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How long can bottled brew keep for?

  • 18-06-2021 9:29pm
    Registered Users Posts: 215 ✭✭

    I usually brew the same drink (Mangrove Jack apple cider).
    I bottle it in swing top bottles and leave it for around 3 weeks then I usually I drink it within 3 to 4 weeks.

    I have a friend who is thinking of taking up brewing and he is bombarding me with questions. I have answered most of them but this one has got me stumped.

    Once the cider has been bottled, how long can it be left before it has to be drank?

    I have never had a batch last longer than 5 weeks tops, so I am not quite sure what answer to give him.


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 11,818 Mod ✭✭✭✭BeerNut

    The answer is: beer and cider aren't milk, they don't "go off".

    With beer, hop flavours will fade within a few months. If fresh hop aromas are part of what the beer is designed to be, you can expect that to last no more than three or four months before it goes.

    Conversely, strong and dark beers tend to improve for years. I've opened ones that have been five years old and more and they were better than when fresh. Oxidation is your enemy here, but if the bottles are properly sealed that's a slow process. And I think the same applies to cider.

    When I make cider from Lidl apple juice I find it needs at least three months in the bottle before it's drinkable, and it's best after six. I've been working through my current batch since late 2018 and it still tastes the same as when I made it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 215 ✭✭Lazy Bhoy

    Cheers BeerNut

    As always, you are a fountain of knowledge for all things home brew. :-)

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,797 ✭✭✭✭hatrickpatrick

    If you store an ale in a cold place for six months or more, it takes on this astonishingly delicious draughty taste, I can only describe it as tasting like a pub smells :D It's absolutely delicious. So far I've been unable to ascertain exactly what's changing with long term cold storage, but in my experience you have to wait at least four or five months for this flavour to appear.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,346 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    Hi BeerNut, I'm about to start brewing cider this weekend hopefully. Which Lidl apple juice are you using?, i was in there the other day and it seems they have two - pure cloudy and from concentrate. From what i've read it seems either would do so wondering if you have gotten better results using one or the other. My favourite commercial ciders are pretty much any of the Aspall range ( if that swings it more towards one than the other.

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  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 11,818 Mod ✭✭✭✭BeerNut

    I've never used concentrated, but any advice I've had on this is to use the cloudy.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 15,346 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    Thanks again BeerNut, my brewing adventures start this weekend !

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,761 ✭✭✭Effects

    Technically you aren't brewing cider! But how did you get on anyway?

    I've made cider a good bit over the past number of years, but took a break last year and this year too. I just wasn't drinking as much as I was making.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,346 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    Only seeing this now. I did two demijohns, one with Lidl 100% from concentrate and one using the Lidl cloudy apple juice.

    Very happy with the results, i didnt back sweeten though I may do a little on the next lot. I have 5 more demijons on the go with various supermarket apple juices to see which I prefer.

    A couple of things I did notice is the pure cloudy apple juice to my mind tasted more watery at the end.

    Both taste far better now several weeks later.

    For the next lot I won't put a full teaspoon of sugar per bottle as its makes it too fizzy, I'd say half to three quarters is enough. I'd saved a load of fairly heavy cider bottles before bottling so not to worried about bombs, that said they are now stored outside just in case!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 44 MuttonDagger

    Supercell & beernut ,

    can you share your methods ?

    But have a few 5L demijons sitting there so I'll give it a bash .


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,346 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    Here's my go to recipe for the moment per demijohn for "Turbo Cider"


    ~5 Liters Lidl 100% From concentrate apple juice (only need about 4.5 litres or less when all is said and done)

    ~ 200 ml Cranberry juice (Lidl is fine)

    250 grm sugar (white, demera doesnt seem to make much difference to flavour)

    1 tsp malic acid

    1 tsp pectolase

    1 sachet of mangrove jack cider yeast (I have tried Nottingham yeast as recommended on other forums but found it makes a whole lot of crud (trub) that's a pain in the arse when racking getting it into the bottles at the end) as it ferments out quick and clean. One sachet shoul do about 4 demijohns, dont need to do one per demijohn. In practive I do them in batches of two so use one per two jars, apparently you can keep yeast in the fridge once opened but i couldnt be arsed, chuck in the sachet into two demi's and done, just thought i'd mention. If you do decide to split amonst four it may take a day or two longer to get going but it will eventually.

    About 250 ml of very strong tea - use about 4 bags when brewing and let it brew until really dark

    Turbo Cider How To

    1) Sanitise demijohn with sodium metabisulphite (or whatever is your choosing). I also usually have the demijohn filled with oxyclean overnight to get everything inside as clean as possible, but i still rinse out with the sodium meta on the brew day.

    Here's a good video on how to sanitise in general with sodium meta:

    2) Pour in the tea, cranberry juice and then the apple juice up to where the demijohn narrows first.

    3) Then, using a sanitised funnel (I pour boiling water over the outside of it as if its wet the dry stuff will stick inside), put in the malic, pectolase, yeast and sugar dry ingrediants over the top.

    4) Bung up with a sanitised bung and pop a sanitised bubbler in.

    5) In the next day or two (depending on how warm the environment is) things will get going, if it's your first time I would strongly recommend sitting the demijohn on a towel or bowl in case it turns vesuvius like and you get over-spill through the bubbler.

    6) After another few days the bubbling will settle down to every few seconds, then time to top up to about the bottom of the handle grip on the demijohn. I usually pour boiling water over the removed bung just to be sure its not getting contaminated before reinserting in the demijohn.

    7) It takes about two week for things to settle down and stop bubbling, when in doubt leave it another week, it will only get better the longer you leave it.

    8) Sanitise your bottles on racking day.

    9) I recommend putting half - three quarters of a teaspoon sugar per bottle in with your trusty funnel before racking from the demi john. This will give it fizz (if you want that, dont bother if not) in about two weeks time if left indoors, might take a fair bit longer if you keep outside in a shed in winter for example. First time I did it I used a plastic fizzy water bottle as an indicator when it was fizzy enough - it will be easy to squeeze when racked and go firm once fizzed up.

    10) Some people also "back sweeten" at this stage, in other words put some non fermentable sugars/sugar substitutes to make it sweet as after fermenting it will have lost all its sugars (i personally like it like that), I'd suggest putting a teaspoon in one or two at this stage first time with differing amount of non fermentable sugar to see what flavour you like. You can alway sweeten it up at drinking time. Erythritol is a good non fermentable sweetener, you can get it on amazon and most health food stores.

    11) Rack it to the bottles when you are happy you have given it enough time to finish bubbling - check out some you tube vidoes on racking and capping.

    Handy tip - stick a spare bung under one side of the demijohn to tilt so you get as much clear of the crud at the bottom when racking.

    Here's a good website to make labels for your new wonder cider - Handy tip, use milk to stick the labels, yes really :)

    The longer you leave it the better it will get.

    I have heard that if you get a vinegary taste from it at any stage that its been contaminated and time to pour down the drain. Fingers crossed i havent had that yet following the advice from yer man in the video above.

    Good luck and do let us know how you get on!

    Post edited by Supercell on

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  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 11,818 Mod ✭✭✭✭BeerNut

    My recipe is a lot less involved: 20L of Lidl cloudy apple juice in a sanitised fermenter and a sachet of cider yeast. Let it ferment for three or four weeks, until the gravity has been steady for a while, then bottle with a little priming sugar. I then leave it at least three months in the bottle before trying it, and generally find it's six months in before it starts tasting good.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,346 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    I've yet to have stuff last six weeks after bottling never mind months!! Building up stocks now though as definitely agree longer time is better.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 15,346 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    Just thought i'd add that in my experience the pure cloudy juice gave a more watery end taste though over time that may improve, the Lidl 100% from concentrate was more drinkable right away to my mind, which is what i like :)

    Currently got Tesco "apple and mango" and tropical turbo ciders on the go as an experiment (lots of trub so likely to be lower yielding), also planning to make rhubarb and damson ciders from stuff in the freezer eventually, all great craic :)

    Have read that the damson cider needs a good year or more before its drinkable, thats going to be a struggle!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,805 ✭✭✭Rothmans

    I'm hopefully going to commence my cider making journey in the near future. Unfortunately, MUP has done in my favourite drink - Stonehouse. I've tried Linden Village, Devil's Bit and Druids but they're not a patch on Stonehouse unfortunately. I'll be trying to get something similar enough in taste to the Stonehouse.

    But anyway, would you be able to compare the taste of your cider to any cider brands so I'll have an idea on the taste before getting started?

    Also, I went into LIDL today and they appear to have three apple juices available.

    1. Naturis No Added Sugar (From concentrate) at €1.29 for 1.5L. Given that this is one only has 3g sugar/100ml I imagine that this is not a runner?
    2. Naturis From Concentrate at €1.69 per 1.5L at 11g sugar/100ml.
    3. Naturic Cloudy Apple juice at €1.39 per 1L

    I presume that it's the second one above that you are referring to as the best one to use?

    Also, how long should it take from when I commence the process to when I can drink it properly?

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,346 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    I'd say its fairly close to the Aspall Draught Cyder .

    Its the second one on your list. Lately I'm finding that a brew i made with the Aldi equivalent (without the cranberry juice) and a teaspoon of erythritol at bottling time (as well as a teaspoon of sugar for fizz) is maturing very well indeed, it may replace the Lidl one in time but both are fine.

    It takes abut 2-3 weeks at room temperature to get a decent fizz, more if you store it outside in a shed or somewhere colder at this time of year. Its drinkable right away but definitely give it time to fizz up at a minimum, if you can leave it for a month or more you'll be rewarded with better flavour.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,805 ✭✭✭Rothmans

    Many thanks for the reply.

    Presumably the erythritol is just to increase sweetness?

    I might try it in one or two bottles. But I've had sorbitol and malitol in other products and they strongly disagree with me unfortunately, so I'd imagine erythritol would be the same.

    I was actually in Aldi the other day and picked up a litre of their own brand stuff. The apple juice is quite nice and cheaper again at 79 cent per litre.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,346 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    Yes its just for added sweetness as all the sugars are converted to alcohol during fermentation. Erythritol is pretty easy on your system, its one of the reasons i chose it though everyone is difference of course. Have fun!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,099 ✭✭✭

    Sorry to bring this back...

    After cleaning/preparing bottles for my recent brew of bitter after decade gap.... and in the depths of shelve, behind the empty ones.... discovered there is 4x0.5l bottles with cider.... brewed some 10+ year ago(didn't bother with labels/records back then)

    It was/is this

    or, cant remember now

    Popped one bottle open(very little pressure, but still puff) - taste somewhat flat, more like semi-dry wine (not that i am wine, or any kind brew specialist)

    alcohol measure ~5% , as intended for cider...

    Not sure what to do with it now, wait for another 20-30 year for "antique value" :D

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,346 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    Sometimes they even get better! I made some "cider" from Tesco tropical Juice last January and it was undrinkable but I'd read that sometimes the taste of brews mellows (Damson Cider is supposed to be undrinkable up to a year after being made for example) with age. Anyhow, I saw the bottles there getting dusty at the back of the shelf last weekend long forgotten about and so I tried one. Low and behold it was delish, so much so that I'm starting another batch with an aim to drinking next summer.

    I had a similar experience with the cherry syrup you get in Lidl from time to time, made a cider with a bottle of that in the Demijohn and similarly it was horrible. A few months later its totally delish and I've made more.

    Don't know if beer mellows like this but it seems to be a feature of some ciders.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,332 ✭✭✭Citizen  Six

    I've got some from 2017 and 2018 that's really aged well. Stuff I made in 2019 is a bit too dry for me, as I hadn't sweetened it at all. Adding cassis to it as I drink it, after running it through the sodastream. The 2019 batch I made totally flat for some reason. Probably time constraints.

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