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Old 05-21-2008, 02:44 PM   #1
leon_uk
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Default First time tips...

Hello all.

My plans for my first brew of cider are coming together nicely, so I'll say how far I've got now and ask for some advice from those 'more experienced' (cue innuendo... )

I've got several 1 gallon (UK) demijohns, along with plugs and airlocks. Also got sterilising powder, syphoning tube, and a hydrometer.

I got a small packet of white wine yeast, as my plan is to make Apfelwein-style dry cider.

First question I have is regarding the type of apple juice you all use. Here in the UK, the majority of apple juice sold in supermarkets & shops is made from concentrate, then rediluted to the same strength. Some places also sell 'not from concentrate' apple juice, but this is much dearer. Would diluted concentrate be ok?

From later this year I'm hoping to get free apples from a friend who has a small orchard area, so really I want to get it right with cartoned juice first so I'm ready to crush & press my own.

I'm also considering adding fruit (cherry or stawberry) to one of the demijohns. Could I try using tinned black cherries or similar, as long as there are no preservatives etc present (just cherries, sugar & water)?

Plans are to brew it in my spare room, which usually has the curtains closed and stays between 18-22deg C (65-71 deg F for you yanks )

Any other advice? Plan is to brew it then transfer into bottles with some extra sugar to store. Not too worried about carbonation, a little would be nice but still is always good.

Can't wait now: had a pint or two of H. Weston's Old Rosie at the weekend and fell in love (if it doesn't mean anything, google it: some tasty stuff!).

Hardest bit will be waiting for it to be ready before I get my hands on it!

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Old 05-21-2008, 04:18 PM   #2
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I've made good cider from frozen concentrate, which is less expensive than reconstituted from concentrate.

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Old 05-21-2008, 04:21 PM   #3
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>First question I have is regarding the type of apple juice you all use. Here in the UK, the majority of apple juice sold in supermarkets & shops is made from concentrate, then rediluted to the same strength. Some places also sell 'not from concentrate' apple juice, but this is much dearer. Would diluted concentrate be ok?

It will be alright, but is not ideal. With Cider it is all about the base product. There is really not much to mask anything off that you can get from some products. It's a start though, and I am sure will yield something great, perhaps not ideal though.

>From later this year I'm hoping to get free apples from a friend who has a small orchard area, so really I want to get it right with cartoned juice first so I'm ready to crush & press my own.

Try to find a small press, locally. Pressing on your own is a lot of work, especially if you don't have good equipment.

>I'm also considering adding fruit (cherry or stawberry) to one of the demijohns. Could I try using tinned black cherries or similar, as long as there are no preservatives etc present (just cherries, sugar & water)?

Yes, that is a very good way to proceed.

>Plans are to brew it in my spare room, which usually has the curtains closed and stays between 18-22deg C (65-71 deg F for you yanks )

That will work fine

>Any other advice? Plan is to brew it then transfer into bottles with some extra sugar to store. Not too worried about carbonation, a little would be nice but still is always good.

You don't really need the extra sugar to store it. I personally like my Cider highly carbonated (for now anyway).

>Can't wait now: had a pint or two of H. Weston's Old Rosie at the weekend and fell in love (if it doesn't mean anything, google it: some tasty stuff!).

Keep in mind, they are using Cider apples. Blending Bittersharps and Bittersweets, etc, to get the profile they want. Not trying to discourage you, but if you want to aim for that it will be a bit of a challenge. (I personally have plans on adding some Bittersweets to my Orchard next season).

>Hardest bit will be waiting for it to be ready before I get my hands on it!

It does take quite some time, but is well worth it. Keep us posted, and if you have any questions everyone here is more than glad to help!

Welcome to the forums!

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Old 06-26-2008, 09:30 AM   #4
leon_uk
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Well I oughtta update you all on how things are going.

I decided to try two small gallon runs first. The first gallon was very basic, using shop-bought apple juice. I measured the OG at 1.050 for the apple juice, and decided to leave out the sugar (I'd rather something drinkable but weaker for a first attempt than accidentally making battery acid-flavour!)

The second gallon had 2L of apple juice as the first, but I then filtered 2L of strawberry & banana smoothie (checking the contents, it had apple juice, mashed strawberries & bananas. No additives etc). I mixed the two 50/50 first and tested the SG, a little tricky to do as there was still some sediment, so I checked it 3 times with different samples, but they came out between 1.058-1.060.

I filled both the demijohns around 50% then added half a packet (probably more than I needed) of white wine yeast to a glass of each, stirred it and pitched it in before adding the rest of the juices.

With the fruit flavour one I also the added a tin of mixed summer fruits, with blackberries, blackcurrants, strawberries and raspberries in.

Fitted the plugs (with vodka-filled airlocks) and stood back.

Within one day a large layer of frothy foam built up on each, and the airlocks were bubbling heavily (>1bubble/second). This continued for several days, and the room (my spare bedroom, fairly dark and temps from 67-72F) took on a weird yeasty smell.

After one week the airlock activity had calmed to a bubble a second and the froth had reduced. After two weeks the froth was gone and a steady layer of small bubbles was rising. A layer of sediment & yeast built up on the bottom of the fruit cider and the fruit that was floating appears to have lost most of its colour.

After 4 weeks there was very little airlock activity in either. The apple had very nearly cleared with only a very small layer of yeasty deposits at the bottom, while the mixed fruit cider had a thicker layer of sediment sink and still had some fruit sat on top.

I syphoned a small amount of each off to check around 3 days ago (now 5 weeks in). SG for the apple is 1.005, for the mixed it is 1.008. Oviously I couldn't resist tasting each too. The apple cider was very soft and seemed much less acidic than most commercial ciders, and was stronger than it tasted (having not eaten for a longish period beforehand I noted the effects from a very small volume). I was very impressed with its flavour, although it tasted more alcoholic apple juice than typical cider as it seemed 'thinner' and wasn't carbonated. Not as dry as I thought too but very pleasant.

The mixed fruits sample had a much more acidic edge and tasted strong again. The fruit flavours were definitely notable, but it may need to soften before really coming into its own. IT may need some sweetening (possibly by adding extra fruit juice/ sugar) but I have yet to decide exactly what yet.

I want to check, am I ok to leave the apple cider sat on its small yeast layer for a while just to check that its fully done or do I need to bottle it soon (I don't plan on carbonating it)? And secondly I want to check is it a good idea to transfer the mixed fruits cider into another demijohn and store for a while? I'm concerned if I leave it sat on the yeasty sediment its going to pick up some strange flavours? I may filter it as I transfer it too to stop any big 'lumps' getting lifted across.

Advice anyone? Also anyone able to tell me how you calculate abv % from SGs? I'm guessing somewhere around 6-8%?

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Old 06-26-2008, 01:40 PM   #5
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leon -

To calculate ABV take the (OG - FG) x 131 = % ABV.

Using your apple numbers : 1.050 - 1.005 = 0.045 x 131 = 5.895 % ABV.

Pogo

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Last edited by Pogo; 06-26-2008 at 01:43 PM. Reason: Tpyos, what else!
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