Specific gravity and alcohol content calculator for hard cider

07 Jul

Screenshot of cider templateHere’s the best tool you can have for planning a cider recipe. Usually, you need to use a hydrometer to determine the density (specific gravity or SG) of your cider before and after brewing in order to calculate its alcohol content. This spreadsheet does the work for you, calculating the blended SG and estimating your final alcohol content based on the sugar content of your ingredients. Fill in your own combination of juice, sugar, and additives and find out how strong the resulting cider will be. I’ve included some typical values for certain ingredients (Kirkland apple juice, white sugar, brown sugar, honey, etc.), and you can add your own if you have the nutritional information. While the calculator assumes you are letting your cider age and ferment to extreme dryness (SG = 1.000), you also determine the final alcohol content at any SG value you enter.

I rely on this spreadsheet so much that I barely take hydrometer readings anymore. Make copies of it in order to save a record of each cider batch that you make. I can flip through every batch I’ve made this year and determine what recipes are working and what ones need to be retooled. Keeping records is invaluable in good science. Did you realize you were conducting science by brewing cider?

Cider recipe template with specific gravity/alcohol calculator


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  1. TomMiller

    03/25/2015 at 6:03 pm

    I downloaded the spreadsheet and am having a problem trying to calculate a small one gallon batch. When I change the amount of apple juice to a lower amount the ABV% goes up not down.
    If I change the Kirklands apple juice gallon number from 5 to zero and try to use the cup numbers the calcuations shows a #DIV/0! error.

  2. Drew

    04/13/2015 at 6:50 pm

    Thanks for noticing the cups/gallons issue; I’ll fix it and post an update.

    However, the decrease in ABV as you add more juice is real. If you’re adding sugar to your juice (whether in the form of cane sugar, honey, molasses, or anything else), you are increasing its overall concentration of sugar. The juice is a less-concentrated source of sugar. Therefore, if you add more juice to that batch, the juice will dilute it, resulting in a lower potential alcohol percentage. That doesn’t mean less alcohol in total; it will indeed make more alcohol overall. It just means that each ounce of cider will have a lower percentage of alcohol.