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Hard Cider: Everything You Need to Know About This American Staple

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

Cider Making

With the fall season swiftly approaching, we're dreaming about the perfect autumn palette. At Cellar Beast, nothing says "fall" to us quite like cider.

We're here to give you everything you need to know about what sets apart our take on this year-round favorite from other drinks on the market.

What is Hard Cider?

Hard cider is an alcoholic drink made from apple juice. At Cellar Beast, we tend to focus on “spontaneous fermentation”. Spontaneous fermentation uses only the natural occurring yeast. Our Cider Maker is also fond of inoculating with traditional beer yeasts. She finds that they lend a complexity to the cider, that apples otherwise lack.

It may come as a surprise, but cider is NOT a beer! In fact, cider has more in common with wine! Think of making wine with apple juice rather than grape juice.

Let's start with your fruit. Apples are the most commonly used ingredient in hard cider. Since each type of apple has a different flavor, you have a wide variety of potential potions just from this one fruit alone. After selecting and juicing the apple of your eye, simply let nature do its thing!

This natural yeast consumes the sugars in the juice and transforms them into alcohol, which means that the more sugar your potion has in it at the beginning, the higher the alcohol content of your cider will be at the end of the process. Fermentation can take anywhere from one week to three years, all depending on your unique mixture.

You can also mix other additives to reach a desired sweetness or flavor profile. While we mentioned before that apples are the most popular type of cider, especially at this time of year, you can also use various fruits such as peaches, pineapple, or even fresh berries. You can even make sour ciders or add botanicals! There truly is no "one size fits all to cider-making.

Different Types of Hard Cider

Many ciders are being made all across the U.S. today. Hard cider is actually considered one of America's oldest beverages. As popularity for this classic drink has been on the rise over recent years, so has the variety of flavors available. To narrow it down, here are the basic categories to look for when deciding on the hard cider best for your taste:

Wild Cider :

Cider crafted with only fruit and indigenous yeast and bacteria. Cider was made this way until the nineteenth century when industrialized yeast started to grow for brewers and bakers. The vast majority of fruit can be turned into cider this way.

Fruit Cider :

According to the United States Association of Cidermakers: "Ciders made with non-pome fruits/fruit juices added either before or after fermentation."

Cultivated Ciders :

Made by adding a commercial yeast strain to apple juice. A more controlled way of fermenting. Here at Cellar Beast, our Cider Maker loves to experiment with beer yeast strains to create a truly unique product.

New England Style Cider :

This style of cider is made with apples of the Northeast United States. which gives the cider higher acid, flavor nuances and increased alcohol. Sugars, molasses, honey and raisins can all be used to boost the sugar-to-alcohol content.

Infused Ciders :

A cider in which botanicals, oak, spices, berries, flowers (and everything in between!) are added before, during, or after fermentation. We do A LOT of this at Cellar Beast.

On average, most hard ciders are 4.5% - 7% alcohol by volume (ABV), while others can have an ABV as high as 10% or 12%. Dry ciders usually have a higher ABV because the yeast is left to consume all of the cider's natural sugars.

The Cellar Beast Way

Our Cider Maker (affectionately known as our Cider Witch) handcrafts each of our recipes using locally grown Pennsylvania apples, fruit, and herbs. Each batch is made to create a sensory experience for the drinker and strives for a unique perspective on flavor!

Now that you know the ins and outs of our unique cider-making process, you can make fall memories by stopping by the winehouse for a bottle of your own, all-natural hard cider from Cellar Beast!

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