This article was originally posted on March 6, 2016 on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

The Fat Grey Tom’s Cider of old, is, alas, dead.

I, Wheeler, moved to New Mexico for a job. Bryce also moved away. Leo stayed in Reno.

After nearly three years in New Mexico (three years in July) I’ve decided to start brewing again and the easiest place to restart is with a simple cider.

I did the usual. Managed to find some five-gallon buckets from a candy maker ($2 a pop), got some dextrose (corn sugar) and did the usual Great Value apple juice.

Since I haven’t been able to find any Carlo Rossis, or 4-liter carboys, I went with a 4.6 gallon batch, or 6 containers of 96-ounce apple juice.

Still a stand-by, I went with the Nottingham Ale Yeast.

I still have as of yet to get any bottles (we don’t recycle in Española) but I’m not worried because I plan on a month or two in primary, same for secondary, for the cider.

The current plan is to rack this batch onto a few quarts of Trader Joe’s tart cherry juice (something we never did in Reno) or, failing that, rack it on top of some frozen, then boiled, raspberries. Raspberries are a tried-and-true recipe for us, that looks super pretty and tastes purely amazing.

I also plan, at secondary, to rack a new batch of cider on the lees.

Cider with lid in primary, above. Sani bucket below.

Cider with lid in primary, above. Sani bucket below.

This article was originally posted on March 25, 2013 on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

One of our local homebrew stores was having a sale on yeasts a month, or maybe longer, ago. The yeasts were about to go out of date so they were marked down and low and behold, they were not many common yeasts. In fact, they were all White Labs vials, four of them to be exact. So, I figured if we didn’t use them immediately for beers, we could also use them in a ciders before they went and and see what happened and then wash the yeast, and reuse it when we’re ready to make X, Y or Z with them.

Our recipe is as follows:

  • 4-ish gallons of Great Value Apple Juice
  • 730 grams of corn sugar (2 lbs per 5 gallons, our normal Apfelwein ratio)
  • Yeast!

The yeasts are:

  • White Labs Berliner Weisse, WLP630
  • White Labs Saison II, WLP566
  • White Labs Belgian Wit, WLP400
  • White Labs English Cider Yeast, WLP775
  • White Labs Belgian Style Yeast Blend, WLP575

I also had a White Labs English Cider Yeast that had been sitting in my refrigerator for even longer but was still well within date.

As for the making itself: I boil the corn sugar with a enough water for 5 minutes, stirring until its dissolved, then chuck it into the cider. Sanitation, sanitation, sanitation.

I took industrial bleach and soaked all of the buckets, which had been sitting our for quite some time, and then soaked an additional bucket, which had somehow had its insides covered in algae  Industrial bleach kills all. We washed them out a bunch of times, put iodophor water in and off to the races we went. First, though, we had to drill holes for bucket lids and sanitize them, as well as sanitize the lids.

So, I picked up 20 gallons and cider with the intention of using the gallons for the soon-not-so-great yeasts. Fortunately, we still had four 4-gallon buckets laying around as well as a 5-gallon. We hatched the plan, for five 4-gallon batches of cider, thus consuming the 20 gallons purchased and consuming the five vials of yeast hanging out in the refrigerator. Our calculations were a bit off: We forgot that, in addition to the sugar’s boiled water, a 4-gallon bucket can’t really take four gallons without spilling out the top. Nevertheless, we soldiered one, made our cider sheets, labeled the tops of the buckets (important, because we hadn’t been doing that as often, leading to a case of unknown-yeast cider in the keg, also remedied by the cider sheets) and put them in the spare room.

Our theory is: if they taste great, we keg them. If one doesn’t taste great, this is a super opportunity to try to start mixing ciders and seeing if we can create something tastier, especially because five different ones have all been started at the same time.

I can happily report they’re all fermenting and pressurized.

We’re calling them

“AW #?”
At this point, we really don’t know what batch we’re on and they’re their own, seperate thing, although they are using the Apfelwein (AW) sugar ratio.

Check back in a month!

20 gallons of cider in four 4-gallon buckets and one 5-gallon bucket.

All of the empty juice bottles.

This article was originally posted on Oct. 14, 2011 on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

October 14 was a cider day.

Leo came over with six gallons of apple juice. We got our measurements ready, realized that we didn’t have the needed two pounds of corn sugar and made up the extra six ounces with brown sugar.

We boiled the brown and corn sugar and added them to the bucket. We poured the apple juice in. Bryce and Leo crossed streams.

The brown sugar colored the water something intense.

We rehydrated the yeast, pitched it, brought the bucket down stairs, cleaned up and called it a day.

The recipe isn’t hard. It’s the same Apfelwein (AW) recipe as it ever was, except this time we’re using the ale yeast again and breaking up the dextrose with brown sugar.

5 gallons apple juice
2 pounds sugar (26 ounces corn sugar, 6 ounces brown sugar)

Boil sugars in water for five minutes.
Put sugar water into fermenter.
Pour apple juice into fermenter.
Pitch yeast.

It’s that easy.

As always, check for the tag “AW Batch #3” ( to see what happens.

It’ll be done and ready for testing a month from Oct. 14, when it was made.

In the mean time, have a home brew! Except none of ours are ready to drink . . . Damn.

This article was originally posted on Oct. 11, 2011 on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

We did two things on October 14, 2011.

We made a 5-gallon batch of Apfelwein with ale yeast (Nottingham) and we made a 1-gallon batch of Apfelwein with ale yeast in a carboy, exclusively with brown sugar. The 5-gallon batch was mixed with a majority corn sugar and a little brown sugar to finish out the measurements.

Here’s what we did:

5 oz. brown sugar, boiled in 1 cup water for about 5 minutes.

1 gallon Great Value apple juice.

Pour into carboy.

Pitch yeast.


As always, check its progress under the tag AW Batch #3C (

The brown sugar appears to be giving the AW a darker color than normal.

This article was originally posted on Sept. 15, 2011 on my homebrew website, Fat Grey Tom’s Cider. It has been re-posted here with the same time stamp.

Cider caught my attention because of the seeming ease. But really, this isn’t what grabbed me.

What grabbed me was and is and will remain cliché.

European ciders grabbed me.

A small brewery in Germany grabbed me with its local ciders and its deposit-required grolsch-tops.

All manner of ciders in Eastern Europe, in Western Europe, in all my travels, grabbed me. They said, “Listen to us! Pay attention to us! We’re awesome and worth drinking!”

And so I drank.

When it came time to brew our first batch of beer, we brewed. And it turned out well. But I wanted cider.

So, we managed to procure and re-purpose four Carlo Rossi containers and one Mr. Beer keg and began to brew. Such is our first brew, from the Ed Wort’s Apfelwein recipe.

We followed the recipe but broke the recipe up into five 1-gallon batches.

When we originally went to Wally World to buy the juice, we had to go for a bastardization of juices. Two gallons of Mott’s, three gallons off Great Value.

One gallon of pure Mott’s, one gallon of pure GV, three gallons of mixed.

The original recipe calls for a yeast that was not easily available to us so instead we went with another, equivalent wine yeast: Lalvin 71B-1122.

And so, we wait. In the mean time, pictures.





Cider Batch 1: Update
Cider #1 (1/5): Bottled — Raspberry Liqueur Primer