Hard Cider – Yeasts Used for Hard Cider (Compliation of Results)

By Hard Cider Project
WLP775 Hard Cider

WLP775 Hard Cider

This is the list of Hard Cider yeasts used for hard cider and yeasts intend on trying. This list will be updated as the experiment continues.

Note that I understand that yeast selection is highly subjective, please do not take my words as the end all be all, just an idea of my personal experiences. If you want more details, check out the actual posts about the specific batches.

Tried Yeasts:

1. White Labs WLP775 English Cider Yeast (Batch #7)

  • Used 6.5 gallons of Santa Cruz Organic Apple Juice.
  • The batch brewed very quickly, about 7 days, yeast nutrients were used. Airlock activity was very rapid.
  • Original Gravity (OG): 1.05, Final Gravity (FG): 1.00, ABV: 6.56%
  • Had a very strong sour and sulfur taste initially but the sulfur taste faded with age, however since it is English style it remains sour, which some people prefer, but I am not one of them.

Conclusion: Not my favorite, probably would not recommend unless you are specifically looking for that sour English Style.

Nottingham Yeast for Hard Ciders

Nottingham Yeast for Hard Ciders

 2. Nottingham Ale Yeast (Batch #1)

  • Used 6 gallons of “Country Acres Apple Cider” from Whole Foods.
  • Considered to be the most classic of all hard cider yeast by the hard cider brewing community. It was appropriate that Batch #1 used Nottingham Ale Yeast.
  • OG: 1.055, FG 1.008, ABV: 6.17%
  • Was treated with potassium sorbate and metabisulfite and back sweetened using apple concentrate to about 1.012ish.

Conclusion: The more this hard cider aged, the more it tasted “beer-ish” to me. That isn’t to say it wasn’t a good hard cider, but I was hoping for more of a Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider. I think that ultimately I wasn’t happy with the taste of the back sweetening concentrate and that it could have stood to have slightly more sugar in it. I also would try using pectin enzyme in the future to get better clarity. Need to experiment with different back sweeteners with this yeast strand. I also did not use yeast nutrients for this batch.

3. Bavarian Wheat Beer Yeast Activator – Wyeast 3056 (Batch #2, #3, #4, #5, #6)

  • Used 5 – 1 gallons of Whole Food’s 365 Organic Apple Juice
  • Was later racked into a 3 quarts secondary carboy.
  • Batch #2: 100g – Light Brown Sugar Added
  • Batch #3: 131g – Clover Honey Added
  • Batch #4: 131g – Molasses Added
  • Batch #5: Tannin Added
  • Batches #2, #3, #4, OG: 1.055, FG: Roughly 1.02 – 1.025, ABV: 3.94% – 4.59% [Expected Closer to 1.013, ABV: 5.51%].
  • Batch #5: OG: 1.047, FG: 1.018, ABV: 3.81% [Expected Closer to 1.01, ABV: 4.86%]
  • Batch #6: OG: 1.047, FG: 1.016, ABV: 4.07% [Expected Closer to 1.01, ABV: 4.86%]
  • No yeast nutrients were added, nutrients are within the “smack pack.”

Conclusions: These batches have too much to information to go over, but here is a quick summary. The molasses, honey, and light brown sugar all have very distinct tastes, noting that honey tastes the worst until it has had time to age. Molasses is a very distinct flavoring and is arguably the second best. This batch did not go as intended because the FG should have been lower. I was expecting about 75% of the ferment able sugar to ferment (based on the yeast’s average performance), which should have put the hard cider closer to 1.013 for batches #2-#4 and batch #5 and #6 to be closer to 1.01. There are many factors that go into this equation, but it’s a subject I plan on researching more moving forward. I would absolutely recommend Wyeast 3056 for someone looking for a sweeter hard cider. I would also recommend boosting the OG to closer to 1.06 – 1.07, since about 75% *should* ferment off, leaving a sweet cider. An OG with 1.07 should finish as a 1.0175FG (semi-sweet) with 6.96% ABV. As for the added tanning batch (#5) it did exactly as you would expect, produce a more “wine like” hard cider.

Hard Cider Batches #2 - #6 - Wyeast 3056

Hard Cider Batches #2 – #6 – Wyeast 3056

Yeasts that I have but have yet to try:

Lalvin 71B-1122 Narbonne
Saflager S-23 (11.5 grams)
Lalvin ICV D-47 Wine Yeast
Lalvin K1V-1116 Montpellier
Lalvin EC-1118 Champagne
Wyeast 4783 Sweet White Wine Yeast
Wyeast 4242 Fruity White Wine Yeast

Why Federal Regulations Have Completely Restricted Hard Cider Making

By Hard Cider Project

IMG_0083You ever want to own a hard cider operation? Well there is one major hiccup that does not get enough discussion with hard cider makers, a hiccup that actually allows home brewers to make the best hard cider.

Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms  §24.10 “Hard cider. Still wine derived primarily from apples or apple concentrate and water (apple juice, or the equivalent amount of concentrate reconstituted to the original brix of the juice prior to concentration, must represent more than 50 percent of the volume of the finished product) containing no other fruit product nor any artificial product which imparts a fruit flavor other than apple;containing at least one-half of 1 percent and less than 7 percent alcohol by volume; having the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to hard cider; and sold or offered for sale as hard cider.”

Limited to seven percent ABV? That’s a bit nasty, but I can work with that though. No other fruit product? That’s a killer. What is worse is that it’s still very vague if you are allowed adding virtually anything to your hard cider and it being viewed as hard cider for law purposes. Citric acid, honey, sugar, and fruit other than apple might kick it into another wine classification, regardless of the ABV.

Why is this so important? Because wines are taxed at about four times ($1.07/gallon) as much as hard ciders ($.226/gallon) . Oh and let’s not forget carbonation, if you have carbonation too high, you are looking at a huge jump in taxation, because of course that’s now a champagne ($2.60 – $3.40/gallon).  You also will likely have to familiarize yourself with new law and possibly regulations.

There are bills out there trying to add pears into the mix and too boost the ABV to 8.5% from 7%, but the issue here is to make an unique true craft hard cider or cyser, you need additional components other than apples. Honey, fruit flavoring, and spices are great ways to generate an amazing product. All of which are big no-no’s.

The only real mystery is how are commercial cider makers such as angry orchard calling their produce hard cider if it has anything added to it? Is there a loophole if you add it after the completed fermentation? It’s very common to see things such as ginger or cinnamon for instances, substances that appears to not be permitted in hard ciders. Maybe they are just paying the wine tax and still referring to it as hard cider? It’s unclear, but I intend on finding out.

But rejoice, you are a home brewer. Put honey in your primary and flavorings in your secondary. Make unique hard ciders that would do circles around commercial manufacturers. Don’t worry about taxation or complex code that seems to completely deficient and vague. Brew to your heart content.



Hard Cider Batch #1 – On Tap (and Kegging System Added)

By Hard Cider Project

As I previously wrote, I have added a kegging system to my equipment (bringing my total to about $1200 into this hobby). I picked the kegging system up at a local place in Cincinnati call Corny Keg. The place is basically a warehouse with kegs. The deal only made sense because I wanted new and I could I pick them up locally to avoid shipping costs. In hindsight, I almost still wish I went with Midwest Supplies because their pricing is just too good and Corny Keg didn’t have a distributor. Midwest Supplies actually has a “Master’s brewer’s equipment kit with kegging setup” and it comes with an insane amount of equipment for the price. Now that I’m trying to piece it all together, it would have been the better way to go.

I decided to go with two new five (5) gallon ball lock kegs and a new three (3) gallon ball lock keg, with the standard hookup and a ten lb CO2 tank and regulator. I am missing a CO2 distributor (splits the lines for more than one keg), so for right now I’m only operating at a single keg, which is fine for right now. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my goal is to bottle, carbonated, and store them long-term (years). I will do this via beer gun, and the current plan is champagne bottles, corks, and cages.

hard cider kegging system

hard cider kegging system

Back to the task at hand though, Batch #1 finally on tap. I do not have a kegerator yet, so it is at room temp (about 66 degrees.) I need to do a little more research on pressure, but for now I pressurized at 12 PSI, and after a week I would say it was too carbonated. Not a hard fix though, set the CO2 lower and bleed the tank. It’s weird though, because I saw this chart on Kegerators.com and thought that 12 PSI wouldn’t be enough at my temp. Regardless of my chart, my personal experience is that it has too much carbonation. I’m a little worried my regulator isn’t working as intended, but I’m not sure how I would actually be able to test it.

For any newbies, the process of kegging is extremely simple. You simple unlock the top of the keg opening, open the keg, sanitize inside, put your hard cider in, seal it back up, and put the CO2 onto the keg. There are “In” and “Out” markings for the CO2 “in” and the liquid “Out.” You can also tell which side the liquid is going out because there is a long metal straw that assures the liquid is sucked up, where as the other side has nothing. All of the hookups are done via ball lock and the hoses are connected with clamps that are tightened via screwdriver. Very simply process of hooking everything up, and it’s pretty straight forward. I’ll save someone some trouble though, grey or whitish hookups are for CO2 and black hookups are for liquid output (below picture of white/grey).

hard cider filling up keg

hard cider filling up keg


kegging hookup

kegging hookup


kegging hard cider

kegging hard cider

As you can see above, here is a picture of the batch on the kegging system. I left it alone for about a week to allow the CO2 to do it’s work. There are ways of speeding up the process (like rolling the keg while on CO2), but I’m in no rush.

Final thoughts on Batch #1, I’m very happy to have my first batch on keg, but frankly I feel things could have gone better. I did not care for the apple concentrate I used to back-sweeten. It’s not terrible, but I really wish I would of just bought more of the cider and turned it into concentrate. The final flavor is determined so heavily by that last back sweetener, and this apple concentrate just didn’t mesh well for me. I also think it could have aged a bit longer. It’s possible that the aging process will be unaffected by me choosing to keg, but I think it would be best to allow the other batches more time to age. Although don’t get me started about my batch with WLP775, because I just don’t see it aging into anything I particularly care to drink, but that’s another post to come.

Thank you for reading.

Update: Picture of Final Product. The hard cider has a bit of a “beer-ish” tone to it, but overall it’s good. I do detect the smallest hint of vinegar, but maybe I’m being too critical.

Nottingham Ale Hard Cider

Nottingham Ale Hard Cider