Next Year's Christmas Cider




Introduction: Next Year's Christmas Cider

This is a fantastic cider recipe that my wife and I developed when we were still dating. It matures each year and is different each time we open a bottle. Though technically a cyser, this recipe is a development of my mother's yearly mulled cider recipe that showed up yearly around Christmas Eve, and was gone a few days later. I had always wondered what it would taste like to have a mug of glug that was sweetened by yeast and age. And now I have one.

Brew a few cases of this beast, age them a few years, and enjoy. This is one drink best served warm.

*also worth noting is that this alcohol will yield about 17% ABV... plan on staying in for the evening.

Step 1: Ingredients

· 14 Pounds of Honey
· 4 Gallons of unpasteurized, preservative-free cider
· 2lbs of dark brown sugar
· Red Star Cote des Blanc yeast

Must Preperation
· 3 tsps. Yeast Energizer
· 2.5 tsps. Pectic Enzyme
· 5 Campden Tablets Adjuncts
· 0.5oz. Cinnamon Stick
· 0.1oz. Cloves
· 0.5oz. Orange Peel

Secondary Fermentation Additive
· 3tbs. Sparkolloid

Step 2: Brew Day Equipment

Brew Pot 6 gal
Fermenter 6.5 gal
Air Lock
No Rinse Sanitizer
Large Sauce Pan- 2 gal
Ceramic Measuring Bowl- 8 cups
Ladle 1

Step 3: Brew Day Preparations

Thoroughly clean and sanitize ALL brewing equipment and utensils that will come in contact with any ingredients, must or cider.

In your fermenter add 4 gallons of unpasteurized, preservative-free cider with 3 Tsps. Yeast Energizer 2.5 tsps. of Pectic Enzyme and blend until all ingredients are dissolved. Take hydrometer reading and record on page 2.

Because the must is not boiled prior to fermentation it is important to insure that we kill any bacteria or natural yeast that may be living in your cider prior to adding yeast. This is done by adding sulfites, specifically sulfur dioxidein the form of Campden Tablets. Crush 5 Campden Tablets and add to the cider. Stir well, mixing all ingredients. Cover the bucket with a linen cloth and let sit for 24 hours.

Step 4: Yeast Preparation

1 On brew day use a sanitized ladle to remove 1 cup of must from the fermenter. Mix this with 2 cups of boiling water. When the mixture has cooled to 100°F mix in the contents of the yeast packet and let the culture media stand for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

2 Remove 3 cups of must and place in sterilized mixing bowl. Slowly sprinkle the culture media into the 3 cups of must in order for the yeasts to adapt to their new fermentation media (temperature difference, osmotic pressure, SO2), then wait for 10 minutes.

3 DO NOT ADD must until instructed to do so later in the Brewing Procedures section. Early addition can result in low yeast count as addition of Honey mixture can cause temperature shock and osmotic pressure differences that could kill yeast.

Step 5: Brewing Procedures

Bring one gallon of water to a boil in a large sauce pan. Add 2lbs. of dark brown sugar slowly until all is dissolved. Add each of the adjuncts (Cinnamon Sticks, Cloves, and Orange Peel) and continue boiling for 10 minutes.

Add all 14 pounds of honey to the boil. To make pouring honey easier gently pre-heat the honey (do not heat to more than 120°F). Stir until fully combined

Immediately crash the temperature of the water and honey mixture by removing it from the stovetop, and placing the large sauce pan into and ice bath. Crash until the temperature reaches 120°F.

Pour the contents of the large sauce pan through a course strainer into the fermenter with the must. Mix with a sterilized brew paddle until fully combined. Check the temperature of the completed must.

Check initial gravity with your hydrometer and record in the appropriate location on the second page remembering to adjust for temperature.

Proper oxygenation is important to yeast health. Aerate your must either by vigorously sloshing it between two sterilized fermenters, stirring aggressively with your brewers paddle, or with an oxygen supply and stone.

Monitor the temperature of the must and the yeast. When they are within 10°F (preferably 5°F) pitch it directly into the must and stir well with sanitized spoon or paddle. Firmly secure the lid onto the fermenter. Fill your airlock halfway with water and gently twist the airlock into the grommeted lid. Move fermenter to a dark, warm, temperature-stable area. (64°-86°F) Manufacture states that yeast can ferment in temperatures as low as 53°-57°F.

Step 6: Fermentation

The must will begin to ferment within 24 hours and you will notice Carbon Dioxide releasing (bubbling) out of the airlock. Within 4 - 6 days the bubbling will slow down until you see no more Carbon Dioxide being released. After 10 days or when fermentation is complete (no bubbles for 48 hours) take a Final Gravity reading with a sanitized hydrometer and record it in your ABV% CALCULATOR.

Prepare for secondary fermentation by sanitizing a carboy, racking cane, and siphon tube. Additionally prepare 3 tbs. of Sparkalloid according to the manufactures instructions. When your Sparkalloid mixture is ready to be added it is time to begin racking. Set up your racking cane and siphon tube and begin to rack the cider. As it flows from the primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter begin adding the Sparkalloid by pouring it through a thin funnel in the top of the carboy. Take care not to agitate the cider by sloshing it as this will oxidize it. Adding the Sparkalloid during the racking procedure ensures consistent mixture without stirring or oxidizing.

Step 7: Bottling Day

*PREPARE PRIMING SUGAR* (Optional step for sparkling ciders only)
In a small saucepan dissolve 1 cup of corn sugar into 2 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes. Pour this mixture into a sanitary bottling bucket. Carefully siphon your cider from the fermenter to a bottling bucket being carful not to transfer the sediment. Stir gently for about a minute taking care not to aerate the cider. A can of 100% pure Apple Juice Concentrate can be used as substitute for corn sugar, but should still be boiled in water.

Using your siphon setup and bottling wand, fill the bottles to within approximately one inch of the top of the bottle. Use a bottle capper to apply sanitized crown caps.


Move the bottles to a dark, warm, temperature-stable area (approx. 64º - 72ºF). Over the next two weeks the bottles will naturally carbonate. Carbonation times vary depending on the temperature and beer style, so be patient if it takes a week or so to achieve proper carbonation. Once carbonation is achieved, you may move your bottles to a cooler area (approx. 44º - 52ºF) to continue aging.
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    8 years ago

    I only used black because I liked the extra color and it's what I had in hand. so long as whatever you use has tea leafs I'm sure it'll work out. I really enjoyed the end product.


    8 years ago

    If you're looking for a little extra complexity I recommend some black tea bags during the boil. It adds a bit of tannin (which is OK since you're aging it) and micro nutrients that promote a healthy fermentation. I've also used Brown sugar in my cider and I really like what it brings to the table. I'll give your mixture a go for sure as I don't generally delve into the spices much. I agree with BARking as to the addition of acid blend. I generally add it at tasting before I bottle.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    A very curious suggestion indeed. I will give it consideration in my next batch. I'm curious if there is anything special about the black tea that you are adding of if that is simply the flavor set that you like. If there is nothing that distinguishes it as special I will probably brew in a batch of Montana Gold tea in my next brew for its cinnamon, orange, and more...


    8 years ago on Step 5

    Looks good, I am suprised at the adition of dark brown sugar as any time I have used it in a wine it tends to give it that "Brown" oxidized/molasses taste that does not impress me. I have not tried it with apple though might be worth a try. Today I bottled a crabapple wine that I am pleased with.
    50% crabapple juice
    25% apple juice
    Ginger, cinimon, cloves
    sugar to 14%


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    This recipe calls for it because of the otherwise unremarkable taste of the plane apple juice. I made this at a time when I did not have my own press and so I was starting with store brand preservative free apple juice. The brown sugar puts a round note on the drink that makes it more eventful. In future editions I plan to use a local apple from orchards in southern Montana that have more crisp sour notes to make it more eventful. It is a very non-traditional cider for a single purpose. When you think of this drink thing of the round warm notes that come with a Tom & Jerry (but without the batter). My wife and I had a bottle with friends tonight, just so that I could accurately purvey the flavors from recent recollection.

    I'm curious about your sugar addition, what type are you dropping, and what type of yeast are you using?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Looking at your picture, I hope that is not sparkling wine in that bottle sitting between the sparkling wine glasses. Sparkling wine bottles are designed to take pressure and have much thicker walls. Use beer bottles or champagne bottles or even pop bottles. A bottle breaking under pressure is a nasty thing, Takes the romance out of the occasion real quick.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 5

    Yes, this definitely is a still cider. When we do bottle it for carbonation we use Trappist abbey ale bottles such as Chimay, or others.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    For the most part I use regular white sugar for the ease and convenience. 2 cups will increase alcohol by 1% in a 23 liter carboy. I find I usualy like the ciders and wines that use a mix of apples better than those that use a single type.
    Cider is pure apple juice fermented with out any added sugar and will usualy give you 4.5-8%alc. sparkling or not.
    Apple wine can be made with as little as 25% juice but I prefer 100% with sugar added to bring the alcohol up to 8-14% ,also sparkling or not.

    Lalvin EC-1118 is one of the recomended yeasts for cider.

    If the wine/cider tastes a little flat, try adding some acid blend (citric,malic,tarteric) before you bottle it.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I make my German apple wine similar to BARKing's method. What makes the difference is adding spices and sweetening after fermentation and before bottling, then bulk age. Heat before serving or over camp fire.