Monday, July 16, 2012

Celebrity Diet

I braved the Wal-Mart (and yes, there is a "the" in front of "the Wal-Mart"... it doesn't sound right if you don't say it that way) last weekend.

Originally we were going to go camping, but the sky was doing this:

Actual photo of the sky above my house.
So we decided to get the car out of the garage, and use the space to brew beer instead.

Sitting around the turkey frier while the wort boils is pretty much more awesome than camping.  Especially when it's in the garage with the door up and you collect 9 gallons of rain water in about three minutes from the one of the gutters for later use on the garden.  Especially when it is the first real rain in a few months, and the mountains are all flooding, and the lightning is making your teeth rattle it's so close.
We had such a good time, and another three empty kegs to be filled that we decided we were going to do it again the next day.

I decided, though, that we are also desperately low on cider.  The alcoholic kind, I mean.

So we went to the Wal-Mart for the main ingredient.

You really don't have to use organic, single-squeezed apple juice from happy trees in Eden.  Any old thing will do provided it doesn't contain any preservatives stronger than ascorbic acid.

Things are never as fast as you would imagine them to be at the Wal-Mart.  If you go to the express lane, you are guaranteed to be behind at least one person who is an extreme couponer, someone else using who wants to split the $12 total between cash, a card, and a check (I really was tempted to just pay for his purchase, but he was a little bit scary), and a checker who is so happy to be there that they are in a coma.


I was in line for a Very Long Time.

"Is that your favorite drink?"

It took me a moment to realize that the guy behind me in line was talking to me.

I eyed him cautiously.  He didn't look crazy, or even weird in any way, which was strange in and of itself.  Just a normal young guy.

"Oh," I said, looking down at my cart.  "Yeah, well, I'm trying that new celebrity diet.  All apple juice, all the time."

He stared at me for a moment, confused, and then laughed.  "Good one!" he said.

I smiled.

I turned away as it was my turn in line.  "There's 8 of these," I said.

The cashier sighed, and swiped the bottle 8 times.  She was not interested.

How to Make Hard Cider:

1) Clean the shit out of all your stuff.  Uninvited Microbes = Bad Juju.

2) Pour your FuckLoad of apple juice into your fermenter.  In this case, a plastic carboy.

This takes concentration.  And a funnel.  Unless you really like sticky cement.
3) Admire your nearly 6 gallons of apple juice.  This is approximately 398,476% of your daily recommended value of vitamin C.

The foam is the cleaner/sanitizer, specially formulated to make the ale yeast happy.

4) Aerate the juice.  That means getting some bubbles.  Shaking 6 gallons of liquid is hard.

My head is HUGE in this picture.
5) Add the yeast.  Any old yeast will do, but we actually want this to taste good and not be too alcoholic, so we went with an ale yeast.

Stop staring at my wrinkly thumb.  They're double jointed so I have alien hands.
Just pour it in.  Millions of little yeasties will eat sugar and shit alcohol and carbon dioxide.  Appetizing, yes?
6) After mixing again, put a bung in the top (that's what's the lid is called, I promise), and add some way to let air out.  If you don't do this, your bottle will explode and you will have a juice fountain in the basement.

In this case, we used a food grade plastic hose, and a small bucket of water.  This will allow carbon dioxide to leave, but no nasty little bacterias or wild yeasts to get in.

7) Store in a cool, dry place until it stops bubbling in about 2 weeks, or you're sick of waiting.

Two beers and a cider hanging out in the basement.

8) Later, we will put these guys into kegs and pressurize with CO2 to give it bubbles.  There are other ways to get the bubbles, but that is the easiest.

Apparently in Colorado, you can homebrew something like 200 gallons of beer per year for "personal use".  This is about 15 gallons, or 13 twelve-packs of beer (and cider) brewing in the basement.

Whoever it is that needs 200 gallons is some kind of impressive, really.


Keith said...

Hmmm. Never seen beer brewed at home before. There is a cool gizmo to attach to a drill to stir things in a carboy. Works really well.

Leauxra said...

Keith: As long as everything is clean, brewing at home is fairly straight forward. A little easier than baking bread, but a little more time consuming.

The cider is much easier.

And I need one of those gizmos. Going to start looking now.

LeeAnn said...

This looks like a lot of cooking. I don't cook. I have a deal with the fire department and Poison Control.

However, I do drink and that looks like something I could bend my considerable skills to. Yes, I know I'm not supposed to end sentences in prepositions but I don't care. I'm busy being awed by your cookery skills.
Lemme 'lone.

KK and UK said...

Cool! I want some. Or all. No, I want it all.

Leauxra said...

LeeAnn: What do you know, I'M good at imbibing, too! We're like, twins or something!

But really, the cider thing is just pouring juice. Of course, if you don't have a CO2 kegging system, you need to bottle these in order to get bubbles, and that is kind of like work.

KK and UK: MAKE YOUR OWN, BITCH! I kid. Come on over and I'll maybe share it.

If you are even slightly interested in making your own cider, maybe I can put together a kit for you for Christmas...

Anonymous said...

I. Love. Cider. That is all.

Kidding! I will need you to ship me a couple bottles (or a keg, whatev) of that delicious looking beverage, stat! Don't make me come out there, girl!!

(Damn, I'm gonna have to come out there, aren't I? Didn't your momma teach you that it's nice to share?). :p

Jim said...

I've been brewing since college, but I've never tackled hard cider before. Interestingly enough my parents made hard cider in the fridge once accidentally.

They left it in the back of the fridge so long it started to ferment. It wasn't as yummy as what you're brewing.

What does the alcohol content reach with all that sugar?

I drilled a hole in the back of my basement fridge and put a sanke keg in it and run a line through the wall to a tap. Unfortunately it's been a while since I've brewed. . . maybe you'll inspire me.

MakingSpace said...

Like Jim's parents, I have accidentally fermented cider in the back of the fridge, with similarly unpleasant results. Yours looks awesome, just from a Science Fair Project aspect.

Leauxra said...

Misty: Come on over, I'll pour you a glass or three... Not sure how well it would do shipping. Maybe I could use a champagne bottle... I will have to think about that.

Jim: One of the reasons I use an ale yeast is that it won't go over about 8% before the yeast starts to die off because it can't survive in the alcohol. A champagne yeast would make it even stronger (and drier). I usually end up with about 6% or so. We cold crash it and keep the keg refridgerated so we can control it a little bit.

You can also stop fermentation with chemicals like they do with wine (and most commercial cider), but I like the flavor better without.

BUT. If you can't force carbonate with a keg, you can still get enough fermentation if you add either a little more apple juice or some sugar before bottling once you're relatively sure it's mostly done fermenting.

Also, you should be brewing. Brewing is awesome. :)

Leauxra said...

Making Space: Apparently, all apple juice was at least mildly alcoholoic before they figured out how to pasteurize it. All I am doing is bringing things back to their origianl state. :)

MakingSpace said...

Ha - love that!

Keith said...

I have sent you a photo of the gizmo. Look in a store that sells wine kits, or wine kit supplies. It was cheap. I always get a kick out of using a power tool when making wine. Yes, I'm such a guy sometimes.

MOV said...


WOW! you make your own beer! And to think that I am impressed with myself when I make my own bowl of cereal (I add 2% milk, and blueberries if I am feeling adventurous). Love your Walmart story, too! But did you see any fellow shoppers in pajama pants??


MOV said...

ps-- just saw that my blog is on your sidebar!!! you made my day! THANKS!!! :)


Super Earthling said...

Wow, that sky photo is scary! :-o

I live in a great beer town, Portland. Tons of fabulous microbreweries here. I never even liked beer until we moved here from Chicago a decade ago. I’ve always wanted to try brewing beer! I agree, that would be much more awesome than camping! :D

Loved your hard cider photos and directions, Leauxra. Now I REALLY want to go make some hard cider! (I think I’d loving living at your house. LOL)

Angie said...

I need the recipe and full instructions for that hard cider!! It looks like you had fun... and will have even more!

Izzy Mason said...

Sooo cooooooool! I've always wanted to make my own beer, but never have. My husband made some pretty good ale before we were dating. But then we dated, and got married, and the beer making just stopped. Ergo, marriage=end of beer making creativity. Keep that in mind if you ever contemplate getting married. It may or may not be worth it.

Leauxra said...

MOV: There was plenty of people of Walmart at the Walmart, but the only one that spoke to me looked relatively normal. Honestly, it kind of freaked me out. :)

Super Earthling: Yay for beer towns! Northern Colorado is also a beer area... every small town worth anything has at LEAST one microbrewery.

There is no reason not to start making your own... you will be able to appreciate the craft brewers all the more! You should TOTALLY make some cider, it's easier than wine and beer, and doesn't end up over sweet like the store bought stuff.

Angie: I really did post the full directions. That was totally it. The only thing I left out was that we used PBW as a cleaner, and StarSan or Vodka as sanitizers... I guess if you don't want to buy a kegging system, the bottling might be of interest, but it's actually all super easy, and lots of places online with tips and tricks.

Izzy Mason: DO IT DO IT! Interestingly, the beer making started AFTER my boyfriend and my father met, and started what I lovingly call a "Brewmance". I just ride on their coattails. And really, it's a fun way to spend an afternoon. Get the book "The Joy of Homebrew" I think it's called... it has everything you need and more...

Anonymous said...

Sitting around the turkey frier in the garage is definitely better than camping. Alcohol, running water, and AC: the Trifecta.

Sandra said...

Looks like it's going to rain outside...we should make a shitload of booze!...I suspect my husband would love you more than he loves me.

Leauxra said...

Thoughtsy: I actually enjoy camping quite a bit (don't ask me why, I stay up all night listening to branches breaking and assuming I am about to be mauled), but brewing beer is pretty darn awesome.

Sandra: The solution is that you need to learn how to make booze, obviously. It's easier than baking bread, and requires less kneading.

Kelly Fox said...

Is it wrong that I am just too damned lazy to even think of making my own cider, and reading this made me rememeber to pick up more hard cider? Yep, I thought so..Sigh. I won't however be going to the Walmart to pick it up, and Yes indeedy, feed the needy, that is how you must say it, The. Walmart.

Leauxra said...

Kelly: The Walmart here doesn't sell alcohol, so I have less excuse than most to go there.

I think I need some cider, too. My batch isn't done yet!

Whole Sale Toner said...

Printer and Ink
Awesome sky pics.....Excellent shots...Thanks for Sharing
Great Captures.....