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Old 07-12-2011, 07:57 PM   #1
DigiManTX
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Hello all. Name is Brian, 34 yrs old, Firewall Engineer, Garland, TX... New to home brewing anything. With that said, I figured I'd start off with something "simple".

A friend has been brewing cider for a while, so I thought I'd give it a go with maybe a different style. The way he does it, it usually takes 5-6 months. From the research I've done it seems that there are a million different ways. His last batch was not bad, just a bit "vinegary" smelling. He gets everything going in a carboy and lets it go with touching it for at least 5 months (no racking, hydro readings, nothing), and from what I'm reading, it seems that that is a bit long and wrong. LOL

Here is what I plan on doing: (Please feel free to tell me where I might be wrong)

I have a 6 ga glass carboy setup that I will use to make a big batch, but for now I have (4) 1 ga jugs of cider that I ordered from Sams and stoppers/airlocks to fit them. I want to try different combinations of sugars (ie. white, brown, honey, etc.). I would like to have some recommendations on sugar quantity. As I understand it, the amount of sugar directly equates to the final abv. I see some use 1/2lb, 1lb, 2lbs, etc. I have Lavlin D47 wine yeast, campden tabs, yeast nutrient, and fruit essences. Once I find the batch I like I will make the 6 ga carboy with that setup.

From what the guy at my local home brew hq told me is that I can use campden tabs to sterilize my equipment 1 tab per ga, but to only use 1 tab for a whole 5-6 ga batch of cider to kill bacteria and wild yeast. So my 1st question is, does this sound right? I have seen several people say to use 1 tab per ga of cider, and almost nothing on using it as a "sterilizer" for equipment.

My next question is primary fermentation. Should I really be doing that in a bucket? Also, I have read to let it go for 1-2 wks until you see less than 1 bubble per min, but then I read that is the wrong way to judge when it's ready to rack. LOL!

3rd question... when to not have bottle bombs? My buddy had problems with the last batch (even after 5 months) with bottles exploding on him. I see that you can stop fermentation by using potassium sorbate, but that may impart bad flavoring. So is cold crashing the way to go to stop fermentation? And if you do that, that means it has to stay cold from that point forward correct? On top of all that...I do not want a carbonated cider.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated, and never taken for granted. I realize that people's time is worth more than cash in most cases.



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Old 07-12-2011, 09:37 PM   #2
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for equipment sanitization most winemaking manuals i have seen recommend somewhere in the order of 1 tsp of k-meta (campden) per liter + a pinch of citric acid, which (somehow?) makes the sulfite more deadly. 1 teaspoon of powder is around 10 tablets i think but check that before you have it tattoed. i would not add sulfite to juice from a bottle which comes sterile, there are no organisms in there to suppress. you can if you want and it will help prevent oxidation later if you rack. even with fresh juice not everyone adds it (i generally don't, but you will get many different opinions on this) and your yeast of choice still take over fine and inhibit other organisms, but it is safer to add it and won't harm anything. the amount of actual sulfite in your final drink will be very low.
you can ferment in any vessel from a glass carboy to a pot with a towel over it. once fermentation is winding down though you want to get it under airlock with minimal headspace / exposure to air. as you rightly suspect, forget any talk of bubbles in the airlock, get a hydrometer and use it. couldn't be easier and could barely be cheaper. that will enable you to decide what % alc you want and with a bit of math and an online calculator will tell you how much sugar to add to get there. i don't add sugar, most plain apple juice will ferment dry to give in the order of 6-8% and i don't want my cider any higher, so i can drink a lot of it and still see.
if your cider has fermented dry you have no risk of bombs. if the gravity does not change over say a week you are good to bottle, no sorbate or cold needed. depending on the juice and your personal taste you might want to give it time to clear.
cold temps will help it to clear, and can be used to temporarily halt they yeast during fermentation but even if you cold crash and rack off the yeast you are unlikely to prevent a restart of fermentation if you bring it back to room temp. if you want to backsweeten you can add k-meta and sorbate and then sweeten it as much as you like.



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Old 07-12-2011, 10:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dinnerstick View Post
for equipment sanitization most winemaking manuals i have seen recommend somewhere in the order of 1 tsp of k-meta (campden) per liter + a pinch of citric acid, which (somehow?) makes the sulfite more deadly. 1 teaspoon of powder is around 10 tablets i think but check that before you have it tattoed. i would not add sulfite to juice from a bottle which comes sterile, there are no organisms in there to suppress. you can if you want and it will help prevent oxidation later if you rack. even with fresh juice not everyone adds it (i generally don't, but you will get many different opinions on this) and your yeast of choice still take over fine and inhibit other organisms, but it is safer to add it and won't harm anything. the amount of actual sulfite in your final drink will be very low.
you can ferment in any vessel from a glass carboy to a pot with a towel over it. once fermentation is winding down though you want to get it under airlock with minimal headspace / exposure to air. as you rightly suspect, forget any talk of bubbles in the airlock, get a hydrometer and use it. couldn't be easier and could barely be cheaper. that will enable you to decide what % alc you want and with a bit of math and an online calculator will tell you how much sugar to add to get there. i don't add sugar, most plain apple juice will ferment dry to give in the order of 6-8% and i don't want my cider any higher, so i can drink a lot of it and still see.
if your cider has fermented dry you have no risk of bombs. if the gravity does not change over say a week you are good to bottle, no sorbate or cold needed. depending on the juice and your personal taste you might want to give it time to clear.
cold temps will help it to clear, and can be used to temporarily halt they yeast during fermentation but even if you cold crash and rack off the yeast you are unlikely to prevent a restart of fermentation if you bring it back to room temp. if you want to backsweeten you can add k-meta and sorbate and then sweeten it as much as you like.
awesome info... thank you! that is a lot more tabs than he said to use... now i'm even MORE confused! LMAO!

you say if it ferments dry then no bottle bombs... what is considered dry?

any comment on the quantity of sugar to add?
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Old 07-12-2011, 10:53 PM   #4
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i just realized that what my buddy has been making is actually apfelwein and not hard cider... we don't have a hydro yet, but with the amount of sugar he's adding the alcohol content is got to be greater than a cider. and i'm guessing the longer it ferments the "dryer" it gets...

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Old 07-12-2011, 11:46 PM   #5
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how much is he adding?

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Old 07-13-2011, 06:35 AM   #6
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dry in absolute terms means all the sugar is used up. with cider this usually means a final gravity of around 0.998 but with high alcohol % this will be even lower as ethanol is less dense than water
1 campden per g is the standard amount for suppressing other stuff in fresh cider and i believe for neutralizing chloramine in tap water but i don't use tablets so if i am wrong can someone correct that
you can get from your brewing supply a variety of sanitizers and then not worry about using sulfite for that job.
on that note i personally recommend being clean but not anal before fermentation, and then being super clean and anal as fermentation is finishing and from then on.
for sugar (get a hydrometer!) as a rough estimate- lets say your juice is 1.050, which will ferment dry to around 6.5%, and you want 8%, you need to start around 1.060-1.062;
1.062 is around 15.2% sugar (15 g / L) and 1.050 is around 12.5% (looked up on a chart- % sugar in g/L is the same as brix #). so you need to add about 2.5 g / L to make your desired alcohol %. you can fuddle those numbers into non-metric based systems of your choice. you now should be able to do the kessel run in just over 19 parsecs- not half bad

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Old 07-13-2011, 06:38 AM   #7
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whoops one gaping error above- it's early and i haven't finished my coffee. brix and % sugar are in g / 100 ML and NOT g / L so those numbers are off by a factor of 10. for the above example you would need to add 2.5 g per 100 ml or 25 g per liter, sorry

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Old 07-13-2011, 11:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
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how much is he adding?
2lbs per ga
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Old 07-13-2011, 12:01 PM   #9
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2lb/gal >> 25g/l

25g/l x 3.75l/gal ~= 93.75g/gal

93.75g/gal x 1kg/1000g x 2.4lbs/kg ~= 0.225 lbs/gal

So for what's above 1/4 lb/gal would do the trick.

Note: I haven't gotten out of bed yet and that's all in my head someone please check my conversions.

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Old 07-13-2011, 08:29 PM   #10
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ok... so what i got out of that is the more sugar, the more alcohol that is produced, therefor the longer the fermentation takes. is that a correct assumption?

what i want is something FLAT, apple flavored, (i will experiment with fruit essences), moderate abv (more than 5%, less than "kill people"), with the option of bottling in recycled wine bottles (without having bottle bombs).

from my understanding on getting the "no bottle bombs" is:

ferment with wine yeast in primary for about 2 wks
rack into secondary for another 2 wks
once FG is steady for a few days, add camp tabs, then it can be bottled with no bombs
another correct assumption?



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