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Old 03-31-2012, 12:07 PM   #1
AussieCider
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Default Newbie with fermentation questions.

Hi all! I'm Coen.
I'm new here, so I may as well introduce myself and give a bit of background. I'm a young aussie bloke studying for a Bachelor of Science in Viticulture and Oenology. I do like wine.....but I much prefer cider, so the way I see it, I will apply what I learn about growing grapes and making wine, to growing apples and making cider......one day....

Anyways, I have recently started a couple of VERY small batches of cider (1.5L each). The first is a very much blind batch, I bought some juice, threw some yeast in it and hey presto, it fermented. I didn't have a hydrometer at the time, so It really was a blind run. It has been fermenting for nearly a week now and I racked it to secondary yesterday. I can't really ask too much about that one, because I don't have enough detail to tell you guys. I will just have to play that one by ear.
What does confuse me however, is my second batch. I started with my juice, added some DAP as per the instructions, then added sugar to get an initial SG of 1060 and made a starting culture for the yeast. A few hours later I added the very active yeast to the juice and shortly after the airlock was bubbling away happily. It bubbled all night and the reading the next day gave me an SG of 1016. which, from what I have read is a HUGE drop over that time period. It bubbled for the next whole day and slowed to almost a stop the next day....with an SG of 1002.

It still has some little bubbles rising up in the cider. The solution is currently quite cloudy which I guess is to be expected.

What I am wondering about is this: Is my fermentation too fast? The way I see it, its nearly ready to be racked off to secondary.....and we are only 3 days in. I see people on here talking about spending 3 WEEKS in primary to get low enough SG to hit secondary. Did I add too much yeast? Have I done something wrong?

Another observation I have made is that the cider smells VERY yeasty. I guess this is to be expected....but I am not certain, any thoughts?
My budget (and the fact that I live in Aus.....AKA its bloody hot) only allow minimal temperature control. My cupboard seems to maintain a pretty constant 26C at the moment, which is the coolest I could find in the house.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated people.
Thanks heaps in advance.



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Old 03-31-2012, 01:23 PM   #2
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The biggest issue with fermenting too quickly is that the yeast might generate too much heat. High heat can generate off flavors. You didn't mention which yeast. Red wine yeasts tend to tolerate higher temperatures better. You probably added too much yeast. 1g per 4-5L is normal.

Yeast will struggle fermenting for a number of reasons, including low pH and lack of nutrients. IMO people who ferment their wine/cider/mead for months are doing it wrong. If the yeast is stressed, it's more likely to make sulfur and fusels than if it's happy and healthy.



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Old 03-31-2012, 01:24 PM   #3
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That's pretty fast alright. Likely culprit is the heat. Doesn't mean it wont be good though, just be patient. Since you have little control over the heat of your fermentation space I would recommend using a yeast that can tolerate those temps in the future.

Don't worry about the yeasty smell.

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Old 03-31-2012, 01:41 PM   #4
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Even if I reach terminal gravity within a few days (which I have never actually had happen) I'd probably still leave it in the primary vessel for at least a week and a half to two weeks. My theory is that it gives the yeast some time to clean up after themselves. This will also allow you to let the cider clear a little more. The more you let it settle in the primary, the less lees you'll have in secondary.

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Old 04-01-2012, 01:20 AM   #5
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Wow. This place is great. Thanks so much guys.

I will keep the 1g/4-5L in mind for the next batch. Just one question though, that is 1g of dry yeast before it is activated right? I used a Champagne yeast, I can't remember it's exact name though. What would be some suggestions for good heat tolerant yeasts?

I nearly racked it last night just going from my Hydrometer readings, but I held off to read what everyone here had to say. It sounds like it would be a better idea to leave it at least for another week in primary, so I will do so.

I will update and let you guys know how it all goes once I get a bit further along with it.

I now have some new plans for the next batch: Higher heat tolerant yeast, less yeast in total and possibly looking at making my ferment space a little cooler, or finding a new one if suitable.

Thankyou all so much again. You have told me exactly what I needed to know, and then some!

Until next time

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Old 04-01-2012, 02:01 AM   #6
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If you have access to Belgian yeasts, especially Saison yeasts, those would be ideal. I prefer ciders made with ale yeasts, in general. For a dry option I like Fermentis T-58. If those are not an option, I had pretty good success with Lalvin RC212 without any temp. control. After that I'd recommend K1V-1116, then EC-1118. Red Star sells EC-1118 as "Premier Cuvee." RC212 needs more nitrogen than the other two, so up the DAP by 1.5x when using it.

Steer clear of Montrachet. Cote des Blanc does OK if you can't find any of the other ones.

I like to taste every batch every time I take a hydrometer reading. You will be able to get a feel for how it's developing that way. Once you know what you're looking for, you can use your mouth to decide if it's ready to rack or not.

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Old 04-01-2012, 02:29 AM   #7
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If you have easy access to ice you can maintain a cooler ferment in a waterbath. Set your fermenter in a larger tub filled with water and kept chilled with ice. Cover with towels or blankets for insulation.

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Old 04-01-2012, 05:32 AM   #8
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Hi Nateo. I will keep my eyes open for the yeasts mentioned. The one I started with was a Lalvin product....but I can't remember which exact one. I have been tasting at my hydrometer readings so I have noticed a bit of development in my ciders.

I would do that Roadymi, but the area I am currently brewing in is pretty small, and the ice wouldn't last long either.

Thanks again people!

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Old 04-01-2012, 05:34 AM   #9
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Oh, one other thing. I have had a look around today for some decent scales. I know I need to measure things in parts of grams sometimes, but the only scales I could find in the multiple department stores nearby were ones that measured in 1g divisions. Any ideas where I might be able to get some more precise scales on the cheap? thanks.

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Old 04-01-2012, 01:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AussieCider View Post
Oh, one other thing. I have had a look around today for some decent scales. I know I need to measure things in parts of grams sometimes, but the only scales I could find in the multiple department stores nearby were ones that measured in 1g divisions. Any ideas where I might be able to get some more precise scales on the cheap? thanks.
Head shops typically have a wide selection of scales that go down to 0.1, 0.01 and 0.001.

Another option for keeping your primary cooler is called a 'swamp cooler'. Essentially, your carboy is sitting in a water filled tub and wrapped in a towel with a fan blowing on it for constant evaporation.


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