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Starting on Next Year’s Scrumpy

The simplest to make of all alcoholic drinks has to be the humble (and often underrated) naturally fermented hard cider called scrumpy. And it’s that time of the year to start on our scrumpy production.

Making scrumpy is as easy as purchasing fresh apple juice without preservatives:

  1. Pour the fresh apple juice into a sanitised fermenter,
  2. whack on an airlock to keep out the yeasties and bugs, and
  3. watch that fermentation go crazy, eventually slow and then stop.

This process should take around six months. Some people advocate that you should siphon the cider off any dead yeast every month-or-so, but it’s fine to leave it alone until all fermentation has completed. The final product should be a dry cider with a reasonably high alcohol content.

One lesson to note, before buying juice, is that unpasteurised apple juice makes for a more interesting cider. This is because the wild yeasts from all that lovely apple crushing machinery are already hard at work converting sugars into alcohol and they’ll contribute to the characteristics of the finished cider. So, although pasteurised juice ferments perfectly well, I’d suggest going out on a limb with the unpasteurised juice and making sure that your sanitisation practises are as near perfect as possible. I’m kind of anal about sanitisation.

Scrumpy, or good old naturally fermented hard cider, is what apple juice without preservatives does all by itself. It needs no intervention; merely a sanitised fermenter and patience.

I’d also offer this advice… the most critical factors to the final taste of a beer will be in what you do at the beginning of the process; whereas cider is the opposite. It seems that all cider tastes like cheap white wine at the end of fermentation. And what you do to adjust the flavour at that point, before the bottle, is an important factor in the final taste.

Also, if you want to risk bottling a little early then feel free to follow your taste buds. A sweeter carbonated cider is lovely (but could explode); a drier, non-carbonated, higher alcohol cider is fine, too. Making slow booze is all an adventure. There really aren’t any rules about what you add to cider before bottling except the expectations, accolades and criticisms that come from your taste buds.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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