Cider house rules: How I became a boss at mulling a home-made, atmanirbhar brew

The first challenge of brewing cider during a lockdown is trying to find the yeast itself. Thereon, it is a simple process, and the satisfaction of brewing a good batch is made sweeter by the realisation that you no longer have to stand in queue outside a liquor store.

Rahul Jadhav May 22, 2020 10:31:23 IST
Cider house rules: How I became a boss at mulling a home-made, atmanirbhar brew

'How I became a boss at...' is a series where individuals tell us about a skill or pursuit they mastered during the coronavirus-related lockdown.

In part 2, the art of brewing cider.

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A week before the lockdown was put into place, during a grocery run, I passed by a wine shop where there seemed to be a commotion. When I asked around, I found out that some liquor shops had already shut down, and that this one too had received a notice to put up its shutters. I told myself not to fret — it would only be a matter of a few weeks, and I could manage without a drink.

It's now been nearly two months since the nation-wide lockdown began, and weeks can seem longer than they are when it gets hot and humid and you don't have a beer in the fridge! Social media updates and messages from friends who made the wise decision to stock up, only add to your misery.

Life went on in the same way until I responded to a friend's tweet about apple cider vinegar. A tweet, a message and a simple recipe later, I found myself motivated to brew my own cider. The next day, when I was out to buy groceries, I tried searching for the main ingredient: yeast. The first challenge of brewing cider during a lockdown is trying to find the yeast itself. Having been rejected at two stores, I was close to giving up, until I was offered a whole half kilo at a shop where I least expected to find it!

I'm happy to report the result of my first attempt: a batch of apple cider with a nice fizz and decent alcohol content — a slight buzz, perfect for a summer afternoon. But it wasn't the sort of buzz you feel when you drink cider at a brewery or store-bought stuff. For the next batch, I experimented with the proportions of ingredients and also brewed the mix for longer, and it worked. My second experiment involved using mango, because I miss drinking mango cider at one of my favourite local breweries. Soon, I began working with other fruit juices, like guava and pomegranate.

Brewing cider has been a project I have wanted to work on for a year now, and I previously thought it would need both time and effort. All you really need are a few ingredients and two to three days, to make a batch of your own. My friends who tried the same recipe were pleasantly surprised too. Some even shared new recipes, which are now on my To-Do list.

That being said, checking your mix once or twice a day is important. Cider is made using fermentation, which means that the yeast consumes the sugar in the juice you use, to produce alcohol and CO2. If the pressure is too strong, it can cause a glass bottle to burst! I used plastic bottles in the absence of glass ones. Since they're not as strong, they can pop open with a loud bang.

Like those who persist with sourdough starters and baking, I found myself getting excited as my batch evolved and bubbled up.

The satisfaction of a good, home-made, atmanirbhar brew is made sweeter by the realisation that you don't have to stand in serpentine queues outside liquor stores. It's an especially great option for those who miss drinking chilled beer. The funnest part is making your batch in the middle of the work week and finding that your cider is ready in time for the weekend. Cheers!

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