Author Topic: half assed first cider attempt  (Read 1439 times)

Offline goschman

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half assed first cider attempt
« on: November 04, 2016, 03:03:35 PM »
I threw 3 gallons of apple juice, peach puree, and agave nectar into a fermenter with S-04. OG was 1.054.

Unless I want a really dry cider, I need to add something to kill off the yeast and back sweeten it correct? I am planning to bottle this so that seems to further complicate matters.

Should I just let it ride without back sweetening and see what I come up with?
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2016, 03:22:10 PM »
It will probably turn out pretty dry if you let it go.  Below 1.000.

My idea would be to get the yeast out of there when gravity hits 1.010-1.015 using gelatin and by racking.  This will probably happen after just 7-12 days.  Then keep cold refrigerated for another couple months, monitoring gravity about once per week to ensure gravity doesn't fall farther than 1.010 or to your liking, and if it does then add more gelatin and rack again.  After 2-3 months in the cold, any remaining yeast becomes very tired and won't be a problem once bottled.

This can be done without any chemical additions or backsweetening, 100% natural sweet cider.  However to speed up the process, you can also add sorbate when racking to hurt the yeast and prevent them from multiplying.  Then you could probably safely bottle after just about a month in secondary.

Main thing in my opinion is to keep it cold after it hits the magic gravity range.  Even consider fermenting cool at 55-60 F to keep things under control.  If fermenting warmer than that, you will find that all of a sudden it's at 1.005 or 1.000 and you missed your chance to stop the fermentation...

...Which is precisely what happened to me this season.  I was going to halt fermentation as described above, but life got in the way and now my cider for this season is below 1.000.  So now I shall ferment to dryness, and then consider my options.  My favored option at this point is to try xylitol for backsweetening.  It tastes friggin EXACTLY like real sugar but is not fermentable.  Actually I might split the batch and use xylitol for half (plus add cane sugar to prime at the standard 5/8 cup per 5 gallon rate), and then for the second half I will try adding sorbate plus a can or two of apple juice concentrate, which I have never done before but I know has been touted by many as the best way to prime and backsweeten, adds tons of apple flavor as well as sugar.  I have not used sorbate for a very long time but in this instance, if adding that much sugar, I think it's probably the best route for this one.  Oops.  It will all make for nice experimentation anyway, I'll learn some more stuff.
Dave

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Offline goschman

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2016, 03:31:22 PM »
Thanks for all of the info!

Halting the fermentation was my first thought but I thought that might cause some off flavors. I will plan to do as you suggest; rack and add gelatin when the gravity is to my liking. I don't mind if it is dry but I definitely don't want it below 1.000.

Why do ciders need so much more time than an average OG beer?
On Tap/Bottled: Haze for Daze IPA, G Pils, Maibock, Watermelon Cider         

Fermenting: Kolsch
Up Next: Summer Ale, Gose

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2016, 03:43:44 PM »
Why do ciders need so much more time than an average OG beer?

Good question.  I really don't have a good scientific answer.  Someone else out there probably does but I haven't heard it yet.

Unscientfically, the only thing I can figure is that the yeast gets sick from eating too much simple sugar at one time.  It doesn't take any effort for them to eat as much as they want, so they initially pig out, but soon grow tired and just need time to digest it, and then once they're feeling better individually they can continue to nibble at what's left.  It would be like giving you all the wedding cake that you ever cared to eat.  Finish one and they'll give you another, supply is not unlimited but it sure seems like it.  Even for someone who might usually enjoy the taste of wedding cake, if you eat it all at once, you don't feel so well, and so you need to pace yourself if you're going to eat more later.  Getting past the gag reflex and returning to the yum reflex just takes time.

On the other hand, beer yeasts are relatively wimpy, and the sugars we feed them are very complex.  Unable to eat rocks, grass, and wood, they quickly run out of food and go to sleep.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Dave

The world will become a much more pleasant place to live when each and every one of us realizes that we are all idiots.

Offline goschman

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2016, 03:52:51 PM »
Got it.

So obviously my number one fear here is bottle bombs. This would be a whole lot simpler if I was kegging...

When you say to keep it cold for 2-3 months, how cold? Should I still add priming sugar or just bring the temp up after bottling? Once carbonation is good, refrigerate to stop further carbonation?
On Tap/Bottled: Haze for Daze IPA, G Pils, Maibock, Watermelon Cider         

Fermenting: Kolsch
Up Next: Summer Ale, Gose

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2016, 04:14:19 PM »
Got it.

So obviously my number one fear here is bottle bombs. This would be a whole lot simpler if I was kegging...

When you say to keep it cold for 2-3 months, how cold? Should I still add priming sugar or just bring the temp up after bottling? Once carbonation is good, refrigerate to stop further carbonation?

My refrigerator reads about 40 F.  As close to 32 F as you can get would be best.

It's up to you how much priming sugar to add if any.  Sometimes I don't prime and just drink it flat.  This is very traditional.  When priming, it usually feels like forever to carbonate, like 2-5 months is typical.  Cider is again very slow to respond compared to beer.  You can easily add the bottles back into the fridge to prevent overcarbonation if it gets to that point but it's unlikely as the natural carbonation happens much more slowly than it does for beer, and by the end of several months, most of the yeast is dead or sleeping.  You're actually lucky to get much carbonation from priming with this method.  I find that I've consumed almost all my cider by the time the last few bottles are finally carbonated, as I don't mind drinking it flat.
Dave

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Offline goschman

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2016, 04:49:25 PM »
Thanks again.
On Tap/Bottled: Haze for Daze IPA, G Pils, Maibock, Watermelon Cider         

Fermenting: Kolsch
Up Next: Summer Ale, Gose

Offline denny

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2016, 04:55:32 PM »
I guess I'd caution you against doing anything other than letting it ferment out fully if you intend to bottle it.  For me, there's too much chance of trouble if you don't.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2016, 05:02:48 PM »
You all should know that I'm even more lazy I mean patient than Denny, if that's possible... and I would say that often times, but especially with cider, slow and lazy I mean patient wins the race.  If you're not very lazy I meanpatient as I am, then Denny is correct and you should probably not utilize my methods.
Dave

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Offline goschman

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2016, 05:07:00 PM »
So if it finishes below 1.000 and I carbonate it in the bottle, will it basically taste like champagne?

On Tap/Bottled: Haze for Daze IPA, G Pils, Maibock, Watermelon Cider         

Fermenting: Kolsch
Up Next: Summer Ale, Gose

Offline erockrph

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2016, 05:07:25 PM »
Why do ciders need so much more time than an average OG beer?

Good question.  I really don't have a good scientific answer.  Someone else out there probably does but I haven't heard it yet.

Unscientfically, the only thing I can figure is that the yeast gets sick from eating too much simple sugar at one time.  It doesn't take any effort for them to eat as much as they want, so they initially pig out, but soon grow tired and just need time to digest it, and then once they're feeling better individually they can continue to nibble at what's left.  It would be like giving you all the wedding cake that you ever cared to eat.  Finish one and they'll give you another, supply is not unlimited but it sure seems like it.  Even for someone who might usually enjoy the taste of wedding cake, if you eat it all at once, you don't feel so well, and so you need to pace yourself if you're going to eat more later.  Getting past the gag reflex and returning to the yum reflex just takes time.

On the other hand, beer yeasts are relatively wimpy, and the sugars we feed them are very complex.  Unable to eat rocks, grass, and wood, they quickly run out of food and go to sleep.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Personally, I think it is nutrient deficiency. My ferments go pretty quick with less sulfur production once I started using yeast nutrient.
Eric B.

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Offline erockrph

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2016, 05:10:04 PM »
...Which is precisely what happened to me this season.  I was going to halt fermentation as described above, but life got in the way and now my cider for this season is below 1.000.  So now I shall ferment to dryness, and then consider my options.  My favored option at this point is to try xylitol for backsweetening.  It tastes friggin EXACTLY like real sugar but is not fermentable.  Actually I might split the batch and use xylitol for half (plus add cane sugar to prime at the standard 5/8 cup per 5 gallon rate), and then for the second half I will try adding sorbate plus a can or two of apple juice concentrate, which I have never done before but I know has been touted by many as the best way to prime and backsweeten, adds tons of apple flavor as well as sugar.  I have not used sorbate for a very long time but in this instance, if adding that much sugar, I think it's probably the best route for this one.  Oops.  It will all make for nice experimentation anyway, I'll learn some more stuff.

I can tolerate it OK in gum, but I'd be concerned that the amount of Xylitol needed to sweeten cider might be enough to cause some apple splats (pun intended). Have you tried xylitol in cider before?
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2016, 05:40:01 PM »
So if it finishes below 1.000 and I carbonate it in the bottle, will it basically taste like champagne?

Yes sir.
Dave

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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2016, 05:43:22 PM »
I can tolerate it OK in gum, but I'd be concerned that the amount of Xylitol needed to sweeten cider might be enough to cause some apple splats (pun intended). Have you tried xylitol in cider before?

No, this will be my first time.  I'm going to try it anyway, splats or no splats.  Maybe on your advice, I'll only do like 3 quarts this way in case it does cause problems.

The sorbate & concentrate route should be safe, but could also potentially result in duds that never carbonate.  So carbonation is a bit of a crapshoot.  But, should taste great flat.
Dave

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Offline erockrph

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Re: half assed first cider attempt
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2016, 06:05:29 PM »
I can tolerate it OK in gum, but I'd be concerned that the amount of Xylitol needed to sweeten cider might be enough to cause some apple splats (pun intended). Have you tried xylitol in cider before?

No, this will be my first time.  I'm going to try it anyway, splats or no splats.  Maybe on your advice, I'll only do like 3 quarts this way in case it does cause problems.

The sorbate & concentrate route should be safe, but could also potentially result in duds that never carbonate.  So carbonation is a bit of a crapshoot.  But, should taste great flat.
There is also the bottle pasteurization route, but I've always been afraid of not quite killing everything and ending up with bottle bombs.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer