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-   -   Quick question: is this normal??? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/quick-question-normal-357114/)

cjeanean 09-27-2012 06:29 AM

Quick question: is this normal???
I'm on my first batch, and it's been going for almost 5 days. I'm using a balloon airlock till I can get to the homebrew store (which should be tomorrow). First few days it was going like crazy, balloon was completely inflated. Now, the balloon has decreased in size and the cider has a bubbly layer of foam on the top (only a little, though, kinda like if you try to run a bubble bath with cold water and not enough soap). Is this normal? The cider hasn't cleared at all, and on primary inspection it doesn't look like there's a layer of lees on the bottom of the jug. Recipe is as follows:

4.5 gal apple juice (store bought, no preservatives)
3lbs table sugar (reduced in simple syrup)
1 packet of Lalvin 71b1122
Yeast nutrient per instructions

Jug is a #1 5 gal water bottle. When should I rack it? How will I be able to tell if primary is done with? I don't have a hydrometer, I thought I'd just wait till it started to clear.


Pratzie 09-27-2012 06:34 AM

I don't have any experience with that yeast, but mine used nottingham and is going on ten days and is still kicking a bubble out every 2-3 seconds. Maybe add a small hit of yeast nutrient to it again and see if it speeds up anything. And as far as racking i've read that some people here will ferment in primary for up to a month. Im letting it go to 2 weeks max and then racking, and then back sweetening prior to bottling. But it really won't clear, unless u cold crash, until after u bottle.

cjeanean 09-28-2012 12:18 AM

The balloon is now very small, and I'm switching to an airlock using a piece of coiled tubing filled with vodka or sanitizer. I think I'm going to rack it tonight or tomorrow, then I'll add about a teaspoon of nutrient mixed with some sterilized water for secondary, and let that go about 2-3 weeks. Does that sound like a decent plan? Is it safe to taste right now? I know it'll probably taste horrible, but it won't make me sick or anything, will it? Thanks!

outstretched 09-28-2012 12:39 AM

I don't know that you can really define normal in brewing. Things happen the way nature intends and it doesn't always look the same. May have simular characteristics and seem the same but nevertheless there is always unpredictable variables.

I am guessing you are going to be bottling this since it is your first batch / lack of equipment (please don't think I am being an ass we all started somewhere). I'd personally wait 2 weeks minimum closer to a month is probably better. This will allow more yeast to fall out of suspension and clear easier.

The only way to tell is fermentation is complete is with a hydrometer. Just because the yeast aren't farting (producing CO2) doesn't mean they aren't still eating sugar. Bottling without knowing where your sugar level is at is a recipe for disaster (insert bottle bomb search link here).

Waiting for it start to clear is subjective at best. It may take 2 weeks to start it may take 6 months.

No need to rack it yet. You'll just pull out yeast that is still needed to chomp down on your approximately (very rough estimate) ABV of around 11.2%. It's going to be hot (high alcohol flavor think lighter fluid) for awhile. The only thing that will make you sick at this point is the latex (if your allergic and I hope you're not) and the ****s you might get from drinking to much. Your cider should be safe for consumption if it smells half way decent (which it may not (see rhino farts)).

cjeanean 09-28-2012 02:30 AM


It doesn't smell bad (and never has, just went from strong to barely noticeable). It smells like warm apple bread. I can definitely smell yeast, and apple, but it's not bad. I think it smells pleasant (I suppose), and no hints of rotten eggs/sulfer. I'm not quite sure if "rhino fart" entails something powerfully disgusting (which is what I'm assuming) but if that's the case then no, it doesn't smell bad. But again, it never did.

cjeanean 09-28-2012 04:17 AM

So I went ahead and replaced my balloon airlock with a coil of vinyl tubing filled with sanitizer. I decided to go ahead and taste the cider, and although it is very yeasty it is no longer sweet. It's actually kinda watery, and although I can definitely taste the alcohol I don't have any idea how to guess what the content is at. It's still bubbling ever so slightly, with a 3/8 interior diameter tube with about 3 inches of sanitized water it's bubbling every 5 seconds or so. When I see lees gathering in the bottom of the bottle I'll rack to secondary, but as it stands it doesn't seem like a lot has fallen out of suspension. When I swapped airlocks I did end up moving the bottle, so the cider got agitated a bit (which I'm sure is probably a major no-no). I'll just keep letting it go and see how it turns out. Thanks!

ETA: I'm planning on backsweetening and carbonating, then pasteurizing. Hopefully no risk of bottle bombs when it's all said and done with :)

Pratzie 09-28-2012 04:41 AM

Most of the time when I've heard people talk of Rhino Farts, it involved the use of sulfites or Campden tablets, which as a side effect, give off a sulfur like odor.

But isn't that apple smell awesome? I had mine fermenting in my garage next to a bavarian hef and the entire garage smelled of bananas and apples.

cjeanean 09-28-2012 08:40 AM

I was rather surprised by how nice the smell was, actually. I was expecting something terrible! I'm just too damn impatient, I want it to be done already! I think future batches won't be so bad, but I want this one to hurry up!

Apple_Jacker 09-28-2012 11:47 AM

Patience is definitely important with brewing/fermenting. I rushed my first 2 cider batches and it didn't taste too great. However, if you do want something quick, look up the recipe for 5 day sweet country cider. I've done that a few times with good results. I didn't carve or bottle though; I left it still.

cjeanean 10-01-2012 03:03 AM

Today is day 9, there is little to no activity in the airlock, and the stuff has cleared up! It's not crystal clear, but it's no longer an opaque golden yellow. Very excited!

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