Author Topic: Options for Back-sweetening Cider in the Keg  (Read 1028 times)

Offline skyler

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Options for Back-sweetening Cider in the Keg
« on: October 15, 2021, 11:27:50 am »
After some failed ciders several years ago, I got back into it last year and have been pleased with the results. I ferment store-bought “not from concentrate” apple juice (Musselmans or “TreeTop Pure Pressed” both work and are cheap) with S-04 and treat with pectic enzyme, then basically treat it like a lager after fermentation is complete, with a long stay in my lagering freezer until I’m ready to serve in. When I keg it, I back-sweeten the keg. I’ve never had anything start fermenting again, or anything like that.

Apple juice concentrate: I’ve found that 2-5 cans of defrosted frozen apple juice concentrate is sufficient to sweeten and flavor a cider made this way.

Montmercy sour cherry juice concentrate: I added a 32 oz bottle of this stuff, along with 2 cans of frozen apple juice concentrate and it was very nice and not too tart, though I think dialing back to 16-20 oz of the cherry juice concentrate would work better.

Now I’m ready to try a few more things and I wanted to know what others have done.

Belgian Candi Syrup? I thought about adding 2 lbs of the amber or dark stuff to a keg of fully dry cider —- take it from 1.002 or so to about 1.015 and give it a darker amber color. Has anyone tried this?

Honey syrup? I have considered making a syrup out of honey and water (to get it to dissolve better into cold cider) and adding enough to get the cider up to 1.010-1.015. I know plenty of people ferment honey with cider, but that seems a fair bit different.

Other juice concentrates? I’m already planning to try this with wild blueberry juice concentrate, but I’m not sure how much to use.

Anyway, how do those of you who like to back-sweeten in the keg go about doing it?


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Offline erockrph

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Re: Options for Back-sweetening Cider in the Keg
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2021, 12:36:56 pm »
My favorite way to back-sweeten in the keg is with fresh juice. I add about 1 can of frozen apple juice concentrate per gallon to my sweet cider at the start of fermentation to boost the ABV, and then dilute/backsweeten with about 1 quart of juice per gallon of cider. That, along with an acid addition if needed, gives the most apple character in the finished cider.
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Offline denny

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Re: Options for Back-sweetening Cider in the Keg
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2021, 12:39:09 pm »
My favorite way to back-sweeten in the keg is with fresh juice. I add about 1 can of frozen apple juice concentrate per gallon to my sweet cider at the start of fermentation to boost the ABV, and then dilute/backsweeten with about 1 quart of juice per gallon of cider. That, along with an acid addition if needed, gives the most apple character in the finished cider.

How do you keep it from refermenting?
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Offline joe_meadmaker

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Re: Options for Back-sweetening Cider in the Keg
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2021, 01:44:36 pm »
I've back sweetened beer and mead with honey.  You mentioned dissolving it in water first, to help it dissolve in cold cider.  I would raise a flag of caution on this.  I did the same thing with a batch of heather ale that I back sweetened with honey.  After kegging and chilling it, I realized I didn't get as much honey flavor as I wanted.  I dissolved a little more honey in warm water, and stirred it into the cold keg.  It was fine at first, but all that new honey flavor was lost after a day.  The honey didn't get dissolved well enough and a lot of it sunk to the bottom (I use floating dip tubes).  This was just one occurrence, so you can still give it a try.  But I think you may need to add too much water to the honey to get it thin enough to properly dissolve in cold cider.  I would advise letting the keg warm to room temp, stir in the honey water, then chill it again.

If you want to make sure it's protected from refermentation at warm temperatures, just give it a dose of potassium metabisulfite and sorbate.  If you're going to let it warm to stir in honey (or anything else), the metabisulfite could be a good idea anyway.  This will help protect the cider from any oxygen exposure.

Offline joe_meadmaker

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Re: Options for Back-sweetening Cider in the Keg
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2021, 01:50:42 pm »
Anyway, how do those of you who like to back-sweeten in the keg go about doing it?

Sorry.  I missed this question specifically.  When I back sweeten in a keg, i usually add the honey/water mixture to the keg first, then rack on top of it.  The flow into the keg will continually stir everything together throughout the whole racking process.  If you want to give it a little more, you can pick up the receiving keg before it gets too full, and just move it in a circular motion to swirl things around a bit.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Options for Back-sweetening Cider in the Keg
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2021, 07:40:57 am »
My favorite way to back-sweeten in the keg is with fresh juice. I add about 1 can of frozen apple juice concentrate per gallon to my sweet cider at the start of fermentation to boost the ABV, and then dilute/backsweeten with about 1 quart of juice per gallon of cider. That, along with an acid addition if needed, gives the most apple character in the finished cider.

How do you keep it from refermenting?
I keep it cold and drink it fast. It does ferment a bit in the keg, and I notice some change over the few months I have it on tap as it gets a bit drier over time. But even 6 months out from packaging the cider retains much of the sweetness that was added at kegging, and I kind of enjoy the evolution. The one time I tested gravities the cider went from 1.001 FG, to 1.013 after backsweetening, to 1.008 at just under 5 months of storage at 38F.

FWIW - I use D-47 wine yeast for my hard cider. YMMV may vary with other yeasts depending on their cold tolerance.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2021, 07:43:21 am by erockrph »
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Offline skyler

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Re: Options for Back-sweetening Cider in the Keg
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2021, 07:51:19 am »
My favorite way to back-sweeten in the keg is with fresh juice. I add about 1 can of frozen apple juice concentrate per gallon to my sweet cider at the start of fermentation to boost the ABV, and then dilute/backsweeten with about 1 quart of juice per gallon of cider. That, along with an acid addition if needed, gives the most apple character in the finished cider.

How do you keep it from refermenting?
I think the long cold aging I give before legging helps some to minimize suspended yeast, but I have not had noticeable refermentation in the keg. I may use potassium sorbate in the future, and/or a small amount of pmb or smb if I ever have noticeable refermentation.


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