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Cider time

Post in 'The Inglenook' started by begreen, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Yes, ferment it.

    I am now drinking a 5 gallon batch that I started fermenting on September 17. I am not a wine drinker so I use commercial nottingham ale yeast. My cider came from a local mill and was not pasteurized, OG was 1.060 and it was a nice dark brown with lots of sediment. Delicious. I added 3 lbs of high quality brown sugar and let it go. After the sugar, OG was up to 1.075.

    After three weeks of fermenting and making a lovely aroma it was done. Fermented dry to 1.000, my math shows this to be just under 10% ABV. The photo was taken right after measuring FG. The cider/yeast makes a thick layer of junk on the bottom but hardly any foam on top like beer does.

    Into the keg for a nice chot of carbonation. Beer ferments out to 1.014 or so so it still has some sweetness. Cider goes to dry and if you like dry wine then that's fine but I like some sweetness so I've been experimenting with some sweeteners. Honey and table sugar are no good since they don't dissolve. Powdered sugar is pretty good and brings up lots of additional apple flavor. In previous batches I have used Xylitol which is a non-fermentable sugar. Probably will try that next. You can't just add sugar to the batch since the yeast will come back to life and eat it. So you either use non-fermentable sugar, kill the yeast with sulfates, keg and cool, or drink it dry.

    You can't do too much experimentation since this stuff is delicious and at 10% ABV it all starts tasting pretty good after one or two glasses.

    The last photo you can see the remnants of table sugar that I tried to stir into the glass. It worked a little bit.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It's bubbling along very nicely right now!

    Table sugar will dissolve easily in boiling water. You can dissolve a whole lot in a little bit of water. That is how simple syrup is made. Boiling water is good because it kills any random bacteria. I've read that the higher the alcohol or OG, the dryer the cider will be on completion due to the higher alcohol content. Last year I fermented at 1.060 OG and it came out very nicely. I didn't have to add any sweetener afterward which meant no killing of the yeast. I don't like the taste change of artificial sweeteners and sulfites, so they are out for me. It fermented to an alcohol content of about 6.5% which is just about right for a cider from what I've read.
  3. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    The dryness is simply the low FG. Most yeast, in cider, if you wait long enough, will burn up every bit of available sugar and get down to an FG of 1.000 which means no sweetness. The OG only tells you how much ABV will be contained in this dry cider.

    I don't think the 10% was a good move. Next time, I'll use brown sugar as needed to boost OG to 1.060 or so. 6.5% is plenty.

    WIth high ABV I have some odd sweetening options. Adding lemon lime soda for instance would both sweeten and dilute the alcohol. A simple syrup would be a much better way to add sugar than granular, good idea.
  4. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    Every year I get together with some friends and we press our cider for the year. The grinding and pressing is done by hand on a press made by "Happy Valley". In 2011, we did about 40 gallons. In 2012 we did about 1.5 gallons! (Last year was a bad apple year..) This year we pressed about 50 gallons. We use the apples from the old, forgotten apple trees at the edge of various farmlands. The apples are small and tart, and make a great product. I usually can several gallons and give the rest away, but this year I'm going to do 5 gallons of hard cider. I'm looking for a dry product, around 4% or 5% abv, so I won't add any extra sugar.. something like a Woodchuck hard cider. We'll see how it turns out.

    The pic attached is from 2010, but typical of what we press.

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    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Nice harvest! This year was a resting year for many of our trees and the deer cleared one tree completely. (My favorite of course.:mad:) We only ended up with 6 gallons of cider.
  6. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    Thanks! It all depends.. that pic was from 2010. Last year, we had a week of 80 degree f weather in March, followed by a late frost, effectively killing a lot of blossoms. It was slim pickings come apple time for sure. We only got the press out for tradition. This year was excellent. This pic is from this year and its only part of what we pressed.

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  7. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Most commercial ciders like hornsby and woodchuck use sulfates to kill the yeast and then backsweeten the crap out of the finished cider. We americans like sweet drinks. Just keep it in mind that you may want to sweeten.
  8. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    I'm not a typical American, and I don't like a lot of commercial ciders. Thanks for the input though :)

    Its been a while since I've had a Woodchuck, but when I first started buying it in the late 90's, I recall it being dry and that they used a champagne yeast. I plan to attenuate it right down without much wine characteristics.. that should do it nicely. Regular cider without any sugar added ferments to about 4% to 5%.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I have been using champagne yeast. It is very aggressive and results in a light, dry cider. It comes out like a nice Prosseco once back carbonated. Everyone that has tasted it likes it a lot. Still, I'd like to make up a batch using a less aggressive English ale yeast for comparison. I've read that will result in a less dry cider without being too sweet.
  10. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    It is so cheap and easy to make cider. No cooking, cooling, no hops additions, no grinding of grain, etc. Cheap cider from the supermarket, probably china had an OG of only 1.050 so there is certainly more sugar naturally available in some ciders than others. Good to choose a target gravity and adjust to hit that.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I just read that Cascadian Farms concentrated apple juice is a good one. You want to be sure the quality is good and there are no yeast killing preservatives in whatever juice or cider is used. You've inspired me to get some ale yeast and try a small batch with it next.
  12. 1750

    1750 Feeling the Heat

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    That sounds delicious. Like a brut sparkling wine or champagne.

    Maybe you can figure out a way to post a bottle here for everyone to taste. :)
  13. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    has anyone tried the redds apple ale? i have not but i'm interested in cider with the beer yeast. what kind of flavors does a ale yeast vs. champagne yeast have? you are saying that a champagne yeast tends to have a dryer finished product? highbeam what did the brown sugar do for taste? i just thinking out loud but thinking of seeing if i could come up with a apple pie in a bottle. maybe i'm reaching?
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Some folks flavor their cider, just before bottling with spice flavorings. You have to be careful how and when you do it from what I read. Timing and the quality of ingredients is important.
  15. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    I have a little of the hard going....

    DSCN0052.JPG

    The behemoth in the center is a 13 gallon >>
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013
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  16. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    yikes that 13 gallon fermenter must weigh a few
  17. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I have tried several brands of commercial cider, some are quite good. What I find gross is beers with flavors added to mimic hard cider. Similar to a Mikes Hard Lemonade they are fake and taste fake.

    Each yeast type makes a different flavor in the finished product. Champagne yeast tastes like champagne. I don't like wine or champ so I go for the ale yeasts. There are many to choose from and even some actual cider yeasts that are "bread" for cider.

    All of the regular yeasts will ferment to dry. Dry is defined as 1.000 SG which means all the fermentable sugar is gone. There is a little more to it but just know that real cider with regular yeast will ferment to dry. You have to backsweeten to regain sweetness. However, you need to be smart about this since additional sugar is more food and the yeast will just eat it if it can. Yes, this can create bottlebombs.

    I like caramelized stuff. Brown sugar brings a slight bit of that to the party in a very predictable way. People also use honey. Cider is a natural type thing.

    You can mimic apple pie but you'll just need cinnamon. I like things simple so I am not a spicer, at least not in my beverages. You'll have 5 gallons to drink so perhaps you should season your beverage by the glass. It is not good to make a mistake on 5 gallons of awesomeness.

    Oh and I again verified last night that OG of 1.075 makes an overly alcoholic beverage. Yes, it tastes great but way too much effect on my balance and sleep. It would be better to have a lower ABV so that you can enjoy a full glass and still function.
  18. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    Just the opposite for me, always thought it was the fiber.

  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Nice load of brew Pen. Are you using yeast this year or still going au naturel? How did last yrs cider turn out?
  20. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    I only went au natural once..... and I'll never do it again. That year it was raw cider and honey. The product was great tasting but gave me wicked heart burn (I NEVER had heart burn before this stuff regardless of what I consumed). With various friends trying that product, all found it palatable, none had heart burn other than me, some loved it, others thought it wasn't bad, none hated it.

    After that I switched to using UV pasteurized instead of raw cider, and added my own yeast, as well as honey and white sugar. Since then, the product has had a better apple flavor and zero heart burn concerns.

    The the au natural stuff, the dry folks loved it, with the changes, the dry folks still loved it, but the sweet folks all loved the additional apple flavor and didn't notice it was dry.'

    That's my experience,,,so long as one tries, one will have fun too :cool:
  21. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    thanks highbeam. i need to try this. i have had beer bottle bombs. not pleasant. at one point one exploded and sat on the kitchen floor for hours before it got cleaned up. smelt like a old bar for a few after that. does the brown sugar leave a taste or is it just for abv. i too like sweet. i'm not a dry drinker. how much podwered sugar would you put in for 5 gal. and when do you put it in? in the beginning or after it ferments out?
  22. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    My neighbor came up with a batch like that by accident, tasted like fine champagne. Must have been some rogue yeast got in somehow.
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The sweetener goes in after the ferment is done. If you use sugar you will need to kill the yeast first.
  24. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I can't say if the brown sugar adds much flavor. I've always used it. I sure as heck can't taste the brown sugar over the cider. It is mostly for ABV.

    You can't just add sugar for sweetness. The yeast will eat it. To backsweeten you'll need to either add non-fermentable sugar, stop the yeast and then add sugar, or simply add the does of sugar to each glass. Commercial ciders kill the yeast and then add sugar. With my powdered sugar experiment I used a pretty healthy amount, about the same as you would use for coffee in each glass.

    Don't just add sugar to 5 gallons of live cider or the yeast will go crazy, eat it, and you'll just end up with more alcohol.

    If adding non-fermentable sugar like Xylitol to the 5 gallon batch, I used 1-2 cups per 5 gallons with great success. I added after fermentation before bottling. Not sure if the yeast would be affected by non-fermentable sugar.

    The dry cider is growing on me. It has a light mouth feel.
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Here's a shot of the finished product. It was so good I sat down to enjoy the fire with a glass. The cat seeing an empty lap quickly got comfortable too.

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    Highbeam, pen and Jags like this.

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