Author Topic: A little help with a batch of cider.  (Read 2919 times)

Offline dzlater

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A little help with a batch of cider.
« on: November 24, 2012, 08:43:29 AM »
At the request of a friend I decided to have a try at making a batch of cider.
Here is the rundown:
Bought 5 gallons of various brands of apple juice and cider at the local grocery stores.
10/22: Pitched a packet of Montcharat wine yeast.
11/3:   I transfered it to a secondary ( I know probably to soon ) and added 24 oz. of frozen apple juice concentrate.
11/10:  I added 2 oz. of mediium toast American oak cubes.
11/21: Gravity down to 1.001, moved out of 65°f room to cold garage.

 The carboy is filled up to the shoulder, I have been reading one wants to pretty much fill it up to the top to avoid oxidation. Should I add some more juice, or some more concentrate to bring up the volume? I am not sure if it's a good idea but I also was considering buying some apples peeling, slicing them up and then and cramming in the carboy. Thinking this would take up some head space and add a bit more flavor as well as fermentables. If I do any of these things should I bring it back inside where it's warmer?
  Also if anyone has any advice on adding acids, tannins, sweeteners etc. I sure could use it.
Right now I am figuring on not messing around with it too much, but just let ferment out and bottle it using carb tabs, in 2 liter soda bottles.










Offline cheba420

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Re: A little help with a batch of cider.
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2012, 10:07:15 AM »
If you are not kegging this or do not have a kegging system in place, you will not want to use any more sweetener than you already have (frozen concentrate). When you bottle, the remaining yeast will eat up the sugar in the sweetener and you'll blow your bottles.

I do not use any acids in mine but I have always added pectic enzyme to help clear the cider. The best advice I have for cider is to be patient. I feel they take a good 3 months to mellow out and get where you want them. As for the headspace and oxydation, If you had an active fermentation, you should have co2 built up in the headspace. However, if you're removing the bung to check from time to time you need to be able to flush that space with canned co2. Personally, at this point, I would not add fruit to the cider to reduce the headspace. I think the risk of contamination outweighs the risk of oxydation.

If you're not kegging, you can either have your cider sweet or carbonated but its hard to accomplish both. If you want to carbonate it, it will remain dry. If you want it sweet, you can add sorbate to the must to kill off the active yeast and then backsweeten it to taste. However, if you do this, the cider will be still.

Hope that helps and good luck. Ciders are awesome in the winter and spring.
Matt
Mesa, AZ.
#197645

On Tap: Vanilla Porter, Belgian Blonde, Saison, Black IPA, Punkin Porter
Primary: Pale 31 Clone, Raspberry Cider
Secondary: Vanilla Porter
Conditioning: Brett IPA
Bottles:Mosaic Wheat
On Deck: Flanders Red, Berliner weisse, Punkin Saison, Saison Brett

Online mtnrockhopper

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Re: A little help with a batch of cider.
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2012, 12:44:24 PM »
I've only had headspace problems when I've stored cider longer than six months. Even then, a well sealed airlock is more important.
 
The apples probably won't add noticable flavor but might introduce some new organism. I'm not really a fan of adding too many fermentables post-fermentation either. I'd taste it. If you like it, don't mess with it.
Jimmy K

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Offline udubdawg

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Re: A little help with a batch of cider.
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2012, 01:00:50 PM »
I know it's not the question you asked, but I'm curious why you racked to secondary and then added more fermentables?  Wouldn't it be easier to add the concentrate, add the yeast, ferment completely, and then rack to secondary?  I assume it did re-start fermentation after adding the concentrate?  Based on the FG it must have.

and yes, I always size my batches so that my secondary will be completely full, unless I'm going to be in a keg where I can cover with CO2.  I've added a small amount of water before.  Assuming you had fermentation from the concentrate you had a CO2 blanket and though you opened it for the oak I assume that process made some more come out of solution that has again covered the cider.  So I wouldn't personally worry too much.

cheers--
--Michael

Offline dzlater

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Re: A little help with a batch of cider.
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2012, 05:52:49 AM »
I know it's not the question you asked, but I'm curious why you racked to secondary and then added more fermentables?  Wouldn't it be easier to add the concentrate, add the yeast, ferment completely, and then rack to secondary?  I assume it did re-start fermentation after adding the concentrate?  Based on the FG it must have.

and yes, I always size my batches so that my secondary will be completely full, unless I'm going to be in a keg where I can cover with CO2.  I've added a small amount of water before.  Assuming you had fermentation from the concentrate you had a CO2 blanket and though you opened it for the oak I assume that process made some more come out of solution that has again covered the cider.  So I wouldn't personally worry too much.

cheers--
--Michael

 Yes, it would have made more sense to add the concentrate at the start.
I didn't have a real plan for this, I pretty much just added it on a whim. Thinking it would reduce the head space and might flavor it up a bit.
 I took a look at it a couple days ago and found the airlock was empty, not sure if it sucked back into the carboy, or I just didn't fill it. I gave the carboy a blast of CO2.
 Should I put this in a keg to age / carb. now, or just leave it the carboy for another month ?

Offline stlaleman

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Re: A little help with a batch of cider.
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2012, 07:37:15 AM »
I fail to see why so many people add concentrate to their cider. Upping the apple flavor transforms cider to alcol pop. Read the introduction to ciders in the guidelines, cider should taste no more like apples than wine taste like grapes. This is why Boones Farm Apple Wine is a classic representation. If you like the big apple flavor, make it that way, just don't call it cider. I admit I'm a purist BUT I'm seeing comments on my scoresheets about not having enough "apple flavor".
OK, off my soapbox.

Offline udubdawg

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Re: A little help with a batch of cider.
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2012, 09:34:42 AM »
I fail to see why so many people add concentrate to their cider. Upping the apple flavor transforms cider to alcol pop. Read the introduction to ciders in the guidelines, cider should taste no more like apples than wine taste like grapes. This is why Boones Farm Apple Wine is a classic representation. If you like the big apple flavor, make it that way, just don't call it cider. I admit I'm a purist BUT I'm seeing comments on my scoresheets about not having enough "apple flavor".
OK, off my soapbox.

I agree somewhat, but think that the statement that upping the apple flavor transforms the cider to alco pop is an exaggeration.  Sometimes there is little to no apple character and wanting a little more isn't necessarily going to push it out of style.

The section you reference says "Ciders and perries do not necessarily present overtly fruity aromas or flavors" - doesn't need a certain character doesn't necessarily mean it can't have it...

individually:
27A:  "Sweet or low-alcohol ciders may have apple aroma and flavor."
27B:  "No overt apple character"
27C:  "Fruity character/aroma.  This may come from slow or arrested fermentation (in the French technique of défécation) or approximated by back sweetening with juice.  "
27D & E:  "There is a pear character, but not obviously fruity."
28A:  "A dry flavorful cider with robust apple character"
28B:  "It is a fault if the adjuncts completely dominate" - this is an issue some judges have with my mango/peach cider.
28C:  "Comparable to a Common Cider. "

looks like plenty of variation between substyles on apple character.
On a side note, I recently added some apple juice concentrate for the first time.  Motts plus some fancy-pants tart apple juice, plus the concentrate for a bit higher gravity, and pitched WY3726 Farmhouse on it just to test an unfamiliar yeast.  Two weeks later, very tasty, nice tart notes from juice/yeast, acidity/slight tannin seemed great, brilliantly clear, decided to rush into competition.  Deciding between Common and French, but didn't have time to carbonate, so back-sweetened just slightly, entered it as 27A, still, semi-sweet.  Gold medal, 3 weeks after pitching.  *shrug*  It's not a tool I'll use often, but I might try it again sometime.

cheers--
--Michael

Offline udubdawg

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Re: A little help with a batch of cider.
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2012, 09:42:56 AM »
Yes, it would have made more sense to add the concentrate at the start.
I didn't have a real plan for this, I pretty much just added it on a whim. Thinking it would reduce the head space and might flavor it up a bit.
 I took a look at it a couple days ago and found the airlock was empty, not sure if it sucked back into the carboy, or I just didn't fill it. I gave the carboy a blast of CO2.
 Should I put this in a keg to age / carb. now, or just leave it the carboy for another month ?

you did fill the airlock after you added the blast of CO2, right?   ;D
how does it taste?  Any oxidation since you last tasted it?  How's the clarity?  Is the oak still in it? (don't see any mention of removal in the OP)  What are your goals for this?  Since it seems like this is just a test batch of something new to you, I don't see any harm on moving to the next step and packaging as soon as you're happy with it.  I'm certain you've picked up some easy lessons that will improve your next batch.

cheers--
--Michael