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-   -   Funky Cider? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/funky-cider-384680/)

j0ram 01-26-2013 04:58 AM

Funky Cider?

I'm a first time poster, and new to the world of home brewing. I ran into an article last week, and ended up spending the whole afternoon browsing other forums, articles and blogs, and found myself in a local brew shop that evening to pick up supplies!

So I started my first batch last Friday. I used two bottles of Simply Apple juice (which was the only cidery juice I could find without preservatives without spending $20 a gallon, it's pasteurized with no added sugar or preservatives) into a one gallon glass jug. I also added a 12 oz can of preservative free apple juice concentrate to boost the sugars (attempting a couple points more ABV). I then used champagne yeast (recommended to me as the best starter yeast). It was a packet for five gallons, so I just sorta eyeballed somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of it. I've heard everything from letting the yeast soak in water first, to just dropping it into the juice, to dropping it in and then shaking it up. I went with the later, sprinkled it into the bottle and gave it a little shake. Then added the stopper and airlock.

To sanitize, instead of boiling I used a product called One Step, which the fellow at the brew shop said was far more dependable then boiling. (http://tinyurl.com/89sh72b)

Room temperature has been in the 65-68 degree range.

Steady bubbling started later in the second day and kept up until the sixth day, where it had slowed to a bubble every few minutes. I drew a bit out with a baster at that point. It was very dry and somewhere between tart and sour. It had a taste and smell similar to pineapple that's just on the brink of spoiling. I'm not sure if this is normal or not!

Today, I poured half off into a growler with a half a tablespoon of agave nectar to start up secondary fermentation (though I've read that some people don't recommend adding any sugar for secondary?). Wrapped in a half dozen plastic bags and put in an empty cabinet in case of potential explosion. The rest I'm cold shocking to bottle and bring to a party tomorrow.

So is the somewhat tart/sour/fizzy taste/scent normal? I've heard to let the secondary fermentation go for 1-2 weeks, does that sound about right?

A thousand possibilities and a million questions! I look forward to any advice that might come my way.

Thanks in advance!

Ostomo517 01-26-2013 07:38 AM

The tart taste is gonna vary with what kind of juice you use I imagine, but I mostly was posting because of carbing in a growler! It can get dangerous, most growlers cannot take the pressure of carbing in them.

j0ram 01-26-2013 07:41 AM

Oh! Good to know. Do you have any alternatives to a growler? I'm really not ready to go for individual bottling, so I'd hope for something in maybe a half gallon capacity.

As for the taste/scent, it's more than just "tart"... it just seems like there's something off, like nearly rotting fruit. You sort of get that (non-carbonation-related) fineness on the tongue, and the sourness. Maybe I'm just not explaining it right. But it just seems off!

Ostomo517 01-26-2013 07:51 AM

I suppose in a pinch empty pop bottle could work. And I just noticed you used champagne yeast, ive never used it but some people dont like the flavor it imparts, that may be it. I use Red Star Côte des Blancs, the cider finishes tasting kinda like a chardonnay with apple flavor.

Pickled_Pepper 01-26-2013 06:31 PM

I agree with Ostomo517. If you aren't wanting to get into using glass bottles and a capper. Sanitized Coke (or other soda) bottles will work fine. I wouldn't age cider in them for months and months, but a few weeks shouldn't be a problem at all.

I've never used the one step before, (Star san is my choice) but just clean your bottles THOROUGHLY with it before bottling.

Note: Pastic Soda Bottles can't be used for pasteurizing. ;)

j0ram 01-31-2013 01:50 AM

So! After a couple days in the fridge, all the funk was gone and it came out as a crisp and very dry cider, with a nice mellow apple flavor!

With the half that I attempted a secondary fermentation with, I moved it to a plastic 2 liter soda bottle. After several days, there seemed to be no reaction, and upon unscrewing the cap, there was barely any pressure built up. So I'm guessing that...

a) The agave nectar didn't have the proper kind of sugars to feed the yeast? (Anyone have experience with agave?)

b) I let the primary fermentation sit for too long, and all the yeast died out?

c) With the addition of the concentrate, there was enough sugar to pump up the ABV to the point it killed off all the yeast? (I didn't use any additional nutrients, and haven't yet invested in a hydrometer.)

So yesterday, I sprinkled in a bit more yeast and added a teaspoon of sugar.

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