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General Category => Other Fermentables => Topic started by: gmac on January 06, 2012, 03:02:01 am

Title: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on January 06, 2012, 03:02:01 am
I picked up some cider today with the intent to do my first attempt at a hard cider this weekend.  The cider I got was from a local orchard and it is unpasteurized and frozen in 1.3L plastic bags, same as how we buy milk here.  I ended up getting about 17L of frozen cider. 
I'm going to let it thaw slowly to be ready Saturday morning.

I'm just going to use WLP833 that I have ready from a lager I brewed.  I was going to give it a wash and then pitch it.
Does cider need additional yeast nutrient?  Does anyone see a problem with this yeast?  I realize it's not a cider yeast or champagne yeast but other threads have commented on using beer yeast so I'm gonna try it.  My basement is about 58 degrees right now and I was just going to ferment at ambient temp.

Also, I tasted the cider and it tastes good but I have no idea what the gravity will be.  Is there a recommended starting gravity that I should be shooting for?  I expect to have to add sugar to hit it or I can go with it as is. 

Lastly, should I heat the cider up to 165 or so to pasteurize it?  I've seen a couple different opinions.
Thanks


Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: thetooth on January 06, 2012, 04:23:00 am
I can't speak to the yeast strain, but I'm sure someone can chime in with info on that.

I will say that I've never had to pasteurize my cider.  Once it's fermented, I rack to keg and give it 3 - 6 months of aging in the cellar before putting it on tap.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Jimmy K on January 06, 2012, 01:44:17 pm
I've never used a lager yeast, but I use cold tolerant wine yeast and have found that cold fermentation is wonderful. It helps retain volitile flavor and aroma compounds that can get blown out during fermentation. So I think lager yeast in the basement is a good idea.

I have used yeast nutrient in the past, but I've been moving away from it and using less each year. This year I didn't use any and fermentation is fine. I've read that most cultured orchard apples will have plenty of nitrogen from the fertilizers used, but that obviously will vary. You can always add nutrient later if fermentation is struggling.

You can take the gravity of the cider just like wort. All of the sugar will ferment out, so if you have a triple scale hydrometer look at the 'potential alcohol' scale to find the final alcohol content. The cider I get usually ferments to around 6%. Depending on the apples it can be as high as 7-8%. If it is much below 6% I would add sugar to help with stability, plus I like alcohol. 6% alcohol = 1.050 gravity.

Don't heat it. Heating is an obsession of brewers who want to make cider and try to apply their brewing techniques, no self respecting cidermaker would do it. It's like trying to take a photograph with a chef's knife.  Sulfite is a better option if you want, but with a batch of fresh yeast I'd just pitch.

Expect fermentation to take a while, a couple weeks or more.

Are you kegging or bottling?
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: realbeerguy on January 06, 2012, 01:56:58 pm
Cotes de Blanc is my go to yeast, but the local Brewpub uses WLP-005 with good results.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on January 06, 2012, 05:27:42 pm
Are you kegging or bottling?

My normal process is to carbonate in the keg and then transfer to bottles as needed.  I was going to get hold of some 750 ml champagne bottles for this or get some more swing tops.  Usually if I'm drinking, someone else is drinking with me so we can go through a 750 pretty easily at 5%.

OK, I won't heat.  Because these are in 1.3L bags, I am going to put them in star-san for a minute before I open them but I'll open and go.  I don't know how much cider costs but I got all mine for $20 so if I fail, I'm not out much anyway. 
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: denny on January 06, 2012, 05:33:41 pm
I often add some tannin to mine.  It seems like the sweeter the apple juice, the more insipid the cider.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on January 06, 2012, 05:54:41 pm
How do you add tannin?  Throw in a tea bag?
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: morticaixavier on January 06, 2012, 06:26:12 pm
How do you add tannin?  Throw in a tea bag?

you can by tannin at the LHBS. Which, if I recall for you is like 12 hours drive or something right? probably get it on line as well.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on January 06, 2012, 06:51:49 pm
No, just 2 hours.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 06, 2012, 08:43:09 pm
All the ciders I made had a starting OG at 1.055 of 1.060.  Something close to that.

They fermented out at almost exactly 1.000.

We just opened the jugs, poured them in the fermenter and threw in some yeast.  No heating, no sulfite, just pour and go.

I found that I like the cider better on the batches where we threw some craisins (dried cranberries) in with them.

I split a couple gallons off to try some different things.  

IIRC from the other threads, you are aware that it will ferment out very dry and tart.  If you want a sweet cider, you need to backsweeten or try stopping the yeast before they ferment out.

EDITED: cuz my final gravity was wrong.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on January 07, 2012, 05:56:14 pm
Ciders in the pail.  It's was actually still a bit frozen but I'm not gonna be around later so it got a very healthy pitch of WLP833 (which was actually at the same temp or close to it) and they can warm up to cellar temp together. 
This should be interesting.
No idea of gravity because it's got ice in it.  I'm usually pretty accurate but this time I'm winging it.  I'll take a gravity tomorrow afternoon when I get back and see what it is although I know some sugar could be gone by then.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on January 19, 2012, 02:31:06 am
Checked my cider for the first time today.  Gravity was about 1.000 or maybe 0.998.  I'm guessing that this is pretty much fermented out given the volume of yeast I used.  I admit, I went to take the OG the next day and it was already working aggressively so I didn't bother. 
I tasted the hydrometer sample and it tasted very good, nice and dry with crisp apple flavour and I'm pretty happy with it given how little effort it took.
But, it's quite cloudy.  Is this normal?  I put it in the cold room at about 0C hoping that the yeast would drop out and that it would stop fermenting if it wasn't done (I was happy with the taste).  Will this help clear it up or should I rack it and fine it as well?
Also, I went to a wine shop and bought some tannin (assuming I'd do another of these).  I assume it's too late to add this?
Thanks
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Jimmy K on January 19, 2012, 01:58:31 pm
You can add both acid and tannin now. Pectic enzyme can help clear cider, but it is denatured by alcohol and must be added pre-fermentation. The cider should clear with cold storage. If it doesn't in a few weeks, you can try fining it, just keep waiting, or not worry about it. Many cidermakers prefer cloudy cider.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 19, 2012, 03:35:25 pm
My ciders have dropped clear with time.  I don't think they even required much time.

I believe that if you heat the cider prior to fermenting to pasteurize it you can set the pectic enzymes and it will stay cloudy post fermentation.  This is one reason a lot of people don't heat pasteurize cider.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on January 19, 2012, 05:01:04 pm
You can add both acid and tannin now.
How much tannin would I add?  The bottle is pretty vague.  It's powdered and just says "Wine Tannin".
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Jimmy K on January 19, 2012, 06:59:53 pm
I've only used tannin once, and I added 1tsp/5 gal. It was also 'wine tannin' and I was following the bottle directions. I remember the powder being a bit hydrophobic, so you might want to mix it with warm water or something before adding it.

Honestly though, if you like the way it tastes I'd hesitate to modify it.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: tschmidlin on January 20, 2012, 11:00:49 pm
There are probably no directions because you should add it to taste.  You can start with Jimmy's recommendation of 1 tsp/ 5 gal, maybe go with less initially and taste it and decide if it needs more.

I agree though, if you already like the way it tastes I'm not sure I would add it.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on January 31, 2012, 12:34:51 am
I ran a sample past my friend from England and he thought something was missing and it was a bit tart.  So, I'm going to add the tannin and back sweeten it.  How do I go about stopping the yeast from eating up the sugar I add?  He thought it wasn't "apple-y" enough so i'm gonna start with 2 gals of unfermented cider or juice and then check sweetness.
Thanks
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 31, 2012, 02:33:22 am
I think campden tablets will kill the yeast for you.  Then you can back sweeten.

But I've not done this, so wait for more authoritative advice.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Jimmy K on January 31, 2012, 03:55:17 am
I think campden tablets will kill the yeast for you.  Then you can back sweeten.

But I've not done this, so wait for more authoritative advice.

Nope. Campden tablets (sulfites) will stop the yeast temporarily, but not permenently.  Cultured yeasts are more resistant to sulfites than wild yeasts and bacteria. Sorbate will prevent renewed fermentation, but won't stop active yeast very well - so you must use both - sulfites to stop the yeast and sorbate to keep it stopped.

By the way, another reason to use both is that lactic acid bacteria, which are likely present in your cider in small amounts, will metabolize sorbate to produce geranium flavors/aromas unless sulfite is added.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: tschmidlin on January 31, 2012, 06:41:29 am
I would also consider using apple juice concentrate so you don't dilute the ABV too much.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Jimmy K on January 31, 2012, 03:59:40 pm
By the way, I'd back sweeten first before adding tannin. Cider often finishes with a gravity of 0.998 - absolutely bone dry. Sweetening it to just 1.002-1.005 will bring out apple flavors/aromas in a surprising way and that gravity is still considered 'dry'. Most people will taste it and think there is no sugar left, though there is.

Edit: I'd start with 1 cup of sugar (or equivalent) per 5 gallons.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on January 31, 2012, 04:57:01 pm
Should I rack it off the yeast cake first and then sulfite/sorbate?  Seems the most logical but I'm checking. 
How much of each for just shy of 5 gals? (16L).  I have campden tablets, I'll have to find sorbate.  No decent homebrew shop around here but there's a wine shop that will surely have what I need.

One other question.  I am going to carbonate this in a keg and then bottle.  Do I need champagne bottles for this since it won't be building pressure in the bottle or would regular wine bottles be sufficient?  Just thinking cost.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 31, 2012, 05:49:07 pm
I've bottled my kegged ciders into regular old beer bottles.  Since you're not building carbonation, I don't think it matters.

Champagne bottles would not be necessary.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Jimmy K on January 31, 2012, 06:50:38 pm
I use regular beer bottles too.

I have powdered sulfite so I'm not sure, but I think campden tablets is 1 tab/gallon crushed. Sorbate is added at 1/2 tsp/gallon. Potassium sorbate is also sold labeled as 'wine stabilizer'.

And yes, rack off the yeast first. I rack into the keg, add sulfite, sorbate, and sugar, then stir and carbonate.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on January 31, 2012, 07:56:40 pm
Thanks.  I've seen wine stabilizer before so now I know what I'm looking for.

Problem with bottles here in Canada is that there aren't that many craft breweries yet that use pry-off bottles.  There's a few but not near as many in the US.  When I travel South, I try to bring back a case of DFH or Bells or something like that as much for the bottles as for the beer.  Shorts beer was good but their labels are stuck on with some sort of mutant toad mucus that I can't get off.  I use these bottles mostly for competitions where unlabelled bottles are necessary.  The two beers I buy up here that have pry-offs both have painted labels.  Pain in the rump for re-using.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: morticaixavier on January 31, 2012, 08:27:15 pm
Should I rack it off the yeast cake first and then sulfite/sorbate?  Seems the most logical but I'm checking. 
How much of each for just shy of 5 gals? (16L).  I have campden tablets, I'll have to find sorbate.  No decent homebrew shop around here but there's a wine shop that will surely have what I need.

One other question.  I am going to carbonate this in a keg and then bottle.  Do I need champagne bottles for this since it won't be building pressure in the bottle or would regular wine bottles be sufficient?  Just thinking cost.

wine bottles are not intended to hold presure at all. They might be fine but it's a gamble. also there is no way to affix a crown cap to most wine bottles as they are expecting corks which you could do but you would have to also use the wire cages like for champagne
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 31, 2012, 11:07:25 pm
I've read that cranberry juice will take the ink off bottles that are screened.

I have no experience with this, but that's what I've seen elsewhere.
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: gmac on February 09, 2012, 02:48:15 am
Well, we shall see what happens.  I ended up kegging the cider and doing campden tablets and potassium sorbate.  I added 1 can of concentrated apple juice and 1/2 cup of sugar dissolved in the juice (brought all to a boil before adding just to be sure) and tasted.  Nicer.  Added 1 tsp of tannin as well and put it on gas. 
Wish I drank more cider and had some sort of idea what I was doing.  But, it's more fun this way :)
Title: Re: Gonna do my first cider Saturday.
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 09, 2012, 03:36:23 am
Back sweeten now that you have stabilized.  Do it in steeps.  Apple juice is a good start for this.  Then brown sugar.  A target I have used is 1.006 to 1.008.

You can also adjust the pH to between 3.4 to 3.6.  I used phosphoric acid to drop a few tenths to get in this range.

One thing you can do in the keg is to add a cinnamon stick for 12 to 24 hours.  That helps to give a more "apple" taste.  If you really get the cinnamon, it was in too long.  I tie the stick with dental floss so it can be pulled out.