Refrigeration 101: Storing and Serving Hard Cider

Hard is a delicious and refreshing alcoholic that has been enjoyed for centuries. Made from fermented apple , hard cider has a unique flavor profile that can range from sweet and fruity to dry and crisp. But one question that often comes up is: does hard cider need to be refrigerated?

The short answer is yes, hard cider should be refrigerated. Unlike some other alcoholic beverages, such as or , hard cider is a raw product that is best kept cold. Refrigeration helps to preserve the freshness and flavor of the cider, ensuring that it remains enjoyable for as long as possible.

If left unrefrigerated, hard cider can start to spoil and lose its quality. The natural sugars in the cider can ferment further, leading to a change in taste and potentially causing the cider to become fizzy or even turn into vinegar. To prevent this from happening, it is important to keep your hard cider chilled.

That being said, hard cider is a fairly resilient product and can tolerate short periods of time outside of the refrigerator. If you are purchasing cider from a store or cidery, it can typically last 2-3 hours unrefrigerated, as long as it is kept away from direct sunlight. This should be enough time to transport it home and get it into the fridge.

Once in the refrigerator, you can expect your hard cider to stay fresh for 2-3 weeks. This shelf life may vary depending on the specific cider and how it has been stored, but in general, cider can last for several weeks when kept refrigerated.

It's important to note that hard cider can tolerate swings in temperature and changes in light and time better than other alcohols, such as wine or . However, for the best flavor and quality, it is still recommended to keep your cider refrigerated.

When it comes to serving hard cider, it is often best enjoyed slightly chilled, rather than ice cold. Cider, like beer, is meant to be savored and appreciated at a slightly warmer temperature. The ideal serving temperature for hard cider falls around 50°F (10°C), but there is some room for variation. You can err on the slightly warmer side for storage and allow the cider to cool a few degrees before serving.

Once you have opened a bottle of hard cider, it is crucial to keep it refrigerated at all times. This will help to maintain the original flavor and taste of the cider. If you leave an opened bottle of cider out at room temperature for an extended period, it can quickly lose its freshness and become flat or sour.

While hard cider is a hardy and versatile beverage, it is still best to refrigerate it to ensure its longevity and quality. By keeping your cider chilled, you can enjoy it at its best for weeks after purchase. So, next time you indulge in a bottle of hard cider, remember to keep it cool and savor the delicious flavors it has to offer.

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Can Hard Cider Be Unrefrigerated?

Hard cider should ideally be refrigerated to maintain its freshness and prevent spoilage. However, if you need to transport or store it briefly without access to refrigeration, it can be left unrefrigerated for a short period of time, typically 2-3 hours. It is important to keep the cider out of direct sunlight to prevent any heat damage.

To ensure the quality and safety of the cider, it is recommended to consume it within this time frame or promptly refrigerate it. Extended exposure to higher temperatures can lead to fermentation, which may cause the cider to become fizzy or even develop off flavors.

Once refrigerated, hard cider can typically be stored for 2-3 weeks. It is important to note that this shelf life can vary depending on the specific cider and its production process. Some ciders may have a longer shelf life, while others may have a shorter one.

To maximize the shelf life of hard cider, it is best to keep it refrigerated at a temperature between 35-45°F (2-7°C). This will help maintain its freshness, flavor, and overall quality. Additionally, make sure to keep the cider sealed tightly to prevent any air exposure, which can accelerate the oxidation process and affect the taste.

While hard cider should ideally be refrigerated, it can remain unrefrigerated for a short period of time, around 2-3 hours, as long as it is kept away from direct sunlight. Once refrigerated, it can typically be stored for 2-3 weeks, but it is always best to check the specific cider's labeling for any additional storage recommendations.

Can Cider Be Stored At Room Temperature?

Cider can be stored at room temperature, but it is not recommended for long-term storage. Room temperature generally falls between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C). At this temperature range, cider may undergo fermentation and spoilage more quickly, affecting its taste and quality. It is important to note that cider is a perishable beverage and should be treated similarly to other fresh products. Proper storage conditions can help preserve the flavor and prevent spoilage.

If you plan to consume the cider within a few days or weeks, storing it at room temperature should be fine. However, for extended storage, it is best to keep cider in a cooler environment.

To maintain the quality of cider, it is recommended to store it at a temperature between 35°F and 50°F (2°C and 10°C). This temperature range helps slow down the fermentation process, preserving the cider's freshness and flavor for a longer period. Storing cider in a refrigerator or a cool cellar is ideal for maintaining these conditions.

While cider can be stored at room temperature for short periods, it is advisable to store it in a cooler environment, ideally between 35°F and 50°F, for long-term storage to maintain its quality.


Hard cider is a raw and perishable product that requires refrigeration to maintain its quality and taste. While it can last a few hours unrefrigerated, it is best to store it in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life to 2-3 weeks. Cider is a resilient beverage that can tolerate temperature and light changes better than other alcohols. However, it is recommended to store and serve cider around 50°F, with a slight variation allowed. Once opened, it is important to keep hard cider refrigerated at all times to preserve its original flavor. So, whether you're enjoying a crisp cider on a sunny afternoon or savoring it at room temperature, proper storage and refrigeration will ensure a delightful cider experience every time.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.