This hard cider recipe is an attempt to recreate a Dry English Cider and was originally posted on HomeBrewTalk. Traditional English ciders made in the south west of England were typically made with a blend of bittersweet and bittersharp apples that naturally contain high levels of tannin. These tannins give this cider dynamic and body.
Because tannin is not a desirable flavor in sweet ciders, commercial juices and many orchard ciders available in the US will be made from sweet dessert apples that lack tannins. To compensate, this recipe adds tannin to the sweet cider using prepared black tea. Additionally, the juice of one lime is used to add acidity which brings balance to the cider.
Tannins are quite hard to measure as they are actually a mix of things rather than one chemical such as ethanol. Because of this, it is important to record the tannin addition process carefully so it can be recreated or tweaked in future batches.
Cider Making Directions:
1. First, sanitize all of your brewing equipment properly before beginning.
2. Take a specific gravity reading of your cider to determine the original gravity. Document this so you can calculate the final ABV later.
3. If you are using pasteurized store-bought cider, skip this step. If using fresh cider, add campden tablets to the sweet cider to stun wild yeast and bacteria. Wait approximately 24 hours for the campden to dissipate before moving to the next step.
4. Next, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil and add the tea bags. Allow the tea to steep for about 10 minutes before adding the juice of one lime. Allow for the tea to cool for a few minutes before pouring it into the carboy.
5. Take a hydrometer reading from the apple juice or sweet cider to discover the original gravity. A specific gravity of 1.045-1.050 is a great place to start. If you would like to raise the original gravity, consider using an apple juice concentrate as it will add sugar and flavor.
6. Next, add the yeast nutrient and juice into the carboy with an aggressive pour to help aerate the juice and mix the nutrient. Pitch yeast according to the manufacturer’s instructions and install an airlock on the carboy.
7. Place the carboy in a cool (60F-70F) environment and allow the cider to ferment in the primary until dry. Then rack the cider into a secondary and age the cider until it clears, usually 1-2 months.
8. Take a hydrometer reading at this point to measure the final gravity to calculate alcohol content.
9. Finally, bottle the cider with about 1 oz of priming sugar per gallon of cider for natural carbonation. Because the cider was bulk aged, most of the yeast will have settled out which will slow the carbonation process.
The final Dry English Cider tastes good after a few weeks in the bottle but just gets better with age!