Thursday 20 October 2011

The Joy of Turbo Cider

Called turbo because you don't have to grow the apples, turbo cider or TC is one of the easiest steps into the world of home brewing and winemaking. You could say it is the home brewing version of growing mustard and cress. The equipment required is minimal and the ingredients are dirt cheap. I make two strengths of TC; Vagrant's Delight and Park Bench Reserve which come out at between 6 and 8.5% respectively.

To make a gallon of the stuff you need the following:

1 x Demijohn
1 x bung and airlock
Sterilising tablets (milton etc)
5 x value apple juice (the cheaper the better)
1 x cider or champagne yeast
1 x syphon tube
4 x tonic water bottles
household sugar for priming

These items are handy but not absolutely necessary

1 x hydrometer
250g brewing sugar for the Park Bench Reserve
1/2 cup of stewed black tea (to replace tannins lost by missing apple skins).

The method is easy enough: 

  1. Sterilise the demijohn, rinse so you can't smell bleach any more then pour in 4 of the five cartons of apple juice. 
  2. For Park Bench Reserve, add the 250g of brewing sugar (you can use household but you will find brewing sugar dissolves more easily and doesn't affect the taste) and give it a bit of a shake. Add the stewed (black) tea if you want to.
  3. Take original gravity with the hydrometer if you're bothered about knowing how strong it will be. It's worth tying some cotton around the tip of the hydrometer so you can pull it out of the demijohn (I didn't and it was a right bastard to get out) 
  4. Add cider or champagne yeast, fit bung and airlock 
  5. Half fill airlock with cooled boiled water and leave for a week somewhere around 20C is ideal, after about 24 hours you'll start to hear the soothing sound of the airlock "plipping"; very therapeutic.
  6. On day five (or when the bubbles in the airlock have subsided) remove the bung and airlock and add the fifth carton of apple juice.
  7. Leave another three or four days and then take the final gravity (you're looking for a reading of 1.000 or lower, remaining stable for a 48 hour period).

Once you've reached this stage you have choices. Prefer still cider? You can syphon it into a second demijohn. Want it fizzy? In that case you sterilise the four tonic water bottles, then add a level teaspoon of household sugar to each bottle for priming; this is the period of secondary fermentation where the last of the yeast present in suspension will convert to a very small amount of alcohol and, mainly, CO2.

Once you've primed your bottles, cap and gently invert them to mix the priming sugar then leave in a warm place (not the airing cupboard) for a week before leaving somewhere cooler for 3-4 weeks to condition. 

Fizzy cider made this way will throw a sediment to, when you open the bottle, best to decant into a jug. Alternatively you can use 500ml diet coke bottles but halve the amount of priming sugar.

Calculating the ABV%.

This is best done by using the readings from your hydrometer. You'll have made a note of your OG (original gravity) and your final gravity. Then simply put the values into here and adjust the temperature reading to 20c. Typically, apple juice without added sugar will read about 1.042 on a hydrometer and will ferment out to about .998 which will give you about 6% whereas the addition of 250g of brewing sugar takes the OG up to the 1.060 region. 

The cider does improve with age so, by all means get another batch on as soon as your demijohn is free. A word of warning though, Turbo Cider does have remarkable knicker elastic loosening properties but, guys, don't get excited because it will also make your cock drop off.*

*The last statement may be a lie


  1. Super super post! I tip my hat to you sir!

  2. Second batch being made now. Do you have the quantities to make it up to 40 pints for a barrel? I'm new to this so I hope it's not a stupid question.