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Mr. Beer Archer’s Orchard Hard Cider

When I made the decision to purchase a Hard Cider kit, I figured I was rolling the dice.  At the very least I’d have something interesting to blog about.  It seemed hard to believe that a person could make a decent batch of cider from a “Mr. Beer” kit.  Having now official brewed, bottled, and tasted my first batch, I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised!

After brewing from several Brewer’s Best kits, it really does feel like cheating to make anything from Mr. Beer.  It so quick, so easy, and so painless that it almost doesn’t feel fair that you should end up with something that’s even decent to drink, much less enjoyable.  Luckily this isn’t true!

Making the Mr. Beer Hard Cider

March 13: Brewing the Hard Cider is REALLY easy.  You start off by sanitizing your fermenting barrel and any tools you’ll be using to brew.  That would include your spatula, mixing spoon, etc.  With sanitizing solution in your barrel, give it a few good swirls and allow it to sit while you’re getting your beer started.

First step is boiling ? cups of water.  Once you’re up to a boil, remove the pot from heat and stir in the can of Hard Cider mix.  At about the same time, you’ll need to empty the sanitizer from the Fermenter and fill it to about the 4qt. mark with cool water.  You’ll want cooler water in the fermenter to even out the recently boiled mixture.  All you need to do here is add in the cider mix and fill the fermenter the rest of the way.

Make sure your cider wort has cooled enough, and you’re ready to add the yeast.  They say to let this set a few minutes, then stir, so that’s what I did.  Time to put the cap on and stick in the brewing closet!

The entire process was started and finished in under 45 minutes.  Who says you don’t have time to brew beer?

Bottling the Hard Cider

April 4th: Bottling with a Mr. Beer kit feels wrong.  How can table sugar be okay??  Isn’t that rule #1 when brewing?  Not to use table sugar?  Well, I’m a direction follower, so I did it how they said.   The cider kit I purchased came with a handy sugar measuring spoon, and I was using the screw top plastic bottles (which also came with the kit) for bottling.   I measured sugar into each of the 8 bottles, then filled them using the handy tap at the front of the Mr. Beer keg.  Piece of cake.

I neglected to measure original gravity or final gravity for this batch of cider, but I did taste a sample out of the keg. It was actually pretty tasty.  With the cider, sweetness isn’t so bad, and carbonation isn’t necessary, so it was decent.  If it was chilled, I would have been glad to sip on one.

I gotta say one more thing about these bottles.  I LOVE them.  I started out really skeptical of plastic bottles for brewing, I’ve totally changed my thinking on that one.  The screw top caps are a piece of cake compared to having to put the cap on each glass bottle, you don’t have to worry about explosions with glass, and best of all, they’re portable as hell later on.  They are an awesome way to take your brew with you to share.

Drinking the Mr. Beer Hard Cider

So how does it taste?  Pretty dang good.  It’s pretty similar to a lot of the store bought ciders you can find.  I would say the main difference is a harsher carbonation, and a lot less body.  It seems like everything from Mr. Beer has a bubblier carbonation than usual beers or ciders.  That could be from the table sugar for priming, but that’s just my guess.   The lack of body is probably just due to a lack of fermentables.  This was one can of the cider mix and that was it.  I think adding a little DME to the batch might make for a more interesting cider.

Another thing to note about the taste of the cider is how it has changed over time.  When it was a few weeks old it was fairly sweet, with a nice apple finish.  As it has aged, it’s almost turned to a campaign.  It’s a lot more bitter, and much less sweet or apple flavored.  This is the first thing I’ve brewed that doesn’t get better with age.

The kit I purchased came with the stuff to make 2 batches of cider.  The next kit has added blackberries.  I’m pretty excited to see how that works out.

Yeast floating atop unstirred cider.

 

{ 10 comments }
  • Edward Noble August 4, 2010, 10:28 pm

    I need (1) a hard cider brewing keg; (2) 8 bottles and caps; (3) 2 packets of cider yeast. Please give me a quote asap. Thanks.

  • Jeremy September 8, 2010, 7:32 pm

    Hi Edward. I don’t actually sell brewing items, but you can check out the Mr. Beer links off to the right, they’ll get you to the right place.

  • Justin October 20, 2010, 9:21 am

    I think if you put less sugar in the bottles it would have less carbonations. Mr. brew also sells a substitute for sugar called boster or something. I have heard people brewing hard cider in the mr. beer keg with using real apple juice or cider and wine yeast. just don’t use juice with preservatives so that limits you to refrigerated or frozen concentrate. please do this and post results:)

  • Jeremy October 20, 2010, 10:11 am

    @Justin – I have a batch of cider in my secondary right now that I made with a mix of store bought apples and apples from a friend’s apple tree. We made a full 5 gallon batch of it, so my fingers are crossed that it’ll taste good.

    I’ll write up a blog post for it in about a month, once it’s been bottled and had some time to mellow out. Stay tuned!

  • Kevin November 23, 2010, 2:43 pm

    Have you opened one of the second batch yet? I’m curious to find out how it came out.

  • Jeremy November 23, 2010, 3:59 pm

    @Kevin. I haven’t had a chance to make the second batch yet, but I did make a batch from fresh apples from a friends’ tree. It’s almost ready to drink. I’ll be writing up a post for that soon!

  • Kevin November 23, 2010, 8:20 pm

    At what point did you add the apples? Where did you get your information on starting home brewing or any info on recipes?

  • Jeremy November 24, 2010, 11:04 am

    I’ll have a full blog up on this soon, but to make it brief, it was like this:
    Juice apples with a juicer (Jack LaLanne!), used campden tablets to stop the natural yeast, then let sit overnight.
    Add beer yeast to the straight apple juice, nothing else added. Was told you can add brown sugar, but you may over raise the alcohol levels.
    Racked to a secondary after a couple of weeks. Lots of settling in both primary and secondary, but not clear by any means. Clearing finally happened in the bottles, so there’s a TON of sediment. Need to fix that for next year.
    This took a TON of apples. I don’t know how many pounds, but was a lot. We used mostly apples from a local tree that were pretty tart. We added some store bought apples, too, but should have used more. The final cider is VERY tart. I kind of like it, my co-brewer on this batch things its awful.
    We got our info from the internet and the guy at my LHBS.

  • Kevin November 24, 2010, 12:44 pm

    Any sites you recommend?

    And is this ever a bad thing? “you may over raise the alcohol levels”

  • Jeremy November 24, 2010, 12:52 pm

    The natural alcohol levels from the apples will give you about 5% abv. Any higher, and you can start to taste more like wine or champagne. As it is, my very dry/tart cider is quite a bit like champagne. I might experiment with an apple beer/cider next year.

    I know I grabbed bits of info from http://www.instructables.com/id/Home-Brew-Hard-Cider-from-Scratch/

    I didn’t pasteurize the cider I made, as I was told your flavors are better without cooking the juice.

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