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Old 02-24-2012, 03:59 AM   #1
Nine_Notches
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Default First Cider: Carbonation Problems

Hi all,

I've just cracked open my first home brew cider and disappointingly it was flat. As my first cider I was aiming for an easy dry sparkling finish, unfortunately it seems I have gone wrong somewhere and am hoping someone can help me out...

I started with five litres of store bought juice (no orchards around here) added some brown sugar and Red Star Cuvee yeast (local home brew shop recommendation, going to use an Ale yeast next). Had a good fermentation going within 24 hours at 18-22 degrees C. Left it in primary for 2.5 weeks and then secondary for a further two. The cider didn't clear which I suspect was a result of the pastuerisation of the store bought juice. FG was 1.000 and I bottled with priming sugar with carbonation drops at the recommended rate of one drop per 350ml bottle (my bottles were 330ml). I left these to condition for three weeks at 18-22 degrees. Unfortunately I wasn't organised enough to take an OG.

My plan was to leave for three weeks and then try one bottle per week to see how it ages. Just opened the first bottle expecting it to be nice and fizzy and ... nothing.

I tasted the cider before bottling and it was pretty bland which I now know is to be expected for a dry cider. After three weeks in the bottle it is slightly better but that may be because of the dissolved carbonation tablet.

My thoughts are that the yeast settled completely to the bottom in the carboy and hence I didn't transfer any into the bottles resulting in no bubbles. I used a siphon to bottle, keeping it well above the sedimentation layer. I have had a good read through this forum and haven't seen anyone else mention the same problem. Could I be correct?

For my second batch I added sugar to get an OG of 1.060 and bottled at 1.012 (fermentation was still pretty active at that point). I used the plastic bottle method and after three days the bottle is firming up so I know that the next batch is carbonating...

Thoughts anyone?

Cheers.

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Old 02-24-2012, 09:54 AM   #2
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I'd let 'em condition for another 2 weeks & then see how they've progressed. BTW, did you bottle with crown caps? I've had problems using US crown caps with UK bottles, they were just a tiny bit different, but it was enough to make a difference in carbing up.
Regards, GF.

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Old 02-24-2012, 02:52 PM   #3
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My first batch is still flat in the bottles after the same amount of time. (3 weeks)
I did not use any yeast nutrient in my first batch so I am suspecting they just weren't healthy enough to bottle carb the cider. Or it is just going to take a lot longer to get it done.

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Old 02-24-2012, 03:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nine_Notches View Post
Hi all,

My thoughts are that the yeast settled completely to the bottom in the carboy and hence I didn't transfer any into the bottles resulting in no bubbles. I used a siphon to bottle, keeping it well above the sedimentation layer. I have had a good read through this forum and haven't seen anyone else mention the same problem. Could I be correct?
no, you will still have millions and millions of yeast cells in suspension, it would be miraculous if you had managed to get them all to settle in such a short time and warm temps. even after cold crashing and extended aging there will normally be enough in the cider to carb the bottles, but it can take a while. that's why i recommend waiting it out for a month... i could be wrong but that's what i'd do.
i don't know what's in your carb drops but next time you can try just boiling up table sugar in juice/water and adding the equivalent of 4-6 g sugar per liter, that will get you middle of the road carbonation.
also you can always add back a tiny amount of yeast at bottling if you are nervous about the amount of yeast, it has never been necessary for me, even after 4 or 5 months in the carboy, but then i usually don't try a bottle for a few months after bottling

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Originally Posted by Nine_Notches View Post
Cheers.
indeed! and keep a watch on those bottles carbing at 1.012, if you have any in glass they are going to get dangerous at some point...
i have made many batches with no yeast nutrient and had no problems with carbonation btw. and never problems with crown caps, on us, nl, uk, be etc bottles with the same caps, but it's worth testing (somehow... bicarb+vinegar+quickly cap and see if it holds pressure?? i don't know...)
good luck
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Old 02-24-2012, 04:45 PM   #5
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I agree with stick. My ciders, after racking, crashing and bottling around 1.005 or so usually takes about a month and a half to carb up. Unfortunately, they usually get consumed long before they reach perfection. Still and slightly fizzy cider is still darn good.

That said, the 6're I usually stick back for monthly tastings, are all perfectly carb'd. You'll have PLENTY of yeasties in there. Just give them time. I'd also suggest considering bulk priming instead of bottle priming, you'll probably get better results (I'm not saying the drops don't work)

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Old 02-24-2012, 06:18 PM   #6
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good to know pepper.
My bottles seem to be disappearing quickly. I better stash a few away for a couple months down the road.

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Old 02-24-2012, 08:36 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice all. I will stick with my orginal plan and crack one open every few weeks and see what happens. This batch was all about learning so if it is indeed just a matter of waiting longer I will find out eventually and then know for next time.

For my batch bottled at 1.012 I've used glass bottles and one plastic. I plan to wait until the plastic bottle is nice and firm and then crack one open to see how its going. Once I'm happy with the level of carbonation I will either put in the fridge or pastuerise on the stove. The plastic is getting pretty firm after four days but the cider was still fairly active when bottling so probably not that surprising.

I haven't used these bottles and caps together before so good point - I may have an issue there. Will find a way to test that one out. Vingear and bicarb is a good suggestion.

Thanks again.

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Old 03-09-2012, 06:18 AM   #8
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Update ... in case anyone is interested ... or runs into a similar issue.

First batch - been in the bottle for 4.5 weeks (alot longer in secondary) and has finally carbed up a bit. Still not as carbed as much as I would have liked. Flavour is weak (FG 1.000) but has definately become alot smoother and, even though is it pastuerised, it is alot clearer now (still cloudy, not expecting it to clear completely).

Second batch - mentioned above bottled at 1.012. been quite nervous about these bottles blowing up since when I bottled they were still actively fermenting. Opened one after 7 days and a very slight carb. Plastic bottle method seemed to fail me as I waited till it was firm but still resulted in only a slight carb. Been in the bottle for 3.5 weeks now and still only a slight carbonation (avg temperature has dropped to approx 18 degrees C) which is surprising to me. Flavour is alot sweeter, but is still alot harsher than the first batch, needs more time obviously.

Third batch was bottled last night. This time I used honey OG 1.060, 12 days later (seemed a long time) bottled at 1.009 (aiming for something inbetween the first two batches). Using the plastic bottle method again but going to wait until it is concrete hard to test.

I tried to test the caps via vinegar and baking soda. What an experiment that was. I was sh*tting myself that I would either blow glass over myself or get a burning vinegar and soda solution in the eye. Dammit I was right. Firstly, adding baking soda then vinegar results in a geyser before you get a chance to cap. Best bet is to put the vinegar in and then the soda so it doesn't mix fully till you cap and shake. Worked well, the bottles didn't leak at all and they were obviously filled with CO2. Then my lack of planning / fore thought caught up with me. WTF do I do now - either leave it to possibly explode or open the cap myself. So I open the cap myself and end up with flying baking soda / vinegar / CO2 mix every where, including in the eye.

At least I know the bottle doesn't leak.

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Last edited by Nine_Notches; 03-09-2012 at 07:50 AM.
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