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Old 11-27-2011, 08:22 PM   #611
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Last week I sampled 16 bottles from three years ago, with various amounts of k-meta added before and after fermentation. Eight were stopped with cold crashing, eight were stopped with sorbate. I was hoping to get a idea of how small a dose of k-meta I can use and still keep them from going to vinegar over time. Tim from Potters Craft Cider joined me for the tasting.

I made three liters of each batch and tested them all at 2 months and 6 months. Preliminary reports are here http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/resu...ml#post1398538and here http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/resu...ml#post1046569



After sitting in the basement for three years, the best batch by far was the one with no k-meta before the yeast pitch, and cold crashed, with 1/3 the recommended dose of k-meta added after the crash. It had picked up a tiny bit of carb, but still tasted sweeter than the 1.002 when I crashed it. No vinegar after 3 years of storage. Very drinkable pub cider

Of the cold crashed batches, quite a few had gone to vinegar. Adding k-meta before the ferment doesnt seem to help much for long term storage, unless a full dose is used. However adding at least 1/3 of k-meta after crashing is very effective. There was one bottle with k-meta added after the crash that went to vinegar, but I'm pretty sure that was due to a bad seal on the swing top.

The sorbated batches still had a very pronounced sorbate taste, which ranged from annoying to horrible. The worst were the batches with less than a full dose of k-meta, followed by full dose of sorbate. These had a terrible geranium smell that was obvious as soon as the bottle was opened. I was wondering if this would go away after time - not after 3 years. With a full dose of k-meta, the sorbate taste is not as bad, but still very noticeable. Its a vanilla taste, thats similar to oaking (although not quite natural tasting) so I can see how winemakers could get away with it for some styles. I could even see it working in a cider if you added some other spices and pass it off as a holiday cider blend.

On the plus side, none of the sorbated batches had any vinegar smell or taste, so it does work well as a preservative. That confirms what some vinegar makers have told me: that if a wine has been sorbated, it is no good for vinegar, the mother wont take. I'd rather have a hint of vinegar in my cider than a hint of sorbate but to each his/her own.

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Old 12-08-2011, 03:26 AM   #612
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This is A LOT of really useful information here, but a lot of stuff to go through. If you had to summarize it up to popularity, what is the best yeast and apple combination you have come across so far in your cider experiments, and what are the optimum SG ratings for it?

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Old 12-08-2011, 12:13 PM   #613
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cvillekevin - how much sorbate have you been adding? I usually add about 1/4tsp per gallon for draft ciders, but I always use 1 campden tablet per gallon too. In that dosage with the added backsweetening I can never taste the sorbate. It must be due to the additional sugar.

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Old 12-09-2011, 01:09 PM   #614
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If you had to summarize it up to popularity, what is the best yeast and apple combination you have come across so far in your cider experiments, and what are the optimum SG ratings for it?
Depends what you mean by 'popularity'. For the past couple years, my personal favorite yeast has been a pub style cider using Brupaks Ale, crashed between 1.008 and 1.012. US05, S04 and Notty are close if you cant find Brupaks. I also like Wy3056 at ~1.018 for a juicier taste or S04 at ~1.004 for a dry style. As far as apples go, as long as you have a good base apple, a good flavor/aroma apple and a good tart apple, you can get good results. My favorite mix so far has been Stayman, Pink Lady and Albemarle Pippen. These arent available til later in the season. Cortland, Gala, Jonathon makes a good early season mix.

In terms of which kegs float the fastest at parties: Anything with raspberries, cysers made with Wy1010, S04 or Wy3333 in the 1.010 to 1.014 range, 3068 and WLP042 at 1.020+

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how much sorbate have you been adding? I usually add about 1/4tsp per gallon for draft ciders, but I always use 1 campden tablet per gallon too.
For the batches where I tried sorbate, I added the recommended dosage on the LD carlson container, which was 1/2 tsp per gallon. I tried using 1/4 tsp, but it would not stop the ferment. k-meta followed by 1/2 tsp will stop an S04 ferment at up to 1.008

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In that dosage with the added backsweetening I can never taste the sorbate.
Cant taste it, or dont mind it? Even at 1/4 tsp/gal, I'd be really surprised if you couldnt pick it out. I used 1/4 tsp/gal to stop some wild yeast batches (which were 1.002 - 1.004 and didnt take as much to stop as the S04 batches) and could still easily pick out the taste. When I did the last group tasting with these a couple years ago, almost everyone could pick out the sorbate taste, although a lot of people didnt mind it and some people liked it. Next time you stabilize a batch, pour out a few oz before you add the k-meta and sorbate and then compare. You may like the sorbate taste better, but I'm quite sure you will be able to tell the difference.
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Old 12-09-2011, 01:51 PM   #615
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Originally Posted by CvilleKevin View Post
For the batches where I tried sorbate, I added the recommended dosage on the LD carlson container, which was 1/2 tsp per gallon. I tried using 1/4 tsp, but it would not stop the ferment. k-meta followed by 1/2 tsp will stop an S04 ferment at up to 1.008
On my sorbate pack it calls for 1/4per tsp, but I am not trying to stop an active fermentation so that makes sense that you are using more. Usually I am applying this amount (1/4tsp) to a cold crashed or totally dormant cider that has been aging a minimum of 3-6 months.

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Cant taste it, or dont mind it? Even at 1/4 tsp/gal, I'd be really surprised if you couldnt pick it out. I used 1/4 tsp/gal to stop some wild yeast batches (which were 1.002 - 1.004 and didnt take as much to stop as the S04 batches) and could still easily pick out the taste. When I did the last group tasting with these a couple years ago, almost everyone could pick out the sorbate taste, although a lot of people didnt mind it and some people liked it. Next time you stabilize a batch, pour out a few oz before you add the k-meta and sorbate and then compare. You may like the sorbate taste better, but I'm quite sure you will be able to tell the difference.
I will have to do a sample, because my current process is, rack onto sorbate, add sweetener if needed, then rack back into a keg on sulphite. So I guess you have a point. How would I know with out comparing the sweetened cider before sorbating.

Now I have tried them independent of each other (sorbated cider, and dry cider); I haven't tried sorbated cider that was cold crashed with residual sugar left it in vs. cold crashed with residual sugar left in it.

If I remember, it was a long while ago, I think the sorbate slightly sweetened the dry cider, but not enough to make my wife happy? Will have to try that next time around for kicks.

All that said... probably safe to say I like the taste of sorbate.
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Old 12-09-2011, 04:40 PM   #616
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On my sorbate pack it calls for 1/4per tsp
Interesting, on the LD carlson vial, it says 1/2 tsp/gal for stabilzation. What brand are you using?

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If I remember, it was a long while ago, I think the sorbate slightly sweetened the dry cider
That was my perception as well. It didnt change the SG, but gave it a vanilla taste that increased the perceived sweetness.
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Old 12-09-2011, 05:13 PM   #617
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Interesting, on the LD carlson vial, it says 1/2 tsp/gal for stabilzation. What brand are you using?
It is crosby baker.

So my memory serves! I will have to compare sorbated v.s non sorbated backsweetened cider side by side to see if I can taste a difference. I already have a back up keg of cider premade, so it will be a little while before I get to try.
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Old 12-09-2011, 05:22 PM   #618
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The sorbated batches still had a very pronounced sorbate taste, which ranged from annoying to horrible. The worst were the batches with less than a full dose of k-meta, followed by full dose of sorbate. These had a terrible geranium smell that was obvious as soon as the bottle was opened. I was wondering if this would go away after time - not after 3 years. With a full dose of k-meta, the sorbate taste is not as bad, but still very noticeable. Its a vanilla taste, thats similar to oaking (although not quite natural tasting) so I can see how winemakers could get away with it for some styles. I could even see it working in a cider if you added some other spices and pass it off as a holiday cider blend.
FYI - the geranium smell is from malolactic bacteria interacting with sorbate. Sorbate is sometimes attacked by malolactic bacteria. When the sorbate is broken down it will smell like Geranium leaves. Looks like you had some wild malolatic bacteria present in your cider (makes sense because your cider is fresh pressed). So it wasn't the sorbates fault, or an off flavor of the sorbate directly. I would assume that sulphiting at a full dose would have knocked out the malo bacteria.

So I guess the lesson should be, if you plan to sorbate, you better give a full dose of kmeta.
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:00 PM   #619
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Question:

Since I don't have the means to cold crash to stop fermentation, I'm going to use Nottingham and just rack to secondary when it's around 1.020. I saw a note in the original posting about needing to add sugar to raise the OG in order to use this method of stopping fermentation.

How much sugar would you use per gallon (or per 5 gallons) in order to facilitate this?

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Old 01-06-2012, 04:35 AM   #620
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Stopping a fermentation with just racking is very difficult to do consistently. You need the right juice (low nutrient) and a slow cool (55-60) ferment, so what nutrients are in the juice are depleted and the only remaining nutrients are in the trub you leave behind on the rack(s). I've had decent success with this in the past, but its not as reliable as cold crashing, so I havent done it in years except for a few batches that stalled out on their own.

I usually bump the sg up to about 1.065 or 1.070 which makes it easier to get the fermentation to stick. How much sugar depends on starting sg, usually 1 to 2 pounds per 5 gallons. Adding more would probably make the ferment a little easier to stick but IMHO tends to wash out a bit of the apple taste.

In a best case scenario, it will probably take at least 2 racks, maybe 3 to get the ferment to stop. After you rack it the first time, it may stop for a week or two, but as the cider clears and more trub falls, there is a good chance that a new ferment will get started. It will be much weaker though and easier to knock out with another rack. YMMV. Dont go by bubbles, because that could be MPF, but if you see bubbles AND the sg drops, rack it again until sg stays stable

I've found that fermentation with WLP041, Wy3068, Wy3056 and Wy3333 are more likely to stop from just racking. I suspect that these yeasts use more nutrient and dont seem to stink much from low nutrient as long as you keep them cool and slow. But no guarantees that will be the same with your juice. I'd recommend that you have a backup plan to pasteurize if the secondary sg doesnt stabilize after 2 or 3 racks. Even if you get great results, dont store in glass until you have at least a season of success under your belt. preferably use a stainless steel keg and draw a pint often enough to make sure pressure is not building. 1.020 is a lot of potential pressure if you dont get all the yeast out. good luck

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