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Old 11-01-2009, 03:05 AM   #231
CvilleKevin
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Going from a 6 gal carboy to 1 gallon jugs is a little unconventional, but I dont see why it wouldnt work. If you have the gallon jugs and havent pitched the yeast yet, you might want to just start with gallons - that way you can experiment a bit with different yeasts, sugar, sgs etc.

As far as getting close to a JK Scrumpy - thats a tough one. Here's a thread on doing a clone http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/anyo...-clone-125852/

JKS is not easily replicated. Its a natural ferment done at lager temps with a great apple mix (Northern Spy, Cortland and Jonathan) that has been intentionally nitrogen limited and probably sweated to increase sugar content. SG is 1.024 but it doesnt taste all that sweet because the flavor from the natural yeast is so intense that it balances the sugar.

The closest I've had to a JKS was made by the guy who runs the cider mill I use. He used unpasteurized Stayman juice and left it in a 50 gallon barrel in an unheated shed over the winter.

I've had mixed results with natural ferments. I've had some really good ones, but they are a lot of work to keep stable and then crash unless you have a lagering setup. At this point, I've pretty much made up my mind only to do gallon batches for natural ferments from now on, because doing keg batches is so much work. Besides which, I only have a handful of friends who really appreciate a natural ferment. For most folks, a keg of S04, US05, Notty or 3068 really hits the spot, and these are much, much less work.

If you can get good unpasteurized juice, then I'd recommend experimenting around with some ale and wheat yeasts to see what you like. Dont add campden because the natural yeast is what gives JKS and similar farmhouse ciders the distinctive taste.

Wheat yeasts are probably the best for getting the wild flavor because they ferment so slow that the wild yeast leaves a pretty good imprint before the cultured yeast takes over. And the cultured yeast is a lot easier to crash, so you sort of get the best of both worlds. 3068 is more like a Normandy cider. JKS is a little heaver tasting, and I would say the heaviest tasting of the wheat yeasts is the WLP380, bumped up with a little sugar.

Personally, I like something a little lighter - for all the authenticity of a JKS or Normandy cider, its hard to beat S04 crashed at about 1.010 or so. You cant crash the ale yeasts too high though. Above 1.012 or so, they get a sort of sticky sweet taste. Wheat and natural yeasts you can crash at 1.020 or even 1.030 without them tasting overly sticky

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Old 11-02-2009, 02:12 PM   #232
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CK,
thanks for all the info. Got 4 out of 6 batches mentioned previously in primary, with the Granny's (or maybe I'll switch that to something more balanced) coming in this week. Everything's chugging along, they've all dropped from the 1.06/1.065 to 1.045-1.04 levels after 3 full days.

On the topic of blending, I'm used to the wine world where I do this on the tail end (just prior to bottling). Are you suggesting you prefer to do it in cider prior to ferment? If so, what do you find you gain?

Also, I'm thinking of racking to a secondary even if I'm not near my finishing level around day 5. This should slow the rate and spread out to the finish times. Any concerns with this? I'd love to use the 1 avail slot in my kegerator to cold crash all 6 eventual batches, so anything I can do to slow the fermentation I'm game for. Not sure what off flavors and aromas might be induced from a too-fast or hot ferment with cider, fusel alcohols?

Lastly, I haven't seen much on this thread on ML (malo-lactic) fermentation. Is this b/c most here aren't aging their ciders sufficiently long enough? Have you played with this much?

Thanks for all the sage advice. Cheers.
Ivano

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Old 11-02-2009, 03:06 PM   #233
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Ivano - Yes, I prefer to blend the juice prior to fermenting so that I know I have a good balanced juice mix to start with.

Sure - you could blend afterward if you wanted to. The main thing I gain from blending beforehand is confidence that I have a good juice mix. I'd be a little nervous about fermenting out batches that I knew were lacking in balance and trusting that I could pull it all together at the end with mixing. But that's just the way that I've always done it. I know that there are cider houses that wait til the end of the ferment to mix and that seems to work OK for them. I suppose it does give you some more creative control over the final product. Also potentially more variety in the final product, as you could change the mix around for different tastes.

My guess is that the taste probably would be a little different if you fermented the juices out separately and mixed rather than mixed beforehand, because the yeasts will be doing their things in different pH environments - but I've never experimented to confirm this and dont know if the results would be better or worse.

I have mixed batches post-ferment, but not for a while. Usually I do it with my one gallon experimental batches. There have been plenty that didnt taste all that great when they fermented out, and when that happens I'll often try to mix them together so that I can get a keg of something that tastes decent by mixing batches that have complimentary defects (mixing too tart with not tart enough, etc)

For my main keg batches, I'm usually going after a mix of styles using the same juice, and I'm not sure how well they would blend. For example the wheat yeast batches are very different from ale yeast blends, which are different from cysers, etc. But again, there are all sorts of ways to make cider and as long as they give good results, then there is no right or wrong way to do it. If you ferment the varieties separately and then mix, I'll be interested to know how it comes out.

Yes - racking helps to slow the ciders down. I had to do this with my first round of the season because the temps were so warm and I only have room for one at a time in the fridge. Often, with ale and wheat yeasts, you can stop them just by racking a few times. Sometimes they will stop with a single rack, so you probably want to be careful about racking them too early. I find that under normal temps, I can stagger them well enough just by mixing up the styles. S04 with no sugar ferments out first, then US05, Notty and S04 with sugar usually finish out next and a few days apart, batches with honey take a little longer and 3068 takes the longest. YMMV.

I've found that if a batch finishes sour, it will usually do an MLF by itself just sitting in a secondary for a couple months. Again, YMMV. I recently got a couple of ML cultures, to test out the next time that I get a gallon batch that finishes sour, but I havent had a good test case to try them out on yet.

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Old 11-04-2009, 05:54 AM   #234
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I see from the first page that you're fermenting at ~60F. I'm happy to see that, because that's just where my basement is getting to, and it's going to stay at that temp until spring. Did you have a hard time getting anything started? I know with making beer with some ale yeasts, they start VERY slowly, and I've had to carry them upstairs to get things rolling.

Did the Nottingham behave well at that temperature?

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Old 11-04-2009, 07:04 AM   #235
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I pitch the yeast in the kitchen, where the temp is usually around 70, then carry the carboys to the basement, so it starts a little warmer. Nottingham is a little slower than some of the other ale yeasts to get going - sometimes takes up to 24 hours, but it likes fermenting at 60.

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Old 11-04-2009, 03:17 PM   #236
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Kevin,
Thanks for all the great info.
Some comments/questions:
CO2 inhibits fermentation (I'm not sure of the complete mechanism, but carbonic acid probably plays a role). I've done batches where I bottled some still and some carbed. All the stills continued fermenting. The carbed bottles didn't change. Since I like them sweet and carbed, this happily seems to work out.
But I did have one batch (out of many) continue fermenting, even when carbed. No bottles blew, it was just too dry and champagney. I've never cold crashed, so I'll start trying that.

I've also had gallons ferment totally dry in the fridge. They started in the fridge so the yeast must have been able to handle the cold. Cold crashing wasn't an option.
JK Scrumpy obviously is doing something than just cold..

I've had no issue with aging ciders. I have several that are 4-5 years old. Several clearly improved with age, esp the molasses cyser.

How are you taking your SG readings? A thief and a refractometer?

Thanks again!

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Old 11-04-2009, 03:57 PM   #237
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Hi Kurt - thanks for the info!

Interesting that CO2 would inhibit fermentation - If I understand you correctly, you are saying that you can keg a batch before it is done fermenting but without cold crashing and after some amount of time at pressure, you can pull bottles from the keg without them re fermenting? Obviously, there must be a time element at work and not just the CO2 level, otherwise you could just bottle carb and the CO2 would stop the ferment before blowing the bottle. I wonder if perhaps what is happening is that the C02 is causing the yeast to settle so that when you pull a bottle from a keg you are leaving the yeast behind - which is similar to mechanism at work with cold crashing?

I almost always cold crash and so far the only batches that I've bottled still which started back up have been wild yeast batches. Ale and wheat yeast batches are the easiest to crash. I've never noticed sg dropping on a bottle that was pulled from a crashed and carbonated keg. What yeast were you using when you got a referment after the carb?

Yes - there are some yeasts that can handle the cold. S23 and 4184 for starters. For the S23, I have to rack a time or two after the crash to get it to stop fermenting and the 4184 seems to get pretty dry no matter what I do. When I cold crash, the goal is to get the yeast to floculate so that it stays behind on the subsequent rack. It doesnt surprise me that some would be able to continue to work at low temps if you dont rack them off. What yeasts did you use that went dry in the fridge?

Do you add k-meta either before or after the ferment? The only issues I've had with aging ciders is for the ones that I didnt add any k-meta. These tend to get vinegary after 6-9 months. I've found that half a dose of k-meta after the ferment will keep that from happening and the taste is almost impossible to detect a month later (as opposed to adding it before the ferment, where it is very noticeable for several months). So far the longest I've saved anything with k-meta added is about a year and a half and those were fine. I've thought about going to a closed racking system to avoid introducing any air while racking, which ought to extend the lifetime of batches with no k-meta, but this seems like a PIA. If there is an easier/better way to extend shelf life without k-meta, I would be very interested to know.

I mostly take SG readings with a thief. The refractometer only works pre-fermentation. I've also started using some modified brew-balls so I can tell roughly where the ferment is and plan to cold crash without having to take a lot of sg readings. This cuts down a lot on the need to open the carboy, sanitize the thief, etc.

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Old 11-04-2009, 05:53 PM   #238
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Well, my planned batch of "CK style," S-04, slightly fortified, cold crashed cider is coming along very well. It's been stuck at 1.020 for four days, twice as long as it took to go from 1.040 to 1.020. And with the airlock bubbling happily the whole time. Weird.

However, I tasted the sample I used to measure the SG, today (still 1.020), and, wow! It's excellent! I could go a hair dryer, myself, but my drinking partner is also my girlfriend, who I suspect will love this wet/dry balance. Naturally, I want this first batch to appeal to her... hobbies are so much easier that way, yeah?

It doesn't taste sweet, really. I mean, as a seasoned drinker, I can tell it is... but it's not at the front of the palate. It just balances the other flavors. Very appealing! I tasted it at 1.040 and was worried cider wouldn't be for me... thankfully I was wrong! I am totally psyched!

Anyway, I did have a question. I went ahead and racked the batch and put it in the fridge. CK, you've said you replace the airlocks with solid stoppers. Why is that? I just resanitized and reused the airlock. I don't have solid stoppers, but also, it seems like it'll probably continue to ferment in the fridge until the temperature drops enough... so wouldn't the stopper just pop out? I mean, I assume not. Just curious why you don't use an airlock, just to be safe.

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Old 11-04-2009, 06:17 PM   #239
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Hi Gilrain - I'm glad everything is working out.

Yeah, I often see a few bubbles after the crash, with the SG staying constant. I'm pretty sure that is malolactic fermentation, as the cider tends to smooth out a bit after the crash as well as sometimes gets a bit more body. It probably wouldnt hurt to keep an eye on it a while longer, just to make sure the sg doesnt drop

I use a solid stopper during the crash for a couple of reasons - mainly because when the cider cools there will be negative pressure in the carboy. With a one piece airlock, this will suck in fridge air, with a two piece it will suck back whatever is in the airlock. Also, I use better bottles and you cant really move these around without the airlock blowing and sucking. The gum stoppers fit really tight in the BBs so I dont have a problem with them popping out, although when I crash a carboy, I try to remember to loosen the bung very slightly a few hours later after it first goes in the fridge to relieve any pressure and then jam it down really tight. The only times I've had them pop loose is with wild yeast batches - those can be a bitch to crash. When that happens, I replace the bung with an airlock. This current season I did a wild batch that had blown the bung off when I checked it a couple hours later - I replaced it with an airlock and it took over 24 hours at near freezing temp for it to stop bubbling. But usually with an ale or wheat yeast, if you jam the gum stopper on real good, it wont be a problem. The stoppers dont seem to stick quite as well to glass tho, so if you are using glass, it might be better to keep the airlock on. Just dont use a 2 piece one or you could suck back some water.

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Old 11-04-2009, 06:18 PM   #240
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the temp change causes the volume of liquid to shrink, and can therefore cause suckback of water from your airlock into your beverage

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