Wildling Cider

“Before Mance, Varamyr Sixskins had been a lord of sorts. He lived alone in a hall of moss and mud and hewn logs that had once been Haggon’s, attended by his beasts. A dozen villages did him homage in bread and salt and cider, offering him fruit from their orchards and vegetables from their gardens.” -A Dance with Dragons

Wildling Cider, naturally fermented | Game of Brews
Wildling Cider, naturally fermented


This is an awesome, no hassle cider. Because it naturally ferments, there’s no need to judge what yeast to use, or watch for blow-offs. There is no lingering yeast taste at the outset, which means it’s great to drink immediately after it’s done fermenting, or at any point during the fermenting process if you’d prefer a lower % alcohol with greater fizz. In fact, many of you have probably enjoyed cider that has gone slightly hard: the giveaway is the puffed up plastic jug, and the pfffft! of air when you take off the cap.

The fully fermented cider, when first tried, is dry, but with a nice round feel to it. The apple flavor is there, but not the sweetness. Instead, it has a sour apple element that I found quite pleasant, if a tad rough.

Although the wildlings would probably drink their cider as soon as it was alcoholic, I set a couple bottles aside to see how the flavors changed over time; It’s also a colonial American method of making cider, and I’m curious to see how it ages!

Update 1: After 2 months in the bottle, the sediment has fallen to the bottom, leaving a clear cider, provided you pour very carefully. The taste is a bit crisp and tart, and more rounded than it is straight after fermentation.

Update 2: At 3 months, the cider is startlingly clear, with only a slight yellow-green tint. It’s dry, slightly tart, and considerably better than I had imagined from such a simple, unrefined style.

Wildling naturally fermented cider | Game of Brews
Wildling Cider, at 3 months

Wildling Cider Recipe

Makes 1 Gallon           Fermentation: ~2 weeks

ABV: 6.5%

Cook’s Notes: I recommend unpasteurized cider simply because it is the closest to what the wildlings would use. Any pasteurized cider will probably ferment well, too.


  • 1 Gallon unpasteurized apple cider
Helpful things to have:
  • Either an airlock, or a piece of fabric and a rubber band

Open your jug of cider. Cap with the airlock, or cover with fabric, and let sit in a corner of the kitchen. Yes, it’s that easy.

Listen to the cider ferment; it should bubble quietly after a few days, and continue to grow stronger as it sits. It will develop a sort of foam on top (see photo below), which is another indication it’s going well. Either drink right away, or, once the fermentation is completely finished, bottle to enjoy later.

*As always, when bottling in glass, be sure that the fermentation has completely stopped. You can also bottle in clean plastic soda bottles, which are designed to withstand bubbly pressure.*


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael says:

    I would probably rack the cider to another clean jug after the sediment settled so I didn’t have to worry about mixing it back up when I poured. You could also mix an egg white in with the young cider to help separate out all the sediment.

  2. tia_darcy says:

    Cider in the UK and cider in the USA is different I think. ALL UK cider is wilding cider, anything else is apple juice 🙂

    1. Chelsea says:

      Here, cider can either be alcoholic or not. Generally, it refers to the unfiltered juice from pressed apples. Yes, apple juice. 🙂 But such cider can sometimes be sold unpasteurized, while as far as I know, all apple juice is filtered and pasteurized.

      Thankfully, we colonials are getting back to our brewing roots, and boozy cider is enjoying a resurgence, which is awesome (and delicious).

  3. Viktor says:

    I have one that is probably more natural recipe than fermenting apple-juice, and definitely has less E components: combine 1 liter simple syrup(1:1 ratio), and 1kilo cored, sliced apple in a 5 liter jar(here, they sell pickles in 5l glass jars, which perfect, if thoroughly washed) top up with water, and let it sit for 2-3 weeks(covered with a cloth of course).
    filter the liquid to another jar, and let it sit for another week(there’s gonna be a layer of ‘dust’ at the bottom).
    After this you can color it with some caramel, but i never do it, ’cause i use a sweet kind of apple, and combined with the syrup, it gives quite a sweet drink even after fermenting.
    So at this point i usually portion the liquid into swing-cap bottles(not sure it’s the right expression, but hopefully you do know what i mean). and put them to my pantry-shelves. given that the apple season in Hungary is in october, by christmas i have nice, clear, slightly fizzy cider(fizz comes from anaerob fermentation, the same process as with champagne) i can drink on it’s own, or better make a mulled cider with spices. Unfortunately it never survives the holidays, however once i made 30 liters that lasted until summer, it was quite a hassle handling such an amount in my small flat, but by the end of may it became quite fizzy, making it the perfect summer drink as an alternative to beer and spritzer.

  4. Kazakiri says:

    I have a jug of cider that’s been sitting for a week and it hasn’t shown any signs of bubbling yet.
    Should I stir up the cider or pour it in and out of a bottle to aerate it? To help the fermentation along.

  5. DarkRayn says:

    I have all my brewing supplies finally and I want to give this simple recipe a shot. We have family coming and I think this might be a hit with the sister-and-law when she gets here for Christmas. I plan on making two gallons. One for the holidays and another for spring. Can’t wait!

  6. Rich says:

    I’ve got several bottles maturing. I’ve used a commercial champagne yeast, as it’s too warm here for most yeast strains (at least without a crushing electric bill and an uncomfortably cool room).

  7. Santulan says:

    We get processed apple cider vinegar here.. Can I use that?

    1. Chelsea says:

      Nope! You’re looking for just plain apple cider, otherwise there’s nothing there to ferment.

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