Originally we were going to go camping, but the sky was doing this:
|Actual photo of the sky above my house.|
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 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.|
|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.|
|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?|
|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.