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Old 01-31-2012, 05:09 PM   #1
Daze
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Default Frequently asked questions

I keep seeing a lot of the same questions popping up and everyone always has such great answers that I figured a FAQ thread might be a really good idea. We could all chime in with questions we have seen and there answers and make a consolidated place for the new comer to get some really helpful info. I will start feel free to chime in.

"It has been 24 hours since I pitched the yeast and there have been no signs of fermentation as the air lock is not bubbling. what now???"

The obvious answer is weight. it can take as much as 72 hours for the airlock to start bubbling, but also more important than the airlock activity, has it clouded??? Remember that in the first few days after you pitch the yeast (up to 72 hours) bubbles are not the best indicator of an active fermentation. The liquid clouding up is a far better indicator of activity. The reason for this is you will not see bubbles until the liquid has become co2 saturated. Perfect example I pitched part of a wild yeast and apple juice starter in a gallon of cider. The starter was bubbling away and you would think that the already active yeast would immediately create bubbles in the cider. however because there is a full gallon of cider just weighting to absorb CO2, at two days later there were still no bubbles, however the cider had clouded so I knew the starter was growing then visible bubbles started on the third day.

I think some times people have the idea that each bubble is created by one yeast, (not to be crude but kind of a yeast fart) but yeast are so small and the amount of co2 that each one is excreting is so minimal that one little bubble is the product of 1000s of yeast. When you are dealing with such small quantities of CO2 it easily dissolves directly in to the liquid until saturation is reached, THEN bubbles start to form.

"What will my AVB be with this recipy

First and for most "get a hydrometer and learn to use it" they are only about $10.00 however knowing how figure the approximate final ABV is also a good skill to have especially since hydrometer readings can be thrown off by other solids in the mix.

Definitions:

ABV Alcohol by volume this is the % of alcohol that a person end up with assuming all the original sugars are fermented out

PA potential alcohol this is the level of sugar in the mix prior to fermentation

OG or SG original gravity or specific gravity. (measured with a hydrometer)

FG final gravity (measured with a hydrometer)

If am approximating it I like to think of things in terms of PA the reason being is it makes things simple. I can then use a chart or my hydrometer to translate PA in to SG after the fact

conversion:
one pound of sugar per gallon is good for about 5% PA. I realize some things like honey take a little more and some sugars take a little less but for the purpose of approximating 1 pound to 5% per gallon is a good rule of thumb

All store bought juices and concentrates are required to have the sugar content on the label and that number is in grams so we need to know the number of grams in 1 pound 453.59237 Since we are approximating I make the math simple and round down to 450.

some recipes are in cups rather than pounds. 1 pound of sugar is on average about 2 cups.

The last thing you need to know is natural sugars if using fresh fruit or juice where you are unsure of the exact grams of sugar you will need to guess. With the exception of grape juice which has tones of sugar most juices (or 3 lbs of fruit to on gallon of water) will result in 180 to 450 grams of sugar with most of them being in the 200-300 range.

Math:

3 cans of apple concentrate 180g sugar each in 1 gallon, what is my PA OG and probable ABV assuming all the sugar ferments out.

180 *3 = 540g

540/450 = 1.2lbs of sugar

1.2 * 5 = 6% PA when you look at a conversion chart that will be an SG of 1.042

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Old 01-31-2012, 08:34 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daze View Post

ABV Alcohol by volume this is the % of alcohol that a person end up with assuming all the original sugars are fermented out

PA potential alcohol this is the level of sugar in the mix prior to fermentation

If am approximating it I like to think of things in terms of PA the reason being is it makes things simple. I can then use a chart or my hydrometer to translate PA in to SG after the fact

conversion:
one pound of sugar per gallon is good for about 5% PA. I realize some things like honey take a little more and some sugars take a little less but for the purpose of approximating 1 pound to 5% per gallon is a good rule of thumb

All store bought juices and concentrates are required to have the sugar content on the label and that number is in grams so we need to know the number of grams in 1 pound 453.59237 Since we are approximating I make the math simple and round down to 450.

some recipes are in cups rather than pounds. 1 pound of sugar is on average about 2 cups.
The last thing you need to know is natural sugars if using fresh fruit or juice where you are unsure of the exact grams of sugar you will need to guess. With the exception of grape juice which has tones of sugar most juices (or 3 lbs of fruit to on gallon of water) will result in 180 to 450 grams of sugar with most of them being in the 200-300 range.
Math:

3 cans of apple concentrate 180g sugar each in 1 gallon, what is my PA OG and probable ABV assuming all the sugar ferments out.

180 *3 = 540g

540/450 = 1.2lbs of sugar

1.2 * 5 = 6% PA when you look at a conversion chart that will be an SG of 1.042
I think answering some common questions is a great idea and I do applaud you taking the initiative to answer some. I see a few things in the ABV calculations that might need clarification.

ABV is alcohol by volume. It is the percentage of alcohol in the beverage calculated by volume. As the sugars ferment, the gravity goes down and the ABV goes up. All the sugar fermenting out is not linked to ABV. I believe your ABV definition actually defines PA. PA is the ABV if all the sugars ferment out.

Two cups is 16 oz liquid, but it is not 16 oz (one pound) of sugar. Different sugars have different weights per cup, but I would guess that most are 12-14 oz per two cups. Using one pound per two cups isn't a big deal if you're using a small amount, but the difference becomes substantial with larger additions.

I am not a fan of working in PA. I think specific gravity is much easier and more accurate. One pound of sugar contains 45 points of gravity. So, one pound of sugar in a one gallon batch raises the gravity by 45 points. One pound in three gallons would raise gravity by 15 points. etc, etc.

The example of a one gallon batch with 1.2 lbs of sugar from the apple concentrate would have a gravity of approx. 1.054 , which has a PA of closer to 7%

1.2*45=54 or 1.054

Another way of looking at it is: one pound of sugar is approx. 450 grams and will raise gravity in a one gallon batch by 45 points. 450 / 45 = 10 So, you can say that you get 1 point of gravity for every 10 grams of sugar per gallon. Dividing the grams of sugar per gallon by ten should give you an approximate gravity. The three cans of concentrate have 540 grams of sugar. 540 / 10 = 54 or 1.054 Make sense?

Also, I don't think you can compare a gallon of juice to 3 lbs of fruit in a gallon of water. For instance, a gallon of apple juice is approx. 8 lbs of juice. 3 lbs of apples will have significantly less sugar than 8 lbs of apple juice.
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:06 PM   #3
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perfect, i was going to open a new thread but but you opened it of me.
im a noob to all of this, just stared my first batch 7 days ago and even though ive been doing ALLOT, of research i still have allot of questions.

1) ive heard if you let your apple cider ferment to dry it takes allot of the apple flavor with it. what is a good SG to stop at to prevent this and yield a semi sweet cider.

2) back-sweetening V.S. stopping the fermentation: is there a taste difference? (e.g, stopping the fermentation at a desired SG reading V.S. allowing the SG to go all the way down to dry and back-sweetening)

3)wine thief/cider thief/(what ever you call that test tube thing you pore the cider in to get the SG reading): if your careful not to oxidize the cider can you pore it back into your fermentation vessel? like siphon it in then siphon it back out?
also, can you just put the hydrometer in the alcohol without poring it into the test tube (if you can get it in and of the container without a problem)?

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Old 01-31-2012, 11:01 PM   #4
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1- This really depends on personal taste, but I would estimate semi-sweet cider to be in the 1.010-1.015 range

2- Back sweetening alows the cider to clear in secondary before bottling while just bottling in an attempt to save flavor will result in a cloudier beverage. A good way to preserve apple flavor when back sweetening is to use apple jucie concentrate.

3- Just be careful when you pour it back into your fermenter. A few bubbles have never been a problem for me but just use good judgement. I have put the hydrometer right into a bucket of fermenting cider but this obviously does not work with carboys.

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Old 01-31-2012, 11:08 PM   #5
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Just my 2¢....

1: True. I usually force mine to slow down by racking it early.

2: I don't care what anyone says...there are always flavors associated with ANY "sweetener" you put in your cider. Some produce less then others, but they all contribute to the final flavor. Good or bad, it's subjective.

3: I don't think you'll really have to worry about oxidation with taking a sample. The tricky part is...to have patience and not take readings until it's time. I think this might be something you eventually "feel" when you've made the same recipe over and over. Take readings when you rack....and then when you think it's time to bottle.

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Old 01-31-2012, 11:09 PM   #6
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To get some cider guidelines, such as what SG is semi-sweet, I'd suggest reading the cider guidelines at http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/catdex.php

I do both backsweetening and stopping fermentation. I'm not sure I can say which is better, but I think backsweetening is much easier for a new cidermaker. I'd keep it simple at first and add things as you gain experience.

I call the tube used to hold a sample for the hydrometer a test jar, but there are probably other names for it. A wine thief is used to remove a sample from a carboy. I believe some wine thieives can double as a test jar. If you're careful and sanitize everything, you can return the sample to the carboy or bucket, but I don't because I don't want to risk contamination. I don't take many samples, so it's not a big deal. When fermenting in a bucket, I prefer to put the sanitized hydrometer right in the bucket. When I need to monitor SG closely, I leave it in the bucket. I don't put a hydrometer in a carboy simply because getting it out is difficult.

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Old 02-01-2012, 02:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kamkamdac View Post
1) ive heard if you let your apple cider ferment to dry it takes allot of the apple flavor with it. what is a good SG to stop at to prevent this and yield a semi sweet cider.

2) back-sweetening V.S. stopping the fermentation: is there a taste difference? (e.g, stopping the fermentation at a desired SG reading V.S. allowing the SG to go all the way down to dry and back-sweetening)
You absolutely owe it to yourself to read the stickied ongoing thread "Results from juice, yeast and sugar experiments" - it will shed some light on these two for sure.
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Old 02-01-2012, 04:57 AM   #8
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4) cold crashing: fridge or freezer? does it matter? ive read some posts that say to freeze it for a few days and other that say dont let it freeze? does it change the flavor?

5) glass or plastic: regardless ill always go plastic because im cheap but ied like to here what others think. rite now im bottling in 1 gal apple juice bottles but am planing on getting one of those 5 gal sparklets water bottles, any thoughts?

thanks bpm2000, that post was very helpful. ive come across it in the past but just skimmed over it at the time, good info.

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Old 02-01-2012, 12:21 PM   #9
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Being a fairly new cider maker myself ( mostly mead)...I can attest to patience, soaking up anything and everthing about the subject and finally...leaving it alone and letting the yeasties do their magic!

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Old 02-01-2012, 04:58 PM   #10
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6) nutrient: ive heard some people say you need it for cider, some say that you dont need it for cider, and others say you want to get as much of the nutrient out of the cider because stressed yeast give better flavor and that the nutrient give off flavors to your cider. any thoughts?

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