Fort Standard Whips Up a Batch of Hard Apple Cider
It’s a party in a five-gallon jug.
Talk about DIY kings: In addition to handcrafting furniture, jewelry, and toys for their design label Fort Standard, Greg Buntain and Ian Collings brew their own hard cider every year. “It’s super easy,” shrugs Ian. “And super cheap, which was the main incentive to do it.” The boys are so serious about their (alcoholic) juice, in fact, that they throw an annual fall cider fete at their studio. Here, Ian shares their recipe so you can get in on the fun.
Five gallons of local, unpasteurized apple cider: “The most important thing is getting the right kind of juice. We get all our cider at the farmers’ market. And you want unpasteurized apple cider—if it has preservatives and it’s been heated, that kills all the yeast and all the good stuff.”
Brewer’s sugar, 1 to 4 pounds: “You could also brew the juice without sugar, but then your alcohol content will be really low, and we like our cider strong!”
Dry ale yeast or champagne yeast, one packet: “The yeast develops the flavor: Champagne yeast renders this very wine-like flavor, and ale yeast brings out a hardy, more round flavor. You’ll want to check packet instructions for exact amounts, but usually one packet is designed for a five-gallon batch.”
Prime the yeast by putting it in warm water. In a large pot, heat up one gallon of the apple cider. Add the desired amount of sugar—the more sugar you use, the higher the alcohol content. Warm until the sugar is just dissolved. Don’t heat it up too much, or you’ll kill all the important stuff in the cider!
Combine the sugary solution and the remaining cider in a five-gallon glass jug. Add the yeast—it will start to violently bubble—and seal everything off with an airlock. Store the jug in a dark place that’s below 60 degrees so the mixture can ferment, but don’t put it in the fridge because it’s too cold.
Let it stand for 30 to 40 days, until the mixture stops bubbling.