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Thread: Cider Kit

  1. #1
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    Default Cider Kit

    My wife is partial to ciders. She brought a cider kit labeled Brewer's Best / Cider House Pear home from the local brew supply.

    Anybody have any experience with these kits?

  2. #2

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    I make several wine kits a year. Do you have specific questions we can help with?
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  3. #3
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    I suppose the primary question is whether to follow the kit instructions, or can we do a little better?
    it wasn't what I'd consider cheap, and I'd like to make the most of the components.

    It came with a packet of unidentified yeast.
    Any idea what strain it might contain?
    Thoughts on tossing the yeast and using a particular yeast instead?

    The kit included a small sweetening packet (6.3-g powder) and a small "pear flavor packet". Instructions say to add the flavor packet at yeast pitch and the sweetener after fermentation. I haven't opened either packet; safe to assume the sweetener is artificial?
    Last edited by Neal; 05-13-2018 at 07:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neal View Post
    I suppose the primary question is whether to follow the kit instructions, or can we do a little better?
    it wasn't what I'd consider cheap, and I'd like to make the most of the components.

    It came with a packet of unidentified yeast.
    Any idea what strain it might contain?
    Thoughts on tossing the yeast and using a particular yeast instead?

    The kit included a small sweetening packet (6.3-g powder) and a small "pear flavor packet". Instructions say to add the flavor packet at yeast pitch and the sweetener after fermentation. I haven't opened either packet; safe to assume the sweetener is artificial?
    I made one of these cider kits a couple of years ago (plain apple) and I'm getting around to making another (spiced apple). I followed the directions (used 2 lbs of corn sugar to boost the ABV, added the "apple flavoring" with the yeast that was provided, then added the sweetener - which is artificial - before bottling) and it turned out really good. Pretty similar to a commercially produced cider. The only extra step I took was aerating the juice, as it has sulfates in it and I wanted to knock out that good old rotten egg smell (I don't know if it was necessary, but there wasn't any extra sulfur smells or tastes in the final product).

    I haven't made a fruit flavored cider using this kit yet, but when I make fruit beers, I use both real fruit and fruit flavored extract in order to get the desired flavor. For me, using just the fruit makes it taste more "winey" but just using flavored extract made it taste "fake", but using a bit of both made the flavor just right. I suspect the apple flavoring reinforced the apple flavor already in the cider, which is why it turned out good. So, if you have access to peaches, it might not hurt to add 2-3 lbs worth either late in the primary or in a secondary fermentation in addition to the peach flavoring.

    Good luck!



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  5. #5
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    OK, so on cider kits. I actually have a cider kit at home busy fermenting, but it's a different one to what you have. I'm brewing a Mangrove Jack's cider pouch, but I suspect the concept will be the same.

    Now, as with all kits, you bought a highly concentrated fruit juice with some additions. In my experience (so far, anyway), these kits generally contain crap yeast with no nutrients. While some say also that ciders and beers don't need nutrients, I still like adding some nutrients, specially when rehydrating the yeast.

    These kits come out fine if you follow the instructions to the T (like, REALLY fine), but you can improve them by following a few simple steps:

    1. Get proper yeast. Depending on your location and weather, pick a cider yeast that'll do best in your case. The "workhorse" yeasts that come in these kits are usually very basic, and not suited toward your specific cider's flavour profile. They're also quite old in most cases, and are not always well stored.

    2. Rehydrate and feed your yeast. I rehydrate as normal, add some nutrients (Fermaid O) to the yeast when rehydrating and also condition the yeast a bit to the juice before pitching. I just like my yeast happy.

    3. Give it time. It should be done in less than a week, if you follow it to the T, but don't rush it. My current cider took only 4 days from start to finish, and it was completely done. Leave it in the fermenter for at least 2 weeks, in my opinion. 2~3 weeks gives it time to mellow out, and allows the artificial sweeteners and flavouring packets added to the cider to "blend". It may not sound like much, but trust me, it makes a huge difference.

    And that's about it. Enjoy - it's SUPER easy to make!

    PS: That sweetener is saccharin. 600 times sweeter than sugar. Use that packet sparingly - if you want a dry cider, don't add it. Off-dry, add half that packet. Sweet, add the whole packet. DON'T add the sweetener until you've tasted the cider after 2 weeks in the fermenter - so you can make an informed decision. You can always add more sweetener - but you can't take any of it away.

  6. #6

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    I would just toss the sweetener package and use honey instead. Unless you open it and fins d that not only is it sweet but it has apple flavor as well. K1V would be my choice for yeast strain.

    I don't know if you are looking for a straight up cider or a cyser. If you want to make a cyser you can approach it in two different ways. You can dilute it down some and add honey. This way by diluting it down you can make your for the honey and apples to share the stage. If you want an apple bomb you can just dilute it normally, add honey and ferment. Or if you want to make a dessert style add even less water.

    Make sure to hold back some of the concentrate. This way after it's stable if you need more apple to get a good balance you still have some to add to the flavor profile.

    I would feed it. Apple seems to make a lot of H2S. If you didn't feed it I would suspect it will make even more. If it does get stinky on you, make sure to stir it off vigorously so it doesn't bind to the flavor profile permentately.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    I would just toss the sweetener package and use honey instead. Unless you open it and fins d that not only is it sweet but it has apple flavor as well. K1V would be my choice for yeast strain.

    I don't know if you are looking for a straight up cider or a cyser. If you want to make a cyser you can approach it in two different ways. You can dilute it down some and add honey. This way by diluting it down you can make your for the honey and apples to share the stage. If you want an apple bomb you can just dilute it normally, add honey and ferment. Or if you want to make a dessert style add even less water.

    Make sure to hold back some of the concentrate. This way after it's stable if you need more apple to get a good balance you still have some to add to the flavor profile.

    I would feed it. Apple seems to make a lot of H2S. If you didn't feed it I would suspect it will make even more. If it does get stinky on you, make sure to stir it off vigorously so it doesn't bind to the flavor profile permentately.
    Can't use honey - it'll ferment. The sweetener is a non-fermentable, meaning you increase sweetness in the cider to break the dry taste. You also don't stabilize cider, because it has to carbonate in the bottle.

    His kit is also a pear cider, and these kits are pretty well made to get a good cider out in the end. Making a cyser out of it will be a completely different approach, and won't give his wife the cider she wants (speaking from experience here). I'm probably going to add the flavouring packet to my cider this week sometime - it's turning out really good for a kit brew.

  8. #8
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    I've only made wine kits, so I defer to Toxxyc's experience with cider kits, but I'll share what I've learned with wine kits...

    They're a good starting point to learn about techniques you will need later, like how to stir and rack and bottle, but you don't necessarily have to learn anything about fermentation to get decent results by following the instructions and using what came with the package. However, if you know something about fermentation, you can start having fun, making wine kits not according to the directions.

    The fancier ones come with a pack of concentrated juice, a bunch of packets with instructions to add them at various times, (generally bentonite, yeast, potassium sorbate, potassium metabisulphite, and a clarifier) and the flavour pack. I was disappointed that my Raspberry Merlot flavour pack had never seen a real raspberry, nor had my Tropical Riesling flavour pack seen a tropical fruit, they were both just flavoured grape juices. This encouraged me to start using regular cheap wine kits and making my own flavour packs (generally involving frozen juice concentrate - putting two cans of Welch's Raspberry conentrate into a finished batch of cheap white kit wine makes an awesome summerberry wine- but no reason one couldn't backsweeten with honey so long as the kit ingredients include potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate to stabilize the wine after fermentation), as the base juice is fermented out dry and then stabilized before one adds the fruit pack.

    I was even able to get somewhat decent results from an inexpensive wine kit that I didn't dilute out to 5 gallons but only to 3 instead, instant ice style wine without paying twice the price! Next on the to-brew list is to make a pyment using a wine kit and add honey to bring the starting gravity up so it works out about the same as my ice style wine plan, only I come out of it with 5 gallons instead of 3.

    The only reason one might want to use unfermentable sugars is if one plans to bottle carbonate... which I have also done, I found very small amounts of Splenda to be not bad, and also the stevia extract in glycerine tasted better than stevia extract in ethanol, haven't tried powdered stevia yet.

    The one thing I would definitely change about any kit that suggest sprinkling dry yeast on top is to check what kind of yeast and look up how the manufacturer suggests rehydrating it, and do that instead of sprinkling dry yeast into the must.

    I guess the short version is kits generally turn out fine if you follow the instructions, but you can do some other really fun things of you don't
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