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Old 09-27-2012, 11:50 PM   #651
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I have been reading many of the posts, and would love to get your insight. I am hosting an apple pressing party and will be fermenting cider for people and want to get it right.
My plan is:
1) Press the apples
2) Sulfite the resulting juice
3) Wait 12-24 hours
4) Ferment with Nottingham Ale yeast
5) Finish the cider (either make it sweet or leave it dry)
6) Keg/Bottle

My Questions:
2) With regards to sulfiting, is waiting 12-24 hours good enough for ale yeast, do they actually have enough resistance to sulfites? And from your experience, how much should I use to make sure i kill any nasties?
5) I have been toying with some ideas, but unfortunately don't have enough time to experiment. One issue I might be facing is tied to lack of space for crash cooling and too many batches, so that might make trying to halt fermentation difficult. However, I was thinking of letting it ferment out to completion, and then back-sweetening either with sugar or with some of the fresh cider we will be pressing. I was wondering what you would suggest: leaving it dry, attempting to halt fermentation, back sweetening with sugar, or back sweetening with juice. (And if I do back-sweeten, how would I go about doing it?)

Any answers, hints, or suggestions on things I have or have not mentioned would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 09-28-2012, 08:44 PM   #652
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SkiNuke
2) If you sulfite, I'd recommend using half the recommended dosage (dosages listed are typically for wine grapes) and let sit for 24 hours. My experience is that ale yeast is less tolerant of sulfites than wine and champagne yeasts. I stopped using sulfites several years ago. IMHO the cider will taste a lot better without it, and unless you are planning to save it for over 6 months you dont need the preservative effects. Just make sure you do a good job of washing the apples and sanitizing your press and the ale yeast will take care of the rest.
3) You will get more apple taste if you stop the ferment before it dries out. As with beer, there are complex sugars in apple juice which give it a lot of flavor and the yeast will generally get these last. But unlike beer, the yeast WILL eventually get these sugars if you let it. So there is a lot of flavor between 1.005 and 1.000 that you wont get back. All you can add back is sweetness and some body with sugar. As far as what to use for back sweetening, it depends on how it tastes when the juice ferments out. If its dry and mostly flavorless, using the original juice usually works well. If its overly acidic (often the case) you can let it sit for a year and it will mellow (which is what I usually do when I overshoot the ferment on a batch) or you can add stevia, which is an alkaline sweetener. If it tastes good but lacks body, regular sugar works well, if it is a little harsh up front but has a decent finish, agave is good. Best thing is to catch it before the original apple sugar ferments off and avoid the problem. Failing that, try some different sweeteners to see what works best.

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Old 09-29-2012, 04:12 PM   #653
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Fifteen days after pressing, two batches are in kegs, four have been crashed and two are in the process of crashing.

The Wy3056 and first Brupacks batches are in kegs. The Wy3056 is my favorite, crashed at 1.013. The Brupaks batch is good and has a ton of apple but could probably use another few weeks to smooth out

The two Brupaks batches with sugar finished crashing a few days ago. The GEA (Notty) and 3068 batches finished crashing last night (you can see the condensation on the carboys because they were still cold from the post-crash rack). Of these, I like the GEA the best, it might be next to go on tap. It doesnt have quite as much apple flavor as the Brupaks batches, but is noticeably smoother and very drinkable right now.

I crashed WLP041 a few days ago and Wy3333 last night, both at 1.012, which was lower than what I wanted to go on these. I meant to hit 1.020 on these but temps got hot and time was short at the end of the week. They both taste great to me but are not sweet enough for SWMBO. So I will have to try again with another pressing in a few weeks.
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:05 PM   #654
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I used 3 gallons of organic apple cider from Aldis. Added a half pound of wheat DME and a half pound of Crystal 60. Started at 1.056. Fermented at 68F with Safbrew S-33. 1.008 72 hours later. 82% attenuation for the S-33 in record time. Nuts. The sample I pulled was quite tart with a sharp apple flavor and slight sweetness. This, like many other men I know, is in theory intended for my wife to drink since she hates all things beer and wine.

Ultra ghetto cheap too. $2 for yeast. $15 for the juice, $4 for the DME and crystal. $7 a gallon for cider.

I back sweetened slighty despite being 72 hours young, and then bottled, let sit for 18 hours and then pasteurized. Totally drinkable at the 72 hour mark and that's no joke. However, quite hazy. I should have cold crashed then backsweetned then bottled. But that's for next time. I just saw all the ciders and went Oh, daddy likes!

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Old 10-02-2012, 04:44 PM   #655
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CVilleKevin Question - I like the concept of reaching desired FG, racking off yeast to secondary and cold crashing, then after crashing racking into third as a method to try to stop fermentation. What is the recommended temperature to cold crash? I'm running a fermentation chamber that only gets down to 45F so I'm wondering if that is enough of a shock to have a chance of making this method work.

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Old 10-03-2012, 01:01 PM   #656
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Quote:
What is the recommended temperature to cold crash? I'm running a fermentation chamber that only gets down to 45F so I'm wondering if that is enough of a shock to have a chance of making this method work.
jdavisesg - I'd advise getting the temps as cold as you can, the better to shock the yeast. I have my fridge set at 32F. Up until last year I didnt have very good temp control on my fridge and it could get up to 40F, so you are probably good at 45, but I've never tried to do it at this temp. If you can only get to 45F, I'd suggest using Notty, as it floccs consistently. If the crash doesnt take the first time, you can always do it again.

I've been crashing for quite a while, and while I've improved my process a lot, I still have to recrash batches sometimes to keep them stable. Last year I had to re-crash 6 out of 39 batches to get them to stop completely, so batting about 85 percent on the first try, which I hope to improve this year. Based on the batches that I had to crash twice last year, there are a couple other things that I believe are good to keep in mind when crashing:
(1) Make sure the temps drop as quickly as possible, so that the yeast get a quick shock. If you are doing several batches, try to time them so that you can crash them one or two at a time. Ideally you want to get down to terminal temp in a few hours. I can fit up to 8 carboys in my fridge, but I found that if I crash more than 2 or 3 at a time, it will take much longer for the temps to drop and this seems to increase likelihood of a restart after the crash. Having some kegs in the fridge that are already cold helps the temp drop faster, as does blowing a fan on the back of the fridge to get more air on the cooling coils when it is working hard.
(2) Dont leave the carboys in the fridge crashing for too long. I havent noticed any improvement in clarity / sediment drop after 2 days. I will sometimes let them stay in the fridge for up to a week, simply because its easier to deal with them on the weekend. Last year I was feeling lazy at the end of the season and left 4 carboys in the fridge for a month, two of which started back up after a few weeks at room temp. I suspect that what happens is that after the yeast floc, if it sits too long, some of them will eventually migrate back up into the juice where they can be activated if the temps warm back up.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:28 PM   #657
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I'm trying 2 gallon batches of hard cider this fall. I have 1 gallon of sweet cider from a local orchard (pasteurized, but no preservatives). No idea what the apple make-up is, but assume it's sweet. I'll have a taste tonight before I start. I'm also planning to pick up 1 gallon of cider from my hobby shop that says it's a blend specifically for hard cider. I assume this means it has some tart apples mixed in. I also assume it's pasteurized since only orchards can sell the live stuff around here.

I'm making both gallons with the Nottingham yeast to compare the difference in juice. My previous attempt at cider used a champagne yeast and it came out way too dry for my taste. The wife likes somewhat sweet cider (Woodchuck, etc). I'm thinking about racking once it hits 1.020 or slightly lower, I guess I'll let taste determine that. If I cold crash after this and rack again, I assume I'll end up with a sweeter hard cider, but flat. If I wanted to give some fizz (I don't have kegs), how would I do this? If I just bottle when I'm at 1.020, I think I'll have bombs. If I bottle lower, I'm thinking it might be too dry. Thoughts?

Also, the hobby shop handed me their recipe which calls for tannin, pectic enzyme, acid blend, ascorbic acid, etc. Necessary? Ever tried this?

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Old 10-05-2012, 09:12 PM   #658
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanomac View Post
I'm trying 2 gallon batches of hard cider this fall. I have 1 gallon of sweet cider from a local orchard (pasteurized, but no preservatives). No idea what the apple make-up is, but assume it's sweet. I'll have a taste tonight before I start. I'm also planning to pick up 1 gallon of cider from my hobby shop that says it's a blend specifically for hard cider. I assume this means it has some tart apples mixed in. I also assume it's pasteurized since only orchards can sell the live stuff around here.

I'm making both gallons with the Nottingham yeast to compare the difference in juice. My previous attempt at cider used a champagne yeast and it came out way too dry for my taste. The wife likes somewhat sweet cider (Woodchuck, etc). I'm thinking about racking once it hits 1.020 or slightly lower, I guess I'll let taste determine that. If I cold crash after this and rack again, I assume I'll end up with a sweeter hard cider, but flat. If I wanted to give some fizz (I don't have kegs), how would I do this? If I just bottle when I'm at 1.020, I think I'll have bombs. If I bottle lower, I'm thinking it might be too dry. Thoughts?

Also, the hobby shop handed me their recipe which calls for tannin, pectic enzyme, acid blend, ascorbic acid, etc. Necessary? Ever tried this?
I wouldn't bother with any additives, especially since you say want to see what the different juices taste like as hard cider. If the tart/bitter juice is actually tart/bitter, it will give you a good idea of what you, and more importantly she, likes when compared to the sweet juice. However, if you are sure you like a tart and/or bitter hard cider, adding some acid or tannin will make up for what sweet juice lacks.

You aren't doing much cider so sampling, even for OG, is going to cost you, unless you are using a refractometer. A refractometer makes SG check samples much smaller (only a few drops), though later readings have to be adjusted for alcohol. I would just pull small taste samples/sips, after day 4 or so, and stop it when it hits the right sweetness. Don't forget to keep temps under control. Low 60s (actual cider temp) is good, and a water bath is an easy method to acheive it.

As for bottling/carbing, if you plan on drinking it fairly quickly, just use 1 liter PET soda bottles. Add the proper amount of sugar, then refrigerate after they become 'soda hard'. They should be safe in the fridge for a few months. PET bottles can handle at least 60 psi, which is higher than your cider should reach at fridge temps even if it fermented out somehow.
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Old 10-06-2012, 06:42 AM   #659
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CvilleKevin View Post
jdavisesg - I'd advise getting the temps as cold as you can, the better to shock the yeast. I have my fridge set at 32F. Up until last year I didnt have very good temp control on my fridge and it could get up to 40F, so you are probably good at 45, but I've never tried to do it at this temp. If you can only get to 45F, I'd suggest using Notty, as it floccs consistently. If the crash doesnt take the first time, you can always do it again.

I've been crashing for quite a while, and while I've improved my process a lot, I still have to recrash batches sometimes to keep them stable. Last year I had to re-crash 6 out of 39 batches to get them to stop completely, so batting about 85 percent on the first try, which I hope to improve this year. Based on the batches that I had to crash twice last year, there are a couple other things that I believe are good to keep in mind when crashing:
(1) Make sure the temps drop as quickly as possible, so that the yeast get a quick shock. If you are doing several batches, try to time them so that you can crash them one or two at a time. Ideally you want to get down to terminal temp in a few hours. I can fit up to 8 carboys in my fridge, but I found that if I crash more than 2 or 3 at a time, it will take much longer for the temps to drop and this seems to increase likelihood of a restart after the crash. Having some kegs in the fridge that are already cold helps the temp drop faster, as does blowing a fan on the back of the fridge to get more air on the cooling coils when it is working hard.
(2) Dont leave the carboys in the fridge crashing for too long. I havent noticed any improvement in clarity / sediment drop after 2 days. I will sometimes let them stay in the fridge for up to a week, simply because its easier to deal with them on the weekend. Last year I was feeling lazy at the end of the season and left 4 carboys in the fridge for a month, two of which started back up after a few weeks at room temp. I suspect that what happens is that after the yeast floc, if it sits too long, some of them will eventually migrate back up into the juice where they can be activated if the temps warm back up.
Since you are running these experiments, is it possible to determine the difference in taste between cold crashing at precisely the right FG.. versus back sweetening to that FG using the original juice? I think a lot of us are wondering if back sweetening is preferable versus finding the right day to cold crash.

Also I think the dryness experiment may be somewhat limited by precisely when you are drinking the cider. A dry cider (or cyser) becomes a whole lot better after 1+ years, so let's compare apples to apples (ha!)
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:28 AM   #660
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WOW! Thanks for all the great info! I've poured over it for a few hours and hope I've absorbed a little of it. I'd like to share what I'm doing right now and ask for any suggestions. I bought 5 gallons of freshly pressed, unpasturized cider from the nearest orchard (about 90 minutes from me). The cider tasted good, although I would rather it have a little more tartness. The guy running the show at the time did not know what apples were used. My options were limitied, so I took what I could get. Once at home I added 3 lbs of orange blossum honey to bring the gravity up to 1.065. I then pitched my Safale 05 and had good fermentation in 12 hours. Since I live in a smallish house with no basement or garage, my only real option was sitting the carboy on the kitchen counter covered with my lucky U2 concert shirt! The house temp stays about 70-75 degrees, which I know is a bit warmer than optimum...but the family won't permit me to chill the whole house down. After exactly 7 days (today) the gravity has dropped to 1.038 and tasted ok but a bit thin. Since I have no place to cold crash it (save for maybe an outdoor ice bath) my plan is to use sorbate and sulfite it at around 1.02 since I'd like to keep it a little sweeter. I'm wondering if I could use my home juice extractor to get some nice tart flavor from some winesaps after fermentation and then add the preservatives to prevent bottle bombs. The extractor isn't efficient enough to get a large volume of juice, but maybe enough to add some extra body and flavor? This is my second attempt at cider, and my first try several years ago was dismal. Lessons learned and research done, I'm trying again! Any suggestions or reassurance would be helpful!

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