Introduction to Cider Making


What is Cider?

Cider is fermented apple juice.

What is Cyder?

Cyder is just another spelling of cider. They are exactly the same thing.

What is Scrumpy?

Scrumpy is cider made by traditional methods. Although there are many different recipes for scrumpy, the chief distinguishing factor is that scrumpy yeast is not cultivated. The brewer simply lets the yeasts on the apple skin work their magic. This results in a hit-and-miss approach, with some batches turning out perfectly while others fail completely. The word Scrumpy comes from the English west country and originally meant small and shriveled. It was from these poor apples that the rough but wonderful drink was (and still is) produced.

What cider isn’t

The very best cider contains nothing other than pure apple juice that has been transformed into cider through the action of natural yeast.

So much of the ‘cider’ sold in the shops is no such thing. Cider should not include masses of dextrose, tap water, raisins, phosphates and all manner of artificial chemical flavourings plus heaven knows what else, pumped with carbon dioxide and stacked high and cheap. Sadly this is all too often exactly what you get. So much of the cider on the shelves is a bland tasteless blend with no depth. It seems to me that during the last 30 years or so teenagers became the target market for cider and many manufacturers just forgot to make any real effort to make cider great. I suppose this is because teenagers will drink any old thing as long as it has enough alcohol in it.

I will add that cider comes from pressing apples. It doesn’t come from adding water to pressed fruit, leaving it for an hour and pressing the fruit a second time to get more juice for your money. The second pressing might taste somewhat of apples but will not have any of the richness of flavour and subtlety of aromas that comes from a first pressing.

Thankfully, the process of making great tasting, refreshing, rich, golden, fragrant alcoholic (yes alcoholic) cider is not difficult. In this booklet I will lead you through it step by step and at the end you should have some really fantastic home brewed cider to enjoy at your leisure.

Cider is also very cheap to produce. The first year I brewed cider on a very small scale. I only spent about £3.00 on equipment and made 8 pints of reasonable cider. In the pub they were selling Cider for £2.00 per pint, so I was already well in profit.

In my second year I invested in few Demijohn bottles (again under £5.00) and made about 40 pints of cider (value £80). By year three I didn’t’t need to spend a penny more to produce all the cider I could want.

As the years go buy I rarely need to buy any supplies and can produce more and more cider that just gets better every season. As you can imagine, my popularity goes up as summer ends and my friends tell me they watch my apples ripen on the trees with anticipation. Apple trees are now the biggest expense as I find exotic varieties to grow so that I can blend rarer varieties of apples into delicious brews.

Within these pages you will find my clear instructions to help you join the ancient, noble and occasionally blurry eyed and slightly staggering tradition of small producers brewing their own fantastic cider year after year for practically no money at all.

You won’t find too much technical stuff on this site. People have been brewing for millennia without a clue about yeast strains, pectin enzymes and micro-floral actions, so why should we bother that much about them? What you will find is lots and lots of useful advice, basic facts and a few cidery anecdotes to keep you smiling until your own home brewed cider is ready for drinking.


Read about Cider Making Terms