Here’s what no one may have ever told you about making hard cider: It’s really easy. Scientifically speaking, if you leave almost any fresh fruit juice out long enough, natural yeasts will take over and it will start fermenting into alcohol. The problem is that your homemade cider may also taste terrible. That’s where all the other techniques of cidermaking come into play: Choosing good fruit, pitching actual commercial yeast instead of praying whatever is lingering in your kitchen will taste delicious and working with a sterile environment in a closed system where other nasty microbes won’t muck up all your flavors.
Alchema, a home cidermaking machine launched on Kickstarter today, wants to be the best of both worlds – retaining cidermaking’s simplicity but also allowing novice cidermakers to craft homemade cider they’d actually want to share with their friends.
The countertop appliance that looks a bit like a kettle “enables you to homebrew your own unique flavor of hard craft cider,” the brand states. Alchema boils its process down to three steps: Choose a recipe from its app, add the suggested ingredients (which the machine conveniently weighs for you), and add the suggested yeast which can either be bought through Alchema or a homebrew retailer.
So why do you even need an Alchema then? The self-contained device claims to simplify the sanitizing process by using medical grade UV-C LED light. Then, once fermentation starts, the company says you’ll be able to track it on the app, taking out any guesswork without having to peak into the fermenter and risk contamination. The system “monitors the health of your cider by detecting and analyzing key parameters such as alcohol content, air pressure, and fermenting temperature” before the app lets you know when its finished.
If Alchema reaches its $80,000 goal, the company says early bird devices, which are selling right now for $329, should ship by July 2017. After that, the price bumps up to $399 and the cider appliances will ship a month later.
So is the Alchema worth it? Unfortunately, I wasn’t privy to using the machine in person, but it certainly claims to provide the necessary tools to make cider properly in a single package. With so many crowdsourcing campaigns turning out a bit bunk these days, I’m often hard-pressed to recommend any of them, but Alchema sounds like it could be the real deal.