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Old 10-17-2007, 02:20 AM   #1
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Default Cider/yeast experiment

So I made my first batch of cider, still clearing in secondary, with a wine yeast at the recommendation of the LHBS. But everything I've read suggests waiting a year for ciders made with wine yeast. Same goes for the undoubtedly magnificent Ed Wort Apfelwein, which I fully intend to try making some day.

But I also want something to drink at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, and time's a-wasting. So after reading about ale-fermented ciders, I decided to give it a shot But regular ale yeast or wheat yeast? The agony! Then it dawned on me: Why just one? Why not two?

And so the Not So Great Cider Ferment-off has begun. Two one-gallon jugs of Murray's Pure Apple Juice (unfiltered, pasteurized, no preservatives, a product of Murray Cider Co. Inc., Roanoke, Va.), a pint decanted and refrigerated from each (to leave head-space in case fermentation is vigorous; I'll add it back at racking). Added to each: 1 tsp yeast nutrient, 1/2 tsp dry pectic enzyme. Both jugs shaken vigorously till my arms ached.

In mere moments, the one, Tenure Plan Cider, will get a phial of WLP 300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast. The other, Riotin' Cider, will get an 11g packet of Danstar Nottingham Brewing Yeast.

And in the truest spirit of pure science, I pledge to be my own chief guinea-pig in this noble experiment, at least when it comes to drinking the results. Stay tuned.

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Old 10-17-2007, 03:02 AM   #2
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I used the WLP300, finished bleow 1.000 and it tastes really fruity, not just like apples, but really fruity and dry, it is great!

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Old 10-17-2007, 12:17 PM   #3
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Good to know, thanks! How long did it take for your WLP300 to ferment out? And did you carbonate?

An update: Nottingham is bubbling merrily, probably 50/min or so, though no actual kraeusen. The hefeweizen batch is fermenting -- there's a thin kraeusen atop, but less airlock activity, maybe 2/min. This could be because I'm using different kinds of airlocks (three-piece/cannister for the weizen, one-piece/s-shaped for the Nottingham).

I seem to have gotten some of the dry Nottingham yeast onto the inside of the jug neck, too; there's a little yeast colony struggling to survive right by the stopper; looks scary, but hopefully it won't hurt anything.

tf

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Old 10-17-2007, 01:48 PM   #4
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I salute you, sir! Your noble sacrifice to the interests of science is an inspiration to us all!

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Old 10-17-2007, 09:08 PM   #5
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The WLP300 took about three weeks to ferment out, and it was bubbling quite steadily, I also made a cider starter for it...

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Old 10-17-2007, 11:07 PM   #6
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That's good to hear; it's about five weeks to Thanksgiving. I might have some bottled and ready by then, even without a starter. (I figure a full tube of WLP 300 in a 1-gallon batch counts as the mother of all starters.)

Another update: The WLP300 batch is fermentin' up a storm, with a good inch-and-a-half or two inches of foamy, yeasty, bubbly, kraeusen-y goodness on top. I'm sure glad I drew off that pint to leave some headroom! It's doing about 14 bubbles per minute now, and already a thick layer of sediment at the bottom.

The Nottingham is going strong too: Still about 50 bpm, no kraeusen.

But ah, the smell -- it's heavenly!

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Old 10-19-2007, 04:10 AM   #7
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I have some WLP300 on order so I wish you great success in your experiment.

I find that I get plenty o bubbles but less foam with the Nottingham, which I see as a plus, because you can leave the cider jugs filled higher and not have to worry about foaming into the fermenter.

I just compared two gallon batches, one with Nottingham, the other with Windsor after 6 days of strong fermentation. I wish I had caught them a day earlier as both were dryer than I expected. The Nottingham was at 1.004 and fairly clear, so I racked it and put it in the fridge to knock the yeast out. The Windsor was at 1.002 and still a little cloudy, but I racked it anyway and hopefully it will clear up in the fridge. Both started with an SG of 1.052 which is a little lower than I would have liked. There is definitely more residual sugar in the Nottingham although the Windsor isnt bad. Its still a little early to tell, but they should be ready for a real taste test by Saturday eve.

I also checked on two 5 gal carboys of Nottingham, which I started about three weeks ago and cold crashed two weeks ago. Apparantly I didnt knock the yeast completely out because the sg dropped to 1.002 on those as well, and they were each at about 1.004 when I put them in the fridge. Dammit, I knew I should have just drunk them right away but I wanted to see if they would clear up before I kegged them (not much).

It occurs to me that I havent been controlling very well for brewing temp. I havent really needed to before, as my basement usually stays around 62 degrees when its cold outside, which the cider seemed to like. The past several weeks the weather has been really warm and my basement is probably the warmest its ever been during any cider brewing season. Well over 70 during the day. The batches are finishing faster and dryer than normal. Last year this time, using the same cider mill, the Nottingham brew was definitely sweeter after 7 days than it has been this year after 6 days. I'm kinda liking the warm weather we're having but I suspect the brewing will be better after the temp drops a few degrees.

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Old 10-20-2007, 09:58 AM   #8
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Just a quick update on the Not So Grand Experiment:

The weizen-yeast batch foamed up a storm, overwhelming my standard (three-part) airlock. After cleaning/sanitizing it once, only to see the kraeusen creen back in, I replaced it with a combination blowoff tube-airlock. Kept steady at close to a bubble every two seconds. The kraeusen has since barely begun to fall back.

The Nottingham-yeast batch was bubbling faster, but has slowed down considerably. Still no kraeusen.

I'll probably rack today or maybe Sunday.

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Old 10-21-2007, 01:27 AM   #9
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I just bottled two Nottingham and Windsor batches, after 6 days of fermentation and two days of cold crashing. I racked them yesterday also, not because I really needed to, but because I was thirsty and wanted an excuse to draw half a pint off each batch. They were drinkable yesterday but much better today. The Nottingham is noticably sweeter, even though the sg is only 0.002 higher than the Windsor. My girlfriend and some friends who stopped by preferred the Nottingham. I like the Windsor also. It has a little more of the apple flavor, although more tart.

This evening I started another experiment - four more gallons of fresh juice, with a starting SG of 1.052. I added 5 oz of organic cane sugar to two and 7oz to the other two, which raised the SG to 1.065 and 1.070 respectively - a little higher than I wanted, but no turning back now. So now I have two Nottinghams: one at 1.065 and the other at 1.070 and two Windsors as well. My plan is to let them ferment out for a week or two and see how they do. Hopefully at least one of these combos will ferment out to something around 1.004 and fruity without having to cold crash it.

I've got some dextrose on order, so I'll probably do another 4 gallons sometime next week when the dextrose shows up, to see how it compares with the organic cane sugar. The cane sugar seems promising though. The sweetened mix tastes like really sweet cider. Hopefully it wont be noticeable when it ferments out. I'll keep you all posted. Time to test a few more pints,

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Old 12-08-2007, 01:43 AM   #10
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An update on my yeast/cider experiment: I still have all three one-gallon batches in secondary (the original, Aug. 20 using a Lalvin wine years; and the two simultaneous batches, one using hefeweizen and the other Nottingham). All three, of course, started with the same brand of unfiltered, pasteurized cider bought around the same time; no added sugar, just a little yeast nutrient.

None have cleared. All three look less cloudy, and like they've cleared somewhat, but no newspaper reading is going to be happening through these ciders for quite a while.

Any thoughts on whether I should give up on crystal clear cider or let them sit a while longer? Any harm from letting them sit a while longer?

What puzzles me is that I added pectic enzyme to the two ale-yeast batches...

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