The idea for a hopped cider recipe came to me after switching my tap from a pale ale to a fresh hard cider. When I switched the tap, I didn’t bother to flush the line and I ended up with a mix that was surprisingly delicious. So, I decided it was time to change things up and test a hopped cider recipe.

Result? A fantastic fresh tasting hard cider with a subtle hoppy flavor and floral aroma. This cider is dry hopped, which means the hops are added in the fermenter and never boiled, so it does not have the strong bitter flavor like an IPA but adds nice body and mouthfeel.

The dry hopped cider also tastes sweeter without additional back sweetening. For me, this is great because I enjoy a semi-sweet hard cider but really try to avoid as much sugar as possible.

Hydrometer & ABV Info:

Original Gravity: 1.046 SG
Target Final Gravity: 1.002 SG
Expected ABV: 5.75%

Hopped Cider Ingredients

Juice Selection:
For this batch of cider, I used basic store bought pasteurized 100% apple juice with an original gravity of 1.048 SG.

Hop Selection:
Cascade hops are known for their citrus flavors and floral aromas.

Yeast Selection:
I chose to use an ale variety yeast, Nottingham, which finishes semi-sweet and adds notes of fruity flavors that compliment the cider well.

Yeast Nutrient:
The yeast nutrient and energizer will improve the health of the yeast which will produce finer tasting alcohol (fewer fusel alcohols ). When making a cider, yeast nutrient or DAP, is typically added in the beginning to increase the amount of dissolved nitrogen in the juice.

Hydrometer reading of a freshly hopped hard cider

How to Make Hopped Apple Cider:

If you are new to cider making, start by reviewing the basic cider making instructions found here.

Preparing Cider for Fermentation:

  1. Clean and sanitize all equipment
  2. Take a hydrometer reading of the fresh cider
  3. Add yeast nutrient to the fermenter, check the label for dosage
  4. Pour the apple juice into the fermenter
  5. Pitch the yeast and attach the airlock

Fermentation:

Depending on the OG of the juice, the cider should finish fermenting in about two weeks when fermenting at 68F. Sample SG to get a true gauge of the progress of fermentation. A time frame is less important than a quality fermentation.

Hydrometer reading of a freshly hopped hard cider

How I Dry Hopped the Cider:

When the cider had completed fermenting, it was racked and dry hopped.

I placed one ounce of Cascade pellet hops into a sanitized hop bag and tossed it into the fermenter. The hop bag reduces the amount of sediment and made clearing the hops from the cider easier in the end.

I allowed the cider to dry hop for 5 days, giving the fermenter a gentle swirl each day. Then I cold crashed the fresh hopped cider for two days. How long you dry hop depends on your personal taste and can be adjusted accordingly but from my beer brewing experience, dry hopping shouldn’t go much past two weeks.

Finishing the Fresh Hopped Cider:

Once the cider had taken on the best of the hop flavors, I removed the hop bag. The dry hopped cider could now be bottled but I chose to straight to a keg. This allowed me to add just a touch of apple juice concentrate for back sweetening and added apple flavor.

Keep in mind, the hops will add body and flavor to the cider so if you back sweeten, it won’t take much.

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