This cider recipe is courtesy of Drew Beechum, fermented-beverage maker extraordinaire. Join the American Homebrewers Association or start your 30-day free trial to access the Zymurgy digital archive and other exclusive member benefits that will help take your brewing to Drew’s level!
What’s better than apples and bacon? Add a little bourbon and find out! This cider recipe from Drew Beechum’s book The Everything Hard Cider Book is the only confirmation you need that meat has a traditional and awesome role in cidermaking. The bacon only soaks in the bourbon mixture to extract its lovely flavor, and then the bacon-y bourbon is added to the fermenter!
- 3 gal. (11.4 L) fresh, sweet apple juice (low acid, low tannin)
- 1.5 tsp. (7–8 mL) yeast nutrient
- 1 packet American ale yeast
- 3 strips bacon, cooked on a rack in a 325°F (165°C) oven for 40 minutes
- 4 oz. bourbon
- Original Gravity: 1.049 (varies by juice content)
- Final Gravity: 1.000
- ABV: est. 6.5%
Clean your fermenting vessel with a non-soap detergent. Rinse well—any trace residue will end up in your cider!—and air dry. Sanitize your fermentation vessel and 2 foil sheets per sanitizer directions.
Boil 1 pint (473 mL) water and let cool to 105°F (41°C). Mix in a pinch of yeast nutrient and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Cover with sanitized aluminum foil and let sit for 15 minutes.
Warm the apple juice to 60°F (16°C). Add the juice to the fermenter, and mix in the foamy yeast. Cover with more sanitized foil and place somewhere dark and cool, preferably around 60°F (16°C). After 2–4 weeks, the yeast should be done fermenting and will have dropped clear with all the yeast and protein settling at the bottom of the fermenter. Check fermentation periodically. About 5 days before fermentation is finished, create the bacon-bourbon mixture.
Crumble the bacon, mix with the bourbon in a sealed glass jar, and store for 4 days in the fridge. On the 4th day, remove the bacon and place the bourbon in the freezer. The next day, the bacon fat should have solidified at the top. Scoop away the fat and keep the bourbon.
After fermentation ceases, rack to a secondary container and add the bourbon. Sanitize bottles, caps, and transfer tubing. Package still (without carbonation) to let bacon flavor rise naturally.
To bottle, siphon the cider from the fermenter, being careful to avoid the muck at the bottom, and into each of your plastic bottles. Fill completely. Stop the flow of cider by pinching the tube before moving the hose to the next bottle. Screw on the caps and chill the cider in your fridge and drink when cool. Serve at around 50°F (10°C).