Hard Cider Yeast

Any suggestions on a yeast for making hard cider?

Some say cider house select is what they like https://www.amazon.com/Cider-House-Select-Premium-Yeast-3/dp/B00N2WGUPW/ref=sr_1_1?s=industrial&ie=UTF8&qid=1472314991&sr=1-1&keywords=Cider+House+Select+yeast others use lavlin’s or Red Star champaign yeast. Cider house select is much more expensive than other yeasts. A 10 pack of lavlins is around $7 https://www.amazon.com/Lalvin-Dried-Wine-Yeast-1118/dp/B003TOEEFG/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=industrial&ie=UTF8&qid=1472315103&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=lavlins+yeast . A 10 pack of champaign yeast is even cheaper at around $6 https://www.amazon.com/Red-Star-Pasteur-Blanc-Champagne/dp/B00434CB74/ref=sr_1_1?s=industrial&ie=UTF8&qid=1472315155&sr=1-1&keywords=champaign+yeast . I’ve only used Red Star for every thing from wine to soda pop because it’s in my budget.

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Although it is not something i do, lots of folks who are really into cider swear by wild fermentation. Barring that, i have no experience w ciderhouse select but at under $4 a pack it beats wyeast and white labs, the only other 2 straight cider yeast folks i know of…and if you made a 5-gallon batch bottled on 750-ml bottles thats still less than $4 divided by 25 bottles so like fifteen cents per bottle for the yeast.

In the past i have used champagne, cote de blancs, and k1v with good results.

I use wild yeasts only (no added yeast). If taking that route you need to be very careful to keep everything clean as you can’t use any sulphur.

I am re-reading Claude J’s cider book now, thinking about what I might cook up this winter…

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I have used a few different yeasts, champagne, white wine, ale, and spontaneous wild yeasts. I have gotten the best results from wild fermentation, but these can be unpredictable, and sometimes lead to off flavors or aromas. The commercial wine and Champagne yeasts tend to ferment the juice to full dryness quite quickly, which can blow off much of the aromatic character of the finished cider. Ale yeasts may leave some residual sweetness depending on the sugar concentration of the initial juice. Temperature and multiple rackings are other factors if you want to slow the fermentation and try for some residual sweetness.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I bought some wine and champagne yeast to use, but now I’m not confident they will produce something that is not too dry and something with a good apple flavor. I would prefer not to add apple concentrate at the end to get the flavor.

When doing some more research I came across the link below where the maker produced over 80 batches of cider last year. Hes tested all kinds of yeast and compared the results.

I have had great luck with V1116.


It is relatively easy to save yeast from one batch to use in the future. I have saved yeast in beer bottles for a few years and it has been active. I usually would just siphon some into a nice clean beer bottle from the secondary at the end of racking to the bottling bucket. Then do a clean capping and put it someplace cool and dark. When I planned to use it I would just make a starter and pitch that yeast into that to be sure it was good and active.


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Has anyone who makes cider tried to stop the fermentation process before all of the sugar is turned into alcohol in order to preserve some of the sweetness of the cider? I understand that most cider will naturally ferment very dry to a SG less than 1. That’s not what I’m looking for. I want very mild sweetness. Any suggestions?

the most common tricks to keep some sweetness are adding lactose, stabilizing then sweetening, sterile filtering, and/or cold-crashing the yeast…or some combination.

Chemical stabilization, lactose, and cold-crashing are the most feasible on a small scale. I have never tried lactose but done the other 2 on various wines and ciders…

Definitely don’t use that V1116 mentioned above then. It is for stuck fermentations and can take the alcohol.

A yeast more for beer might stop at a moderate alcohol content and leave a decent amount of sugar behind. If I was using a beer yeast I’d aim for a clean profile yeast, maybe a US56 or something on the cleaner side. There are some ale yeasts out there that can really ruin a beer (edit: this is my opinion). A yeast for wine will likely take the cider all the way to dryness.

Also a yeast with a decent amount of flocculation could aid your cause if you wanted to keep racking off the yeast cake to slow things way down. By racking you remove a lot of the yeast cells and those that are left behind are in a nutrient-depleted and alcoholic environment. Something like Safale S-04 could work. http://www.charlesfaram.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SFA_S04.pdf

I’ve made sweet strawberry wine by back-sweetening and adding potassium sorbate.

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The V1116 will absolutely ferment everything it can eat… but as stated above you can go back and sweeten it to taste after fermentation. This is a more reliable/repeatable method than hoping the yeast you use will stop fermenting before all the sugars are gone because exactly where the yeast stops may be dependent on a lot of factors. If you just take it all the way down to zero, kill the yeast, then you can add back in some sugar. (Or you can just add sorbate, lactose, etc, which won’t ferment anyway.)

Good points being made here.
I have used multiple rackings as a way to slow down fermentation to a stalling point where there’s some remaining sugar, bottled and cellar’ed these have developed some effervescence and still retain a semi dry character. My '15 ice cider used this technique and retained a 1.040 sg. 5 or so rackings, and temperature is also important with this process.
Heat pasturization is another route you can take, I haven’t used it.
Keeved ciders are another traditional way that sweetness is retained, these are some of the best ones I’ve tried, but not attempted yet myself.
Where I was employed as a cider maker we would back sweetened a fully dry base cider with fresh filtered cider and/or other stuff, then force carbonate, sterilize with velcorin before canning and bottling- that’s the macro approach…

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If I use an aggressive wine yeast will it overcome the natural yeast without sulfite?

Whats an “ice” cider?

Yes, a commercial yeast like V1116 will dominate natural yeast w/o sulfite. Checking pH and sugar concentration is also important to the future stability of the finished cider, pH should be at or below 3.5, sg above1.050 for the finished cider to not be hospitable to microbial activity.
Ice cider is made using juice that has been cryoconcentrated, frozen and partially thawed, then drained off to remove a portion of the water. This greatly increases the sugar content, double or triple the original juices sg. Finished product is like a dessert wine, very rich and sweet with between 6-10 % alcohal. Quebec producers started making it in the 90s, now quite a few cideries in northern US do it too. Pricey stuff- 350ml bottle goes for 25-40 bucks. I am happy to have 15 gallon of my homemade stuff in the cellar, and know what many friends and family will recieve for the holidays as gifts!


I just want to make sure people understand that you are talking about freezing the unfermented juice/cider, not the fermented cider. Freezing the already fermented cider (freeze distillation) is an old way to achieve much higher alcohol concentrations, but it isn’t safe.


What this author doesn’t mention:

[quote]Fractional freezing can be used as a simple method to increase the alcohol concentration in fermented alcoholic beverages, a process sometimes called freeze distillation. Examples are applejack, made from hard cider, and ice beer. In practice, while not able to produce an alcohol concentration comparable to distillation,
this technique can achieve some concentration with far less effort than
any practical distillation apparatus would require. Freeze distillation
of alcoholic beverages is illegal in some countries, including the
United States.
The danger of freeze distillation of alcoholic beverages, is that
unlike heat distillation, where the methanol and other impurities can be
separated from the finished product, freeze distillation does not
remove them. Thus the ratio of impurities may be increased compared to
the total volume of the beverage. This concentration may cause side
effects to the drinker, leading to intense hangovers and a condition known as “apple palsy” (although this term has also simply been used to refer to intoxication, especially from applejack.)[/quote]


Another thing you can do to cheat while making an icecider-like cider without actually freezing anything…

You can buy concentrated juice and add it to your fresh pressed cider and achieve a similar result.

This is essentially a big bag of concentrated juice:


Freeze-concentrating, or cryodistillation, can indeed concentrate things like methanol, although under any sort of normal fermentation conditions the risks there are miniscule. Which is reflected in the prevalence of cryodistilled items from a handful of commercial vodkas to applejack to eisbock. That isn’t to say it can’t pose some risk, but I think it is safe to say that risk is pretty minimal.

I wanted to drop back into the thread to add something else, though:

Last year I found a wild crab, knocked a bit over a gallon worth of extremely tart and somewhat tannic apples off it, and took those home. I added them to a gallon of plain apple juice and heated on a stove just until the fruits all cracked, to let my yeast in. I added pectic enzyme overnight, then the following day sulfited, topped up to about 3.5 gallons, added yeast nutrient, and adjusted my SG to make a 13% potential alcohol wine. I gave it another day, stirred, and added yeast…D47 or K1V I believe.

The bottom line is after finishing it out, the wine I made instead of cider came out very pinot grigio-esque, and very good. Actual alcohol from topping up, etc. was probably closer to 11% and it was very nearly dry, with very little apple character, just a very bright and crisp, light wine. I intend to do the same this year from wild crabs, but when I actually HAVE apples enough, wine seems a great place to take at least some of them, especially things like Wickson or other high-sugar, high-acid varieties.

(side and less interesting note, but also doing wild elderberry and wild grape right now in primary fermentation…d@mn, I love fermentation…they’re both really dark inky black and red, respectively, and smell like heaven…)


I’ll add one more thought as well:

The crabs were to perk up what would have been commercial apple juice alone. I made cider several years ago in the same manner, and took 3 gallons of regular treetop or whatever commercial juice, added 3 cans of concentrate to up the fermentables and malic acid, and also added 1 bottle of RW Knudsons black currant juice for some additional acids and aromatics. It made a pale lavender cider, and one of the best batches I have made personally.

It is interesting to read the participating yeastmasters’ comments on using the pathogens to work for them by putting some juicy carb stuff/sugar/whatever into a container, adding the tiny critters, and waiting while they consume the container contents and then pee out their waste (alcohol) into the container. No matter how pretty a color or appealing a smell the pee-modified juicy carb stuff/sugar/whatever may end up with, I much prefer pee-free grape juice, apple juice, peach juice, etc. So far, the pee-free juice has never given me a hangover, no matter how much I consumed. When the over-ripe/rotting figs fall on the ground, they get all fungi-fuzzy and make the whole area smell like fig wine. I see them and have zero interest to eat (or drink) them no matter how the smell comes out. They are yucky looking. Same thing with the muscadines that make the whole area smell like grape wine as they rot on the ground with fuzzy fungi covering them… Yucky. Anyway, my (evident) ever-declining neighborhood of healthy, functioning brain cells doesn’t need more chemical persuasion to depopulate at a faster rate. I just pulled the last bottle of frozen Page mandarin juice from last season and slowly sipped on it as the ice crystals inside were gradually liquefying. Delicioso!! Despite being pee-free. Aren’t fruit great to grow and consume…Especially at their best.

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Alcohol is yeast “pee” in exactly the same way as oxygen is plant “pee.” Both are an output of the organism’s metabolic process, no more, no less.

Ewwww, you are breathing pee!