Cider newbie - process questions for kegged sweet hard force carbed cider
Hi everyone, I have been lurking around for a few weeks gathering information about the type of cider I'd like to make, and the method to make it, and I'd like to get some community input about a few things.
My plan is to make a kegged, carbed, sweet hard apple cider that will be around 5% ABV using five gallons of store bought apple juice (no preservatives) fermented with nottingham yeast in a 6.5 gallon glass carboy at around 65f. I plan on this being a 'fresh cider,' not aged, to be drunk within 2 weeks, from ferment to keg.
I have the following 'advanced' equipment at my disposal:
kegs and c02 draft system
filtration system with a 'coarse' filter.
I have read that I can arrest fermentation at about 1.010 by racking and filtering. (which I think is about where I would want it for 4-5% as I plan on the O.G. being in the 50's.) Would racking off the lees and then running through my filter get rid of enough of the yeast from a vigorous ferment that it wouldn't get drastically more dry in the time period I describe?(about 2 weeks and then in the keg for however long it takes to drink 5 gallons) Should I use a campden tablet a couple days before I rack/filter to 2nd?
After racking/filtering above, I plan to let it rest in secondary for week, adjusted with non fermentable sugar such as xylitol to taste, and a small amount of organic sugar free apple extract to boost the flavor a bit. Afer a week, I will rack to the keg, chill, force carb, and serve.
What do you all think? Let me have it!
Your method could work out, but I will let you know mine and you can compare.
I use the same method for the juice. Store bought, but I used Montrachet yeast (champagne yeast, the type used in apfelwine) along with 2 pounds corn sugar. I don't think this will make much of a difference in how the ciders progress. Once it ferments out (1.000) I wait a month (2 weeks would probably work as your OG will be lower) from pitching and use sorbates and campden tablets to kill the yeast. I then put it in the keg along with 3 cans of apple concentrate (cheap walmart stuff). It gets me a sweet cider that I don't find cloying, although the nice thing is you can sweeten to your taste.
Since you have a kegging set-up I think it makes most sense to do without the filter and without worrying about racking off the lees. The time frame you are looking at is so small I don't think you will have any issues with leaving it in primary. Also, just using store bought juice, my cider is extremely clear after one month (and likely much earlier than that) just because juice (unlike cider) is pretty clear to begin with. It is always possible my yeast flocculates better than yours however. I have never used a filter, though, so can't really comment on that use.
I think it makes more sense and would be easier on you to get to an OG that would give you 4-5% ABV on the front end by adding water to the juice if juice alone gets you an OG that will be too high if fermented out fully. Stopping a fermentation is always tricky and would give the yeast less time to clear off flavors from the cider (which happens after the primary fermentation). At the point it fully ferments out, kill the yeast with sulfate and campden tablets and you can resweeten to your hearts content. My advice would be to add slowly at first, as you can always add more sweetness, but can't take it out.
Keg and force carb and you are ready to rock. While my process is a month long, that is mostly because that is about how long it takes me to go through a keg of cider, so it may work well in 2 weeks.
Hope this helps!
Read my threads about sterile filtering:
Your need not only the right filter, but also the right housing to avoid bypass (leaks).
However, if you only plan to make this last 2-3 weeks, you could rack, cold-crash, and rack again (no filter). Nottingham is very well-behaved.
I push a much stronger ABV in my cider, making a 19 L (5 G) batch using a variety of juice types (apple, pear, etc) mixed with 3 kg of brown and raw sugar brewed off the plato scale (ends up around 16% ABV), then split that content into two kegs and top each one off with new juice. Works like a charm and the contents lasts just about as long as this post... just as long as you don't leave your kegs out in the warm. ...bottle bomb x 1000. If it lasts longer than the party I'm throwing I'll leave it chilled and periodically bleed off to make sure that there are no pressure issues.
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