Cider Recipe: “Record Number of Entries” Dry Hard Cider

This is my first cider.  I’ve been meaning to do one for quite some time, and it just kept getting pushed off.  But, I recently saw a cider from apple juice over at Brulosophy and was finally inspired grab some yeast and get ta cider’n.  I modified/ simplified from the original “recipe” to make it even easier on myself.

And easy it was.  Basically, find five gal/ 18.9L or so of preservative-free, no sugar added, 100% juice apple juice, dump it into a fermentor, and pitch the yeast.  Game, set, match.  The worst part is the sideways glances you get at the local grocery for wheeling around with five gallons of apple juice.  You can add some extra sugar if you like more alcohol for the sake of alcohol, but I didn’t bother; it will also dilute the apple flavor a bit.  You can also adjust to taste at bottling with acid blend, but again I didn’t botherthis will depend on the brand of juice you get.  I used two kinds of juice only because my grocery store didn’t carry five gallons of one sort.

The only other thing I added was yeast nutrient, which is important in such a nutrient-poor medium.  I forgot the first night and added it the second.  The start of fermentation was sluggish, but it perked right up after the nutrient addition.

Batch Size: 5 gal/ 18.9L (at pitching)

3.5 gal/ 13.25 L      White House brand “Fresh Pressed” filtered juice
1.5 gal/ 5.68 L        Langer’s brand apple juice

1 pkt                     Wyeast 3711 French Saison

1 min              oxygen, 0.5 micron stone
1/2 tsp           Wyeast yeast nutrient blend

Target CO2:     2.5 vol

OG:                    1.047 (specified as 26g sugar per 8 fluid oz)
FG:                    1.005 (89% apparent attenuation)
ABV:                 6% after conditioning

Fermentation Temperature: I pitched at 67F/ 19.4C and it rose and stayed at about 70F/ 21.1C for the duration of the ferment.  It took a little longer than my usual beer to ferment out, about two full weeks; perhaps a touch more nutrient would have helped.

Tasting Notes:


I got kinda lazy on finding an appropriate back light…

Appearance: nearly crystal clear pale yellow; pours with a fast dissipating head: no hops or proteins to stabilize the foam

Aroma: champagne-like with a touch of apple

Taste: initially champagne with a good dose of apple, it opens up a bit as it blows off a some of CO2, becoming a nicely tart dry cider with a relatively intense green apple flavor that leaves just a hint of lingering apple tartness behind; there isn’t an obvious stand-out yeast component, but I would be willing to bet it would come through in a side by side with a neutral strain and be more interesting

Mouthfeel: pretty high and sharp carbonation and high attenuation help this finish dry; mouthfeel primarily from the carbonation, but there does seem to be a yeast-driven component here as well

Overall: This is about the easiest thing I have ever fermented on purpose, and certainly the only one that didn’t make my refrigerator smell.  I’m not that familiar with the cider world, frankly, so I don’t know how it stacks up against commercial or award winning versions.  From my memory of it Longbow when I had it once about seven years ago, this seems to finish not quite as dry and has much more flavor intensity.  I certainly find it preferable to many of the overly sweet commercial interpretations.  As easy as this is, its great to have around for something different or for those who aren’t as keen on beer.  I definitely enjoyed it enough to make again.

– Dennis,
Life, Fermented


About Dennis
Home brewer, home chef, garage tinkerer. Author of Life Fermented blog.

9 Responses to Cider Recipe: “Record Number of Entries” Dry Hard Cider

  1. mgrob76 says:

    I did mine with spiced apple cider and US-04 and the yeast attenuated well without nutrient blend. But the end result was way too dry so I add apple juice to taste in a glass to sweeten it up a little bit.

    • Dennis says:

      I wonder if the spices, especially cinnamon, might need a little sweeter of a backbone to balance them. This was definitely dry, but not in a bad way. I actually kept thinking it was a bit sweet when I was tasting it, but it was just my brain associating apple with sweet I think. Maybe a bit of actual sweetness from the ethanol, and maybe some esters from the yeast.
      – Dennis

      • mgrob76 says:

        I’ll have to try it again with just some plain ol’ apple juice then and see how it differs. Thanks.

      • Dennis says:

        Yea I’m just guessing. I’m just thinking about when I eat something with cinnamon in it, it seems to give a drying sensation in the mouth. And there’s the whole cinnamon challenge thing.
        – Dennis

  2. brulosopher says:

    For some reason, 3711 has been taking upwards of 3 weeks to fully attenuate apple juice. I just picked up some Belle Saison and plan to throw a batch together soon, hopefully it goes a little faster. Cheers!

    • Dennis says:

      Yea, mine took a bit longer than usual, but not three weeks. Maybe a wine style staggered nutrient addition would help, but that seems like overkill. I ended up leaving it in primary three weeks instead of my usual two so it had time to settle a bit after it finished. I might switch over to the Belle Saison next time too though- that stuff is a monster, and I wouldn’t mind shaving off an extra point or two from the FG I got with 3711. In fact, I’m almost tempted to try a champagne yeast, but I think I would probably like the contributions of a saison yeast a little more, and I can’t imagine champagne yeast taking it much lower than the Belle.
      – Dennis

  3. Tim says:

    Try doing this without any nutrient additions, and at the lowest temperature the yeast will tolerate. Cider is a wine, and the apple flavors and aromas are delicate – so a slow, cool fermentation generally gives a much better result. The best ciders in the world are made using techniques to remove nutrients from the juice, starving the yeast so it just barely ferments at all!

    Don’t bother with Champagne yeast, it is far too aggressive and will remove nearly all of the fruit character. Unless you crash-chill it partway through… but then you have to stabilize it somehow to prevent restarting.

    • Dennis says:

      Definitely worth a try, but I don’t follow the logic. Many wines (or at least red wines- I’m not familiar with whites) are fermented very warm, upwards of 90F. Much of the character of these wines is the yeast character, which would be heavily suppressed at cooler temperatures. That being said, yeasts will put off more flavor when stressed from lack of nutrients, so long as you can get it to ferment out fully. So, perhaps that’s why it works…
      – Dennis

      • Tim says:

        Cider has a more delicate flavor profile than grape wine, and the apple aromas and flavors that most people desire are mostly destroyed by strong fermentations. Slow, cool fermentations retain more of the volatile aromatics; and apple character is largely a function of aroma.
        Ciders in the French or English traditions focus on apple character and use techniques to remove nutrients and slow fermentation. German apfelweins are very different, made more like grape wines, less appley and with more of their character contributed by the yeast. Which set of techniques to use depends on the style of cider you desire.

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