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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Cider Forum > Is a hydrometer really accurate for cider?
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Old 10-26-2011, 04:28 PM   #1
Canajun
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Default Is a hydrometer really accurate for cider?

Hey all!

I've become pretty adept at brewing a really simple, quick and everyone agrees, tasty cider. The problem is that everyone, including me, at least according to my girlfriend, gets waaay too drunk off it.

All I'm doing is putting in 5 gals + a bit of cider, adding pectin enzyme, then champagne yeast. I sit it at 70 degrees for maybe 4-5 days, and fermentation stops, and it starts to clear. Then I keg it, and put in in the fridge for a few days. The cold seems to clear it, and obviously, the CO2 carbonizes it. The first pull or two takes out any residual cloudiness that has settled to the bottom of the keg, and it's perfect.

The OG readings are usually about 1.05, shich should turn out to be about 6%. The Champagne yeast brings the FG right to 1 in a few days.

I'm Canadian, so I drink a lot of beer, lol! There is NO way this stuff is 6%. I'm thinking it's really about double that. After 2 pints... even puny US pints, there is no way that I could legally drive. I've brewed a lot of beer, and never had this sort of discrepancy, but every time I do cider, it comes out really fast, and really, really potent... despite similar gravity readings.

Any ideas or suggestions?

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Old 10-26-2011, 04:38 PM   #2
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Only 4-5 days to ferment? Maybe its just me (probably not though) that is not nearly long enough. And without a FG, you'll have no idea what your abv is.

My ciders sit for at least 30 days. But we like dry cider.

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Old 10-26-2011, 05:29 PM   #3
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What kind of beer do you drink ? :-)

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Old 10-26-2011, 05:45 PM   #4
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Yeah, everyone says that it takes a month for their cider to finish fermenting. I'm guessing that the temperature is the difference. My friend, who owns the local home brew store said that hers was still fermenting on Saturday, and we started within a day or two. But hers is in her basement and she went away for two weeks, whereas I kept mine at 70 or a bit above. Hers is still going, and I had a party on the weekend and we polished off a 1/6 barrel. Everybody liked it, it was really dry, like champagne, and the FG was down to 1 before I kegged it, so it was fully fermented. It's always been quick when I've made cider, and it's always been really potent.

I started a new batch with ale yeast on Sunday morning, and it is already starting to clear. I'm thinking by Friday I'll sample some and see if it's down to 1. It started at a corrected for temp OG of 1.052. I was thinking that maybe the yeast may make a difference on the alcohol content, but I know that really doesn't make sense, either. If you start with the same amount of sugar, and it fully ferments, the only thing that should change is the taste.

I usually drink Molson Canadian by the keg... so it's not like I'm used to drinking low-octane crap like Miller Lite or Bud.

I just can't figure out why this stuff turns out so strong... unless my ex-wife is sneaking in and adding anti-freeze to it, lol!

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Old 10-26-2011, 06:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canajun View Post
Yeah, everyone says that it takes a month for their cider to finish fermenting. I'm guessing that the temperature is the difference. My friend, who owns the local home brew store said that hers was still fermenting on Saturday, and we started within a day or two. But hers is in her basement and she went away for two weeks, whereas I kept mine at 70 or a bit above. Hers is still going, and I had a party on the weekend and we polished off a 1/6 barrel. Everybody liked it, it was really dry, like champagne, and the FG was down to 1 before I kegged it, so it was fully fermented. It's always been quick when I've made cider, and it's always been really potent.

I started a new batch with ale yeast on Sunday morning, and it is already starting to clear. I'm thinking by Friday I'll sample some and see if it's down to 1. It started at a corrected for temp OG of 1.052. I was thinking that maybe the yeast may make a difference on the alcohol content, but I know that really doesn't make sense, either. If you start with the same amount of sugar, and it fully ferments, the only thing that should change is the taste.

I usually drink Molson Canadian by the keg... so it's not like I'm used to drinking low-octane crap like Miller Lite or Bud.

I just can't figure out why this stuff turns out so strong... unless my ex-wife is sneaking in and adding anti-freeze to it, lol!
I did not know this beer, but after looking it up, it is a 5% beer. Not that strong either. A cider can (and will) ferment lower to 1 if the temperature, the yeast and the nutrients are well maintained. 0.996 is what I get with the yeast and juice I use. Those few points make a nice difference:

(1.052 - 0.996) * 131 = 7.3% !!!! slightly more than the Molson.
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Old 10-26-2011, 06:09 PM   #6
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I think rather than it seeming stronger it is the slightly different psychoactive effect of a fructose based alcohol rather than a maltose that your getting a stronger buzz from. I've also noticed that whenever I drink the first couple pints from a brand new brew, I get WAY more of an effect from it than what I've been drinking, or even from subsequent evenings of drinking the same stuff. That's the only thing I can think of. There's no way your getting 12% abv from straight juice

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Old 10-26-2011, 06:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by bottlebomber View Post
I think rather than it seeming stronger it is the slightly different psychoactive effect of a fructose based alcohol rather than a maltose that your getting a stronger buzz from. I've also noticed that whenever I drink the first couple pints from a brand new brew, I get WAY more of an effect from it than what I've been drinking, or even from subsequent evenings of drinking the same stuff. That's the only thing I can think of. There's no way your getting 12% abv from straight juice
That's kind of what I was thinking. They hydro should not be lying. Sugar is sugar, and it should ferment out to the same strenghth. There must be something else in the cider that makes it seem like a stronger buzz. Everyone who partook in the debauchery over the weekend has commented on how potent that stuff was.

I never--ever drink hard liquor, because on the couple of occasions that I did, it apparently made me less than the happy drunk I am on beer, so I haven't touched the stuff in 15 years or more. So I readily accept the concept that not all booze gives you the same buzz.

I just checked the stuff that I pitched the yeast into Sunday morning, and it's a 1.0 already. I always start the yeast the night before in a half gallon growler, and the temp has been between 70 and 75. I did two other small batches with different ale yeasts as well, and one of those is as clear as filtered apple juice already. I'll probably rack and keg it tomorrow, and it should be clear, carbonated, and ready to go by Sunday.

We'll see how it turns out. I'm thinking this weekend, I'll serve it in sleeves, instead of 20 oz pint glasses... because even if it is 6-6.5% vs 5%, after 4 or 5 glasses, that's probably enough to make a diff.
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Old 10-26-2011, 07:00 PM   #8
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Only a thought, but if your fermenting warm you might also have enough fusols hanging around to knock you out a bit. I know my first mead was full of them and even a month in a few sips would make me light headed. Once it had aged I was able to drink it normally and be fine.

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Old 10-26-2011, 09:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bottlebomber View Post
I think rather than it seeming stronger it is the slightly different psychoactive effect of a fructose based alcohol rather than a maltose that your getting a stronger buzz from. I've also noticed that whenever I drink the first couple pints from a brand new brew, I get WAY more of an effect from it than what I've been drinking, or even from subsequent evenings of drinking the same stuff. That's the only thing I can think of. There's no way your getting 12% abv from straight juice
ethanol is simply ethanol. there are no different forms of ethanol. no matter which sugar you give yeast, fermentation will produce one type of ethanol.
please correct me if i am wrong.

edit: after thinking of this more, the only other thing i came up with is the production of fusel alcohols, but consumption of these is toxic and would not lead to enjoyable effects observed with ethanol consumption
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mewithstewpid

ethanol is simply ethanol. there are no different forms of ethanol. no matter which sugar you give yeast, fermentation will produce one type of ethanol.
please correct me if i am wrong.

edit: after thinking of this more, the only other thing i came up with is the production of fusel alcohols, but consumption of these is toxic and would not lead to enjoyable effects observed with ethanol consumption
In theory this makes sense, but in practice I have found that different alcohols produce different mental states. There may be more complex chemicals in play than simple ethanol.
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