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Old 08-22-2008, 11:25 PM   #1
tallor242
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Default Hello from a first-timer

Hello all,

I'm a first-time cider brewer. I've tried several varieties of commercial ciders, and after talking with a beer-brewing friend, decided I wanted to give cider-brewing a shot on my own. I actually don't like the taste of beer (!) but I love a good wine or cider.

I was really excited to find this site because there is a lot of contradictory information out there on the web. This seems like a really active and positive community. Hopefully you won't be bothered too much by my inexperience!

I started off with 3.2 quarts of Martinelli's Apple Juice, and a 1 gallon glass jug. OG was 1.056 at room temperature. I pitched about 1/8th cup of Wyeast 4766 in a 1 gallon glass jug, added rubber stopper and airlock on 8/10/2008, and let it go. Saw foam the next day and fermentation has been continuing ever since. Temperature for this yeast is 60-75F according to Wyeast. I've been keeping my jug in a mini-fridge to try to keep the temperature under 80F (my apartment can get quite hot). It's probably gotten as hot as 85F in the fridge at times, but the yeast seems to be moving along nicely. There's a really nice apple smell coming out of the airlock.

I have a fruit press coming in the mail as well soon as well as a source for local tart crabapples. I've probably got around 30-35 lbs. of Gala, Fuji, and crabapples waiting to be pressed. As soon as that comes in, I plan to press a second batch into another 1-gallon jug, kill off wild yeasts with a Campden Tablet, then use the Wyeast 4766 on that as well. I'll try to get the pH somewhere around 4.0. I've got malic acid at the ready in case I need to bring it down.

From what I've read here (particularly the lauded apfelwein threads), cider actually seems to come out better using ale yeasts than cider-specific or wine yeasts. Oh well. We'll see how this turns out, I can always make more!

1. Any obvious mistakes in what I've done or my plans so far?
2. I haven't been tracking airlock bubbles-per-minute at any point. Is that worth doing?
3. How often should I check on my cider? I was planning on waiting for this first batch to stop foaming, then give it 1-2 more weeks.
3.b. How to make sure things are sanitary when I do check on my cider, and what is the best way to check it?
3.c When checking, what should I do? I was thinking: taste, measure SG. Is it important not to expose the main batch to fresh air while checking?
4. How do people track liquid temperature without having to let fresh air in? Is it important to do this?
5. Racking to secondary: how useful is it with cider, or should I just move straight to bottles and age there? If not, how to tell when it's time to move to secondary?
6. (last one I swear!) What's a good ratio of sugar/yeast to add to safely carbonate in capped bottles?
7. (edit, I lied, not the last one!) Is it considered a requirement to read the "I love apfelwein" thread from start to finish?

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Old 08-22-2008, 11:42 PM   #2
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1. Any obvious mistakes in what I've done or my plans so far?

Can't see any real mistakes. Do you have a good sanitizer? Cider is hard to mess up but sanitation is one way.

2. I haven't been tracking airlock bubbles-per-minute at any point. Is that worth doing?

No

3. How often should I check on my cider? I was planning on waiting for this first batch to stop foaming, then give it 1-2 more weeks.

No hurry with cider. Clearing is one sign of finishing and that can take a month or more.

3.b. How to make sure things are sanitary when I do check on my cider, and what is the best way to check it?

Sanitize ANYTHING that will be touching your cider. A turkey baster or wine thief is a good way to get a sample out to check hydrometer and taste.

3.c When checking, what should I do? I was thinking: taste, measure SG. Is it important not to expose the main batch to fresh air while checking?

Doesn't hurt to open and take sample. Don't jiggle your jug while doing it.

4. How do people track liquid temperature without having to let fresh air in? Is it important to do this?

I don't know what you mean about tracking liquid temp other than keeping the fermenter withing acceptable ranges of the yeast. You can get a stick on thermometer for the outside of you fermenter. I wouldn't worry about letting air in. The C02 layer on top keeps it protected.

5. Racking to secondary: how useful is it with cider, or should I just move straight to bottles and age there? If not, how to tell when it's time to move to secondary?

It's useful to rack to allow cider to clear. Rack when the cider is finished fermenting. This can be depended on which yeast you use.

6. (last one I swear!) What's a good ratio of sugar/yeast to add to safely carbonate in capped bottles?

I use the same as beer (about 1 ounce per gallon). I use canned concentrate as my carbing sugar so I have to do the math using the nutrition statement on the can.

Welcome to HBT!

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Old 08-23-2008, 12:16 AM   #3
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Thanks for the insightful reply! That is really helpful.

I have oneStep oxygen-based sanitizer. I'll make sure to sanitize my hydrometer, the jug, the stopper, airlock, etc. for the next batch. Follow-up question: any reason not to use siphoning tube instead of the wine thief? Seems like a siphoning tube with a clamp would do the trick.

edit: realize I might be confusing cleaning and sanitizing here. If I am, can anyone give me a practical definition as to what I'll need to do for cider brewing?

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Old 08-23-2008, 01:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallor242 View Post
Thanks for the insightful reply! That is really helpful.

I have oxyclean sanitizer. I'll make sure to sanitize my hydrometer, the jug, the stopper, airlock, etc. for the next batch. Follow-up question: any reason not to use siphoning tube instead of the wine thief? Seems like a siphoning tube with a clamp would do the trick.

edit: realize I might be confusing cleaning and sanitizing here. If I am, can anyone give me a practical definition as to what I'll need to do for cider brewing?
"Oxyclean"? Like the Billy Mays Oxyclean on TV? The stuff that takes stains out of clothing & carpet? Sorry, I don't mean to sound stupid here, but that's the only "Oxyclean" I've ever heard of. Regards, GF.
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Old 08-23-2008, 03:23 AM   #5
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Sorry, that was incorrect. I was at work and didn't have the package to be able to check. It's an oxygen-based cleaner called oneStep.

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Old 09-08-2008, 09:03 PM   #6
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Update: Bottled my first batch this weekend!
3.2 qt. Martinelli's not-from-concentrate apple juice
Wyeast 4766 Cider Yeast
pH ~4.0
OG 1.060
FG 1.000 ~7.5% ABV if math serves me correctly.

Came out quite dry, and since I made such a low quantity I only have 9 bottles of it. SWMBO and I drank each had a bottle chilled and still. First taste was pretty surprising. Not bad, kind of like a mild white wine. Couldn't taste the alcohol at all, this stuff is dangerous! The other bottles are being carbed (used .75 oz dextrose).

Immediately after we drank the two still bottles, we each had a bottle of Hornsby's Crisp Apple. Only then did we realize how my batch really turned out! Neither of us wanted to drink the Hornsby's, we wanted to open another bottle of the homebrew.

With only 7 bottles left, I think aging it is going to be pretty much out of the question. I'll be happy if I can hold out long enough for it to fully carb! Good thing I have 5 gallons of Apfelwein, 5 gallons of Weizen yeast Apfelwein, and 2 gallons of pressed Gala+Fuji+crabapples + Wyeast 4766 going in primaries!

Now I just need to find a ton of bottles...

Thanks for all of the help offered by people on this forum. My first batch was really a success thanks to the information here.
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