Learning How to Make Hard Cider from Apples

how to make hard cider from apples

Making Hard Cider from Apples is Becoming Very Popular in the Twin Cities

The cider-making industry in Minnesota is just over eight years old, and it’s growing in popularity. More people are becoming interested in making hard cider from apples, and so many new cideries are popping up all over Minnesota. In 2016, the Minnesota Cider Guild was formed with its sole mission of educating Minnesotans about craft cider.

Typically a cidery is divided into one of two categories, traditional and modern. Traditional cideries focus on apple varieties and fermentation, whereas modern cideries focus more on combining common eating apples with fruits, hops, spices, and herbs. This year, I was able to visit a few cideries around Minnesota and they have definitely piqued my interest.

Meeting the Founders of Number 12 Cider

I was recently at Number 12 Cider in Minneapolis and was fortunate enough to meet the two founders, Colin and Steve. A former lawyer and a former school teacher, these two childhood best friends opened their cidery just two short years ago. Their passion and excitement for what they are building is palpable. I asked them where the name of their cidery came from and they shared a really cool story with me.

In 2011, they entered a Minnesota State Fair homebrew contest. They would brew a variety of cider flavors, mixing and matching apples and yeast. They kept things simple by labeling each batch “number 1,” number 2″ and so on. Number 12 ended up winning the blue ribbon at the State Fair, and so that became the name of their cidery! It seems like the good luck they experienced at the State Fair has carried over to their new business.
how to make hard cider from apples
how to make hard cider from apples
how to make hard cider from apples
how to make hard cider from apples

Learning How Hard Cider is Made

While visiting Number 12 Cider, Steve and Colin gave a tour and showed us the entire cider-making process. Like anything delicious, ingredients must be fresh. Steve and Colin never buy just apple juice. Instead, they pay careful attention to hand-selecting apple varieties and what orchards they come from. Sometimes they even press the apples on site. Their pressing machine requires 30 bushels to fill, which is a ton of apples! The strong apple smell in this space was palpable and mouth-watering.

Steve and Colin use a combination of cider and dessert apples from a variety of orchards, both in Minnesota and out of state. They are also keenly focused on the fermentation process for the final flavor. While on the tour, I sipped Fred, which is a limited cider they’re currently offering. Its dry tropical notes with a hint of banana and a floral essence made it refreshing, light, and delicious. The apples used to make Fred are 100% champagne apples from Dixon Orchards in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

For a more in-depth explanation of the brewing and fermentation process, check out the Number 12 Cider YouTube channel where Steve and Colin walk you through a step-by-step process.



how to make hard cider from apples

Picking Which Ciders to Taste

Their website does a great job describing the vast variety of flavors that can be found in their ciders. They describe some as having stone minerality, hints of hay, maple, apricot, watermelon rind, grilled peach, and one is even described as soul-warming. If you’re like me and cideries are new for you, their detailed descriptions will really help guide you in making a decision. After the tour, I got a flight so I could taste several options. The bartender helped me make my decision by talking through a variety of options, and sharing what he most enjoys.

How to Make Hard Cider from Apples
how to make hard cider from apples

Grab a Pizza and Sit by the Fire

Number 12 Cider is a great spot to visit anytime. Even during COVID restrictions and social distancing limitations, they can safely fit 100 people inside. They also have a nice outdoor patio space with fires and heated lamps. And they even have a pizza truck onsite. I had a Margherita pizza and it was so good!

Note: Governor Walz announced new COVID restrictions this week. They are always changing so be sure to stay updated in case indoor dining is not an option. You can still support local businesses by sitting outside or getting take-out at many places. Number 12 Cider also sells cans of their cider, so you can grab cans and pizza to go.

how to make hard cider from apples

Support Local Businesses

I used to think ciders were all very sweet and similar to each other. But I’m learning that they are much like beer and wine in the sense that there is a huge variety of options when it comes to hops, the flavor combinations from herbs and fruits, as well as how sweet or dry cider can be. 

Getting a behind-the-scenes tour and learning how Steve and Colin make hard cider with apples on-site was so cool. I loved hearing firsthand how thoughtfully they plan each step of the process. It’s clear that they have a passion for the hard cider process. While their business is new and businesses are experiencing a very difficult year due to COVID, I have a feeling they will be here for a long time. With great ciders, excellent pizza made on-site and a really cool indoor and outdoor space, Number 12 Cider is definitely a place I will be revisiting.


  • Melinda

    I love cider, especially the dry ciders, so this would be my kind of tour! We had a pear tree in our backyard and I wanted to learn how to make cider from it, so maybe one day…

  • Karen

    I’m trying to like hard cider as much as I like craft brew but haven’t got there yet. I must have too many memories of the apple cider going bad in the refrigerator. Anyway, this place looks wonderful and maybe after a flight of ciders I could find one I like.

  • Susan

    Yum! Their ciders are so good but I didn’t realize they have pizza too! I’m similar to you – I don’t like sweet ciders but they have tons of not-so-sweet options.

  • Tara

    Sounds like my kind of night! We have new cideries popping up here in Vermont too, but we haven’t been to any. Number 12 Cider sounds pretty awesome, especially if you can enjoy the outdoors while sipping your favorite cider and eating pizza!

  • Josy A

    Oooh this sounds like great fun! I am a massive fan of cider back in the UK, but I find it harder to find the good, dry ciders that I love here in North America. I am always excited to try new ones. If you ever make it to the UK, try one called ‘old rosie.’ It is cloudy a bit stong and soooo good! You just have to not drink too much as it’ll make your head spin.

    p.s. I am always confused by the idea of non-hard cider. Back home cider is always alcoholic… non-hard cider is just apple juice isn’t it??

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