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Old 05-08-2013, 01:34 AM   #1
landwaster
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Default backsweeten questions

Hi, my first batch of cider has been aging about 6 months. Last time I checked it had gone really dry, so I'd like to sweeten it before bottling. I'm planning on using the sulfite/sorbate method. My main question is -- what to use as a sweetener? I'm looking for something that won't add any extra flavors. I'm also planning on putting in some oak chips, should I do that before or at the same time as sweetening?

On a related note (already posted in the mead forum) -- I have a batch of mead I did at the same time, and it also came out pretty dry. Would the same or different sweetener be ideal for mead as well?

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Old 05-08-2013, 05:41 AM   #2
zheol
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I back sweeten with frozen concentrate works well for me and for mead I back sweeten with honey

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Old 05-08-2013, 03:11 PM   #3
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I use frozen apple juice concentrate. I use one can for a gallon batch, let it carb for about 4-5 days, then stovetop pasteurize. Result is a semi-sweet, carbonated cider that is very refreshing. My wife loves it.

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Old 05-08-2013, 10:35 PM   #4
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So for 4 gallons of cider would you use 4 cans of frozen concentrate?

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Old 05-10-2013, 03:47 PM   #5
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That's what I'm not sure about since I only do one gallon. That would be the logical thinking but I can't confirm. Another route that I have heard of is sweetening to your liking at bottling time; then adding the same amount of priming sugar you would for a batch of beer. The idea being that it will carb using that extra sugar, leaving your desired sweetness once pasteurized.

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Old 05-11-2013, 11:38 AM   #6
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Finish oaking it before you opt to backsweeten because the flavor profile will be quite different & you may find you decide not to backsweeten or not as much. Be sure to do you taste testing at the serving temp of the cider, and if you do backsweeten use perhaps 1/8th less the amount of sweetening agent that you decide upon in your trial. Most people find that they should have gone for less sweetener than they decided upon in their trial. As you get more batches under your belt you will have a better 'target range' and the trials will be easier. Do not forget to think about keeping a few bottles dry, especially the mead, because you may find that your palate may change & you will appreciate that aged, dry mead even more a few years, or a decade, from now.

Just remember that using AJC or honey to backsweeten may cause your cider/mead to cloud up & you could have a final product that will not clear; or you have to wait for it to clear naturally, if it even does,or add fining agents. Many mead batches that are b/s with honey are done so once they hit FG, so you do not have to 'double clear' a batch--can be risky business.

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Old 05-12-2013, 03:56 AM   #7
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Good to know. At my local brew store they recommended using 2oz oak chips (per gallon I think) for 8-weeks. Does that sound right?

What sweetener do you recommend for cider? I'm leaning towards simply making up a batch of sugar syrup.

I made 5 1-gallon batches of different honey variety meads. They all started around 1.090-1.095 but ended up from 1.000 - 1.036.

The cider went from 1.060 - 1.000

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Old 05-12-2013, 11:54 AM   #8
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On the meads that are still not dry, consider allowing more time to age. It is not uncommon for mead to take longer than other ferments. I have had mead take six months to drop those final 0.020-0.030, and pay attention to the temp ranges for your chosen yeast. The warmer must will ferment out sooner than the cool one. On any mead sitting at 1.030 or higher, since your OG was 1.090-1.095, you could dose with yeast nutrient (if you have not already done so) and that will likely help the yeast finish their job. But your mead has nothing but time, so do not rush to stabilize or bottle...you will appreciate a 1-2 year old mead so much more than a six month one.

On the oak, it is different for dust vs chips vs spiral, but 2 oz chips is high for one gallon in my experience. You can also make an oak extract by soaking prepared chips in pure grain/vodka, then you can do tasting trials to see if you want oak or not & for many they simply add the oak extract. Here is what Jack Keller has to say: (scroll down to OAK section) http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/finishin.asp
But just remember you can always add more. Will you oak some mead too?

Do a quick tasting trial using simple syrup, or one made from brown sugar, turbinado, whatever you want & then decide how to proceed. But simple syrup made from granulated sugar is a go-to for the majority. Enjoy!

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Old 05-12-2013, 07:21 PM   #9
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So I just put about 7oz American medium toast oak chips into one 5-gallon carboy of cider. After reading, it seems that that might be a little too much, but I have a second 5-gallon batch of cider that I can mix into if the first gets overpowered. I stole a little bit and added some plain sugar and it tastes pretty good, nice tart apple taste. The cider was from a local orchard.

I do plan on letting the meads sit for a lot longer before touching them. The FG numbers may be lower now since the last time I checked was around Christmastime, about 2 months after I started those batches. I may take a reading later today.

Thanks for all the good advice...

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