Evaluating my first hard cider

A few weeks back, I wrote about my first attempt at a cider. The recipe was dead simple (in fact, I called it Dead Simple Hard Cider), and the whole thing had fermented out in around two weeks. It clocked in at 5.4% abv; not too much, but not too flimsy, either.

ciderThe cider has maintained a consistent haze throughout its serving lifespan, and has a very thin and not terribly persistent head (unsurprising for a cider). It’s somewhat copper/gold in color, and has a nice apple aroma (with maybe a hint of something like diacetyl?). On the flavor end of things, it’s pretty dry, but not puckeringly so. I like the crispness that this brings. The flavor is…well, apple. It’s fairly tart, like the sorts of apples you would expect for a cider. More Granny Smith than Golden Delicious.

I put this cider squarely in the win column. It hit all of the marks I was hoping for, and is surprisingly drinkable. I might try backsweetening a future batch, but not by a lot. I like my ciders tart and dry! A different yeast variety, perhaps something with a bit more character, is also in the cards. A 3 gallon batch was about perfect, too. Cider is a nice treat, but not something I really want 5 gallons of. As the keg nears its end, I’m still enjoying it! And that’s a good state to be in.

Attempting my first hard cider

I like an occasional cider, but southern California isn’t exactly the land of apples. We do citrus and avocados quite well, but the flavorful apples that form the core of a good cider just don’t exist here. As a result, I’ve never brewed any ciders. A bit of reading and some chance conversations, though, got me thinking about giving it a try. Plus, it’s a nice time of year for the stuff!

ciderThis recipe is dead simple: apple juice and yeast. I may add 10 mL of 88% lactic acid at the end (per suggestions from Brülosophy), and may even backsweeten a touch (we’ll see). This is a first batch, so it’s entirely new territory.

After looking through the options at the local grocery store, I settled on a blend from North Coast. I liked the hazy look (which presumably means a slightly more complex flavor as opposed to the typical hyper-filtered juice), and it didn’t have any preservatives in it.

Dead Simple Hard Cider

  • 3 gallons North Coast apple juice (pasteurized, no preservatives)
  • 1 package Safale US-05 ale yeast

Target Parameters

  • 3 gallons into the fermenter, ~2.5 gallons in the keg
  • 1.042 s.g., 1.000 f.g., 6.8% abv


  • I dumped the 3 gallons of juice into a sanitized fermenter and pitched the yeast.
  • I started this batch on 27 December 2017. I am fermenting at 66°; starting gravity was 1.042.
  • I kegged this batch on 7 January 2018. Final gravity was 1.001, meaning I am sitting at around 5.4% abv.