different kinds of apples is very useful for taste preferences as well. 

Mixing Red Delicious with Granny Smith in a 1 to 2 ratio will produce a dry cider whereas 1 to 2 ratio of Macintosh to Cortland will produce a sweeter cider.

Another way to get the mix right is to use a mixture of 70% dessert apples and 30% cooking apples. 
This should give a good balance of sweetness and acidic taste.

Preparation of apples for brewing


First up, wash your fruit of dirt, bird shit, leaves and twigs and the like. Cutaway any rotten fruit as well. If your apples are a bit bruised, this is not a concern. 

Your immediate goal is to turn your apples or pears into a pulp. Some players may use a scratter but chances are you're gonna have to do this the hard way by using a bit of elbow grease and pulp them into what's called a 'pomace'.

What you do is pulp the fruit in a large bucket by simply pounding it with a piece of clean wood in the form of a 4 x 4 post. Or the end of a baseball bat, or whatever's handy for pulping.  Things will work out best if you quarter your apples or pears before starting this process.

You can always use a blender to speed the process along, but you are not trying to puree the fruit so go easy with the blender. 

Bear in mind, that you're not trying to go all Charles Bronson on your apples. 

Your mashed apples should have some substance to them, and they should certainly not be liquefied. If that's the case, you've over pulped. 

How many apples do I need to make cider?


A very rough rule of thumb is that 2kg of apples or pears can be turned into 1 litre of juice. If you are thinking in gallons, you'll need 20 pounds or just under 10 kg per gallon. So, if you want to fill your traditional 23 beer fermenter, do the maths and you'll find you need 46 kgs of apples.

Which is a lot of apples!

When crushing, be careful not to overdo it. The finished apples should have some substance to them, and liquid juice should not be present. 

If it is, you have pulped them too much.

brewing cider tips


It's time to press your apples and extract the juice


Seasoned pros will venture that using an apple press will save a lot of time and efficiently produce a lot of juice. 

Make sure your apple press is nice and clean. Make sure you have a clean bucket properly positioned to collect the apple juice. 

Then load your quartered apples or pears into it. 

As you turn the press, you will start to feel some real tension. Don't be tempted to keep going, this tiresome part requires a dedicated application of slowness and patience. Leave the press in this position for a couple of minutes and the juice will actually begin to flow.

Turn the press down onto the fruit until you feel some real tension. As soon as you do, don’t keep turning but leave this in position for a few minutes. You will see the juice will start to run. When the juice stops then tighten the press again and leave to repeat the process again until your apples are fully pressed. 

You should now have all the juice you need to make your cider with but first, it's time to add a campden tablet or two.

Adding sodium metabisulphite to kill off wild yeast


Producers of cider know full well that a batch of juiced apples can easily succumb to acetobacter bacteria contamination which causes the classic turn-to-vinegar spoilage of the apples.

Acetobacter is easily killed off, hence treatment with an agent like a Campden tablet (sodium metabisulphite) is important in cider production.

Using approx one tablet per gallon will also see off any 'wild yeast' that might have traveled with your apples. 

Experienced cider conjurers may also take the opportunity to add pectolase or peptic enzyme to the juice. Pectolase aids in the break down of pectin in the fruit giving you more juice and of great importance, this facilitates a better fermentation and a clearer cider as it helps reduce pectic haze. The amount of enzyme to add is approximately one teaspoon per gallon of juice. 

It's also used in winemaking for the same reasons.

It's recommended that you give this new solution 48 hours before you pitch your yeast to commence fermentation. Given this time, you should cover your apple juice will a towel or some such item to prevent foreign particles from getting in. You may wish to give it a stir once in a while as well.

Actually, stir the heck out of the juice every 12 hours to make sure everything is coming into contact with the metabisulphite

Adding yeast to the apple juice


Having let your juice rest with the Campden tablets for at least 24 hours, you are now at a fork in the road somewhat. You can take your chances with any benign yeast taking their opportunity to ferment the juice or you can pitch a yeast that is well suited for brewing with apples or pears.

If you didn't already transfer the juice into your fermenter, now is the time to do so. Make damn well sure it is properly sanitized.

You might want to take a reading with a hydrometer to get the gravity of your juice so you can work out the ABV. 

It's time to add the yeast but what kind should you add?

The classic, traditional yeasts to use are commonly referred to as Champagne yeast as they produce what is often described as neutral flavors but there are some great wine and beer yeasts out there to try as well. 

Here are a few selections:

Specific yeasts for cider

  • Mangrove Jack’s Cider Yeast M02
  • Safcider from Fermentis
  • WLP775 English Cider Yeast from White Lab

Champagne yeasts for cider

  • Prise de Mousse, EC1118 from Lallemand. A popular choice for those who wish to have a high alcohol content (and you can encourage this by adding extra sugar to your cider batch).
  • Pasteur Blanc from Red Star
  • VQ 10 yeast from Enartis
  • Enartis Ferm WS

    Beer yeasts for cider

    • Saflager S-23 from Fermentis
    • WLP565 Belgian Saison from White Labs
    • Wyeast 3711 French Saison
    Here's a demonstration video of how the professionals do it:

    How long to leave the cider to ferment?


    Fermentation should start within the week, or a few days if the temperature is ideal. You'll want to let your brew do its business for about two weeks AND then give it another to let the yeast begin to settle out of the solution to improve clarity.

    You can get away with quicker times for brewing beer but apples and pears need this time if you want to make a quality brew.

    What temperature do you ferment cider at?


    As with beer making, sound temperature control will improve the odds you will have a good tasting beer. The extremes apply here - too cold and the yeast will hibernate and not ferment. Too hot and the yeast will be overworked and will produce fusel alcohols which will impair the taste of your cider. 

    The ideal temperature is considered to be about 15 degrees Centigrade or 59 Fahrenheit. Nudging to 20 is acceptable but anything over will produce unwanted side effects. 

    A steady temperature is also ideal. Too much fluctuation can through the yeast off its game. If you have a brewing fridge / fermentation chamber with a thermostat, your cider is ideal for a run in it. 

    When to add malic acid to cider brew?


    Malic acid occurs naturally in apples and plays a part in the pH level of your cider and most crucially taste. If your pH level is too high, then adding extra malic acid will reduce the pH level (remember the lower the pH level, the more acidic a solution will be). 

    Conversely, if your pH level is too low, then you'll want to add a base such as precipitated chalk.

    So then, your next question surely then is what is an ideal pH reading for cider? Many brewers aim for a range of 3.2 - 3.8. If you're nudging over four, you'll want to add malic acid as given it is already present, it matches the profile of the cider. 

    If you're interested in using a digital pH meter for checking the level of your cider, check out our pH tester buying guide.

    Do I need to add tannins to my cider batch? 


    Tannin is a yellowish or brownish bitter-tasting organic substance that can be found in plant material such as tea, rhubarb, grapes and apples. Tannins are acids, a well known one being gallic acid. Tannins give an astringent, drying bitterness quality to cider. 

    Some kinds of apples have high tannin levels so the addition of them is not really necessary. Where brewers are using applies which naturally make a sweet cider, that brew may need some added tannins. 

    A ¼ teaspoon of tannin per gallon of cider is a commonly recommended amount to add. The exact amount can be a bit of a science, this dude has some great advice on how much to use.

    Tannins can be sourced online from Amazon or from your local brew shop.

    bottle conditioned apple cider


    How long do I bottle condition cider for if I'm carbonating?


    Cider takes a lot longer than beer to condition to an optimum drinkable state. It can take up to two months for carbonation to fully occur and even longer for the cider to reach peak performance. That said, some brews will be carbonated within 2 - 3 weeks. 

    It's very important to only bottle when you are sure fermentation is complete as if you cap those bottles before the yeast has done its job, you'll run the risk of bottles blowing up especially if you've added sugar to promote bottle carbonation. 

    A bottle explosion can send a big foamy mess everywhere and littering the place with sharp glass. 

    Trust me, I've made this mistake before and it's a massive pain to clean it all up and worse, it's a waste of time and energy and money!

    If you want flat cider, without carbonation, you'll need to add an additive such as more Campden solution to prevent any residual yeast from fermenting in the bottle. Like when you were preparing the apple juice, leave the Campden to sit for a whole day before bottling to help ensure any yeast present is accounted for.

    Remember to store your bottles in a cool spot, free from direct sunlight, especially if you used green bottles. 

    I should mention that before bottling should taste your brew as this is the time to 'back sweeten' if wish. 

    If you want to do this, you can add a non-fermentable sweetener such as stevia. This is in place of using extra sugar and it will mean you won't over carbonate.

    Making cider from store bought Apple Juice


    Making cider from store-bought apple juice is a very simple process as the hard work has been all done for you. Try and use a juice that doesn't have preservatives as theoretically this can hamper fermentation from commencing but don't overthink it.

    [The short version is you just add yeast - kind of like making Pruno]

    You might want to start with a gravity reading. If it is below 1050, then you may wish to consider adding a bit of sugar so the yeast has something to start working on.

    The process of fermentation is the same so fill your clean and sanitized fermenter with the desired juice. Give it a bit of a shake to aerate and then pitch your yeast - maybe Lalvin EC-1118. You could also add some yeast nutrient as well.

    Some brewers split the juice in half and once they are satisfied fermentation is occurring, they add the second half.

    Seal your fermenter with an airlock and leave it be for 2 to 3 weeks at a minimum. When you feel your cider is ready for bottle conditioning, you can batch prime with dextrose in the normal manner.

    You will want to condition your cider for a minimum of two months - cider brewers need to be more patient than beer brewers if they want a good tasting cider!


    What is a Demijohn?


    A demijohn (or jimmyjohn) is a particular kind of glass fermenter that is popular with cider and winemakers. 

    They come in all kinds of sizes from 5 litres through to 23. The smaller sizes allow for experimentation. 

    Their long necks can make them troublesome to clean.

    hard cider beer kit


    What about brewing with a cider kit?


    There are plenty of cider kits out there, just as there are for beer. We've taken a fancy to the Brooklyn BrewShop's Hard Cider Kit:

    A perfect kit for beginners, it makes fermenting hard cider at home simple and fun. The kit has enough ingredients to makes 3 batches of hard cider.

    It includes 1 gallon reusable glass fermenter, 3 packets yeast, vinyl tubing & clamp, racking cane & tip, chambered airlock, 3 packets cleanser, and screw-cap stopper. 

    You'll need to supply your own apples or juice.

    You'll be able to produce 3 batches of 7% ABV of hard cider (9-10 12-oz bottles). Brooklyn BrewShop describe that this kit will help you make a cider that is tart, bubbly and dry. 

    Powered by Blogger.

    Tags

    absorption caps abv acetaldehyde acid adjuncts advice about beer brewing aeration aeration kit aging air lock alcohol alcohol poisoning ale ale beer kits alkaline alkaline brewery wash all grain american amylase apera apples attenuation autolysis automatic temperature compensation bacteria baker's yeast baking yeast ball lock ball valve bar keepers friend barley batch prime beer brewing beer capper beer dispenser beer filtration kit system beer gushers beer kit beer kit review beer kits beer lines beer salt beer taps beerstone best brewing equipment biotin bittering BKF black rock bleach blichmann blow off tubing bluelab bohemian pilsner boil in a bag boil over boneface bottle cap bottle caps bottle conditioning bottling bottling beer bottling spigot bourbon brettanomyces brew and review brew day brewing beer guide brewing salts brewing spoon brewing sugar brewing thermostat british thermal unit brix brix scale BTU budvar buffer buffer solution burton snatch buyer's guide calcium chloride calcium sulphate calibration calibration probe calibration solution campden tablets capping carbon dioxide carbonation carbonation drops carboy cascade caustic soda chinook chlorine christmas chronicle cider clarity cleaning your equipment clear beer clone recipe cloudy beer cold crashing coldbreak conditioning tablets conductivity conical fermenter contamination coopers copper tun corn sugar cornelius corny keg craft beer creamy beer crown cryo hops cubes danstar nottingham death from above demijohn dextrose distilation DIY DME draught dry hopping dry malt extract edelmetall brü burner ekuanot electrode enhancer enzyme equipment ester ethanol experiments in beer making faucet fermcap-s fermentables fermentation fermenter fermentis fermentor final gravity finings five star flat beer floccing foam inhibitor french fresh wort pack fridge fruit fusel alchohol garage project gas burners gelatin gift and present ideas gin ginger beer glucose golden ale golden syrup goldings gose grain grain mill green bullet grist guinness gypsum hach hacks hallertauer heat mat heat pad heat wrap home brew honey hop schedule hops hops spider how not to brew beer how to brew that first beer how to brew with a beer kit how to grow hops how to make a hop tea how to wash yeast hydrated layer hydrogen sulfide hydrometer IBU ideas idophor infection inkbird instruments isoamyl acetate jelly beans jockey box john palmer jos ruffell juniper keezer keg cooler keg regulators kegco kegerator kegging kegs kettle kombucha krausen lactic acid lager lagering lauter lion brown liquid malt extract litmus LME lupulin lupulin powder lupuLN2 making beer malic acid malt malt mill maltodextrin mangrove jack's maple syrup mash mash paddle mash tun mccashins mead methanol micro brewing milling milwaukee MW102 mistakes mixing instructions moa mouth feel muntons must nano brewing New Zealand Brewer's Series no rinse nut brown ale oak oak wood chips off flavors original gravity oxygen pacific gem palaeo water pale ale panhead PBW pear pectine pectolase perlick pete gillespie ph levels ph meter ph pen pH strips ph tester pico brewing pilsner pitching yeast plastic drum poppet valve pot powdered brewing wash ppm precipitated chalk pressure relief valve priming prison hooch probe problem solving propane and propane accessories pruno pump system purity law radler re-using yeast recipe record keeping reddit refractometer reinheitsgebot removing beer labels from bottles review rice hulls riwaka rotten eggs saaz saccharomyces cerevisiae salt sanitization secondary regulator sediment seltzer session beer silicon simple tricks for brewing siphon site glass skunked beer small batch brewing soda soda ash soda stream sodium carbonate sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate sodium hydroxide sodium metasilicate sodium percarbonate sour beer sparge spigot spirals spirits spoon spraymalt star san starch STC-1000 steinlager steralisation sterilisation sterilization sterliization stoke storage solution stout sucrose sugar supercharger tannins temperature temperature controller therminator thermometer tips for beginners tri-sodium phopsphate tricks and tips trub tubing tui turkey vodka infused gin vorlauf water water testing wet cardboard taste wet hopping weta whirlfloc tablets white claw williamswarn wine winter brewing wood wort wort chiller yeast yeast energizer yeast nutrient yeast rafts yeast starter yeast traps
    Back to Top