I don’t know about you, but I have spent a lot of time looking for new things to do during quarantine. Usually, having unlimited time on my hands means you will find me reading. But my library has closed twice due to covid and limited hours has meant limited access to books. So I have cleaned the condo thoroughly. That got old fast. I hate cleaning and we are now back to my slightly chaotic, but clean enough to keep the health department away state. Then there was sewing. We have enough masks, in a variety of styles and patterns, to last through several pandemics. Along with aprons and other clothing items. Then there was the baking. Breads and elaborately decorated cakes. But you can only eat so much. There have been a few other things but my latest endeavor has been the most fun.

For some reason, the idea of making cider popped into my head. When I was a kid, we made” wine”. My uncle had some pretty poorly grape vines and a cousin had some better ones. Both made wine. This Irish girl happens to live in a heavily Italian area. Seems everyone makes wine. (My first house upon moving back to Rhode Island twenty years ago had a massive wine press in the basement.) My mother said you could make wine from any fruit. We would put fruit into bottles with water and sugar and a pinch of yeast. Then we would dig a hole beside the garage and bury the bottles. The idea, I suppose, was to leave the bottles there until the next spring. But let’s be realistic. I was a kid. And kids have zero patience and no concept of time. I was digging up those bottles to look at them pretty regularly. And every now and then I would drink one. Let’s just say I have no idea if this method works as nary a bottle ever made it until spring.

But I am older now. Perhaps a little wiser. And I have a bit more patience. Not much more, I doubt I could wait until the spring to see the fruits of my labours, even now. But now I have the internet. So I went on Google and started researching how to make cider. I only picked cider because it is apple season. Apples are plentiful, every variety is available, and they are on sale. Well you know how it is when you research anything. You start getting ads. (Little secret about me: sometimes I research some completely crazy thing I have zero interest in just to see the ads I will generate.) After finding directions for making cider, I went on Facebook and got an ad for Brewsy. It seemed an easy way to turn my cider into wine as it were. Hard cider. What the heck, I’m doing nothing anyway. Ordered an introductory package. 

The introductory package comes with three packets of yeast with other mysterious ingredients. Or as the folks at Brewsy say about it: “we spent months & tens of thousands of dollars reverse-engineering what makes amazing, natural wine. we blended together six previously inaccessible winemaking ingredients to make each magical brewsy bag.” There are also three airlocks and stoppers. As well as a little book telling you everything you need to know. You also get access to the Brewsy Facebook group (Hi Laneys! Inside joke, you’re gonna have to join to find out 😉)which I have to say is the most active, most fun, Facebook group I have belonged to. 

I turned 10 pounds of apples into 1 gallon of cider. 5 pounds gala and 5 pounds granny smith. It was a lot of work and you don’t have to do all that. With brewsy you can turn any bottle of juice into wine. How fun is that! I also made a gallon of elderflower mead. Another “big” project. But I can assure you, my next batch is going to use bottles of Ocean Spray Cran-Pomegranate.

Last night I bottled my cider. Made labels. The whole nine yards. Christmas gifts. And there was a glass left over for me. How was it? Let me put it this way: it will be a miracle bigger than Lourdes if those bottles make it under the tree for their intended recipients 🤣🤣🤣 I am currently “cold crashing” my mead. I only promised one bottle of that towards gift giving. I am excited to find out how that tastes. I am more excited I won’t have to share most of it!

As hobbies go, this one is pretty fun. You don’t need much equipment. At the end of the day you end up with 15% ABV wine for less than it would cost you for a cheap bottle of plonk. You are pretty much unlimited in your flavour options. You are limited only by your imagination. And I have a lot of imagination. I have plans for kombucha after the Cran-Pomegranate and then maybe something like a Bailey’s sort of thing…. Who knows, as I said, I have a lot of imagination! I have done the research for you. There are other starter kits, but this one, Brewsy, is the cheapest and every reviewer says it is the easiest and the best. After the initial purchase of the introductory kit, you just need to buy the yeast envelopes. They are the same price as buying sachets of brewer’s yeast BUT: if you buy sachets of brewer’s yeast you have to buy tablets of this and that, all the other things Brewsy mixes into their yeast for you. 

Disclaimer: if you click on any of my Brewsy links, you will get a 15% discount and I will get a free bag. If you know me, I’m not doing it for the free sachet. I just ordered six more lol And in all the years doing book reviews, I never used the link from Amazon to get money if clicked on the book link. But with this you get a 15% discount so I figured I would pass that along in case you want to join in on the fun (and become a Laney 😉)

Published by Kate Eileen Shannon

Artist, Crafter, Writer, purveyor of ephemera and bagatelle

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