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Hard Lemonade

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gmac:
With summer here, I'd like to make a batch of hard lemonade but I'm not sure where to start.  Is this something that's fermented like adding lemons, zest, juice etc to water and sugar and then fermented which I would think would be incredibly dry or is it just something that's batched together (lemonade and grain alcohol mixed and then carbonated)? 

I'd love to find a recipe that actually brewed something but then I'd need to know how you back sweetened it so that it didn't end up as lemon wine?  Any other suggestions? I'm wondering about a hard cranberry or a blend of orange/lemon/grapefruit or something like that.
Any thoughts are welcome.
Thanks

denny:
Commercial hard lemonade is made from a heavily filtered fermented malt beverage.  The filtering removes all color and flavor.  To make it at home, the easiest way is to just mix lemonade and vodka in a keg than carb it.

cheba420:
I made a 5 gallon batch this spring when our lemon crop came in. I just used lemon juice, sugar and water, fermented with White Labs sweet mead yeast.

It fermented all the way down to nothing. I had to sorbate the whole batch to kill off the yeast and then I back sweetened up to 1010. It was .......alright. Wound up dumping it to free up a keg for some beer about a month ago. I'll certainly try again but will probably use a different yeast and add some more lemon zest.

tschmidlin:
I'd probably follow Denny's method, although I would zest the fruit and soak the zest in vodka for a few hours, then strain it out and dump the liquor in the keg.  I'd probably do it in a small bottle first with a carb cap to get the recipe right, then scale up.

tygo:
Anytime someone asks about hard lemonade I recall a previous thread on this topic here:

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=2885.msg32768#msg32768

Which contains a memorable description of the process used commercially to make hard lemonade:


--- Quote from: thomasbarnes on July 21, 2010, 12:51:34 AM ---Technically, foul swill like Mike's IS a "malt beverage," but that like saying that dollar store dog food is roast rack of spring lamb. The exact processes involved are secret, propriety and obscene. They are said to involve producing a high-gravity highly fermentable wort from malt and the blood of innocents, fermenting it with a highly-attenuative yeast strain drooled from the lips of hellhounds, and then filtering the result through a 0.2 micron filter while standing naked within a pentagram made of black candles and chanting in the Black Tongue. The resulting liquid is then treated with lemon-like flavor mixtures believed to include the tears of tortured children and colorants rumored to be derived from the souls of 17 Hell-sworn SAB-Miller executives.

I might have gotten some of the details wrong, but it's definitely not something a sane and God-fearing homebrewer would want to get involved in. In my opinion.

--- End quote ---

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