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Old 05-25-2010, 03:26 AM   #1
RunawayOctober
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Default Noob Help, please!

My husband and I are attempting our second batch of Hard Cider and something is wrong. Apparently we didn't learn from the first one we tried.

Recipe:
2 1/3c local clover honey
Apple Juice (no preservatives) to top up a gallon.
1/4tsp Vinter's Harvest CY17 yeast

All in a glass jug, balloon as an airlock. Since our results have been dismal we're hesitant to spend much money on equipment.

We shook well, 30 minutes. And some the next day.

Starting SG: 1.10 on 5/7/2010
SG tonight after racking: 1.015

Doesn't that put it at around 2% ABV? It tastes slightly dry but light, alcohol-wise.

What do we need to add? Logically more honey, but is it possible the yeast is gone? The reason we used 1/4tsp was because my husband used a whole packet (enough for 6 gallons) in the last one gallon batch and we couldn't get it to stop "drying out". Since then I've done some research and realized that we needed to kill the yeast and we could have saved it. My dad drank it instead. Yuck.

We're also a little confused about nutrient and energizer. What's the difference? When should they be added? We have both but didn't know if we should add either.

Thanks for your help!

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Old 05-25-2010, 03:42 AM   #2
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http://www.brewersfriend.com/abv-calculator/

11 percent ABV if your readings were correct. Depending on the yeast's alcohol tolerance, it may be finished. Keep in mind it's only a few weeks old so it's definitely not going to taste great. My last cider sat for a few months before drinking it. In general I normally plan on either letting the cider go completely dry and then add sugar or apple juice after the yeast is completely done, or build your OG up so much that the finishing gravity is about where you want the sweetness to finish up at.
Not sure if you needed the yeast nutrient since it seems your yeast did a good job without it, but normally I add mine at the beginning when I'm shaking everything up. No experience with energizer.
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:09 AM   #3
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My minimal knowledge may effect... but honey lacks some of the better nutrients a yeast culture needs to do its thing. Look to adding some actual sugar at the outset gives them a bit of go juice... as well use the yeast nutrient that'll feed the lil gaffers and get their production levels up... this can also lead to a need for racking but heck it'll be for the better!

To top it all off spend a few bucks get some equipment... if its just for some rubber and a proper airlock... you're looking at a possible bacteria or outside intrusion but you can't trust those balloons!

So I digress, try real sugar and cut some honey, or use yeast nutrients, later on back sweeten and let it rest a little bit of time in some bottles. Their are some awesome recipes on here... Look some up and give it a shot!

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Old 05-25-2010, 02:08 PM   #4
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You know, for like $5, you can get a bung and airlock, and the quality will improve.

I make cider with just apple juice and yeast all the time. You want to cut down on costs - try it without adding any honey/sugar.

Allow it to age for at least 3 months, maybe even 6 before drinking.

Are you racking at all?

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Old 05-25-2010, 02:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hophead75 View Post
Not sure if you needed the yeast nutrient since it seems your yeast did a good job without it.
I'll second that.

Your yeast has a 15% alcohol tolerance, so you could add more honey (or fermentable of your choice) to bring up the ABV - the yeasts are probably still healthy enough to eat it. If they don't respond by a few days after you feed 'em, add some more yeast and/or nutrients. (Apparently they're happiest between 72˚ and 78˚, just in case.)

And it could take a year or more for your cyser to taste it's best.
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Old 05-25-2010, 03:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunawayOctober
The reason we used 1/4tsp was because my husband used a whole packet (enough for 6 gallons) in the last one gallon batch and we couldn't get it to stop "drying out"
So you want your cider to stay sweet? You have a few options - you can kill the yeast by adding sulfites, or you can crash cool the cider and get the yeast to drop out of suspension. Either way it will effectively halt fermentation, keeping the cyser (juice +honey = cyser) sweet.

However, if you keep the cyser sweet, you won't be able to carbonate it. Not sure if you care about that or not. For all practical purposes it's a trade-off, sweet uncarbonated cider or dry, carbonated cider. There are some that backsweeten with Splenda or lactose or other unfermentable sweeteners, but I've found the taste of those off.
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:08 PM   #7
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Awesome guys. Thank you!

I must be reading my hydrometer wrong then. It's got the specific gravity, the potential ABV and the Sugar oz/gallon. 1.015 on the hydrometer is equal to about 2% ABV, but I guess you base that on the starting SG and the final SG. I have a lot to learn.

We did end up adding more honey, there doesn't seem to be alot of activity. My final goal is a mildly sweet cyser - More like a Fox than a Hornsbys. My husband wants it to be strong enough to eat through Styrofoam cups. Well... he hasn't said that, but he's very concerned about getting the ABV up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CandleWineProject View Post
You know, for like $5, you can get a bung and airlock, and the quality will improve.

Are you racking at all?
Will it fit in a standard gallon jug, or would we need carboys too? Our LHBS is 30 miles away, so my husband goes on the way home from work. I never get to check out the goodies.

Racking, as in siphoning off the clear stuff and leaving behind the sediment? Yes. Not sure if I get to use the fancy terms, since our process and equipment is very McGyver-esque.

I've spent some time looking through the recipes, but most are for 5 gallons. Are there any good ones for a gallon that don't take anything that would call for a trip to the LHBS? Any favorites?

Thanks again guys!
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Old 05-26-2010, 02:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunawayOctober View Post
Will it fit in a standard gallon jug, or would we need carboys too?
I've spent some time looking through the recipes, but most are for 5 gallons. Are there any good ones for a gallon that don't take anything that would call for a trip to the LHBS?
Yes it will fit. Bungs come in many sizes, just bring your bottle in to the LHBS.

Like in cooking recipes, you can scale down these recipes (divide each ingredient by 5). You may not want to scale the yeast down quite as much though (maybe 1/2 packet instead of 1/5) - it'll ferment quicker.

I used 1 can AJ concentrate ($0.92) and 96 oz AJ ($1.50) from walmart plus 1/3 packet yeast ($1.00 for whole packet), replaced some of the juice with concentrate, and fermented it in it's bottle. That's a grand total of $3.42 + bung & airlock ($2.75 one time expense) = $6.17! And only $2.76 per additional 3/4 gal batch.

I fermented 4 at a time with a different yeast strain in each. Now I can compare.
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