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Old 02-21-2012, 04:42 PM   #1
chalino
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Default perfect sanitation yields THREE batches of infected cider

Excuse the emotion in this thread. I'm so pi$$ed off I can't even express it. I'm a fairly experienced brewer and have always been OCD about sanitation. (NEVER have infected beer, BTW) I've recently made some cider. While I have juiced my own apples and made it that way, I had no infection at all, despite the obviously inevitable exposure using that method (used D47).

The problem I've had now with 15 gallons (three 5-gallon batches) is fermenting store bought cider. Twice with Wyeast's cider yeast it infected and I decided perhaps it was taking too long to get active based on airlock activity (or lack thereof). So I did a starter with a batch last Friday night (now Tue). I used nutrients, rehydrated 1118, and a half gallon of juice. About 18 hours later, no infection, bubbling away. So I added another half gallon of juice to keep enough sugar in there while I left town for the night. Sunday night, it looked good. So I dumped in the rest. Until this morning when I got up, not a hint of that sour infected smell I've become so familiar with. Now it's there.

Ok, now tell me, WTF have I done wrong?!?!?!??

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Old 02-21-2012, 05:48 PM   #2
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Are you sure it is infection and not get the overpowering tartness and alcohol left by the fermentation process??? The only reason I say this is you are comparing home made juice with store bought juice and the store bought stuff is not going to mask the young taste as well a fresh juice. Also store bought juice could have more acid that is masked when there is still sugar, but take away that sugar it comes out loud and clear. Once the fermentation process has started it is fairly hard to get an infection in your brew. If this has happened 3 times and you are as OCD about sanitation as you claim I am inclined to think it is your perception of the cider not an actual infection.

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Old 02-21-2012, 05:58 PM   #3
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Does the store bought stuff have ascorbic acid in it? (Or "added Vitamin C")

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Old 02-21-2012, 08:38 PM   #4
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Not sure I get it. Cider fermented dry will taste like sh!t unless you age it at least 3-6 months. I never touch my ciders until they are 8 months old; but you can push a 4-6month only cider into a decent draft cider if needed.

Sounds like you are commenting on young cider, not infection. If you taste vinegar, then you have problems. If it is simply sour or tart, then that is not a concern as it is young cider.

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Old 02-22-2012, 02:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daze View Post
I am inclined to think it is your perception of the cider not an actual infection.
That's an interesting notion. Feel free to inquire further if this doesn't clarify as I have much more anecdotal evidence to provide. Here's the thing: My first cider I made, I deemed a success. It was good. I drank it young (maybe a month old) and had used wyeast's cider strain. However, upon the guys at my brewshop tasting it, they said, "yeah, this is good, I can taste that _______ in it, gives it a sour flavor." I can't remember what bacteria he said it was, but he instantly identified it, and another confirmed it. It honestly went well with the cider, as sour is not necessarily undesirable with apples. However, it was AN UNINTENTIONAL infection. So I set out to do it again.

[Important note: I had subsequently prepared cider using the same brand of cider and yeast strain with both my father and a friend, each on their own equipment. If this raises questions of my sanitation, again, I've still never infected beer and have used the same carboy I used for cider to ferment beer and you guessed it...no infection.]

Each subsequent time the smell was stronger and the last infected batch started to smell like vinegar when I dumped it. I'm used to funky fermentation smells and totally ok with not-so-tasty flavors during the process. A testament to that is the several dozen gallons of mead I have bottled, nearly none of which was drinkable upon bottling.

If I had to describe the smell, I would say extremely sulphorous.

Regarding yeast taking hold, yes, the first infected batch (first one that I dumped, not the one I drank) definitely took too long to get active.

What's the deal with Campden? Should I use them? I've heard they don't take care of bacteria. You think my problem is bacterial?
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pickled_Pepper View Post
Does the store bought stuff have ascorbic acid in it? (Or "added Vitamin C")
Yes, it does. Other than raising acidity, I didn't think that would be a problem. Correct?
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:54 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by CidahMastah View Post
Not sure I get it. Cider fermented dry will taste like sh!t unless you age it at least 3-6 months. I never touch my ciders until they are 8 months old; but you can push a 4-6month only cider into a decent draft cider if needed.

Sounds like you are commenting on young cider, not infection. If you taste vinegar, then you have problems. If it is simply sour or tart, then that is not a concern as it is young cider.
How sour are we talking? And since acidity is sour, how much like vinegar or sulfur can it smell?

I'm comparing it to two other cases that used the same yeast (see my other reply for details) and both fermented clear. Crystal clear. We were drinking the stuff withing a month. And it was good. Dry, but good.

Mine, on the other hand, was cloudy and stinky.
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Old 02-22-2012, 04:00 AM   #8
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Cider fermentation smell so bad, I'm not sure how you would even try to pick out a sour infected smell. Same goes for the cloudy.

Let it age out for 6+ months and I'll bet it tastes fine. If not, add a bit of Sprite to sweeten it up (if that's what you are in to).

It sounds like you just got lucky before having something that was potable after a month. In my experience cider stays cloudy for 1-2 months, and tastes like lighter fluid for 6 months. After that the apple flavor comes back, and you've really got something good after a year.

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Old 02-22-2012, 07:21 AM   #9
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I would give it time, yeah. I had some horrible smells come out of my cider during fermentation as well. First time I tried I nearly considered it ruined, only to realize later that it was the rubber smell of the rubber stopper I use.

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Old 02-22-2012, 11:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chalino View Post
Yes, it does. Other than raising acidity, I didn't think that would be a problem. Correct?
I've heard of people saying ascorbic acid provides a noticeable sour character in young ciders. I've never used a juice with it so I can't say for sure.
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