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Yeast suggestions

Making my first hard cider next week. Give me you yeast suggestions and why you like that strain.

Also, for a starter, do you use cider in starter or make it like you would a beer with a little dme?


Dry yeasts are great because then you don’t need to worry about making a yeast starter – just sprinkle a pack of dry yeast in and you’re good to go. I’m having great success with US-05 and Cote des Blancs yeast, in particular. Both of these yeasts ferment fast and clean and retain just a little sweetness. They have some differences but both are good. I would say the Cote des Blancs is cleaner and drier, whereas the US-05 gives off a certain honey-like flavor and will probably finish a little sweeter (I can’t be positive because mine is still fermenting).

If you try a liquid yeast such as the ones from Wyeast and White Labs, then I think making a starter using 2 or 3 quarts of cider should be ideal. Maybe add a little yeast nutrient, let it go for a couple days, then you can pitch the little starter cider to the big batch of cider as normal. I’ve never used those yeasts and I have heard that they can be more finicky, but I see no reason not to give them a try if you wish as they make some yeasts specifically designed for cider. I wouldn’t use DME – it’s not appropriate for cider. Nothing saying it’s an absolute no-no, as you can make a starter out of any kind of sugar you want (and really, that’s all DME is, is maltose), but it would be rather odd for a cider.

+1 to dry yeast. I have a batch of cider going now, OG @ 1.063, pitched one 5g packet of Red Star Cuvee to three gallons and it’s sitting at ~60F ambient, bubbling happily and smelling great.

It would be nice to keep it simple this time around.

1 package of dry is enough? Do you rehydrate?

One pack of yeast is good for up to about 5 gallons. Rehydration is probably not a bad idea for 5 or 6 gallons, but if you only want to make 2 or 3 gallons like I do, then I think you should skip rehydration as it’s completely unnecessary and has no benefit for the smaller batch sizes.

I’ll have 5 gals, so I may rehydrate. Can’t hurt.

I am going w/ WLP775 White Labs English Cider Yeast yeast on two batches right now.

It took a bit to get it going - warmed up my carboy to low 70’s… and then it took off!

I poured the contents right in from the shaken room temp vial.

Next time I will do a yeast starter on my stir plate w/ DME - then decant off as much spent wort as I can before pitching into the cider.

My local brewing supply store only had a few choices of dry yeast and I pitched Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast on their recommendation. (I made a starter with 600ml of juice and put on my stir plate for 24 hours). They said it would finish “fruitier” than their other two options (whose names I have forgotten). The cider is still done fermenting and I find it quite dry with no residual sweetness and some apple aroma. There is also still a little of the sulfur smell to it.

Is this degree of dryness typical of this yeast strain? We’re doing another batch in 2 weeks and I wonder if I should order a packet of Cote de Blanc, which was also recommended by a friend.

Is there a handy guide to cider yeast strains and their characteristics out there anywhere?

I don’t know of an existing handy guide, but I have tried several dry yeasts, and they all work pretty well. Right now I’m running a yeast experiment with 3 different yeasts plus Brettanomyces to see what that will bring to the cider. Here’s sort of what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Champagne yeast - Cheap and effective, but this is the dryest yeast of them all. Final gravity is likely to be around 0.995, and you’ll definitely need to backsweeten somehow. You might need to add clarifiers such as gelatin to clear this yeast out.

  2. Cote des Blancs - This yeast is really nice. It preserves and/or produces apple flavor and aroma. It finishes around 0.997 to 1.000, so it’s still dry but not as dry as Champagne yeast. Still needs a little backsweetening if you ask me. This yeast settles out fairly quickly but you might want to add some gelatin for crystal clarity.

  3. S-04 - This is actually an English ale yeast, but it’s great in cider because it craps out early, probably somewhere in the 1.005 to 1.010 range, especially if you chill near end of fermentation. Don’t need much backsweetening, if any, and it drops out clear quickly. Produces a ton of sulfur in the first half of fermentation, but don’t worry – it will disappear with age.

  4. US-05 - Another ale yeast, this one is a faster and drier fermenter than S-04. Mine is close to 1.000 now and was still bubbling last I checked, so this could be quite dry but I’m not sure yet. It also seems to give off a certain honey and spice flavor that is not unpleasant in a cider. I think this is going to turn out similar to the Cote des Blancs, and will need backsweetening.

  5. Nottingham - Supposedly makes a nice cider from what I’ve read, but mine was dead even when purchased brand new with expiration in 2013, so I won’t use this one anymore.

  6. Liquid yeasts from Wyeast and White Labs - I haven’t tried these, but from what I have read, they are slow to start and might not be any better tasting than the dry yeasts discussed above. So why blow the money.

All these yeasts will produce a lot of sulfur. Don’t worry. It ages out.

That help? :cheers:

Thank you for the info, Dave. It really helps and has me thinking about trying another yeast right now. We were going to use the same yeast on the next batch to see how the juice made a difference in the cider, but now I’m leaning changing. I like the drier cider we’ve produced with the champagne yeast but others in our group might want it sweeter and fruitier.

Good luck with your experiment and please share the results.

This is what I picked up last week. Hopefully I have better luck!

I might get snickered at for this recommendation, but for my first batch of cider I used the rapid-rising bread yeast. I rehydrated it and pitched it into a half-batch 2.5 gallons of store-bought cider. Fermentation was rapid, the initial taste was cardboardy and frankly pretty bad, but after about two months of aging that yeast funk disappeared and it was excellent, it became very crisp and had very good apple flavor. I was doing this to test my equipment and methods, which had been in storage for over 10+ years, before I picked up brewing again.

I also made a full batch of grocery-store cider with D-47 which was recommended by my LHBS. That came out true to the descriptions of the yeast - initially more of a white wine character than cider, although now with a couple more months of aging the wine characteristics are retreating to reveal more of the cider character. I think I like the crispness of the first batch, but everyone is different.

I’m interested in trying the other yeasts recommended by dmtaylo2, I was going to make a batch with S-04 and fresh squeezed cider a month or so ago but one of the gallons input had sodium benzoate and inhibited 3 packs of yeast from working so it got dumped out.

I will say the Red Star Pasteur Champagne was very sulfite tolerant and had no problems fermenting after I used campden tablets on the juice. I pitched it, in a starter, 24 hours after adding the crushed tablets. I used a sanitized power drill mix/stir to aerate the must some before pitching, hoping it would help off-gas the sulfites.

I tried bread yeast a couple times in my college days (a LOOOONG time ago), and it worked but I thought it tasted too much like… bread! Interesting to experiment with, though.

quick question…I am using a lavlin dry yeast. I have store bought juice and fresh pressed apple juice. Will adding gelatin to clear these up effect the taste. It is already bottled and will have been two months the 21st of November…

Gelatin does not affect the taste that I can tell. But it’s too late for you if you already bottled it.

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