Author Topic: Hard cider fermentation stuck?  (Read 1830 times)

Offline orerockon

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Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« on: October 04, 2015, 07:58:06 PM »
I have a very similar problem as virtually identical but stale post. After the 1st racking my fermentation appears to be stuck and the cider is very cloudy and will not settle. This is my 9th batch and only one other has gone even remotely bad (it got funky smelling and I got PO'ed and left it in the carboy for 7 years, it made the best cider vinegar I ever tasted). Here's what I did:

200 lbs my own apples pressed, filtered, 13 gal. into 2 6 gal. plastic buckets with  2.5 lbs. clover honey each. 1/8 tsp. tannin / gal. Campden tablets 1/gal. 24 hrs. SG = 1.060 (*all my previous batches have been right around 1.058). Mangrove Jack’s MO2 cider yeast & 6 tsp. Fermax directly onto cider at 24 hrs. Next day blowing out of the airlocks, but the buckets were pretty full. Very active ferm. compared to WLP755. Day 7 SG = 1.000, added malolatcic bacteria (per about 80% of the sugar has been converted). Day 10 bubbling slowed way down (but still pretty active) so racked into 2 5 gal. carboys & 2 1-gal. jugs, very cloudy, not a lot of lees. Day 12 no bubbling, no CO2 smell, just barely settling out. Added 4.5 grams Fermax + 2 grams DAP + 2 tbs. pectic enzyme each per my local homebrew shop. No change on day 12 so a packet of yeast in both & 1/2 packet in jugs. No change day 14, but one of the jugs is pushing a bubble every 90 seconds or so. It's not settling out at all this time.

I'm assuming that my yeast is very dead and something won't let it restart. I don't think it's the alcohol unless MO2 is way less tolerant than 755. I expect it to go to about 0.997 given all my 755 batches went to about 0.995/6. I'm regretting the change to the MO2 but I was shooting for cider just a wee bit sweeter since I used some red apples this time. Am I just being impatient? I suspected the MLB had something to do with but the brew shop says no.

Offline Werks21

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2015, 08:35:55 PM »
What is the gravity at now?
Jonathan W.
Snohomish WA

Offline orerockon

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2015, 08:24:59 PM »
Still at 1, maybe 0.999. Still nothing happening, even in the one jug that started to bubble, no clearing. A tiny bit of foam on top of the carboys, but not the jugs. Nothing even like a wimpy krausen. It tastes sweet to me, but probably what a lot of people would consider acceptable. Not at all what I'm shooting for. No funky odors, no funky taste other than yeast of course since I added more. I find it really odd that it was still fermenting a little when I racked it off, then has done absolutely nothing for 3 days. What do ciders with a  sweet mead yeast ferment to, 1.00, or lower?

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2015, 08:49:58 PM »
Am I just being impatient?

Yes!  Why are you in such a hurry?

Part of your problem might be in racking.  You obviously expect your cider to turn out more dry, because you added more yeast and stated that you are shooting for 0.997.  That's fine.  But if so, then I would argue that you should not have removed 95% of your yeast by racking it.  You could have just left the cider in the primary and allowed that yeast to continue fermentation.

I would not expect a cider to be completed in 14 days, or even 21 days.  I give mine a good 2-3 months to do their thing, especially if you're doing a malolactic which takes more time.  Patience.

If it's cloudy, it's still fermenting, even if the numbers don't change much anymore.  Patience and time.  Leave it alone for a couple weeks.  Then if it's still cloudy, we can talk.
Dave

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Offline orerockon

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2015, 12:06:20 AM »
I'm not really in a hurry, I usually let mine go 3 months before bottling. I just haven't had this happen before so I am concerned. No sense in possibly wasting 12 gallons of hard work if these really is something wrong, and if ya don't ask...  :D Could the pectic enzyme not be working since I didn't add it until after I racked it? If there isn't anything to be alarmed about I'll let it go for the week and see what develops...

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2015, 12:36:39 AM »
When gravity stays the same for a full 7-10 days, then just add gelatin.  It will knock the yeast right out of there and clear things up.  Personally I don't use pectinase, never have, so I can't speak to its effectiveness.  Gelatin, on the other hand, usually clears up the cider very nicely, and quickly, within 48 hours.  But only do it after fermentation is done, unless you want to halt fermentation early.
Dave

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Offline orerockon

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2015, 02:36:48 PM »
OK great advice, I know this sounds stupid but would giving the yeasties a wee bit more sugar to chew on do any good? Besides possibly bumping up the alcohol of course. Something like a shot of honey dissolved in fresh cider from the fridge. Also I looked at the recipe again yesterday and I missed the rack off at 2 weeks part. It's from the homebrew shop and quite different than the one I have always used. I never added anything other than cider and WLP775 yeast in the past, racked off after 10-12 days, based on nothing since the internet hadn't been invented when I started brewing & mead making ;)

evil_morty

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2015, 02:41:25 PM »
Still at 1, maybe 0.999. Still nothing happening, even in the one jug that started to bubble, no clearing. A tiny bit of foam on top of the carboys, but not the jugs. Nothing even like a wimpy krausen. It tastes sweet to me, but probably what a lot of people would consider acceptable. Not at all what I'm shooting for. No funky odors, no funky taste other than yeast of course since I added more. I find it really odd that it was still fermenting a little when I racked it off, then has done absolutely nothing for 3 days. What do ciders with a  sweet mead yeast ferment to, 1.00, or lower?

take my advice with a grain of salt as I've only ever made cider that was just apple juice (no honey or sugar or anything).  I can't imagine you'd be able to tell the diff between 0.999 and 0.997.  That is a tiny difference in residual sugar in something that is already going to seem dry.

with regards to the clearing that's never been a problem for me.  I do natural ferments but it's always ended up crystal clear.  maybe the honey adds a wrinkle - I'm not sure.  I have to think time is your friend here though.

eta:  my ferments take a long time with the wild yeast.  typically I don't rack until a month or so into the process.  I typically don't drink final product for at least 9 months or more.

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2015, 03:05:16 PM »
I'll just added that pectic enzyme is denatured by alcohol so it must be added to juice before fermentation.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2015, 03:14:39 PM »
I'll just added that pectic enzyme is denatured by alcohol so it must be added to juice before fermentation.

+1
Jon H.

Offline Werks21

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2015, 05:36:46 PM »
I'll just added that pectic enzyme is denatured by alcohol so it must be added to juice before fermentation.

Interesting, I've always added pre ferment but did not know why that window was used.. A google search on the subject revealed that heat above 150 F denatures pectic enzyme as well. Good stuff
Jonathan W.
Snohomish WA

Offline orerockon

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2015, 06:02:20 PM »
take my advice with a grain of salt as I've only ever made cider that was just apple juice (no honey or sugar or anything).  I can't imagine you'd be able to tell the diff between 0.999 and 0.997.  That is a tiny difference in residual sugar in something that is already going to seem dry.

with regards to the clearing that's never been a problem for me.  I do natural ferments but it's always ended up crystal clear.  maybe the honey adds a wrinkle - I'm not sure.  I have to think time is your friend here though.

eta:  my ferments take a long time with the wild yeast.  typically I don't rack until a month or so into the process.  I typically don't drink final product for at least 9 months or more.

Do you have feel for what a sweet cider should typically finish at? That would be really nice to know. And I have made "sour beer face" cider that finished at .994, but of course I couldn't say that was the reason it was so dry. And mine has always finished out so clear you can read a newspaper through it :) I wish I could wait 9 months; 3 months in the carboy and 2 months in the bottle is the longest I could stand it. I have some leftover occasionally that I manage to lose in my storage cabinets (when I cram other bottles in front and forget about them) and I can't say whether it improved significantly or not. One of these batches I should try SNA, and see if it finishes out faster. I know that works for my melomels, it has cut down the time from at least a year to more like 3 months in the carboy and a month in the bottle to carbonate with little difference in taste (to my palate anyway). I remember seeing a post somewhere by the guy who came up with the SNA I use saying he has won awards for blueberry melomel after 6 weeks. That might be a stretch tho.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2015, 06:10:28 PM »
If you want a sweetish cider, shoot for 1.010 or even 1.015 finishing gravity.  Yeast will take it lower than that every single time unless you A) kill it or B) use a lot of gelatin and racking and cold temperatures.  I'm in the minority using the B) option all the time on my own ciders.  There's also a C) option known as keeving, which even the experts will tell you is a crapshoot -- I haven't tried it but you can search the universe on the term "keeving" and learn all kinds of interesting stuff.
Dave

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evil_morty

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2015, 06:13:57 PM »
Do you have feel for what a sweet cider should typically finish at? That would be really nice to know. And I have made "sour beer face" cider that finished at .994, but of course I couldn't say that was the reason it was so dry. And mine has always finished out so clear you can read a newspaper through it :) I wish I could wait 9 months; 3 months in the carboy and 2 months in the bottle is the longest I could stand it. I have some leftover occasionally that I manage to lose in my storage cabinets (when I cram other bottles in front and forget about them) and I can't say whether it improved significantly or not. One of these batches I should try SNA, and see if it finishes out faster. I know that works for my melomels, it has cut down the time from at least a year to more like 3 months in the carboy and a month in the bottle to carbonate with little difference in taste (to my palate anyway). I remember seeing a post somewhere by the guy who came up with the SNA I use saying he has won awards for blueberry melomel after 6 weeks. That might be a stretch tho.

I'd have to go back and look at my notes but I think my cider finished slightly higher than 1.00.  I don't recall it being less than one.  I just kind of let it become what it's going to become.  I really have no control over the wild yeast.  But my impression of my cider is that it's fairly dry.  Somewhere in the realm of a dry white wine or at least that's what it reminds me of.

The trick with cider is to have some aging ;)  I'm currently drinking a batch from 2012.  I have a keg of 2013 ready to go when 2012 kicks.  I haven't made any since then b/c I don't drink it that often.  I'll probably make some again in 2016.  The aging might be different with the wild yeast, I dunno.  I have tried it at 6 months vs 9 months vs 1 year and it was different every time.  After a year or so I don't think it changes much.  Obviously at some point it's going to start going downhill but I'm not sure when.

Offline 69franx

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Re: Hard cider fermentation stuck?
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2015, 08:05:09 PM »
I made a cider last year, my first and only so far, and had a lot of troubles(?) with it. You can see original pic and the thread here:
https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=20354.0

In the end, I bottled it at 1.014, down from 1.064. It was way too sweet for any of my friends, even white wine drinkers, and definitely was not what I was looking for so it wound up going down the drain after about 15 bottles worth of sampling and toying with it to help it out.

There were a lot of thoughts that it looked keeved but that was not an effect I was trying to obtain and it definitely wound up sweeter and slower to the finish. Good luck, but I am sure I would have loved my cider to be stuck at 1.000 or 0.999. I am jealous and plan on trying again soon
Frank L.
Fermenting:
Conditioning:
In keg: Märzen
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