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-   -   Crab-apple Cider by a new guy (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/crab-apple-cider-new-guy-79098/)

ajk170 09-04-2008 04:44 PM

Crab-apple Cider by a new guy
Hi All,

I'm pretty new to the homebrew experiance- I've made a Honey Blonde and Miabock over the past two months and now what to make a better cider than what I can buy. What I want to end up with is something that is carbonated, has a kick, is wet, and semi-sweet. But I do not have the patience to wait till next year for my first batch to condition. I'll do that when I get a reciepe/process down that I really like.

What I made last night I hope will get me something that fits the immediate bill. Here's what I used- take a look and see what everybody thinks

- 2 gal White Top pasturized cider (Wallmart) (pasturized)
- 1/2 gal Oceanspray Cranberry Juice (pasturized)
- 1# Domino Brown sugar (dissolved into ~ 1.5 quart Mountain top Spring water) - I cooled this down to ~80 degrees before adding to cider/cranberry/water mix)
- 1 quart additional Mountain Top Spring Water
- ~10 grams Coopers Ale dehydrated yeast (no specific mention on package of what type) that I reconsitutued prior to pitching.

As of this morning I had bubbles, so that was exciting! I tried to be thorough on the sanatize like I do for the beer, but I'm never sure if it's good enough. I use Star San on everything - maybe even longer than I should!

To help get me to what I want in a cider, I am thinking of putting 1 can apple juice concintrate and 1-2 cinnimon sticks and some corriander in on the secondary and let it sit in the secondary for a few weeks. Lastly, I am thinking that I could use plain DME to bottle rather than dextrose. Or could I use the DME in the secondary?

After reading more in these threads, I am also thinking that I may have to use some Splenda in the secondary to ensure a little sweetness and I am not sure what the DME will do to the flavor.

The last thing that I want is a wine cooler or diet soda! That's what's got me worried about the DME or Splenda.

Thanks for any input!

ajk170 09-04-2008 04:50 PM

I should clarify, the yeast was almost a full pack of Coopers 15 gram pack. But my gravity seemed really low- ~1.04. Compared to what everybody seems to report - that doesn't appear to be very high at all. I even had the wife double check the work! Not sure why it was soo low- except that maybe I didn't have a lot of sugar in the mix.:confused:

Thanks again for any input!

lapaglia 09-04-2008 05:30 PM

1.040 will give you an ABV of 5.4%. What was the reasoning on the 2 quarts of water? As far as I can see that will just dilute the apple flavor and the ABV. Id think about throwing a can of concentrate in now to counteract the water.
10gr of yeast is enough for 10 gallons. You may have over pitched this batch. Its possible you will be ok but that is a lot of yeast for 3 gallons total liquid. It is going to ferment dry. You will need to back sweeten to get it where you say you want it. The DME will just up the ABV it will still ferment pretty dry.

ajk170 09-04-2008 05:55 PM

Thanks! I will add the extra- I didn't realize that much yeast would be a problem- I'll add the concintrate this eve to try and help it out- what about aonther gallon of the cider to help out as well?

No real reason for the water- other than the fact I didn't know what I was doing!

When would be the right time to backsweeten? Secondary or at botteling?


Tusch 09-04-2008 06:16 PM

Do not back sweeten until fermentation is complete. You will have no idea how much you need to back sweeten until then.

You really can't overpitch with cider. The amount of yeast used will have no bearing on whether the cider goes dry or not. It is much more a matter of what type of yeast you use and its attenuation and alcohol tolerance. Almost all ciders will ferment to dryness no matter what yeast you use, though some will leave or create flavors in the brew that others will not. For instance, some yeasts will leave a lot more apple flavor, givent he impression of sweetness, when in actuality most ferment to between .99 and 1.005.

Next time, it isn't necessary to add water. You can easily dissolve the sugar in some of the juice, therefore not lowering the abv with water. If you do this in the future though, never boil juice to dissolve sugars. Either warm it just enough 80 degrees or so, or just shake the hell out of it in a sealed bottle.

For now, you need to decide something. If you are ok with just 5.4% then you don't need to add anything, though it may be a bit on the light side of flavoring with so much of the liquid being water.

If you want more flavor and or more alcohol, then you have a couple options. You can add more cider, which will help both issues out, but will greatly add to the final volume and won't raise the abv. much. Or you can add some combination of ciders and juice concentrates. And just like with juice selection, you must be careful there are no chemical additions that were prohibit fermentation.

I personally would add a can or two of apple juice concentrate, check the SG then and let it do what its gonna do naturally.

ajk170 09-04-2008 06:59 PM

Tusch - thanks for the tips- I think I'm gonna take your advice and add 2 cans of concentrate apple. Any suggestions for easy shopping for concentrated apple juice?

I am reading Edwort's apfelwine thread- there's a lot to get through there! I'm looking for variations and reviews from people on thier variations.

Any thoughts as to how long I should let it sit in the primary, secondary, and bottle condition? Esp since my ABV might be lower than actual Apfelwine, or will this concentrate pump up the ABV as well? As so many others, I want to drink it sooner rather than later. After what I've read, I'm resolving myself to having my first one around Halloween!

Tusch 09-04-2008 08:48 PM

Well you need to find either frozen or non-frozen juice concentrate that has no preservatives. Really the only acceptable additions besides juice are acorbic acid/vitamin C. If you buy it frozen, just let it thaw and add it in liquid form. Once added, take a sample gravity and see where one can brought you. Yeah you could estimate by calculations, but I forget how many cans are in most concentrates. Now if you want to bump the abv even higher, then go ahead and add the second can and see how high that brought you.

And I kind of implied it, but yes adding concentrate bumps the abv up. It is just concentrated juice, so it adds a lot of apple flavor and all the sugar that would normally be in the juice. So since yeast produce alcohol by eating sugars, adding all this sugar will up the alcohol level.

ajk170 09-04-2008 09:07 PM

Great- that's what I'm gonna do tonight. I got the Tree Top concentrate. Like you said, I'll use one can and take a reading and if it needs the other then I'll dump it there as well.

If I can find the corriander, I'll add that in the secondary and then hopefully she'll be ready by the middle of October!:mug:

lapaglia 09-05-2008 03:33 AM

Unless I am badly mistaken you don't rack to a secondary on cider. Just start it in the carboy and leave it there till its done. There is no reason to rack it off the lees in this case.

Save your self the work.

Tusch 09-05-2008 03:51 AM

You can indeed put ciders in secondary. Some yeasts produce lees that you don't want to leave it on for too long, but on the other hand letting ciders age is great. So racking allows you to bulk age and makes clearing and bottling much easier. On top of this, secondary allows you to make additions to your brew such as spices, fruits, whatever suits your fancy.

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