Adventures in Homebrewland (image heavy - you have been warned!)

MrDT Posts: 951 Forumite
edited 26 May 2009 at 5:39PM in Old style MoneySaving
Hello boys and girls! I started my first homebrew experiment off yesterday (cheapskate's cider), and took lots of pictures :D Here's my method if anyone else fancies having a go :beer:

[1] First of all, get your kit sorted:

Sterilised demi-john (or any big bottle tbh, large 5l plastic squash bottles could be ok)
Some balloons (or if you're 'proper' you could get a bung and airlock, they'll only set you back about a quid in total)
4 litres of apple juice (tesco value stuff is high in natural sugar and cheap so ideal)
Some sugar (you can skip this, but I added a little to help push up the alcohol by volume - it also helps the yeast activate quicker)
Some dried active yeast for brewing (bought this at a small local health shop, £1.15 for 100g, you just need a teaspoonful, but the 5g sachets were 75p so do the math)

I sterilised my demi-john with boiling water. You can use sterilizing tablets if you want, but boiling water will do the trick just fine. Boiling water mightn't be ideal if using thin plastic bottles but no probs when using a thick glass demi-john.


[2] Pour out a little juice (I used 175ml)


[3] Add a little sugar if you like (I used 50g - helps the yeast activate and should result in higher alcohol by volume)


[4] Whack the mixture in a saucepan


[5] Add a teaspoon of yeast


[6] Should look a little like this cold, stick it on a very low heat hob to warm up a bit


[7] While the yeast mix is warming up, pour what's left of the open carton of juice and two of the three unopened cartons into the demi-john


[8] Looks a bit empty huh? Don't worry about that :p


[9] When the yeast mix is warm and looks a bit like this take it off the heat


[10] Add it to your juice


[11] Doesn't look much like Magners does it? :o


[12] Pop the balloon on top to stop flies and bacteria and stuff getting in


[13] Sit the demi-john in the corner and fuggedaboutit for a while. Do a Blue Peter and enjoy a little something someone prepared earlier :D


[14] I forgot to check the time, but err, when you get to this point the balloon should have inflated a bit ;)


[15] When you realise you have no wine left in the house you then have to move to harder stuff. By the time you're half way through a bottle of rum your concoction should look a bit like this...


[16] Xtreeeeem closeup! Aren't you glad you didn't bung that other litre of juice in?


A good few hours later

Well, when you eventually get up late Sunday morning (with a bit of a sore head) you will wander into the kitchen notice two things
#1 the balloon is missing.
#2 there are brown splotches all over the walls and ceiling.

You eventually come to realise that the two are related.

After five minutes of searching, you find the balloon sitting in a coffee mug the other side of the kitchen :rotfl: Put it in the bin, and put a new balloon on top of the demi-john :rolleyes: Get cleaning...

What I've learnt from this is that the balloon isn't perfect, but can be modified to become perfect :cool: Put a tiny little pin hole in the balloon, this will allow air to escape but won't allow nasties in (as there's a constant flow of carbon dioxide pushing out). If you do this you can avoid scrubbing the kitchen walls again tomorrow ;)

What next?

Leave it for a few days. I'm thinking a week should do it. Then you'll be adding the other carton of juice to top up, leaving for another couple weeks, syphoning into bottles, topping up wit a little more sugar if needed, refridgerating, then drinking :D

With a bit of luck it'll taste ok, but like I said this is my first go, so we'll wait and see :p

Anyone else gonna have a go? Or are you gonna wait to see if I survive first? :beer:



  • MrDT
    MrDT Posts: 951 Forumite
    One week later....

    Well, a week had passed, and it was all quiet on the bubble front. Either something had gone horribly wrong, or all the sugar had been converted to alcohol.

    Popped into town and bought myself a rubber bung, airlock, and a length of tubing for syphoning, the grand total came to the princely sum of £1.95 :)

    Armed with my new kit, I removed the balloon, poured in my final litre of apple juice, filled the airlock with clean water and assembled the rigging. The yeast sprang to life and started attacking the sugar in the added juice, plip-plip-plip the airlock is doing its thing :D

    Here's a piccy:


    I'm pleased to say I took a whiff of the stuff before fixing the bung in place, aaaaaaand it smells like (really good) cider :D:D:D

    The plan now is to leave it be for at least another week before syphoning into bottles with a little sugar for carbonation. I'm looking forward to tasting this stuff now!

    ...Another week has passed!

    The cider has settled nicely, nowhere near as cloudy as it was. There's no more bubbling... and I reckon the cider is ready for tasting and bottling. GOOD TIMES! :beer:

    First you need to sterilise your container (in my case a 2nd demi-john) and tubing, and set everything up somewhere that's ok to get a little wet



    Now you can start syphoning. You'll get a taste of some very warm cider, don't let it put you off! :rotfl: Oh, and keep your syphon tube away from the bottom of your first demi-john, the whole point is to get rid of all the muck at the bottom of it ;)


    Syphon syphon baby


    Stop before you p[ick up all the scum from the bottom of the demijohn. I gave the dregs a good shake to illustrate the difference between the good stuff and what you'll be throwing away. The cider's looking good, the sludge, not so much :D


    Next I sterlised my bottles and added some sugar to each one (45g per 2l bottle)


    Finally, syphon the cider into the sugared bottles. Don't forget to keep a little to pour into a glass ;)


    The cider will now continue to ferment in the bottles, producing co2 - which will result in a little bit of bubbly goodness. As soon as there's a decent amount of pressure in the bottles I'll stick them in the fridge to stop the reaction, this should leave some unfermented sugar in the mix to sweeten it a bit :)

    The little taster glass I added half a teaspoon of sugar to it, gave it a stir, and plonked in the fridge to chill. I've tasted it, and the result - GOOOOOOOOD :beer: :D :cool:
  • Marru
    Marru Posts: 4,126 Forumite
    Good luck,

    Definitely will wait till you survive first! ;)

    "Everything will be alright in the end. If it's not alright, it's not the end."

  • Penelope_Penguin
    Penelope_Penguin Posts: 17,288
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped!
    edited 21 January 2010 at 3:59PM
    Hi, there! Can I clarify - you're making cider?

    Penny. x
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • mandy_moo_1
    mandy_moo_1 Posts: 1,201
    Combo Breaker First Post
    aw Mr DT thanks for taking the time to post all those pics........i've just got 4 cartons of whoopsied apple juice from morrisons yesterday, so i think i'll be giving this a go.....haven't got a demi john tho, but i've found an old brewing barrel in the loft, so might have a go in that (when i've seen if yours worked that is!!:D) i'm gonna save this post and do it the same as you.....last time i attempted cider, i got it bottled, put it in the garden to finish fermenting about 6 months ago, and now i daren't go near it cos the bottles keep exploding as soon as you look at 'em :rotfl:

    make sure you keep us posted, i'm waiting for the next instalment ;)
  • Gangstabird
    Gangstabird Posts: 1,920 Forumite
    What a fab idea. It's cider right? :beer:
  • 2cats1kid
    2cats1kid Posts: 1,179 Forumite
    Looks great! I was only saying to DH today that I was looking at the elderflowers and dandelions that are about at the moment and remembering childhood days spent gathering the wherewithall for my parents' HM wine. Wonder where I can find a couple of demijohns cheap?
  • MrDT
    MrDT Posts: 951 Forumite
    Hi Penelope and Gangstabird, yes it's cider :) Well, it should be cider... Let's see how it turns out lol :D

    Scrumpy is usually made with mashed up raw apples, but using cartons of juice is just sooo much easier!

    Marru, can't say I blame you lol ;)

    Mandy_moo, cool, first person to show an interest in joining me :beer: I see you're gonna wait it out like Marru though lol :rotfl: With regards to the exploding bottles, I think the cider will continue fermenting in the bottles, so pressure will build up over time :o I intend to be drinking the cider in a month so hopefully no problems there, and I'll be using plastic bottles just to be safe. I suppose loosening the cap every few weeks could help?

    I'm sure there must be a way to kill the yeast to stop the reaction from continuing when bottled, but I've not looked that far ahead yet (note the splattered kitchen, that's how I roll lol).

    Glad I got a few replies so quickly, thanks guys :) I thought there was a good chance of this thread sinking without a trace!

    Will report back soon :beer:
  • mandy_moo_1
    mandy_moo_1 Posts: 1,201
    Combo Breaker First Post
    2cats1kid wrote: »
    Looks great! I was only saying to DH today that I was looking at the elderflowers and dandelions that are about at the moment and remembering childhood days spent gathering the wherewithall for my parents' HM wine. Wonder where I can find a couple of demijohns cheap?

    have a look on freecycle for demi johns, or car boots are usually good for finding them :D
  • Bongedone
    Bongedone Posts: 2,457
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I will keep an eye out for updates on your cider experiment.

    I made ginger beer using a 2 litre plastic bottle the other week. It turned out good. I let it ferment to 5% alcohol then put it in the fridge to stop the fermentation.
  • MrDT
    MrDT Posts: 951 Forumite
    2cats1kid wrote: »
    Looks great! I was only saying to DH today that I was looking at the elderflowers and dandelions that are about at the moment and remembering childhood days spent gathering the wherewithall for my parents' HM wine. Wonder where I can find a couple of demijohns cheap?

    Hi 2cats1kid, I was lucky enough to be given my demi-johns for free, but a good place to look would probably be car boot sales and maybe even freecycle. They cost about £15 new, but I bet you can get some tatty old ones from a car boot for a couple of quid :)

    Elderflower wine sounds good, I'll see how my supposedly idiotproof cider turns out first though lol :D My grandad used to make carrot and beetroot wine, sounds disgusting, but apparently was very tasty :confused:

    Good luck finding your kit, but remember for the sake of the cider above a large 5l plastic squash bottle should work ;)

    edit: thanks for the tip bongedone! :) ( ps - recipe for ginger beer wouldn't go astray ;) i know, i can be pretty cheeky at times :p)
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