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rbuyer 04-14-2010 08:38 PM

Issue with fermentation
Hey guys, having trouble getting my cider to ferment. I have done this twice before with fresh cider from whole foods and it has worked fine. However, I switched to Langers apple juice this time, and no luck so far. The cider has not started fermenting as far as I can tell. I know airlock activity isn't a good measurement, but there have been no bubbles to indicate CO2 or any foam, and my room doesn't reek of apples and yeast like usual. I started it the afternoon of the 8th, about 6 days ago, feel like it should definitely have started by now. My ingredients are:
4 1/2 gallons of Langers apple juice (preservative free, I checked)
6 lbs of brown sugar
Cinnamon + nutmeg
1 tsp Wyeast nutrient blend
Wyeast 4184 smack pack for 5 gallons
SG: 1.101
Temp: 71 F

Anything you guys can think of as a reason why this wouldn't work? I sanitized with bleach (I know this isn't optimal, but I rinsed for about 15 minutes afterwards) the cider was about room temp when I pitched the yeast. Any ideas? Thanks.

kg4lwp 04-14-2010 08:52 PM

Did the Wyeast smack pack swell up like it says on the back of the package?

rbuyer 04-15-2010 01:24 AM

Yep, it did. Smacked it about 16 hours prior to use, left it at room temp.

Fletch78 04-15-2010 01:55 AM

Sounds odd for sure. What exactly did you do with the bleach rinse? How diluted was it? Cold or warm water for soak and hot or cold for rinse? Have you taken a hydro to see if there's any gravity drop?

Unless the "no preservative" Langers apple cider has Vit C as preservative in a screw-up amount from the factory making it really acidic, I don't know what to tell you. What did it taste like before you started?

Kauai_Kahuna 04-15-2010 10:22 AM

Fresh Cinnamon contains oils that retards yeast activity. It's not much and the yeast most certainly will win the battle, but it slows them down.
When I rarely use spices I add them after primary fermentation has finished, and before racking to secondary.
-why? Primary fermentation drives off a lot of the desired taste and flavour.
-I like the yeast to do their thing, then the spices / fruit / etc to do theirs.
I'm sure it is fermenting, it's just taking it's time.
If its in a bucket, I would do a little light stirring to lower the C02, and then take a hydro reading just to let me know what's going on.
I like to say remember your the manager of the yeast, but they work in their own way.
You need to provide a good work environment, and get the flock out of their way. They know their job and will do it given the right environment.
Just as a minor note, I have never used Cinnamon + nutmeg without vanilla as a base just to even it out, I really am interested in how it works out.
Please let us know how it's going.

rbuyer 04-15-2010 08:38 PM

Hot water for the bleach, then rinsed with hot for 10 min and cold for 5 min. No gravity drop. It does have absorbic acid, but I thought that was ok?

Any idea how long it will retard the yeast for? This seems like quite a long time by now, should I add a starter? This is very good stuff to know about the spices, thanks. I will definitely keep that in mind. I''ll mix it up, take another reading and get back to you.

Fletch78 04-15-2010 11:50 PM

For future reference, bleach works better with cold water for the soak, and hot water rinse. Hot water severely weakens the bleach. But that's not your problem.

Based on everything here, the only thing I can think of is bad yeast, despite the smack-pack rising. If you are going to repitch, you should do it right now. The longer it sits there not fermenting, the greater risk of contamination. Even if that means using bread yeast because the LHBS isn't convenient.

Ascorbic acid is ok, I was just pointing that out in response to some suggestion of adding acid to adjust ph.

Let us know how this turns out.

vespa2t 04-16-2010 03:08 AM

I think I would get a nice fat starter of S04 or other yeast going and pitch it. At this point you dont have anything to lose. My experience with slow (or no) start is that after I re-pitch with a healthy starter that it will get going. I usually dont use the same yeast strain on the second pitch.

rbuyer 04-16-2010 11:45 PM

I've never done a starter before, I looked it up on the forum and got the basic idea. Not really a LHBS around, is bread yeast actually viable? Will it affect the cider taste too much?

BrewBuddy 04-17-2010 10:44 PM

When using commercial juice I always use a starter. Give that yeast a chance to reproduce and be happy. It also reduces the chance of the yeast to go into shock.

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