Author Topic: A few cider brewing questions  (Read 538 times)

Offline Joe_Beer

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A few cider brewing questions
« on: August 02, 2020, 06:29:43 PM »
I thought I'd try ferementing a gallon of pure apple juice (in the glass jug, straight from the store). About 11 days ago, I poured out about a cup of juice and added a cup of sucrose, shook it, pitched some cider yeast and stuck in an airlock.  3 days ago I checked it with a refractometer. It was at 6 brix. Today, it's at 6 brix again so hasn't changed.  I'm wondering about a few things:

1) should I transfer this stuff into some growlers to age and for how long?
2) I've read about adding apple juice concentrate to sweeten it. Is this added before aging? How much do you add?
3) methyl alcohol isn't an issue unless fermenting with apple chunks present, correct?
4) Is the refractometer correction for cider the same as beer (eg: 1.04)?
5) is oxygen just as much of a concern (transferring, etc) with cider as it is with beer?
6) any other helpful tips?

Thank you for your time!
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 06:33:46 PM by Joe_Beer »

Offline TeeDubb

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Re: A few cider brewing questions
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2020, 03:24:05 PM »
Using rough estimates, your store bought apple juice may have been around 1.045 and adding 1 C (0.5 Lb) of dextrose would give another 4-5 points of gravity. So you likely made a 5% ABV cider, the quality of which you will have to assess. Hopefully you measured the original gravity. Store bought (highly processed) apple juice can sometimes make decent cider, other times turns out harsh. It depends if the juice had the necessary nutrients the yeast need to ferment cleanly. It often helps helps to add nitrogen (YAN) and other nutrients. If the fermentation is happy/healthy, you may not need to age as long. Most ciders benefit from some level of aging - I have found that a month is generally the minimum and that also helps to clarify the final product.

If you backsweeten (if you feel it needs it) the fermentation will re-start due to the presence of yeast. If you backsweeten, then you need to add potassium metabisulfite and potassium sorbate to kill yeast activity. This is especially important if you backsweeten and bottle at the same time to prevent bottles bursting. Apple juice is a fine option for backsweetening and will add apple flavor and aroma. Some people backsweeten with non-fermentable sugar (such as splenda) and then you can skip the sulfite, sorbate additions.

Refractometer correction factor should be similar enough between wort and must without needing to worry about it. I have noticed a fractional difference, but question my measurement accuracy.

Oxygen impacts cider and it's generally best to avoid exposure after fermentation for shelf stability. For a small 1 gal batch that will be consumed quickly, it may not be a major concern.

I can't provide any advice on methanol risk. It can be a trace byproduct of fermentation in small amounts but I have not worried about it if the ingredients (wort, must) is high quality and the yeast was healthy. Hoping others can weigh in.


Offline kramerog

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Re: A few cider brewing questions
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2020, 03:58:51 PM »
If I had to guess, you shouldn't need a refractometer correction for cider or most fruit juices.  I believe refracs are designed to work with grapes and apple juice's sugar content (primarily fructose and glucose)  is much more similar to grape juice than wort (primarily maltose) is. 

I wouldn't worry about some apple chunks.  Wine is often fermented with pretty much the entire grape in the ferment even the stems.  Of course, use of pectinase is normal in winemaking and cider making although I don't know if that effects the production of methanol if any.


Offline denny

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Re: A few cider brewing questions
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2020, 04:26:40 PM »
If I had to guess, you shouldn't need a refractometer correction for cider or most fruit juices.  I believe refracs are designed to work with grapes and apple juice's sugar content (primarily fructose and glucose)  is much more similar to grape juice than wort (primarily maltose) is. 

I wouldn't worry about some apple chunks.  Wine is often fermented with pretty much the entire grape in the ferment even the stems.  Of course, use of pectinase is normal in winemaking and cider making although I don't know if that effects the production of methanol if any.

Once there is alcohol present you need the correction factor.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline Joe_Beer

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Re: A few cider brewing questions
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2020, 10:09:28 AM »
Hopefully you measured the original gravity. Store bought (highly processed) apple juice can sometimes make decent cider, other times turns out harsh. It depends if the juice had the necessary nutrients the yeast need to ferment cleanly....

The raw Juice clocked in at 1.052. Went up to 1.060 after adding the sucrose and shaking it around for awhile. Not sure how processed it was. It's cloudy and the label says "Organic 100% apple juice -  not from concentrate - pastuerized". Probably about as close as I can get to apple juice without smashing the apples myself. I did add a 1/2 tsp of fermax after the sucrose so hopefully that aided cleaner fermentation.

If you backsweeten (if you feel it needs it) the fermentation will re-start due to the presence of yeast.

The little bit I tasted pulled from the pipette was dry, but drinkable. I think it would be enjoyable to use concentrate to backsweeten. I orderd Potassium Metabisulfite/Sorbate and should be here in a couple days. How much should be used in a gallon? (Nevermind. The Amazon listing for both products says to use 1/2 tsp. per gallon)

Should I rack it off the yeast before adding the Metabisulfite/Sorbate?

Thanks all!
« Last Edit: August 04, 2020, 10:15:10 AM by Joe_Beer »

Offline joe_meadmaker

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Re: A few cider brewing questions
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2020, 02:57:49 PM »
Should I rack it off the yeast before adding the Metabisulfite/Sorbate?

Definitely.  You're going to need to stir things up.  And if your cider is still sitting on the yeast, you'll just mix it all back together.

What I would do is slightly warm up the cider (or concentrate) you're going to use to backsweeten.  You can just put it in a pot on the stove.  You only want to warm it up a little though, not hot.  Then stir in your metabifulfite and sorbate until they're completely dissolved.  Move that liquid to a carboy (or whatever you're using) and rack your cider right on top of it.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2020, 02:36:56 PM by joe_meadmaker »

Offline kramerog

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Re: A few cider brewing questions
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2020, 08:20:23 PM »
If I had to guess, you shouldn't need a refractometer correction for cider or most fruit juices.  I believe refracs are designed to work with grapes and apple juice's sugar content (primarily fructose and glucose)  is much more similar to grape juice than wort (primarily maltose) is. 

I wouldn't worry about some apple chunks.  Wine is often fermented with pretty much the entire grape in the ferment even the stems.  Of course, use of pectinase is normal in winemaking and cider making although I don't know if that effects the production of methanol if any.

Once there is alcohol present you need the correction factor.

Nope, correction factor for wort is not the same as correcting for alcohol.

Offline denny

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Re: A few cider brewing questions
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2020, 09:27:21 PM »
If I had to guess, you shouldn't need a refractometer correction for cider or most fruit juices.  I believe refracs are designed to work with grapes and apple juice's sugar content (primarily fructose and glucose)  is much more similar to grape juice than wort (primarily maltose) is. 

I wouldn't worry about some apple chunks.  Wine is often fermented with pretty much the entire grape in the ferment even the stems.  Of course, use of pectinase is normal in winemaking and cider making although I don't know if that effects the production of methanol if any.

Once there is alcohol present you need the correction factor.

Nope, correction factor for wort is not the same as correcting for alcohol.

I think that's what I said, isn't it?
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline Joe_Beer

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Re: A few cider brewing questions
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2020, 02:36:47 AM »
I finally sampled this batch this weekend after sitting off the yeast for about a month. It's not horrible. I would almost say it tastes closer to apple wine than cider. I was surprised it maintained some fizz. There is like an aftertaste of sulphur or something.. maybe a "barfy" flavor? My wife thought it tasted "yeasty" but not too bad. Is that a characteristic of the yeast or something else? I did backsweeten with a raspberry/apple concentrate so maybe that wasn't such a grand idea as it may have added to the tartness. This is what I used for yeast: https://beerbrew.com/words/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2360.jpg.