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Does Hard Cider Go Bad?

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It is important to know whether or not your hard cider can spoil, to make sure that it never goes to waste!

Hard cider has the same alcoholic content as beer, but it is a tasty, refreshing flavor that is sort of a twist on the childhood favorite – apple cider.

If you can’t remember how long the hard cider has been sitting in the corner of the cupboard, you’ll want to know if you can enjoy it or wish a sad farewell as you pour it down the drain.

Does hard cider go bad? Yes, hard cider can go bad. This is referred to as the hard cider aging, and while hard cider can be kept for a few years, it does tend to get drier over time. If left on the shelf for too long, the cider might begin to taste like vinegar.

It is fairly easy to tell whether hard cider has gone bad, but the point is to understand when it might go off, and how you might extend its shelf life to prevent ever having to waste any alcohol!

What Is Hard Cider?

Hard cider is an alcoholic drink made from fermenting the juice of a fruit. It’s most commonly made from fermenting apple juice.

It is called ‘hard’ cider to distinguish it from the non-alcoholic apple cider, which is made from pressing apples (or other fruit, depending on the type).

In most of Europe and America, hard cider may be simply referred to as cider, depending on the context. It is fruity, fresh, and has a much friendlier taste than beer, making it a popular choice for many!

Is Hard Cider Beer?

No, hard cider is not considered beer. Both are fermented drinks, but that is really the only similarity the two beverages have.

Beer is a fermented beverage that is brewed from malt and is flavored with hops. (Hard) cider is made from fermented fruit juice, typically apples. Cider does not contain any malt or hops.

Although, ciders that do contain hops are starting to be made. These contain some hop flavors and aromas, which many enjoy in beer, but are not brewed with malt, so they are still considered gluten-free.

What Is The Shelf Life Of Hard Cider?

Hard cider does have a limited shelf life, much like all other alcohols. Each brand of hard cider will have its own expiration dates, but the rule of thumb is that hard cider has a life of around two years.

Some however only last up to 12 months, so it is really important to check the expiration date.

While hard cider does not necessarily go bad or spoil, the flavor profile will change and it will become more unpleasant over time. The taste will deteriorate the longer the alcohol is left to sit, and will take on a very vinegary taste. 

Keep your cider in the right conditions, stored away properly, and the hard cider should keep until you are ready to drink it. Try not to leave it for longer than 2 years, and make a point to always keep a check on the expiration date.

When taking a hard cider from the fridge, take the older cider first. If you ensure that it is first in, first out, then none are left to sit for too long!

How To Tell If Hard Cider Has Gone Bad

The best way to tell if hard cider is bad is to taste it. When cider goes bad, it will have a taste very similar to apple cider vinegar, which really isn’t pleasant to enjoy with your dinner.

You might be able to pick up a sour or vinegar scent from the cider if it has been left to sit for too long. The vinegar smell should hit you straight away, and if you do pick up on this scent, it would be better to just pour the hard cider out.

There really is no harm in drinking sour hard cider. There’s a chance you might have a few stomach cramps, but it really is not harmful. It is better to just avoid drinking old cider!

How Long Does Hard Cider Last In A Growler?

How long hard cider keeps in a growler depends on how the growler is stored. If you ensure that the growler is kept tightly sealed and left unopened and chilled in a fridge, the hard cider can last for up to 2-3 weeks.

It is definitely better if you do consume the hard cider before this time to ensure that it keeps its best flavor and quality.

Once opened, you should consume the hard cider in one sitting or within 24 hours. The longer you leave an opened hard cider, the more it will lose its taste and start to go flat.

How To Store Hard Cider

Hard cider is considerably hardy, and it can stand up well to different temperatures, as well as changes in light. It seems to last longer than other alcohols and is fairly easy to store as well.

Much like beer, you should enjoy hard cider at just cooler than room temperature, rather than ice cold. Enjoying the hard cider at a warmer temperature allows you to appreciate the aromatics and flavors even more.

However, the problem with this is that keeping your hard cider stored at room temperature can alter the flavor profile. And this can lead to that vinegar taste.

As hard cider is fermented, it does not need to be kept in the fridge once it has been bottled or canned. But storing it in the fridge will allow it to taste better for a longer period of time. You should store it at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do not allow the hard cider to freeze. This could end up killing the yeast and then altering the flavor of the hard cider all together. 

Store your bottles or cans of hard cider away in the fridge, or in a bar fridge. Keep them tucked away until you are ready to open them and enjoy the refreshing taste! 

If you prefer them at room temperature, you could keep them in the fridge until you plan on drinking them. Then you can simply take them out of the fridge and let them sit for a bit before you drink them.

How To Serve Hard Cider

In order to enjoy your hard cider, you should know how to serve it properly!

Follow the below tips on how to serve and enjoy hard cider, to ensure it keeps its fresh and flavorful profile!

  • Serve the hard cider at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a similar temperature to what white wine is served at. If the hard cider is served any colder than this, it could be difficult to discern the different flavors. If served too warm, it could just be unpleasant.
  • When you serve a draft hard cider, then make sure you clean out the tap line. When a tap is not properly clean, it can alter the delicate flavors. Hard cider also needs its own tap line, as it is gluten-free. It will be contaminated if it shares a tap with beer.
  • Serve the hard cider in proper cider glasses. Make sure it has a large enough bowl to allow for proper aeration and swirling. A stemmed glass also prevents the drinker’s hand from warming up the cider too much.
  • To pair cider with food, think about what might go well with apple! This will help you pair the fruity cider with food better. Chicken, pork, butternut, and salads all go well with hard cider.

Related Questions

How Long Will Cider Keep Once It Is Opened?

Once you have opened cider, you should keep it refrigerated and use the hard cider within 7 to 10 days. However, even though the hard cider lasts this long, it will become flat over time and just be unpleasant to drink.

Should You Refrigerate Hard Cider?

Hard ciders are a perishable product, and there are no preservatives included in hard cider. Refrigeration is the best way to ensure the hard cider keeps for as long as possible.

Should Hard Cider Be Served With Ice? 

Unless it is a personal preference, hard cider should not be served with ice. It should be served slightly chilled, and not warm, but also not ice cold. Adding ice to hard cider dulls the flavor and then waters the hard cider down.

It is best to just leave the hard cider in the fridge, and take one out, pour into a glass and enjoy it at the temperature it is. It is a simple drink, and does not need too much preparation!

Does Hard Cider Go Bad?

Hard cider can go bad, but it does not go off the same way that other foods might. If left to sit for too long, cider can form a sour taste, and might end up tasting just like apple cider vinegar!

To ensure that you don’t end up with a mouthful of vinegar, keep the hard cider in the refrigerator, and be sure to use it within 2 years.

Different hard ciders will have varied shelf lives, so be sure to take note of when the recommended best-by date is!

Up Next: Should Apples Be Refrigerated? – Storage Guide

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