Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Adventures in Homebrewing: Cascade Hopped Blackberry Cider

The juice is loose.
Okay, let's get one thing straight right now: I am NOT a good homebrewer. I don't like to follow instructions, I'm not at all patient and, let's be honest here, I'm not very bright. These attributes do not a good brewer make. Still, I keep trying, even though my list of misses is far longer than my tiny tally of hits.

Earlier this month, we had visitors from out of town and my wife took them on the obligatory tour of the Columbia River Gorge, ending up in Hood River. After a trip through the Fruit Loop, we found ourselves with a box full of pick-your-own apples that was impossible for us to finish--even after a pie, some turnovers and my vow to take one to work every day for lunch. We had to do something with them, so we broke out the juicer.

I also had a massive bag of blackberries in the freezer that I harvested from the twisted devil vines behind our house. I needed to get rid of those, too. They've been taking up valuable ice cream space for months.

I decided to make some hard cider. I've made hard cider before from store bought apple juice, right in the glass jug it came in. I just poured in some dry Cooper's brewing yeast and stopped up the jug with a rubber stopper and airlock. Easy, breezy and it fermented into hard cider in about five days. This time, I decided to use apple juice from our fresh picked apples and our homegrown blackberries.

I'm flying totally by the seat of my pants here--remember, I don't like to follow directions. Yeah, so I wasn't quite sure how to use the blackberries. A few thrown into the juicer just turned to goo. That wasn't going to work, so I tossed them into a pot with a 1/2 gallon of water and a 1/4 cup of sugar and set it to boiling. In a few minutes, I had a bright purple juice.

I still have a bushel of homegrown Cascade hops from my harvest. A bunch of them were pretty dry already. Inspired by the guilt of wasting them, I decided to toss a few into the blackberry juice just for the heck of it. Wow, the aroma of the hops and blackberries simmering together was positively sublime. I added more!

I let the blackberry juice cool down, strained out the hops and berry chunks and added it to the apple juice in a 4 liter wine jug. I poured in some of that dry brewing yeast and stopped it up with the rubber stopper and airlock. Ta-da!

The concoction has been bubbling away in the back hallway since Saturday. I'm going to bottle it this coming Saturday. Hopefully, a week is an appropriate length of time for the stuff to be fermenting in the jug. I want it to be sweet. Once again, I'm just winging it. I'm not sure what to expect as far as alcohol content, either, but I'm thinking it will be potent. We'll see!

If it turns out good, I'll let you know. If it turns out bad, we shall never speak of it again. Fingers crossed!


  1. Hey Wolf! Gotta tell you that I am loving this latest post. I am a huge fan of brewing my own beer, but NEVER considered brewing my own cider. That jug of juice looks pretty tasty actually. I think I am going to try this over the weekend now that the colder weather has set in. Thanks for the information, appreciate it.

    Irvin Moss @ Shop Brewmeister

    1. Just as a follow-up, the cider turned out great! I mean, it's no masterpiece by any stretch, but the hops flavor came through and I've certainly had worse.