DIY Cider Making #1: Hello, Let’s Talk About Making Cider

Welcome to Cider Culture’s new column about DIY cider making. Our intrepid cider reporter Samantha (also an at-home cider making experimenter) will share her tips, thoughts, frustrations, victories and insights into the DIY magic it takes to turn apples into a mind-bending beverage.

Give me yesterday’s bread, this day’s flesh and last year’s cider. —Benjamin Franklin

Hard cider is a deliciously strange drink, and often hard to categorize. Some have tried to classify it as beer; others believe it to be closer to wine and yet, it is neither! Like many good things in this world, cider defies the confines placed on it and insists on being thoroughly its own category.

DIY Cidermaking

So, what goes into making cider? Have you ever wondered what it takes to go from apple to alcohol? Are you curious how you could make your own hard cider? Then we welcome you to this new series, DIY Cidermaking.

Cidermaking is a unique and fascinating process. With its roots dug deep into our history, it is an ever-growing and changing art, with many nuances that we will explore. In this series, we will discuss various aspects of the cider making culture. From popular topics within the cider industry to our hands-on approach on how to create homemade cider, we will delve into what defines a cider. We will provide helpful tips about producing cider and what it really takes to make this delightful libation.

DIY Cidermaking

Who am I, you may be wondering? I’ve been a cider enthusiast for quite awhile and what brought me to the point of wanting to create my own cider was attending a cider festival several years back. The many small-batch varieties I experienced from local cideries were just full of flavor and so different from some of the larger distributed brands I’d tried before. It inspired me to try to make my own! I began doing research, assembling supplies and finally got started on the winding path of DIY cidermaking.

The main takeaway from my experiences is that when you first begin, there is so much trial and error. It is a lot of experimentation and—I have to admit—a bit of guesswork. That’s what makes it so fun, though! Growing from my mistakes helped me learn the process. Nothing gave me more satisfaction, though, than tasting a pro cider that had the same flavor and texture as my most recent batch. Once, when I was in Bar Harbor, Maine I stopped by a restaurant in town that carried many local brands of beer, cider, wine and distilled liquors. When I ordered a glass of a local cider (the name is escaping me!) and took the first sip, I was so excited that the flavor was almost exactly like my own! The amateur cider maker in me knew at that moment that my cider was, indeed, on the right track.

Stay tuned for the second installment of DIY Cidermaking next week, when I’ll be reviewing general styles and categories of at-home cidermaking


What questions do you have about DIY cidermaking? What topics would you like to see covered in the future? Let us know in the comments!

1 Comment

  1. Paul Johnston on August 19, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Glad to have stumbled upon this page!

    My interest in hard cider began in 5th grade, completely by accident. My class had gone to a historical re-creation of a 19th century farm, one of the demos was a cider press. We each got to take some home, and I left mine in my backpack over a long weekend. I put it in the fridge but when I went to drink it, it was fizzy and had a very pleasant yeasty flavor to it. I later discovered that it also had a slight amount of alcohol.
    Later on in life, we use to go into Canada where the drinking age was 19 and discovered that hard cider was nearly as common as beer, but was unobtainium down here in the states, so I began my foray into the world of DIY hard cider making, around 30 years ago. The local brewing supply had a single very short pamphlet on cider making, and I experimented and wound up with a reliable, repeatable recipe/method that I still use every fall. My cider-loving friends like my extra dry cider that literally tastes like biting into a freshly picked Gala apple, it hits 8-9% alcohol.
    My second batch is usually a champagne style cider that gets a dosage with bottling. It has the same bite and effervescence as a good dry Champagne, and comes in at around 12-13%.
    In the last couple of years I have experimented with blackberry, grape and pomegranate juice added at bottling. They have been a HUGE hit, with the blackberry being a real knock-out.
    I am very much looking forward to your articles and to other DIY cider maker’s comments and ideas.

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