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Old 10-28-2008, 04:55 AM   #21
CvilleKevin
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I can tell you with complete certainty that adding k-meta affects the taste of cider. If you dont believe me, take two gallons, add the k-meta to one and not the other. Pitch whatever yeast you like. Taste them after the primary fermentation. The one with the k-meta will be noticeably more sour. After a few months, the sourness wears off and the cider becomes drinkable.

Its possible that the sour taste is not from the k-meta itself, but is produced by the yeast when it ferments in the presence of k-meta. I didnt try to see if I could taste the difference before fermentation, but I will when I get new juice later this week.

BTW - This weekend I sampled a liter each of the test batches with some friends. The 3 batches without the k-meta (2 Nottingham with different juices, 1 S04) were the favorites, followed by the Brewform Lager, a batch fermented with wild yeast, and the Danstar Munich. I'll try them again in a few months to see how they hold up over time.

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Old 10-31-2008, 05:16 AM   #22
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I picked up another 50 gallons from the cider press this morning. 30 gal for keg batches and 20 singles for test batches. I’m planning to use the 20 singles to experiment with different amounts of k-meta before and after fermentation and stopping fermentation with cold crashing vs. sorbate. Some of the gallons have no k-meta, some have recommended dose (1tsp/5gal), some have ½ dose and some have 1/3 dose.

After adding the k-meta and letting it sit about 15min, I tasted the juice. The k-meta imparts a very noticeable taste to the raw juice. The juice is a mix of Staymans and regular Winesaps (sg 1.050, pH 3.7) and has a nice full flavor – its starts sweet and appley and finishes tart. The recommended dose of k-meta suppresses much of the apple sugar taste in the front of the palate and adds a sour finish. Definitely less apple taste overall, but not unpleasant. With half the recommended k-meta dose, the effect is less pronounced, but still easily discernable. With 1/3 the recommended dose, there is a little suppression of the apple sugar taste in the beginning, but the finish is the same as regular juice

At this point, I think its safe to say that the k-meta does have a fairly substantial impact on the taste and that it is due to the chemical itself, not some byproduct of the yeast from fermenting in the presence of the k-meta (although that may cause some additional taste). Whether that is a good or bad thing is a matter of taste. I do believe that cutting back or eliminating the k-meta will result in a cider that requires less aging to be drinkable, probably at the expense of how well it keeps, but that is TBD.

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Old 10-31-2008, 12:22 PM   #23
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Great info, Thanks.
What is the recipe/process you are using for your kegged batches? What is your best recipe so far?

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Old 11-03-2008, 01:38 AM   #24
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My keg batch process has been evolving since I started reading this forum last year. Before then I just used fresh local UV pasteurized juice and Nottingham ale yeast. No extra sugar, but sometimes 3lbs of honey for cysers. Cold crash when it gets to about 1.002 to 1.008, keep an eye on it for a couple days to make sure fermentation doesn’t start back up again and then put it in a keg and carb at 25psi and a day or two later it is good to go. A few extra days of settling and carb generally improves the taste, but it doesn’t need much aging. Sometimes a pasteurized cider will clear up after an extra week or two in the secondary, but usually not. Cysers usually do.

Since reading this forum last year I’ve started adding sugar to most batches, to pick the sg up to 1.060 or 1.065 max. I’ve found that starting with slightly higher sg gives more control over stopping at a good final sg and still leaves a lot of apple taste. I shifted to using mostly unpasteurized juice because it clears faster with no additives, so can be kegged sooner as long as you don’t mind waiting longer to drink it.

For the most recent 5 keg batches I cut the k-meta dosage in half (1/8 tsp in 6gal). I expect this will make them drinkable sooner. For four of the carboys I added 18 oz turbinado and 9oz corn sugar to bring the sg to 1.060. For the fifth, I added 3lbs of orange blossum honey to take the sg to 1.065.

I usually use dry ale yeast, mostly Nottingham and S04. This year I also did a few with US05 and S23 and in the keg batches I justed started, I’m using two liquid yeasts – Wyeast 3068 and 4184, along with Nottingham and S04. I’m also using S04 for the Cyser. S04 seems to do the best for unpasteurized cysers. The 3068 is producing a lot of foam and I’ve had to clean up that carboy a couple of times. For the dry yeasts I don’t use a starter – just pitch the yeast right on the surface of the ¼ the packet of yeast at a time, floating it on the surface until it sinks. After all 4 pitches of yeast have rehydrated and sunk, shake the carboy to make sure none of the sugar or honey is settling on the bottom.

Fermentation usually starts in less than 12 hours, airlock bubbles after 24 hours and strong fermentation for 6 to 8 days. When the fermentation starts slowing down a week or so later, check the sg and taste periodically to determine when to stop fermentation. I usually cold crash when the sg is between 1.004 and 1.010, depending on overall taste. Rack the carboy into a spare, put it in the fridge at 35 degrees for a day to settle and rack it again back to the original and let it settle.

For pasteurized juice, its pretty much good to go at this point if you don’t mind drinking it a little cloudy. For unpasteurized juice, I let it sit for a few more weeks to clear out a little more, usually until six weeks after I got the juice, because by then I need the carboy to get new juice. I generally let unpasteurized juice sit in the keg for at least a month and sometimes much longer for the tartness to mellow out, however I’m pretty sure that will be changing now that I’m cutting back on the k-meta at the beginning.

I’m hoping to find a good balance of k-meta and sorbate that can stop the fermentation without cold crashing and not effect the taste. That will allow a single racking between primary and secondary, which will save a step. I’d also like to get rid of adding k-meta before fermentation if it doesn’t adversely affect how long it keeps. That would save time as well. Right now I figure it takes me about 15 hours total to make 5 kegs from picking up the juice at the press to putting it in kegs. Most of the time is cleaning and sanitizing the vessels each time I rack. I’d like to get it down to 10 hours for total processing time on 5 kegs and put away 25 - 30 kegs a season, which ought to last until next season.

My best recipe so far depends on who you ask. I personally prefer something in the 1.004 to 1.006 range with a body that is more like an ale than a wine, with a semi-tart apple finish and not a lot of non-fruit flavors. Most of my friends tastes range from something more like a dry white wine at 1.000 to something that tastes more like a Woodchuck at 1.010. I’ve found that when serving cider its nice to have at least two kegs, one on the sweet side and the other on the dry side. Cysers are popular, and usually get finished first at a party, although I’m not crazy about them myself. Last year I did a couple of kegs where I added raspberries to the secondary, which came out really good.

Other than that, its all about matching the juice with the yeast, which is a constantly changing thing because the juice changes throughout the season. Everything made with the above yeasts has come out good. The first seven keg batches this season were with Jonathan juice which is good and tart, and so far the S04 and Nottingham taste the best of those. The five batches in secondary were made with Stayman, Granny smith and Golden delicious, and the US05 and S04 cyser are the most promising so far. Too early to tell with the most recent batch which is Staymans and Winesaps. There are a couple of local orchards that sell “vintage” apples that are supposed to be really good for cider – Albemarle pippens, Northern Spys and Russetts. I’ve thought about buying some and doing a custom pressing, but that would be really expensive, so for now I’m using whatever is readily available at the commercial juice presses.

My favorite batches from last year came from 12 gallons of unpasteurized juice that was a mix of half Granny smith and half Yorks. It had an sg of 1.060, and was insanely tart because of all the Granny smith, so I split it up into 5 kegs with slightly different amounts of juice and filled the rest with pasteurized juice that was mostly Staymans, then added 12oz turbinado and 6 oz corn sugar and Nottingham yeast for all five batches. They were all slightly different and all really good.

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Old 11-04-2008, 09:39 AM   #25
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Nice, looking forward to see your future results. I have been experimenting myself based on your technique. so far so good, I will keg and keep them cold so there is no risk of fermentation kicking back up.

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Old 11-06-2008, 05:46 PM   #26
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WLP720 Sweet Mead - Tested with pasteurized and unpasteurized juice, sweetened and unsweetened. Of these, only the sweetened pasteurized juice was drinkable, and just barely

I have a batch going on now with this yeast with unpasteurized cider and 4lbs of sugar. Exactly what happened/ was the problem?
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Old 11-06-2008, 07:59 PM   #27
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The WLP720 batches didnt have much flavor. No tartness at all and hardly any apple taste. I let them go 13 days from when I pitched the yeast til when I tasted them, and by then all five batches with WLP720 were between 1.000 and 1.002. They might have tasted better if I had caught them sooner (keep in mind these were gallon batches, carboys will go slower). I used a lot less sugar than you (4oz per gallon to raise sg from 1.059 to 1.066) and the two that I added sugar to were better than the three with no sugar. Since you used a lot more sugar, you may have better results with this yeast. I would advise not letting it ferment all the way out though.

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Old 11-06-2008, 08:10 PM   #28
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Kevin,

What are your thoughts on WLP775? I seem to recall a posting by Evan! that mentions this strain and he was happy with the results.

I've got a batch going with this yeast (cold-pasteurized cider, no preservatives).

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Old 11-06-2008, 09:06 PM   #29
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I havent tried WLP775, but its on my list to check out, along with WYeast #1010

My guess on the cider and mead yeasts is that they were probably developed to work well with traditional cider apple varieties which have more flavor than what is available from a typical commercial cider press. I met the cidermaker from Foggy Ridge over the weekend and sampled some of their hard cider which was good. Dry, but nice flavor. They use mostly DV10 yeast, which I tried a couple of times last year and it always came out pretty flavorless. When I asked about the apples they used, she named a bunch that I had never heard of. For the juice apples that are readily available in Central Virginia, the ale yeasts seem to do the best, but this may not be true with other apple types

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Old 11-06-2008, 10:39 PM   #30
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The WLP720 batches didnt have much flavor. No tartness at all and hardly any apple taste. I let them go 13 days from when I pitched the yeast til when I tasted them, and by then all five batches with WLP720 were between 1.000 and 1.002. They might have tasted better if I had caught them sooner (keep in mind these were gallon batches, carboys will go slower). I used a lot less sugar than you (4oz per gallon to raise sg from 1.059 to 1.066) and the two that I added sugar to were better than the three with no sugar. Since you used a lot more sugar, you may have better results with this yeast. I would advise not letting it ferment all the way out though.
Thanks what are your thoughts on using a combination of brown sugar and molasses?
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