Which is the best cider yeast?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “which is the best cider yeast?” with an in-depth analysis of which is the best cider yeast. Moreover,  we will also discuss what makes these yeasts the best cider yeast.

Which is the best cider yeast?

Safale S-04 by Fermentis is recommended as the best cider yeast for beginners. Safale S-04 is a great balance of price, availability, ease of use and produces a final product that is very consistent and high quality.

For more advanced cider makers, Red Star’s Cote des Blancs is a great hard cider yeast selection.  It gives a very high-quality outcome, but you should only use it when utilizing a technique that doesn’t include fermenting the cider all the way to dry.

Some of the best cider yeasts are given below:

  • Safale S-04. 
  • Nottingham Ale. 
  • Lalvin 71B-1122. 
  • Safcider. 
  • Mangrove Jack M02. 
  • Cider House Select Premium Cider Yeast. 
  • White Labs WLP775 – English Cider Yeast. 
  • Best Hard Cider Yeast – Advanced. Côte des Blancs.

What makes these yeasts the best cider yeasts?

Safale S-04:

It is the top recommendation for hard cider yeast for beginners.  It is a strain of yeast that many cider makers use and like, making it my top recommendation.  It’s an English ale yeast known for its fast fermentation time and high level of flocculent (it drops into the sediment when it’s done fermenting, leaving a clearer cider).  

S-04 also yields very compact sediment, making it easier to leave the sediment behind when removing the hard cider.

The temperature range is 64-72 F, ideally sticking in the lower end of the range (even slightly under).  S-04 also doesn’t finish as dry as the wine yeasts, which leaves more of the residual apple sugar (and flavor) in the hard cider.  Additionally, because it can handle alcohol contents as high as 18%, it’s a common selection for apple wines as well.

Nottingham Ale:

Nottingham ale is a versatile yeast, used in a wide range of beers.  It’s a good hard cider yeast because it is neutral, allowing the flavor of the apples to come through.  Like most yeasts used for cider, it has a high attenuation (converts most sugars to alcohol).  It is also highly flocculent (drops into sediment when fermenting).

This English-style ale yeast has a good tolerance for low temperatures (down to 57 f), with an optimal range between 57F and 70F (keeping it under 65 F will produce much better results).  It also comes in a vacuumed package which makes it apparent if the package has been punctured.  The 11-gram package is good for about 12 gallons of cider!

Lalvin 71B-1122:

Lalvin 71B-1122 (71B) is a white wine yeast known for producing a smooth final product and enhancing fruit flavors.  71B has a very wide fermentation range from 59 to 86 degrees.  Alcohol tolerance of 14% makes this a popular choice for those making apple wines or cysers (apple wine with sugar coming from honey).  

It does consume 20 – 40% of the malic acid in the cider, which is a negative thing if you are using apple juice already low in acids (as most commercially available juices are).

Safcider:

Safcider is a champagne yeast that is commonly used to make hard cider and boasts the ability to do so effectively even under difficult fermentation conditions.  It works with a very wide range of temperatures (50 – 86), with the ideal range being 64 – 75.  It’s reported to work well with low pH levels (from 3.3) and has low nitrogen requirements (from 150 ppm).  

Like most yeasts used for cider it is highly flocculent (drops into sediment when fermentation is complete).  Being a champagne yeast, it has a high listed alcohol tolerance of 16%, but some report a max around 12-13%.  Cider makers also report that it holds apple flavor very well but emits a strong sulfur smell during fermentation and benefits from longer aging before bottling.

Mangrove Jack M02:

Mangrove Jack M02 is a cider-specific yeast that has grown in popularity in the cider-making community.  This yeast comes with yeast nutrients already mixed into the packet.  

With a listed fermentation range of 64 – 75 degrees, it’s easy to ferment at room temperature.  The M02 is fairly fast to ferment the hard cider, and most will drop out of the cider when fermentation is complete (highly flocculant).

The resulting hard cider has great apple flavor and a very nice aroma and ester (aroma or flavor that is reminiscent of flowers or fruits)

Cider House Select Premium Cider Yeast:

Cider House Select Cider Yeast is another cider-specific yeast that is not widely used.  However, some of the folks that use it swear it is the best yeast for hard cider.  

This yeast comes with a small number of yeast nutrients already mixed into the packet

The listed temperature range is very wide, from 54 degrees up to 82 degrees.  However, the manufacturer recommends using a temperature range of 61-75 for best results.

Cider house select yeast can be pitched directly into the cider, or rehydrated into a paste first (following directions on packet).

One of the big selling points of this yeast is that it is a high ester-producing strain, and produces a very good flavor.  

White Labs WLP775 – English Cider Yeast:

WLP775 is a liquid yeast made by White Labs that is very popular with cider makers.  It is categorized as an English cider yeast.

As a liquid yeast, it will cost you more and needs to be kept cool.  However, many people say that the overall quality is well worth the added cost and inconvenience. 

The optimal fermentation temperature listed is 68 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is relatively high and a relatively tight range compared to some other yeasts.  However, since the range is so close to room temperature, it shouldn’t be hard to maintain.

WLP775 can be pitched directly into the cider or used to make a starter before pitching.  It has medium flocculation, meaning that some of the yeast will remain suspended in the cider.

One other thing to keep in mind is that this yeast produces sulfur during fermentation, so be prepared for a stinky fermentation.  The manufacturer claims that 2 weeks of aging will remove the smell.

Best Hard Cider Yeast – Advanced

Côte des Blancs

Red Star’s Cote des Blancs is loved by some cider makers and hated by others.  While some claim it is an over-aggressive wine yeast that ruins all the flavor, others swear by it to be the best yeast out there.  

If left to ferment completely dry, Cote des Blancs will take a cider beyond dry (some report as dry as .990).  This is why many who sing its praises use techniques to stop the fermentation before it gets that far (either with chemicals or cold crashing).  It’s also very important to keep the fermentation at a low temperature, to preserve as much flavor as possible. 

Conclusion:

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “which is the best cider yeast?” with an in-depth analysis of which is the best cider yeast. Moreover,  we will also discuss what makes these yeasts the best cider yeast.

Citations:

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.