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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 10-07-2012, 06:38 PM   #661
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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?
Absolutely. Its like the difference between a glass of wine vs a glass of sugar wash with some grape juice added back in for flavor. The taste is more complex, there is a lot more tannin, and no sticky finish (unless you crash really high). If you start with a good juice mix, there is a lot of taste in the more complex apple sugars which get fermented off last. If you crashed a batch at 1.010 and backsweetened to 1.020, it would hard to tell the difference from a batch that was crashed at 1.020, because above 1.010, its mostly just simple sugars. But letting a batch go to 1.000 and backsweetening tastes nothing like a batch that was crashed at 1.010.

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I think a lot of us are wondering if back sweetening is preferable versus finding the right day to cold crash.
That really depends on what you are going for. Its certainly easier to just backsweeten. Before I found out about using ale yeast, I would use mostly Lalvin 1118, ferment it dry, and then backsweeten with juice at about a 1:4 mix for parties. That works fine for party fuel, especially since this method is a fraction of the time and cost for making a keg of beer, but is not stable at room temp and even if it was, its just not something I'd want to drink on a regular basis. For me, cold crashing changed hard cider from being a cheap way to make the beer last longer to something that I really enjoy drinking.

I still back sweeten occasionally. I havent done it in a while, but I probably will soon because I have more dry kegs then I really want left over from last season and I'll need some more empties soon. So at the next party opportunity, I will probably sweeten a few of these up so I can get the kegs emptied. Will I be able to get them to taste anywhere as good to what I now have on tap? Not likely. Can I get them to the point where they will float first at a party? Probably. For that, I'd just need to bring them up to about 1.020 and dont tap anything else that is above 1.010.

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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.
You could do this, although it might be more work than necessary. As more of the sugars ferment off, you will get more of the tartness back. Whether or not its enough to balance the mix is TBD. The honey has more perceived sweetness when it ferments off, so you may be able to get below 1.020 and still have it taste sweet enough. Keep tasting it as it ferments and if it tastes like the sweetness is dropping below what you are looking for, but it still doesnt have much bite, then you can add some more acidic juice - but it may not be needed.
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:17 PM   #662
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I'm not sure if this has been asked, but what about cold crashing in a chest freezer for a few hours. Would this be okay? I hope so, because I just put a carboy in my freezer!!!

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Old 10-07-2012, 09:43 PM   #663
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what about cold crashing in a chest freezer for a few hours. Would this be okay?
I'm not sure. It depends on the yeast and juice as to whether enough of the yeast will floc before it freezes
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:46 PM   #664
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For those batches that you are cold crashing around 1.010 and kegging, how long do they stay fresh in the keg at fridge temps (i.e. what is the shelf life of these quick not fully fermented batches in the keg)?

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Old 10-10-2012, 05:19 PM   #665
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Hi guys,
I just finished going through this thread and it is quite detailed. As a scientist this thread is quite awesome and it inspired me to start brewing with cider rather than beer. I also made the mistake of not finishing this thread before starting though. I went out to my LHBS on 10/7 and got a 6.5 gallon bucket starter equipment kit and then got the bucket filled at the orchard that is close by (no idea on the blend of apples) and picked up two 1 gallon jugs of it. The recipe I'm following is long term:

6.5 gallons unpaseurized cider (og was 1.05)
6 lbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp pectinase
2 tbsp yeast nutrient
lalvin 71B-1122 packet

It calls for 1 month in secondary and then racking into a tertiary for 2-3 months, then aging another 1-2 months bottled. I ran into some bumps though. I didn't mix the cider/sugar well enough and then pitched the yeast into 55-60 degree cider. I also rehydrated the yeast in 90 degree water and let it cool to 70 before pitching. There has been very little airlock activity and I'm mildly worried that the yeasts are competing/the pitched yeast is dead.

I also had to take one of the gallons and pitch yeast into it, as my refrigerator was not cold enough to cold crash and the gallon was beginning to bulge. I used Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast and just pitched in half the pack, some yeast nutrient and 1/8 tsp pectinase. It is bubbling merrily and has a great aroma. I like dry so I'm debating just letting it get down to 1.010-1.015 and then cold-crashing and bottling. I am trying to do still ciders.

The environment is around 60-68 degrees depending upon if SWMBO decides to turn on the heat (living in a second floor flat).

I know that you and mostly everyone who has posted so far uses ale yeasts to great success for short term results. Is it possible to achieve that with champagne/wine yeasts or do they really need the time so mellow out? Has anyone tried using the oak balls/spirals in their cider for their secondary? I have been debating getting chunks of rum barrels from a buddy to try this with .

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Old 10-11-2012, 01:59 AM   #666
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For those batches that you are cold crashing around 1.010 and kegging, how long do they stay fresh in the keg at fridge temps (i.e. what is the shelf life of these quick not fully fermented batches in the keg)?
I cold crash all of them. Some I keg right away, most I rack back to 5 gallon carboys and let them sit for another month or so at room temp, in order to make sure that they are stable. Then I'll keg them. Most of the kegs get stored at room temp. Once they go in the fridge, they are usually consumed within a month or two. Because I dont use any sulfites or preservatives, the shelf life of the room temp kegs is generally 9-18 months.

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Is it possible to achieve that with champagne/wine yeasts or do they really need the time so mellow out?
champagne and wine yeasts generally do not crash as well. The yeast tends not to floc. You might have better luck with your single gallon. For some reason, I've had better luck crashing single gallons with yeasts that turned out to be difficult to crash in larger volumes (wine and lager yeasts) I suspect that the smaller volume and greater surface area / volume results in a faster crash which takes hold better.

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Has anyone tried using the oak balls/spirals in their cider for their secondary?
I havent tried this, but will probably experiment with this on some single gallons this year. I have a friend who ferments in old bourbon barrels and it tastes great.
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:21 PM   #667
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CvilleKevin -Great thread!

I picked up 5 gallons of "No No" from a local orchard - Soergels. Decided to go with Notty and 1.5 lbs of Dark Brown Sugar - Kinda of going for the caramel taste.

Pitched last Friday, OG @ 1.060 . After three days, it was at 1.040, 4 days at 1.030, 6 days at 1.025. Temps around 68. I guess I'll check again in two days, hoping to crash around 1.008 - 1.010.

I see you use Better Bottles a lot. What is your process for cleaning / sanitizing those if you don't mind me asking? I have heard that using a carboy brush on the inside of those can leave scratches. I have some glass carboys but opted to do the primary in a plastic fermenter bucket due to ease of mixing the sugar in (I didn't feel safe rolling glass carboys around on the ground to get the sugar mixed in).

Do you use a hydro or a refractometer for your OG readings? (I know that refracs aren't really reliable without correction charts for post-fermentation readings)

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Old 10-12-2012, 09:48 PM   #668
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I see you use Better Bottles a lot. What is your process for cleaning / sanitizing those if you don't mind me asking?
When I finish using BBs I rinse them clean and then clean them with One Step (oxygen cleaner). I mix about a gallon, put 1/4 to 1/2 gallon in each, rubber stopper in the end and then shake them two at a time like dumbells for a couple minutes. Then when I go to use them again, I sanitize with Star San (acid sanitizer). I just roll the solution around in the carboy for a couple minutes and dont shake much, or else it will foam up a lot. Then I rinse with hot water and let dry. During cider season I set my hot water heater to 150, so I can be sure that everthing coming from the hot water tap is sterile.

Also - I'm pretty anal about keeping everything around my fermentation area really clean. I wash the area down with bleach on a regular basis. I havent got an infection in years (knock on wood), but both times when I did, I found nearby sources of mold (once under the fridge, and once in a glass of beer that somehow got left in a corner after a party). So I try to make sure that never happens again. It also makes my GF more supportive of my brewing antics, since I always start by cleaning the heck out of everything.

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I have heard that using a carboy brush on the inside of those can leave scratches.
I'll use a brush sometimes if there is a lot of grunge that wont come off. The main thing is to be careful that the stiff wire in the brush doesnt scrape against the sides of the BBs, just the bristles

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Do you use a hydro or a refractometer for your OG readings?
hydro
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:35 PM   #669
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Originally Posted by CvilleKevin View Post
Then when I go to use them again, I sanitize with Star San (acid sanitizer). I just roll the solution around in the carboy for a couple minutes and dont shake much, or else it will foam up a lot. Then I rinse with hot water and let dry. During cider season I set my hot water heater to 150, so I can be sure that everthing coming from the hot water tap is sterile.
There isn't any reason to rinse with hot water after star-san'ing. It also quits working once it is dry, so drying also isn't needed. For pre-ferment, the yeast will use any residue as a nutrient. For finished cider/beer, there is almost no flavor to star-san- certainly not at the levels introduced by any residual film/foam.

If your water is truly sterile coming out of the water heater, there is no harm in rinsing, but it is an unnecessary step. However, many things sporulate, which are not killed even by boiling. I believe Star-san still gets those, but not sure.

RE: foam- some guys actually like the foam, and pour into the fermenter using the foam like an airlock. I do like you, letting the star-san coat the insides without shaking/foaming, but also don't worry about a bit of foam if it happens when spraying it in with a spray bottle.

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I'll use a brush sometimes if there is a lot of grunge that wont come off. The main thing is to be careful that the stiff wire in the brush doesnt scrape against the sides of the BBs, just the bristles
Filling up to the brim with water or oxyclean for a few days will remove most residue, and using a soft wash rag inside while shaking will usually get anything else. I believe that is the BB endorsed method. Keg cleaners with the fountains/spouts work as well.

As an FYI, don't overdose on the oxy/pbw, or let it sit in powdered form on the bottom. There have been a number of cases of the bottoms cracking out of BB, and this was determined as the cause. The locally concentrated area is enough to cause the plastic to crack.

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Originally Posted by CvilleKevin View Post
hydro
If you keep notes on what the refractometer read, and what the hydrometer reading or perceived flavor was, you can use the refractometer as a fairly accurate check on what the FG/flavor will be.

There are some fairly sophisticated tables/equations for doing this with beer, but I think they may not be accurate enough for use with cider, at least without some corrections.
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Old 10-13-2012, 12:59 AM   #670
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There isn't any reason to rinse with hot water after star-san'ing. It also quits working once it is dry, so drying also isn't needed.
Yeah, I've heard the whole 'dont fear the foam' pitch by Star San and I know plenty of guys who dont rinse it out - but I do it anyway, mostly because I just dont want any unnecessary chemicals in my brew. So yeah, that last rinse step is mostly just personal preference.

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Filling up to the brim with water or oxyclean for a few days will remove most residue, and using a soft wash rag inside while shaking will usually get anything else. I believe that is the BB endorsed method
I might try the soft rag method, but I havent really had any issues with using a bottle brush. My oldest BBs are 6yrs old and starting to get a little yellow, but no scratches and still smell fresh after cleaning. The only problem I've ever had with a BB was that I used to set the hot water at 160 during cider season. THAT will warp a BB.
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