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Old 01-17-2013, 12:06 AM   #1
raecmr
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Default First batch taste, advice needed

Hi Everyone,
I have been reading the forums a lot lately and decided to try my hand at some cider. Here is what I did.

12/28/12 pitch yeast
1 gal Whole foods cider
1/2 cup old orchard apple cherry concentrate
1/4 cup corn sugar
Fermentis safale s-04 yeast
OG 1.065

Cold crash 1/4/13
FG 1.020

Bottled 1/6/13
FG 1.020

All bottles had 3/4 tsp cane sugar added for priming.

Bottle priming at a
10:30pm 1/6/13

Stovetop pasteurized at 10pm 1/14-13. Heated pot to 165 and added 3 bottles. Left in pot for 12 minutes. Water temp upon removal was 150.

Half the batch had 1 tsp malic acid added to half gallon (equivalent to 2 tsp per gallon).

So I tasted two bottles today, one with malic acid and one without. I couldnt taste any difference between the one with malic acid and one without which was a little surprising to me, I tasted the malic acid in plain apple juice and could discern the tartness easily. Let me mention I am brewing these because my GF really likes hard cider, trying to make something like Angry Orchard Crisp, so a sweet, sparkling apple cider.

I dont have much experience in tasting wine and beer so dont have the vocabulary to describe what I am tasting so I will try my best. They both smeel decent, I ca detect a hint of apple but the alcohol smell is very overwhelming, it smells much stronger than the abv would lead you to believe. The taste is similar to rubbing alcohol, a hint of apple flavor if you swish arounf but the alcohol is the first and last thing you taste for sure. I tried to overpower the alcohol taste by adding some stevia artificial sweetener to a little glass of the cider and it didn't make a dent and this cider is already very sweet.

Im am guessing the response will be to let it age longer, which I will before I try another bottle. Its only a gallon so not many bottles left, how long before I should try another bottle to notice a difference. I want to use this as a learning experience.

If I want a more "appley" tasting cider is it better to ferment dry with a lower SG and back-sweeten vs stopping fermentation early? Any advice is appreciated.

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Old 01-17-2013, 12:38 AM   #2
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I'm not a fan of stopping fermentation early. I would let it ferment dry, then rack off lees to another jug, age for a month, then prime with frozen apple concentrate. You may try Nottingham yeast next time. Many people like it. I prefer ec-1118. To each his own.

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Old 01-17-2013, 01:03 AM   #3
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Hey Man,

I've done a few quickie batches similar to what you did, but I just tried my 1st, more-aged batch last night and it's ready so I kind of have an idea of what the extra time gets you.

This is just a guess, but I wonder if when you're describing that overwhelming alcohol taste, it may just be what they call a "young" taste. I know what you're talking about and my older batch tastes less strong despite having had more sugar to ferment.

So basically my advice would be yeah, age the cider longer, but also consider doing a secondary fermentation, use only apple juice concentrate for all sweetening purposes (for more applely taste). Angry orchard is very sweet and has a very strong apple taste (imho), so you might consider more sweetening and even apple flavoring (haven't tried it but saw it in my LHBS). If it helps in terms of timing etc, this is what I did and my cider tastes pretty close to amber woodchuck:

- Same juice, same yeast, organic concentrate from Whole Foods, some brown sugar (didn't get enough concentrate), pectic enzyme (I've found that this makes little if any difference w/ store-bought cider; probly won't buy more when what I have runs out), and tannic acid.

- About 2.5 weeks in primary, then siphon into a clean fermenter for secondary

- About 3 weeks in secondary, then time to bottle

- Add more concentrate to a clean container (for carb and sweetening), siphon secondary into it, mix well but gently, then bottle

- To know when the carbing is where you want it, you can either just start trying it after about a week, or you can bottle a plastic coke bottle and use how hard it gets as a rough gauge for where your carb is at. Keep in mind that the carbing process will accelerate exponentially, so the more time goes by, the closer an eye you have to keep on it.

- Once the carbing is where you want it, pasteurize! (I haven't actually gotten this far as like I said my good cider just got to where I want it last night)

Anyway that's long but I hope it helps. I know it sucks to have to wait so long...if you can afford to make a 5-gallon batch like I did though, after that 1st wait you'll have over 7 six-packs to hold you over till the next batch is ready! GL; take it easy.

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Old 01-17-2013, 01:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColbyJack View Post
I'm not a fan of stopping fermentation early. I would let it ferment dry, then rack off lees to another jug, age for a month, then prime with frozen apple concentrate. You may try Nottingham yeast next time. Many people like it. I prefer ec-1118. To each his own.
Thank you for the advice. I actually have another gallon that I started on 12/28/12 also that is done fermenting. I plan on back sweetening with juice and concentrate. Decided I would try both methods to see which I prefer. I think fermenting dry will be easier, and with adding concentrate give MUCH more apple flavor.

I also picked up a package of nottingham and will try it with the next batch, thanks.

If I rack of the lees after primary fermentation would there be any benefit to mixing the concentrate at that point and aging cold? I know I cant age it warm if I add the concentrate since it will just start fermenting again. Is aging warm the preferred method?
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColbyJack View Post
I'm not a fan of stopping fermentation early. I would let it ferment dry, then rack off lees to another jug, age for a month, then prime with frozen apple concentrate. You may try Nottingham yeast next time. Many people like it. I prefer ec-1118. To each his own.
Any advice on the amount of concentrate to use for priming 1 gallon?
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xjbobbin82 View Post

Any advice on the amount of concentrate to use for priming 1 gallon?
Every concentrate is different. What you need to do is figure out how much white table sugar you would prime an entire batch with, then buy a can of frozen apple juice concentrate, and read the label. It should tell you how much sugar is in the entire container. Then just divide out the proper amount.
Or, just dump an entire can in for one gallon hard cider for sweet, apple flavor, and bottle pasteurize when your tester gets hard.
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Old 01-21-2013, 02:33 AM   #7
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I'm going to second the OP's question, is there much difference between aging warm or aging cold? I racked my first gallon after fermenting dry in 9 days, but drank the test tube and left a good bit of room in the jug. I topped it off with apple juice to minimize headspace, but the alcohol kick was strong (OG 1.67) and didn't want fermentation to start up again so it is now cold crashing in the fridge.

Hoping to still be able to carb this, but if not I have another batch going that I can play with.

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Old 01-22-2013, 07:17 PM   #8
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I've never bulk aged in a fridge. My ciders have all been stored in my brew cave at 60. Or bottle aged in my garage at 45. I don't think it will matter.

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Old 02-12-2013, 03:16 AM   #9
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You aren't using the whole packet of yeast for just 1 gallon are you? Did you rehydrate in plain water first? Those may be the cause of some of your hot/off flavors. Not sure why your cider tastes hot at 1.020, though, since that usually leaves it plenty sweet with virtually all the apple flavor. I am guessing your ABV was 5 or below, which shouldn't overpower 1.020.

What temp did you ferm at? Colder (60F even) results in almost no yeast flavor contributions, and expands the time window for picking a stopping point. Temp control for cider is even more important than for beer, if you want chick cider.

BTW, all neutral ale yeast- S-04, Notty, even US-05; are good cider yeasts. Most other yeasts will add a lot of esters. Wine yeasts generally aren't favored for chick-style cider, or even drier ciders. Check CvilleKevin's extensive cider thread for yeast choices. Lately he has a thing for estery hefe and belgian strains, but still recommends the neutral ale yeasts for newbies. Best info is the more recent stuff in the thread.

Just an FYI:
The worst juice I have used is the cloudy natural/organic juice/cider in the gallon glass jugs. It all usually comes from the same place, just with a different house labels- Whole foods, Sunflower, etc. Maybe I got a couple of bad pressings, but it never clears (8 months in the keg so far), and has a funky off-putting taste (not from contamination/infection). To remain cloudy on the store shelf so long, it must be heat pasteurized, setting the pectins. I don't use pectic enzyme anymore (I hear it leads to fusel alcohol production).

My advice would be to stop with all the funky add-ins (cherry flavoring?), especially extra sugars, until you get a batch with straight juice that turns out well. You can even carb without using priming sugars if you stop it very early, and then bottle one in a PETE soda bottle be able to check the carb level- cold crash when the test bottle is soda (very) firm, and either drink from the fridge or pasteurize.

After you have had success with plain juice, or if you just can't resist throwing stuff in, I have had good luck with Freezeblade's "Graham's English Cider" recipe. (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f81/grah...-cider-107152/) It has a bit more character than cider from straight juice. It subs tea and lime juice for powdered tannins and malic acid. I prefer to stop it early (>1.010), because letting it ferm out (<1.005) results in something that tastes like cheap white wine, for months. You could compensate by backsweetening with concentrate to add some apple/sweetness back in (and aging a few months); but stopping the ferm early and either kegging or using the dishwasher pasteurizing method is an easy enough. With kegging, it is drinkable in 3 weeks start to finish, if you ferm it cold and stop early.

I have had the best luck with 'not from concentrate' juice. Cheap shelf stable 'cider' (Tree Top, Motts, etc.) has not worked for me. I think they just add something to juice to give it color and a bit more bite.

The best batch was probably when I used Simply Apple, but that was only because I got them on sale for 1/2 price. It is obscenely expensive otherwise. Although, it is really flavorful, and clears well. The cheap shelf stable NFC stuff works good enough, and I hear Costco's house brand is NFC. The concentrated/reconstituted juices are usually preserved with ascorbic/citric acid, which, once the sugar is gone to hide it, makes it almost to tart to drink. For sure avoid any juice with actual 'preservatives' in it.

Your cider will not age much in the fridge. Low 60's to high 50's is probably a good range.

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