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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Cider Forum > Results from juice, yeast and sugar experiments
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Old 10-01-2009, 06:12 PM   #151
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CvilleKevin

Thank you very much for your timely response and depth of information. I'm sure looking forward to trying something new. I think in light of pitching into the Sankey and only doing a single batch at the moment I will rehydrate the yeast in some boiled (Cooled to 100F) water before pitching.

Thanks again.

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Old 10-03-2009, 10:25 PM   #152
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Default The first keg of 2009 harvest season is in the fridge!

Damn, it is good to have cider on tap again!

Last night I kegged the S04 Wildflower Honey batch and left it on gas in the fridge so that I could pour a decently carbed liter off for SWMBO to share with some friends this afternoon. It could still use another day of carb, but it tastes very very nice. life is good.

Just about all of the September 14th pressing is stable now and either clearing in secondaries, or about to go into kegs. Over all, the Cortland/McIntosh/Gala/Jonathan juice mix did great. This is the best round of batches I have ever done this early in the season. Five of the eight are highly drinkable now, less than two weeks after the pressing. There is a little more citrus taste in these batches than other, probably because these are early harvest apples. This batch was a little more work than usual because they fermented a couple days faster than I expected. Also the natural ferment crash had problems which forced me to repeatedly rack the others to slow them down. But now its all good.



The keg batches, from left to right across the back are:

(in fridge) S04 and wildflower honey – I racked this one three times on 9/21, 9/23 and 9/24 to slow the ferment down. The three rackings were nearly enough to stop it completely. I cold crashed it on 9/26, which stopped it dead at 1.010, Great smell, taste, & mouthfeel. The honey comes through but doesnt overpower the apple taste.

3068 with turbinado/dextose - This is SWMBO’s favorite batch. She had creative control on this one. I crashed it on 9/29 at 1.026, which does not taste nearly as sweet as you would think because the citric acid is so prominent. Its more of a mango/orange/apple juice sort of taste. This could go right in the keg now, but I’ll let it sit for a few more days and maybe rack it to a secondary to let it clear some more

Natural ferment – This tastes pretty crappy and it is my own fault. It got off to a slow start, then started fermenting like crazy. I cold crashed it on 9/21 at 1.010, thinking that this might be my best natural fermented batch yet. Then it got cold, the temps in my basement dropped, and the carboy froze halfway solid during the crash because the temp control on my fridge sucks. In retrospect, I should have just racked it anyway and left the ice behind with the lees, but I tried to let it thaw instead. When it finally thawed, I was at work and it took off fermenting again, and dropped another 8 points in less than 12 hours to 1.002. I crashed it again, but this time it took 3 days for it to clear, causing everything else that needed crashing to get delayed. Now its pretty flavorless, but tastes OK mixed with some of the 3068 batch.

S04 with no sugar (2) – crashed on 9/20 at 1.004. Racked to secondary on 9/26. I’ll be kegging this one next. Its on the dry side but has loads of flavor. Nice and smooth. Its one of the few batches this dry that I would go back for another glass rather than going for something a little sweeter.

S04 with no sugar (1) – this one I racked three times instead of cold crashing. The third racking stopped it dead at 1.002, a little drier than its brother batch. I’m planning to add some raspberries to this one and let it go a little longer.

4184 with turbinado/dextose – this one got a little further than I wanted before crashing on 9/27 at 1.004. Crashing cleared it nicely, but this yeast is pretty resilient to crashing and its continued to drop another 2 points since then, Flavor is good though. I figured from the getgo that this one would probably ferment all the way out and not get drinkable till next summer. That seems to be where it is headed.

S23 with turbinado/dextose – this is another great dry batch. Racked on 9/21, 9/22 and 9/23 to slow it down before finally crashing at 1.004 on 10/2. Its crisp and fruity, with great apple taste and good balance, could maybe stand less citrus. This one could also easily go into a keg right away, but I want to keep an eye on it for a while and make sure it stays stable before kegging it.

US05 with turbinado/dextose – this one is my favorite of this batch so far. Racked on 10/21, crashed on 10/22 and racked to secondary on 10/26. Very quaffable. I’ll get this one in a keg soon as well

The DME batches were mostly underwhelming. They all smell great, and I might do a little experimenting to see how little DME I can use to get that smell. The citric acid is much more prominent with these than with the keg batches. I crashed all of them except for the 3068 batches on 9/20 and they are all stable. They have mellowed a bit, but still not great. It tastes like a lot of the apple sugar fermented away leaving some malt sugar taste behind which is drinkable, but doesn’t really stand up to the keg batches.

I racked the 3068 DME batches on 9/29 to see if I could stop them just with a racking (at the urging of SWMBO) who liked the taste of these. The light malt batch was at 1.032, Wheat malt was 1.032 and Dark malt was 1.026. The light malt batch stopped dead in its tracks, the others have dropped a couple of points since then. These all taste pretty good, or at least interesting.

Of the others, the US05 batches taste the best. They have all got a little more mellow since crashing, but I cant see how these are going to be really good anytime soon. If they continue to improve by the time I get new juice next week, I’ll probably dump them all into a few kegs and let them continue to age, or else they might become vinegar stock.

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Old 10-04-2009, 06:34 AM   #153
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This post is full of so much valuable information. I finally, after meaning to do it for 2 years got a batch of cider going thanks to this post. Great information. A few questions for you though. last year you were saying that nottingham is one of your favorite yeasts but you don't seem to be using it much this year. Any reason for that? your dme experiments don't seem to have gone to well. Do you plan on tinkering with this anymore? I'm thinking LME might have a better effect, reminds me more of honey than DME. Anyone else on board with me on this? or am I missing something? It could just be that the flavor profile of the apples is just too delicate to handle something like malt altogether. Gives me a couple of pretty radical ideas, although I don't have the means (or space for that matter) to try it. Any all grain brewers out there fooling around with cider at all as well? honey nut brown cider anyone?

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Old 10-04-2009, 02:59 PM   #154
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True, I havent been using Notty on the last few rounds of keg batches. Its a good all around cider yeast and I still like it a lot, although for specific styles there are others that I like better. S04 is a little better for cysers and fruity tasting ciders, US05 is better for something a little darker. S23 is a PIA to control, but makes a great dry cider if you can catch it right before it munches the last of the sugar. Brewers, wine makers and aficionados like the wild yeast batches (when I dont screw them up) and the Ladies Love 3068. Notty can cover all of these bases, but not as well as the other can individually, although in fairness to the Notty, I have it used it since eliminating the use of k-meta before the yeast pitch. All the batches I've made with other yeasts have improved since then, and since I still have a package of Notty in the fridge, I might use it for the next round.

Yeah, my DME experiments were pretty much of a bust, although they did make the basement smell great. I may tinker some more with it, but probably not for a while. I was mostly interested in whether it would ferment out on its own, without having to crash and still leave a decent amount of sugar behind. The answer to that is no. It tastes like all the apple sugar fermented off and left just the malt unfermentables. It might be that a later season juice mix, without so much citrus acid would have worked better, but I doubt it. I used the same juice and yeast combinations in the keg batches with sugar and honey and they are much smoother and more balanced.

Its possible that using DME is one application where it really is better to start with the bland store bought stuff, in which case you're really making something more like a Magic Hat #9, but with apples. That would probably taste pretty good but its not really what I'm going for. I want something with some terroir. I'm with you on using liquid instead of dried extract if I were to experiment with this again. I might try some pilsen syrup because my girlfriend likes pilsners.

I tell my friends who are brewers that making a really good keg of cider is comparable to all grain in terms of effort - except that all of the work comes after the yeast pitch instead of before (actually, its a bit of work to locate a source of good juice, but you only have to do that once or twice). That said, a honey nut brown cider sounds pretty good.

For the next round of experiments, I'm checking out six new wheat yeasts, plus Wyeast's pilsner Urquell (that is SWMBO's favorite beer right now), to see how these stack up against the 3068. So far, I've tried a couple of dry wheat yeasts which have been disappointing, but I'm hoping that some of these liquids will have the same properties of the 3068, namely:
1) SWMBO likes it a lot
2) Most women like it a lot, guys are OK with it, the keg almost always floats first at parties
3) Its easy to get the fermentation to stick at high SGs, just by racking. I'm pretty sure that this is because the 3068 consumes a lot of nitrogen and other nutrients, compared to other yeasts. If one wanted to do a bottle fermented sweet cider, one alternative to starting with juice that is low in nitrogen or keeved would be to use a yeast that will use up most of the nutrients, stick it, and then maybe use a ale or champagne yeast to bottle carb. For this season, I'm just trying to find some more decent tasting yeasts that I can reliably get to stick.
4) did I mention SWMBO likes it a lot?

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Old 10-06-2009, 09:08 AM   #155
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Kevin,
Thanks for all this amazing information, wonderfully complete and well-written. I really appreciate your methodical brewing and tasting.

I'm <very> new to brewing and am brewing my first cider very soon. Like so many, I'm also looking for a semi-sweet, mildly-alcoholic cider with lots of apple flavor. I'm also on a budget, am using all my own fresh-pressed apple juice, and would really like to bottle carb. I'm starting to realize that until someone finds the right yeast, that might not be possible. But then I read a more recent post of yours-

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Originally Posted by CvilleKevin View Post

3. The point of cold crashing is to get the yeast out of your cider, so if you are successful, you wont be able to get a bottle ferment.

Bottle carb is tough. You have a couple of options. In either case you dont want to cold crash: You can let the cider ferment all the way dry and then use priming sugar. That will give you a very dry, but sparkling cider.

If you have fridge space and dont mind taking a few risks, you could bottle as soon as you have just a little more than the final level of sweetness you want. Let them sit at room temp for a couple of days and then start drinking one a day. When they get to the level of carb you want, put them all in the fridge and keep them cold. You run a few risks here tho - if the yeast is not evenly distributed in each bottle, you might end up blowing one before you get them all in the fridge. And if a housemate or SWMBO decides to make space in the fridge by putting your ciders somewhere else, that could be bad news.
That last part seems like a great plan to me. You covered the danger of those bottles being removed from the fridge- which I assume would allow the yeast to start fermenting the left over sugar and eventually blow the bottle. However, I am wondering-

Would it be possible to chill or heat the bottles to kill the yeast? This way, I wouldn't have to keep them cool indefinitely. I am thinking it would work just like a cold crash does in your larger vessels.

I was also curious, how exactly do you cold crash your cider? Is there minimum length of time, or temperature you aim for?

Thanks in advance,
Max
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Old 10-06-2009, 02:36 PM   #156
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I'm not sure whether you could kill the yeast by freezing the bottles. It might, but my guess would be not. Heating them to pasteurization temps is more likely to kill the yeast, but I'm not sure what that would do to the taste. It probably wouldnt be any worse than fermenting it dry and adding some nonfermentable sugar.

You could try making a gallon, bottle a few and see if either method works. Just make sure the bottles are in a place that is easy to clean. Making a proper bottle of champagne is tricky business and you can be sure that the traditional cider houses burst plenty of bottles while working out their process, so make sure you are working in a space that is easy to clean when you experiment with new bottle carb methods.

Remember, you can always drink it still. Cider is a lot more like wine than cider and tastes perfectly good still. Its not like beer, which doesnt taste right if its not carbed.

When I cold crash, I rack to a sanitized carboy and then chill the carboy for at least 24 hours. Sometimes it takes 2-3 days, but the ale yeasts usually clear in 24 hours. Then rack back into the original carboy (after cleaning it) Dont try to get all of the juice on the 2nd rack because that is where the yeast is. I usually leave a pint behind, which you can always pour out and drink while you are cleaning the carboy you just emptied. During the crash I try to get it as cold as I can without freezing, which is a bit of a challenge because I have an old fridge and the inside temp drops a bit when the basement temps drop. One of these days I'll get a decent chest freezer with a good temp control.

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Old 10-06-2009, 08:24 PM   #157
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Another option for cold crashing that a buddy of mine used last week is to sit the carboy in a keg bucket and ice it down for 24 hours. His cleared beautifully and no need to worry about accidentally freezing the cider or clearing enough space in the fridge. Only cost is a couple bucks for ice. I'll probably try this myself if I ever get into a situation where I need to crash more than one at a time again.

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Old 10-08-2009, 09:43 PM   #158
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Default Some more cider pron for ya!

I just made another run to the orchard this morning. 104 gallons, which is a record haul for me. Six of the carboys are mine, the other eight are for friends



The juice is a mix of 50% Stayman, 25% York and 25% Empire. SG of 1.054 and pH of 3.9 - thats the highest PH of any juice I've got since I bought the meter last year. It tastes great. It doesnt start as sweet (even though higher sg) or finish quite as tart as the last batch, but it has much more flavor in the middle and a lot more mouthfeel

The six keg batches will be five that are the same as last time (except no sugar for the 3068) and a new Notty batch:

S04 with no sugar
S04 and wildflower honey
US05 with turbinado/dextose
3068 with no sugar
Wild yeast
Nottingham with turbinado/dextose

I also got another 21 singles so that I could do a 3x7 experiment with some different liquid yeasts - six wheat and one pilsner urquel. For each of the yeasts, I'll do one batch with no sugar, one with 6oz of turbinado/dextrose and one with ~7oz of wildflower honey. The yeasts are:

Wyeast 1010 American Wheat
Wyeast 3056 Bavarian Wheat Blend
Wyeast 3333 German Wheat
Wyeast 3638 Bavarian Wheat
Wyeast 3942 Belgian Wheat
Wyeast 2001 Pilsner Urquell
White Labs WLP380 Hefeweizen IV

So we'll see how easy these are for inducing a stuck fermentation and how SWMBO likes em, compared to the 3068. Hopefully the basement will stay nice and cool and crashing these will be easier than the last batch!

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Old 10-08-2009, 10:42 PM   #159
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Approximately how much sugar and or honey are you adding to your 5 gal batches? About 2lb?

Any have you had any problems fermenting in just the gallon jugs? I just picked up 5 gallons and I am trying to decide if I should make a 5 gal batch or try what you are doing and make all 5 different.


Thanks for all the great info!

Ryan

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Old 10-08-2009, 11:16 PM   #160
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2lbs sugar or 3lbs honey. If original SG is greater than 1.060, I'll dial it back a bit

I've never had any problems using gallons. They are easier to crash and you can toss them in the recycling bin when done. Plus if something comes out really wretched, its not so bad giving up just a gallon.

I highly recommend playing around with different yeasts, because juice is different everywhere and tastes are different - then when you find one that is really great for your juice you can scale it up.

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