Author Topic: More Cider Questions?  (Read 1454 times)

Offline geo1267

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 24
    • View Profile
More Cider Questions?
« on: November 12, 2010, 09:18:29 PM »
I have been brewing for a little over a year now and wanted to try to make some cider.  I purchased three gallons of cider from a local orchard, it was pasteurized but no preservatives.  I dumped it into a carboy and pitched a packet of US-05, it was the only yeast I had readily available.

First question is how long should I leave it in the primary? 2 weeks? 1 month? 3 months? Will leaving it in the primary for an extended time produce any off flavors?

I have read that it will improve with aging.  I am not in a hurry to drink it and would probably save it until next fall, but would it be better to bulk age in a secondary fermenter or age in bottles? I do not keg and was not planning to carbonate.

Thanks for any advice

Offline gordonstrong

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1355
    • View Profile
    • BJCP
Re: More Cider Questions?
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2010, 10:33:18 PM »
Quote
First question is how long should I leave it in the primary?

That's like asking a chef how long you should cook meat.  The correct answer is "until it's done".  Time can vary, so learn to recognize when it's finished.  The gravity stops changing, the yeast starts to floc out, and the cider gets brighter.  Could be a week or two, certainly I'd hope it is done within a month.  It probably won't be bright yet; cider takes longer than beer to clear.

Quote
Will leaving it in the primary for an extended time produce any off flavors?

Possibly.  You run the risk of autolysis.  It's not a definite; you're dealing with probabilities.  It's not a good flavor, so it's worth avoiding.

Quote
I have read that it will improve with aging.

Indeed it will, as long as nothing went off during the fermentation.  I like to age them at least 6 months, but that's me.  Nothing wrong with a year, certainly.

Quote
I am not in a hurry to drink it and would probably save it until next fall, but would it be better to bulk age in a secondary fermenter or age in bottles? I do not keg and was not planning to carbonate.

Then I'd bulk age it somewhere cool in a secondary.  If you bottle it, it could carbonate on you if you misguessed that it was actually finished.  If you bulk age it, you can also adjust it to your taste prior to serving.  More options that way, as long as you have some place reasonable to store it and don't need the fermenter for something else.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline corkybstewart

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1344
    • View Profile
Re: More Cider Questions?
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2010, 12:07:16 AM »
I'm not a cider expert but I make one every couple of years.  My advice is to just keep an eye on it while it's in primary, but leave it alone.  When the krausen drops and the cider starts to clarify a little I move mine to secondary.  Then I put it somewhere that I won't see it or be tempted to mess with it for at least 6 months. 
I keg my ciders, force carbonate and bottle from the keg.
I'd really just rather be brewing in sunny Carlsbad New Mexico

Offline The Professor

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 803
  • "In the next life, you're on your own"
    • View Profile
Re: More Cider Questions?
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2010, 09:17:50 AM »
I'm not a cider expert but I make one every couple of years.  My advice is to just keep an eye on it while it's in primary, but leave it alone.  When the krausen drops and the cider starts to clarify a little I move mine to secondary.  Then I put it somewhere that I won't see it or be tempted to mess with it for at least 6 months. 
I keg my ciders, force carbonate and bottle from the keg.

That's pretty much my procedure as well.  Depending on the yeast I've selected the primary stage can be as little as 2 weeks or up to 4 weeks, but I always base the transfer time on what the yeast seems to be doing and go from there.

Lately I've been splitting my cider batches; after 6 months in the secondary, half will go into a corny for force carbonation, and the other half will go into bottles as a 'still', dry,  apple wine.     I  like to start my cider in the late summer and early fall when the juice is pressed from early maturing apple varieties  which, from the orchard I deal with, results in a more tart juice (which I think makes better cider).  If time allows, I may do a second batch with a large proportion of the juice coming from the later maturing Stayman or Turley Winesap varieties.  By Spring, both are ready and most of the time I will  blend them.
AL
New Brunswick, NJ
[499.6, 101.2] Apparent Rennerian
Homebrewer since July 1971

Offline geo1267

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 24
    • View Profile
Re: More Cider Questions?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2010, 02:11:30 PM »
Quote
First question is how long should I leave it in the primary?

That's like asking a chef how long you should cook meat.  The correct answer is "until it's done".  Time can vary, so learn to recognize when it's finished.  The gravity stops changing, the yeast starts to floc out, and the cider gets brighter.  Could be a week or two, certainly I'd hope it is done within a month.  It probably won't be bright yet; cider takes longer than beer to clear.

Quote
Will leaving it in the primary for an extended time produce any off flavors?

Possibly.  You run the risk of autolysis.  It's not a definite; you're dealing with probabilities.  It's not a good flavor, so it's worth avoiding.

Quote
I have read that it will improve with aging.

Indeed it will, as long as nothing went off during the fermentation.  I like to age them at least 6 months, but that's me.  Nothing wrong with a year, certainly.

Quote
I am not in a hurry to drink it and would probably save it until next fall, but would it be better to bulk age in a secondary fermenter or age in bottles? I do not keg and was not planning to carbonate.

Then I'd bulk age it somewhere cool in a secondary.  If you bottle it, it could carbonate on you if you misguessed that it was actually finished.  If you bulk age it, you can also adjust it to your taste prior to serving.  More options that way, as long as you have some place reasonable to store it and don't need the fermenter for something else.

Thanks for the advice Gordon. I was planning to check the gravity and will be able to visually see when the krausen, but I guess I was really concerned with how long I could  leave it in the primary before autolysis.  I don't typically do a secondary on any of my beers and usually give them approximately 3 weeks before I bottle. I guess I have to to tell the wife I need to buy another carboy.  ;)