If you’re a proud home brewer, you’ll naturally want to show off your skill to visitors. In fact, successful brewers often become oddly popular – heaven knows why. But in this age of the car, somebody usually needs to drive, and it’s good to be able to offer them something, too. So, here’s an easy way to turn your regular cider into a drink that’s low enough in alcohol for designated drivers to be able to enjoy a pint along with everyone else. It works well with commercial ciders too.

Supermarkets are falling over themselves at the moment to offer tasty, low-alcohol ciders. They mimic the taste of cidre doux from Brittany and are sold at a premium price, but it’s a trick: most of them are actually inexpensive blended drinks. You can make your own blended low-alcohol cider very easily, using the recipe below.

glass of cider, image


Cider (5% alcohol)  100ml   (3½ fl oz)
Apple juice  150ml   (5 fl oz)
Top up with soda water to 500ml   (17½ fl oz)

Once blended the drink will keep in the fridge in a snug screw top container for a week or so. It is best served chilled, over ice.

For American readers:

When Brits talk about cider, they mean the hard stuff. What Americans call cider, Brits call apple juice. Just to add some spice to the mix, there’s a stronger, rougher version of the drink called ‘scrumpy’, sold mainly in England’s West Country. Real scrumpy is unfiltered and way stronger than the regular stuff (sometimes up to 12%), but it doesn’t travel well. Bottled ciders are sometimes left cloudy and called ‘scrumpy’ but they bear little resemblance to the real deal.

Tweaking the strength of the low-alcohol cider

The strength of the drink is determined by the amount of actual cider in it. If the cider you’re using is substantially stronger than 5%, you can still end up with a 1% drink by changing the quantity you add. To work out how much cider you need in millilitres, divide 500 by the percentage of alcohol.

So if you’re using an 8% cider, you’ll only need to use (500÷8=62.5ml) about 60ml. To keep the taste the same, the amount of apple juice needs to change too: it’s just half as much again as the cider, so in this case 90ml. Top up to 500ml with soda water as before.

Tweaking the sweetness of the low-alcohol cider

The proportion of cider to apple juice determines how sweet the low-alcohol cider tastes, so if you’re using an unusually dry cider you’ll need to add a little more apple juice. If the cider you’re using is unusually sweet, you’ll need less apple juice.

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Image courtesy Richard ‘Tenspeed’ Heaven on Flickr

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