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Old 09-28-2013, 11:22 PM   #1
azsixshooter
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Default Shooting for 7 - 8% alcohol, how much sugar?

Hi,

I have 5 gallons of orchard fresh unpasteurized cider at home in an ale pail right now. I added a hard cider making kit of various powders last night & am planning to pitch my yeast tonight. 2 of the gallons are from Spicer's Orchards in Fenton MI. & 3 gallons are from the Dexter, MI Cider Mill. The Dexter cider is sweet, but a little more tart than the Spicer's cider which is extremely sweet & rich. I was planning to add 1/4 of a can of apple juice concentrate & 1/2 cup of brown sugar tonight to encourage a stong brew, but thought I'd post here & ask if that sounds okay since this is the first batch I've ever made. I'm at work right now or I'd do a lot more searching the forums before posting directly. If anyone can offer me any thoughts I'd sure appreciate them, I'd like to get the cider up to at least 6.5% alcohol, without risking making it into apple wine. I'd like a strong, fizzy cider with a good apple flavor & just slightly sweet.

Thanks for any help! I'm very happy to be starting my journey in home brewing! After bartending for many years I've always wanted to try making my own.

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Old 09-28-2013, 11:30 PM   #2
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I think the famous Edworts Apfelwein is about 8%, that uses five gallons of juice and 2 lbs of corn sugar.

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Old 09-29-2013, 12:21 AM   #3
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Thanks! That's a lot of sugar! I guess I won't be in danger of overdoing it if I add the 1/4 can of juice concentrate and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. If I even get around 6.5% alcohol I'll be happy. Actually, I'll be happy if I get something other than vinegar but I'm used to drinking stronger beers and ciders so that's what I'm aiming for.

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Old 09-29-2013, 03:05 AM   #4
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How much sugar your starting cider has factors in greatly. It can vary quite a bit. Go invest a few $ in a hydrometer and things become quite simple to calculate. :-)

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Old 09-29-2013, 05:13 AM   #5
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Thanks for that great tip! I'm home now and I actually do have a hydrometer, I just hadn't opened it and read the documentation until just now. It makes sense how you can just add sugar, take a reading and then check the chart to see what the potential alcohol will be.

I got a can of apple concentrate and a bag of brown sugar so after I get all this stuff sanitized I'm going to start adding and measuring and adjust as necessary. It looks like I want to try and get it up around 1.055 or 1.060.

I'm really excited to get this batch going, but I'm forcing myself to try and go slow and do everything carefully. Seems like a little precaution now will go a long way towards ensuring I end up with a successful finished product.

I got some cinnamin flavored vodka for my airlock too so I should be ready to rock-n-roll!

Thanks for the fast replies, I really appreciate that. I've been browsing other threads and it's apparent that there is an incredible amount of information here, looks like I found the right place!

Oh, another thing I picked up at the store on the way home was a sixer of Angry Orchard's Traditional Dry. I like it better than the woodchuck I've had. Last night I tried Stella Artois' "Premium Cidre" and thought it was full-flavored and delicate and finished really clean. It's kind of weak at 4.5% though and I'm hoping to produce something with a little higher octane. This Traditional Dry is better in that department at 5.5% and if I could produce something with a similar taste I'd be happy.

I just hope that whatever I create is strong and somehow tastes good too!

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Old 09-29-2013, 06:44 AM   #6
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I hear that. :-)

Yes, the six P's philosophy can lead to yoh making great stuff. You can't go backwards when adding sugars, so go slow. Also AJ concentrate is more $, but adds flavor as well as more sugar. Its a trade off. :-)

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Old 09-29-2013, 07:54 AM   #7
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I ended up adding 1/4 of the can of apple juice concentrate and 2 cups of packed brown suger. The hydrometer read it at almost 1.060, but after correcting for ambient temperature it was more like 1.062.

Now I wait....

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Old 09-29-2013, 08:42 AM   #8
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What do you mean you added a hard ciders kit of various powders? You could and probably should have added some sulfites and pectinase. If you added some sorbate powder you might have a hard time of it. What is the deal with 1/4 can of concentrate, in 5 gallons, not going to give you very much added flavor, a couple of cans might. I imagine when you say strong you mean beer type strong vs wine strong? Which yeast are you planning on useing? You guys are lucky to have so many cideries around you, it seems most of our orchards ship their apples to a central juicing company that combines everyones apples to make a cider, its good for drinking as a normal cider and makes a good hard cider but lacks tannins to put it over the top, but that doesnt sound like a part you are intereted in. WVMJ

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Old 09-29-2013, 04:48 PM   #9
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I got the idea to add 1/4 cup of apple juice concentrate from this page:
http://www.howtomakehardcider.com/making.html
I just realized after your comment that she was only making a gallon batch! I don't know if I should put the rest in, is there any risk of too much sugar hurting the outcome? I like a strong (yes, like beer strong) drink but I wouldn't want the alcohol to completely overwhelm all the other flavors.

Here's what I added the night before from the additive pack:

.25 tsp Potassium Metabisulfite
3.75 tsp Acid blend
2.5 tsp Pectic Enzyme
1.25 tsp Wine Tannin

It came with a packet of 2.5 tsp of Potassium Sorbate, but it said not to add that if you are wanting to make sparkling cider so I just put it in the fridge in case I need it in the future.

The yeast the girl recommended is Lalvin K1-V1116 so I hope that will work to make a decent cider. It seems everyone is touting the Knottingham Ale yeast in other threads so maybe next time I'll try something like that.

I was going to keep the fermenting cider in the garage, but temps this week are supposed to be ~75/55F so I thought the nighttime temps might dip too low for the yeast to stay really active. I am under the impression that it should be kept around 70 - 80F for best fermentation. Maybe I could have selected a better yeast for colder fermentation rooms, I'm learning a lot more as I read through the various threads here. I just wanted to get something started so I might have some cider to take to hunting camp this year.

I'm still not sure how to bottle this when it is done. I was originally thinking of splitting it into 1 gallon jugs after secondary fermentation, but now I'm thinking I should use smaller bottles so I can drink some over time and let some age 6 months or so to see how the flavor changes as it ages.

Thanks in advance for any additional tips or suggestions you all might have for a new brewer!

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Old 09-30-2013, 08:09 AM   #10
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Must have done something right, I got home around 9:30pm and she was bubbling away. I went ahead and sanitized everything and add the rest of the can of apple juice concentrate I had. Hope it all turns out good!

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