A week ago we bottled the hard cider. And, yes, I may have filled a wine bottle with cider, but when you brew stuff, any non-screw top bottle is a treasure. I have to say it turned out pretty good … and a little strong. We bottled, stuck a couple in the fridge and had them once they were cool. We used apple cider instead of apple juice. We thought about buying apples and juicing them ourselves, but it takes like a bushel of apples to make a gallon of cider, so we decided to do the easier (and cheaper) option of buying 4 gallons at Kroger.
This time around, our friend also brought something he picked up for about $2.50. A spigot. Previously, we used a hose to bottle, which works great – if you have three people. One to suck the end of the hose to get the liquid flowing into a bottle, one to hold the hose and pinch it off between filling bottles, and one to cap. When we bottled beer a couple of months ago, it was me and my husband. Beer everywhere!!!
The only thing we added at the end was wine conditioner. It’s an additive made of liquid invert sugars and potassium sorbate, and it sweetens and stabilizes the finished product. The potassium sorbate kills off the rest of the yeast, so you don’t to worry about renewed fermentation. We added 8 0z. It recommended at least 2 oz per gallon. At first we added 4 oz, but noticed no difference, and thought the 2 oz minimal requirement might be needed for killing off all the yeast, so we added the other half cup. The conditioner is corn-syrup thick, so after trying to find a spoon long enough to stir the first 4 oz, I got smarter the second time and added a half cup of cider to the rest, stirred until that was blended, which was like blending corn syrup with something, and poured that in.
The cider is slightly carbonated after fermenting in the carboy, so we did not feel the need to carbonate further. I prefer my hard cider with less carbonation anyway. Woodchuck comes to mind when I think of being too carbonated. Angry Orchard makes a great hard cider, and it seemed way less bubbly, which we liked.
All in all, I think we ended up with 44 bottles. And as a side-note, if you are a home brewer – don’t use Dos Equis bottles. We found the caps do not fit on those bottles tightly, or properly even. At least with the caps we buy at Liquor Barn in KY. Traditional Coca-Cola bottles are great to re-cap, besides whatever variety of beer bottles we reuse.
I’m going to try a bottle today. Our friend that brews with us says it’s gotten better after the first week, and has a nice bite to it. The rest we want to let sit for a while longer. It only gets better with age.