Homemade Hard Lemonade

I’ve been in full mead mode lately, but I’m fully prepared to deviate for a little (ok, a lot of) hard lemonade. It might actually snow here next week, even though it’s April, but whatever, summer will be here eventually and I’ll be ready. With hard lemonade. And a really big straw.

This recipe was taken from homebrewtalk.com.

It’s important to note that such a high amount of acidic fruit has a hard time kicking off fermentation, so it’s important to use the right kind of yeast activated properly. To activate the yeast, you’ll combine 1 cup of warm (not hot!) water with 1 tbsp of lemonade concentrate and just a couple of yeast nutrient pellets with lalvin EC-1118 Champagne yeast, or a yeast packet. All it to sit for half an hour. You’ll see vigorous bubbling when the yeast is good and ready.

It’s also a good thing to mention before you dive in that you’ll need a 6 gallon carboy and fermenting bucket, as well as a 2.5 gallon pot for the stove. The plus side is that you’ll have 5 gallons of hard lemonade when you’re done.


  • 2.5 lbs corn sugar
  • 8 cups of regular cane sugar
  • 1 lb pilsen light or extra light dry malt extract
  • 12 cans of preservative-free lemonade concentrate. Use the most natural brand you can find, but Minute Maid works as well.
  • Yeast nutrient
  • Lalvin EC-1118 Champagne yeast (important to get the right kind)
  • Potassium Sorbate


To brew your wort, or starting liquid, you’ll need a very large pot – something like 2.5 gallons or bigger. Boil 2 gallons of very clean water (reverse osmosis, or storebought springwater would be my recommendation) and add 1 lb of your dry malt extract and 3 lbs of your corn sugar. This mixture will yeild about 9% ABV when all is said and done.

Stir until it’s totally dissolved, and remove from yeat. Add 7 tsp of yeast nutrient.

Combine in large plastic primary fermenation bucket with 10 cans of your lemonade concentrate, and enough cold water to fill the bucket almost to the top. Let the mixture warm to room temperature, and take your initial hydrometer reading. Pitch your yeast starter, which you’ve already rehydrated until you see activity as per above directions. Put lid and airlock on your bucket, and allow to ferment at room temperature.

You should see a nice fermenatation going within 2-3 days. Rack off to your carboy, ferment for 1-2 weeks. Allow it to totally ferment before bottling.

Take your final hydrometer reading and record. In a large sauce pan, add 8 cups of cane sugar (or less, if you like), 2 cans of lemonade concentrate, and 3 cups of water. Stir constantly as it rises to a simmer.

Remove from heat, and add the potasium sorbate. Add sugar/lemon/sorbate mixture to your bottling bucket, and rack your fermented lemonade from your carboy into your bottling bucket with the sorbate mixture, stirring well.

Bottle in beer or wine bottles. You may have a little carbonation, but not much.

Drink anytime after bottling! Ahhhh, cheers. Yum. I can feel summer already…

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Homemade Hard Lemonade