Note (8/30/2016): It's hard to believe it has been almost a decade since I first published this Instructable, and I am continually amazed by how active of a resource it remains for many first-time cider brewers. This is a great community of makers and I am happy to have made a useful and long-lasting contribution. If you have any questions, chances are they have been asked and answered in the comments.
Since publishing this Instructable all those years ago, I followed my passion for making things, became a professional blacksmith, went back to school and began a career as an Industrial Designer. If you are interested in my other work, please visit my website www.abandazian.com. Thank you!
Now that it's fall and the apples are ripe in my neck of the woods (New Hampshire), I thought I'd share a recipe for home brew hard cider. It's a very simple first-time home brew and it's very rewarding. I've never liked the taste of beer or any other alcohol for that matter, but a good cider is hard not to like.
Firstly, this Instructable will explain the process for producing all natural, organic, 100% hand made hard cider, an alcoholic beverage made through fermentation of apple cider.
This is for instructional and educational purposes only and should not be attempted by anyone under the age of 21. State laws may prohibit home brewing in your are. Brewing cider involves the use of active yeast culture, which may cause some food allergies and, as always when home brewing, there is always the possibility of contamination. Sterilize all containers and tools and use only fresh ingredients. And always drink responsibly.
Now that that's out of the way, let me explain the basic process. First you get a lot of apples and juice them/press them, etc. or buy a lot of apple cider (this recipe is for 1 gallon of cider). There are two basic methods after you've procured fresh, unpasteurized apple cider:
1. Put the apple cider into a container with a vapor lock and let the wild yeast that occurs naturally in apples ferment the juice into booze. (This takes a very long time and yields unpredictable results, but if you want simplicity, it doesn't get much easier than this. My instructable will deal mostly with option 2)
2. Pasteurize the apple cider with heat or Campden Tablets and then add brewers yeast (champagne yeast works well) with yeast nutrient and put it in a container with a vapor lock (takes less time to ferment and will yield a more stable cider)
In addition, just to clarify, there are 3 primary apple beverages that will be discussed here (not including applejack or apple brandy)
Apple cider - Unfiltered apple juice that contains oxidized pulp, resulting in brown coloration. Comes in many pasteurized and unpasteurized varieties.
Hard Cider (Or just Cider) - Alcoholic beverage fermented with yeast from Apple Cider
Apple Juice - In this country, Apple juice refers to ultra-filtered apple-cider that has been watered down and supplemented with other sweeteners (Such as Motts, Juicy Juice, etc.)
Terminology varies from place to place, which is why it is important to specify.