For my second Autumn of making homebrewed cider, I decided to try the most obvious, easiest idea imaginable. I bought some cider, added some champagne yeast and waited. The result was Yellow Cat Dry Cider.
In 2011 I made two batches of Yellow Cat Sweet Cider and my first batch of Tart Cider. A third batch of Sweet Cider was definitely in order for 2012, but there was a ton of Tart Cider left (on purpose, it ages beautifully) and I figured I should try something new. I made my third batch of Sweet Cider and this dry cider at the same time, when my favorite Kauffman’s cider was on sale.
There really isn’t much more to the process than I’ve already mentioned for this cider. I checked the gravity, added a packet of dry yeast and waited for the gravity to stabilize, right around 1.000 then primed it and bottled. The result was a drinkable hard cider that was maybe a bit dull, but had lots of apple flavor, a little bit of alcohol warmth, some nice carbonation and not much else.
It cleared nicely over time and looked quite lovely. It had a great apple aroma. The flavor was just a little bit flat. Some people seemed to really enjoy it, but I found it a bit boring. I really liked mixing it with Yellow Cat Sweet Cider, which could get to be a bit too sweet after one or two. They balanced each other well.
I was surprised last year, in 2013, when I was making Yellow Cat Mulled Cider (which I’ll cover later this week) to see how low the starting gravity of the cider was. The same brand of cider the year before was around 1.054, which resulted in a 7% ABV dry cider. Last year I planned to start with that, going on the general reasoning that 7% was the lowest ABV that is good for aging, and build my mulled cider from there. The gravity of the 2013 cider was quite a bit lower, though. Tasting it, without back to back samples being available, it seemed to have the same character. I will cover more about this in my post on my Yellow Cat Mulled Cider, though.
I do still have a few bottles of the 2012 batch of Yellow Cat Dry Cider left, so I’ll be posting tasting notes soon. I don’t plan to repeat this exact cider again any time soon, but it did make a good base for experimenting with, as I did with the aforementioned mulled cider and with post bottling blending. If you’ve never brewed before, you could do a lot worse than adding some wine yeast to cider and giving it a couple weeks to see what the results will be. Even if you just add the yeast to the gallon jug (maybe with a cup or two of cider removed to give a little bit of headspace), and then serve the still cider from the same container. It is a good experiment and while it may not turn out to be the most exciting brew, it should be drinkable and maybe even quite enjoyable, or at least interesting.