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Old 11-11-2011, 01:36 AM   #1
superslomo
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Default First Cider: When's it DONE?

I've had a simple cider fermenting in a carboy for two weeks this weekend.

It's just fresh pressed cider (no preservatives, natch, it's local fresh cider that's UV treated) and Sweet Mead yeast.

At what point do I figure it's done fermenting? At what point do I bottle?

I don't mind it being dry, I do want it carb'ed, and it was on the cool side for about a week (lower 60's), and is now sitting pleasantly just below 70 in our furnace room.

When do I figure it's done fermenting, and when is it ready to bottle? Do I NEED to rack it, or can I just leave it in the primary carboy for a month or so?

How much sugar to carb the batch?

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Bottled: 2xPetite Saison D'Ete, Hefeweizen, Apricot Honey Wheat, Raspberry Honey Wheat, Dubbel, Belgian Blond mess, Caribou Slobber sort of, Nukey, Pumpkin, ESB
Planning: Scottish 80, Stout, Honey Weizen, Petite Saison, IPA

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Old 11-11-2011, 02:46 AM   #2
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Take a gravity reading. Or just make sure the airlock isn't bubbling. The amount of sugar for carbonating depends on how carbonated you want it to be and the volume of cider you're making. For 5 gallons try ~4.5 oz of sugar, that will give you ~2.5 volumes of carbonation. I wouldn't personally leave it in primary for that long, but it should be alright.

EDIT: After posting this I read all the brews you're fermenting and have bottled, I realized this response may have been of no value.

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Old 11-11-2011, 04:05 AM   #3
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Default It's too subjective

The more you read on here-- which has TONS of great info-- the most common response is "It depends on what type of cider you enjoy." In my opinion, a gravity of about 1.018 is a great time to bottle. There is still plenty of sugars in solution for your bottles to carb nicely. I would definitely taste the cider every couple days. When you like the taste, use a 1/2 cup of fermentable sugar of your choice,bottle, and wait a couple days. I am using a plastic soda bottle to test when they are carbed, then pasteurize. The sticky on stove top pasteurization is very thorough.
FWIW most dry cider guys just let it sit in a carboy for months to really mature and develop. I can't get fresh cider to brew, so I choose to stop it early, bottle, and pasteurize-- I don't think Walmart Apple Juice will develop any phenomenal character over time.

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Old 11-11-2011, 10:52 AM   #4
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When your hydrometer reads the same (should be pretty close to 1.000 or below) for 3 consecutive readings, each 3 days apart; AND, when it's clear enough to read a newspaper through.

You don't HAVE to rack to secondary if you don't want to, quite a few don't & have great results. I always do & so do a lot of others, again, with great results; it's your choice.

When you bottle, just use the standard 3/4 cup corn sugar per 5 gallons (boiled in about 1 cup water) to prime & wait a month for it to condition.
Regards, GF.

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Old 11-12-2011, 03:51 PM   #5
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I'm brewing up EdWort's right now. If you were using cheapo Apple Juice like me I'd say try experimenting with some extract at the time you bottle. It might not really apply to you, but I'll share anyway. I ordered some Green Apple Extract and some Cider Extract from Nature's Flavors. 2oz bottles are like $11 and you'll get a LOT of use out of them using around 1teaspoon per gallon (like 50 gallons per bottle).

Take your extract and add it in when you dissolve your priming sugar and non-fermentable sweetener (if you choose to use one). You don't want to use to much extract in anything (cooking, brewing, etc) because it WILL taste artificial. But a touch of it will add subtle flavor enhancement.

I like a dry cider, and I'm doing a 5 gallon batch mainly for my dad that REALLY likes lightly carbonated dry ciders so I'm planning on letting it ferment on out, transferring to secondary if it needs additional clearing, transferring to the bottling bucket with 5 teaspoons of extract (not sure how or if I'll mix and match the cider and green apple in terms of quantity), 1/3 cup of priming sugar, 1 cup of Xylitol for a light sweetening, bottle, carb, age, chill, enjoy.

I know a lot of people talk about letting this stuff "age". At the same time, it seems like a lot of people aren't so, errr, complex in their preferences. There's definitely a lot of home brewing done by people trying to get wasted for cheap, I'm the opposite. So I guess we'll see how this turns out.

I was hoping to be able to bottle mine by Christmas, but I didn't get started until 11/3/11 so I don't think it's gonna happen.

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Old 11-12-2011, 10:17 PM   #6
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I don't really want to add extra sugars or other stuff. No added flavors etc. It was just local cider, and actually some of the VERY best fresh cider I've had in a long while. Height of the season. Nothing wrong with adding adjuncts etc, but for me the idea of going simple with the best ingredient is what made me want to try it... it might not be good, but I do feel in terms of cooking and other things that if you are in a spot to get good ingredients, it makes sense to just let them work and get out of the way.

Given a simple, basic cider, what kind of timeframe does it usually require for a lower OG cider to ferment to FG? How much longer do you give it? Does it HAVE to be clear to be finished?

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Bottled: 2xPetite Saison D'Ete, Hefeweizen, Apricot Honey Wheat, Raspberry Honey Wheat, Dubbel, Belgian Blond mess, Caribou Slobber sort of, Nukey, Pumpkin, ESB
Planning: Scottish 80, Stout, Honey Weizen, Petite Saison, IPA

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Old 11-13-2011, 12:04 AM   #7
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Of course it doesn't HAVE to be clear when done. That is totally up to you. If you let it age over the winter it can/should go through Malo-lactic fermentation where the malic acid turns into lactic acid. I can't remember right now exactly the effect on the flavor, but you can look that up in the wiki easy enough. Long story short, try some, and if it tastes like poo, let it sit a month or more longer and try some again. Most things get better, or at least less bad with age when it comes to homebrew I have found.

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Old 11-13-2011, 01:41 AM   #8
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I brewed a batch of cider 4 weeks ago. I used one of the English cider yeast strains which produces a bit of sulphur, so I'm letting the bulk of it age out (I used 3 gallons of juice). Took 3 weeks to get to 1.000.

Everything I've read on this forum, as well as other resources, talks of letting cider age a bit to get the best flavor. Cider ferments dry (vs. "sweet") so if you want sweet cider you'll have to add something to sweeten it. That opens up an entirely different set of options. Pasteurization, adding sulfites, then adding however much sugar or apple juice to get the sweetness you want. However, that isn't going to carb up. You could add lactose, xylitol, stevia, or some other artificial sweetner but there are drawbacks to each. You could also take your chances with bottle bombs and add extra sugar/juice and "wing it" - putting them into cold (fridge) storage after the residual yeast has had a chance to create some carbonation.

Personally, I see no harm in aging. I see cider a bit more like wine - it's going to take a bit more time for the flavors to really develop.

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Old 11-13-2011, 01:54 AM   #9
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I'm shooting for simple and if that means dry, so it will be. I just don't want it flat as funky apple wine I've had in the past hasn't really hit my happy spot.

Not sure whether good source cider makes a difference over any other apple juice, but I'm hoping so...

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Bottled: 2xPetite Saison D'Ete, Hefeweizen, Apricot Honey Wheat, Raspberry Honey Wheat, Dubbel, Belgian Blond mess, Caribou Slobber sort of, Nukey, Pumpkin, ESB
Planning: Scottish 80, Stout, Honey Weizen, Petite Saison, IPA

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