Beer (Cider) 32: Beautiful Sparkling Cider from the Basement

I ‘brewed’ this several months ago and stashed several bottles in the basement. Last night, my wife wanted a cider, so I went to the basement and cracked open a bottle. I had to appreciate the clarity, the sparkle, and the fizz of a simple cider fermented with champagne yeast.


It was delicious. You get a big whiff of champagne, high carbonation, a crisp refreshing bite, and a tiny hint of apple sweetness. This proves that you can make a good cider with the simplest ingredients: I literally added 6 gallons of regular apple juice on sale, from the grocery store, nothing fancy. I dumped the juice into a bottling bucket, added champagne yeast, and bottled about a week later.

For my next cider, I want to dry hop with about 4 ounces of Citra or Centential. I think that would add a nice complexity.

Dry Hopped Hard Cider

I’m not a huge fan of hard cider – they’re a little boring for me and apparently I love gluten- but I always thought a dry hopped version would be really good (also gluten free by the way). I might have gotten the idea from Anyway, the process is very simple. Get apple juice from the store (or the cider mill), dump apple juice into a bucket, add yeast. That’s pretty much it. Cider making, compared to beer making, is a breeze. Dry hopping, for this recipe, happened after fermentation. I added two ounces of hops (Simcoe, Amarillo), then let the hard cider cool for a couple days (called ‘cold crashing’), and then bottled with sugar cubes (the bucket has a bottling spigot attached two inches from the bottom).

It’s a nice, crisp, refreshing, effervescent, drinkable, bubbly cider (thanks to the Champagne yeast). It has a touch of apple sweetness. I really like it. My wife said it tastes exactly like champagne. Here’s what it looks like next to some apples:

IMG_20160207_201555740 (1)

serve in a flute wine glass if you are fancy

The alcohol is hidden although sneaky. I have no clue what the ABV is but I know it fermented very well. Unfortunately I don’t taste or smell the hops, at all. That surprised me; Simcoe is an aggressive hop. I was hoping to get a little orange, lemon flavor from the Simcoe/Amarillo duo, I thought that would blend nicely with the cider flavor. Next time, I will definitely add 4 ounces, or maybe choose Citra or Centenial or something ‘piney.’

Carbonation took less than 2 weeks, which was a relief. I have tried making hard cider three or four times, and they never carbonated or took forever. I think the Champagne yeast is the winner here. It will be my go-to in the future.