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Old 05-27-2012, 06:11 AM   #1
jcharlson
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Default First timer with a few Questions

Hey,

So I'm working on starting a cider this next week and I think I have most of the procedural stuff down, but I've got 2 specific questions I'm having a harder time finding answers to and I'm hoping someone can help me out.

First is about the yeast. I'm wanting to brew a cider with a final alcohol content of about 4-5%. As I understand it sugars turn in to alcohol after the yeast has it's way with them. So a mixture going into fermentation with 4-5% sugars should yield roughly a 4-5% cider, correct? I'm wanting to try to replicate something with the sweetness of a woodchuck cider, which I think my hydrometer tells me is about 5% sugar after it's 5% alcohol. (bear with me on the specific gravity, SG, stuff. I don't quite get all of that yet). So my question is this.

Since I want a cider that is roughly 5% alcohol and 5% sugar at the end, do I want to boost my mixture going into the carboy to 10% and pull it at 5%? Or do I want to just bring it to 5% sugar, ferment that, and then sweeten to 5% on the back end? I hope that makes sense. I'm planning on using a safale us-05 yeast as that is what the local homebrew guys recommended. Also, is there any preference on what kinds of sugar I should use, and when I should add concentrate? (before or after 1st fermentation)

Second is carbonation. I would love to avoid exploding bottles, but I would also like to end up with a moderately carbonated cider. I'm thinking my only way of carbonating is to do it in the bottle with sugar added before capping. So my question is, is this the best way for me to carbonate in the beginning, and if so, how much sugar do I add and when?

Thanks for all the help. Looking forward to hearing back from yall.

-Jake

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Old 05-27-2012, 07:50 AM   #2
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Jake
I will take a shot at understanding your questions and or offering a little advise.

If your looking for a Cider with a ABV of 4-5% then you need to be starting at an OG (original gravity) in the 1.040 to 1.045 range knowing full well that Cider ferments out to almost nothing, I am going off a FG of 1.005. This is going to get you to the 4-4.5% ABV
Now if you want to add sweetness to taste then you are going ot have to kill off the yeast so what you add doesn't ferment. That said there are several ways to do this, and everyone has their take on how it should be done. I add potassium metabisulfite and potassium sorbate in 1/2 doses each as a yeast killing blend. I then wait several days to add any sugars. This can only be done if your going to serve this "still" If you plan on bottling and want carbonation, you have a few chalenges ahead of you.

If you are going to bottle, 1 you cant kill the yeast. 2 you cant back sweeten. You might want to add some sort of non fermentable sugar like malto dextrin in the mix to get the sweet you want. I am a big fan of adding 1 to 1.250z per gallon as a sweetner. that is if I am going ot bottle, want it to be sweet and bright. Also you might want to look at a yeast that doesn't attinuate as much... I really like the White Labs Sweet Mead/Wine yeast for my Cider.

Remember: this is only 1 option and its just how I do it. But I really like my Cider!

Welcome to the forum!

Cheers
Jay

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Old 05-27-2012, 04:19 PM   #3
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If you are going to bottle, 1 you cant kill the yeast. 2 you cant back sweeten.
You can bottle and backsweeten with real sugar but you must pasteurize. (See sticky at top of page)

Quote:
First is about the yeast. I'm wanting to brew a cider with a final alcohol content of about 4-5%. As I understand it sugars turn in to alcohol after the yeast has it's way with them. So a mixture going into fermentation with 4-5% sugars should yield roughly a 4-5% cider, correct? I'm wanting to try to replicate something with the sweetness of a woodchuck cider, which I think my hydrometer tells me is about 5% sugar after it's 5% alcohol. (bear with me on the specific gravity, SG, stuff. I don't quite get all of that yet). So my question is this.

Since I want a cider that is roughly 5% alcohol and 5% sugar at the end, do I want to boost my mixture going into the carboy to 10% and pull it at 5%? Or do I want to just bring it to 5% sugar, ferment that, and then sweeten to 5% on the back end? I hope that makes sense. I'm planning on using a safale us-05 yeast as that is what the local homebrew guys recommended. Also, is there any preference on what kinds of sugar I should use, and when I should add concentrate? (before or after 1st fermentation)
I'm not experienced enough to say whether your line of thinking is right or wrong.......but I've never seen it done this way. There is a formula using the OG and FG but it is easier to use an online calculator such as http://www.brewersfriend.com/abv-calculator/

Most of the Commercial sweet hard ciders I have tested were in the vicinity of 1.025 SG. So to end up at 5% alc you would want a starting SG of
1.063. I prefer to ferment dry and then backsweeten to taste. This way the
yeast do their job and are allowed to clean up after themselves. There are many many combinations of techniques you can follow to get to where you want to go. Keep asking as specific of questions as you can and the good people here will give you a plethora of options to follow.
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