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Old 09-21-2011, 02:42 PM   #1
mtjohnston
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Default Cider alcohol content

Hey everyone, I'm yet another beer/wine brewer, swapping to cider for a season. I was wondering what the highest possible alcohol content is, with cider, and how do you achieve it? I've heard that 14% is highest possible for a natural fermentation, but I can't find much online.

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Old 09-21-2011, 02:47 PM   #2
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I guess it would depend on the wild yeast that took hold on it... some might not get that high, some might go higher

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Old 09-21-2011, 02:50 PM   #3
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straight juice is in the 1.045-1.065 range, i believe. even at 1.065, if it got down to 1.000 it'd only be 8.6%

so, you'd have to add sugar pre-ferment to get it above that.

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Old 09-21-2011, 02:57 PM   #4
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As I understand it different yeasts die off at different alcohol contents. Basically eventually the alcohol kills them off. People say that most of the beer yeasts have a lower tolerance for alcohol and the wine/champagne can tolerate it more and therefore achieve a higher content of alcohol. I bet there is a chart somewhere with a comparison of different types of yeast.

That said I would think any higher than 10% would not taste good unless you added a ton of sugar to back-sweeten.

Also to achieve the higher content you would need to add more sugar on the front end. You could alternatively add more sugar in the secondary fermentation, but it would be difficult to know the actual alcohol content this way.

Basically keep adding sugar until it stops fermenting. But it won't taste good.

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Old 09-21-2011, 02:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motobrewer
straight juice is in the 1.045-1.065 range, i believe. even at 1.065, if it got down to 1.000 it'd only be 8.6%

so, you'd have to add sugar pre-ferment to get it above that.
That's what I was hoping to do. If I were to add sugar, do you know how high I could get? I was thinking I could add brown sugar and honey.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:02 PM   #6
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Also, just to put it out there; I'm asking for informational purposes. I like the taste of a high alcohol content, but I don't want to ruin the flavor. If it was going to ruin the flavor, I wouldn't want to do it.

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Old 09-21-2011, 04:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtjohnston

That's what I was hoping to do. If I were to add sugar, do you know how high I could get? I was thinking I could add brown sugar and honey.
I am currently fermenting 25 gallons of fresh pressed cider and 6 gallons of melomel (cider/mead). For the melomel I let the cider ferment dry (1.055 down to .998) which happened in 24 hours amazingly, then I added 10 pound of honey, which raised the gravity back up to 1.060, and now its back down to 1.005 after a week. So 1.105 altogether got me 13% abv, but I think it would have gladly absorbed another 5 lbs of honey putting me at 17% abv, which im pretty sure is the top end of the montrachet yeast I used.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtjohnston View Post
Hey everyone, I'm yet another beer/wine brewer, swapping to cider for a season. I was wondering what the highest possible alcohol content is, with cider, and how do you achieve it? I've heard that 14% is highest possible for a natural fermentation, but I can't find much online.
It would depend on the SG and yeast strain.
I've never tried it but frozen concentrated apple juice if left undiluted has an SG that translates to about 23% ABV.
This would require a yeast like K1-V1116 (though the yeast may top out in the 20%+/- range), using a starter, other conditions being optimized, and periodic feedings of nutrients.

But then ... this isn't really cider.
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Old 09-22-2011, 03:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob_Marley

It would depend on the SG and yeast strain.
I've never tried it but frozen concentrated apple juice if left undiluted has an SG that translates to about 23% ABV.
This would require a yeast like K1-V1116 (though the yeast may top out in the 20%+/- range), using a starter, other conditions being optimized, and periodic feedings of nutrients.

But then ... this isn't really cider.
Thanks!
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Old 10-15-2013, 12:55 AM   #10
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If you wanna get a little New England old school on it, you could make Apple Jack. This delicious little gem is what happens when you freeze hard cider. The process is simple:

1) Freeze hard cider - since alcohol freezes as much lower temperatures than water, a layer of ice will for on the top of the batch.

2) Remove the ice - over the course of a couple weeks, scrape/remove the ice from the bucket of hard cider as needed. Do this over and over until you've acquired your desired alcohol content.

3) Drink it, save it, do whatever you want except get behind the wheel! It will give you a different tasting beverage, but like everything else with homebrewing, it's all about experimentation. Here's a real informative site to help you with some other questions you might have.

http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-applejack

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