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Pasteurizing Cider: A Brewer’s Guide

Interested in learning how to pasteurize cider? You’ve come to the right place! As the craft brewing industry continues to grow, it’s important for breweries to stay relevant. That might mean exploring beverages beyond traditional craft beer, especially as people’s tastes change. But what if that beverage was ruined before it even reached your customers?

In this blog, we’ll explore the essentials of hard cider and the importance of pasteurization, especially for breweries looking to expand.

Hard Cider 101

Before we talk about pasteurization, let’s go over some basics about hard cider. Hard cider isn’t just made from apples; it’s a drink where different fruits can take the spotlight. From apples and pears to berries and other flavors, the options are endless.

Hard ciders usually have an alcohol content ranging from 4.5% to 7%, which gives them a nice kick. Knowing the alcohol content helps in making ciders that suit different tastes.

Another important thing to know is about sweetness levels. There are dry ciders with minimal sugar, off-dry ones with a smoother taste, and semi-dry or semi-sweet ones that balance sweetness with fruit flavors.

Why You NEED to Pasteurize Your Hard Cider 

Much like beer, pasteurization is a vital safeguard for hard cider products. Here’s a breakdown of why you should pasteurize cider:

  1. Risk of Microbial Spoilage

Cider-making shares some similarities with winemaking, but the lower ethanol content in cider makes it more susceptible to microbial spoilage. The risk is real, and the consequences for product quality and food safety are significant.

  1. Refermentation Concerns

Refermentation, if not managed correctly, can result in hazards such as explosions. The potential dangers underline the importance of meticulous attention to detail during the brewing process.

  1. Protects Your Brand

Pasteurization plays a crucial role in ensuring product safety and quality. Beyond the immediate benefits, pasteurization safeguards brand reputation, a priceless asset in the competitive craft brewing landscape.

How to Pasteurize Hard Cider

Crafting hard cider is an art that starts with fresh-pressed juice, a masterfully timed aging process, and pasteurizing for protection. Read up on the brewing basics of hard cider:

  1. Start with Fresh-Pressed Juice

Starting with fresh-pressed juice from high-quality ingredients helps elevate the flavor profile and sets the foundation for a deliciously unique product in the end.

  1. Boosting ABV with More Sugar

You’ll want to choose the right sweetener (traditional cane sugar, honey, flavored syrups) to help strike the perfect balance between sweetness and alcohol content.

  1. Adding Yeast and Initiating Fermentation

Selecting an appropriate yeast strain is crucial. Whether it’s a classic wine yeast or a champagne yeast, the choice influences the fermentation process and the ultimate flavor of the cider.

  1. The Aging Process

Sealing the cider in a fermenting vessel and allowing it to age is where the magic happens. This stage demands patience as the cider transforms, developing the desired dryness and flavor complexity.

  1. Pasteurization is Key

The choice between carbonated and still cider determines what you’ll need to do in the bottling or canning stage. Brewers can add priming agents for a sparkling finish or sulfites for a non-carbonated alternative. And the most crucial step is pasteurizing so that you kill wild yeasts or harmful bacteria.

Cashing in on Cider

There are several lucrative benefits to incorporating hard cider into your menu. Here are the top five:

  1. Meeting Evolving Consumer Preferences

Diversity is the name of the game in craft brewing, which means as consumers seek more diverse options, hard cider provides a refreshing departure from traditional beer. Offering a varied portfolio keeps patrons engaged and satisfied.

  1. Diversifying Your Product Portfolio

Hard cider appeals to a broader audience, including those who may not be avid beer drinkers. Diversifying the product portfolio is not just a strategic move but a nod to inclusivity. And the addition of hard cider opens new doors, reaching markets and demographics that may have been previously untouched. It’s a strategic move for increased sales and revenue.

  1. Supporting the Local Community

Breweries take pride in their local connections, and hard cider provides a unique opportunity to deepen those ties. Utilizing locally grown fruits and botanicals not only enhances authenticity but also supports local farmers and suppliers. Crafting a cider that reflects the regional flavors becomes a testament to the brewery’s commitment to local culture. It’s not just a drink; it’s a story told through taste.

  1. Tapping into New Markets

The gluten-free trend is on the rise, and hard cider offers a gluten-free alternative that’s not just functional but also flavorful. It opens the brewery’s doors to a broader customer base seeking alternatives.

  1. Innovative Flavors for Unique Experiences

Launching signature hard cider flavors becomes more than a brewing experiment; it’s a marketing event in itself. Brewers can align these releases with their best brews, creating a buzz among patrons. Engaging customers through contests, unique pairings, and special events adds an experiential element to the brewery. It’s a chance for customers to connect with the brand beyond the glass.

The Takeaway

The versatility, marketability, and diverse appeal make hard cider a valuable addition to any brewery’s lineup. We encourage brewers and brewmasters to embrace the journey into hard cider experimentation — but if you do, make sure you pasteurize your cider

Shelf Life Systems stands at the forefront of pasteurization technology, ready to guide you through the intricacies of preserving quality, ensuring safety, and unlocking new dimensions in flavor. Contact Shelf Life Systems today and embark on a brewing adventure that extends beyond the realms of beer. Innovate, diversify, and elevate your brewery’s offerings with the transformative capabilities of our pasteurizers