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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Cider Forum > Sweet Hard Cider advice needed
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:11 AM   #1
DanU
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Default Sweet Hard Cider advice needed

Hello,

I am wanting to make my first batch of Hard cider (sweet) and have read a lot of different methods... I was trying to decide between these two options...

Option 1: Stop fermentation early (preserving?). I figure when I take the OG of store bought cider it will be around 1.05 or so. So I was thinking if I add brown sugar to get it up to 1.08, and then ferment til about 1.02-1.035, it should still be sweet and the abv would be about 6-8% if my calculations are correct. At this point I would either bottle it and let it sit a few weeks to a month or rack it to a secondary and let it sit a few weeks to a month before bottling.

Option 2: Add little to no sugar prior to fermentation, and the OG would be around 1.05 or 1.06, let it ferment out and still be around 6-8% abv, and then I would back sweeten with a can of juice concentrate or something.

I am using WLP720 Sweet Mead yeast and would be stopping fermentation with campden tablets/potassium sorbate.

My goal is to make a sweet hard cider, something that tastes similar to store bought cider with a bit of an alcohol kick to it.

I would like to use option 1, but I'm not sure if it could smell strong of sulfur if I stop fermentation early or if there are other negative affects to doing it that way?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Old 10-04-2012, 12:18 AM   #2
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Option #2 is more predictable.

Stopping an active fermentation isn't easy. Campden and sorbate don't stop an active fermentation, but can be used to inhibit yeast reproduction and keep fermentation from restarting in a finished fermentation. Sometimes using campden and sorbate to try to stop an active fermentation simply stresses the yeast. What happens is, the yeast doesn't need to reproduce to finish fermentation since it's already been through the reproductive phase. But adding the campden and sorbate will stress it, but not stop it. so you get a stinky fermentation that keeps going. Stressed yeast doesn't taste good in the finished product.

The reason sorbate works in a finished fermentation is that the cider is racked off of the lees, and it's clear so there isn't as much yeast in suspension. Then the sorbate is added and since it inhibits reproduction, the yeast can't start fermenting again when the sweetener is added.

Putting the cider in the fridge before adding sorbate/campden often works, though. If you can put it in the fridge so that it drops clear, and then rack it, you may be able to halt fermentation without stressing the yeast too much.

I've never had much luck with successfully stopping a fermentation in an active fermentation, but I've found the kegging it and keeping it very cold works. Once it warms up, it starts up again, though.

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Old 10-23-2012, 03:20 AM   #3
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Thanks very much for the info, I decided to back sweeten instead of trying to stop the fermentation.

I pitched on 10/04, and there is very little activity now. It was about 9 minutes before the airlock fell (it is one of the ones that rise and fall rather than one of the ones that just bubble). I figure I will take a gravity reading tomorrow night and rack to secondary. I think the fermentation process is pretty much complete, so should I put some campden tabs and potassium sorbate in the secondary and then rack onto it, or should I let it sit in the secondary for a few days before adding them? My O.G. was 1.062.

After I add the campden and potassium sorbate I plan on back sweetening.

Edit:
I guess another route I could go would be to let it sit a short period in the secondary, and then sweeten to my liking and bottle instantly and take it to the stove top to pasteurize using the method in the sticky. That way would avoid the campden/sorbate but I'm not sure which method is better.

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Old 10-23-2012, 04:01 AM   #4
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Depends on if your current SG is stable. If your airlock is still moving then fermentation is still active. When stabilizing (NO airlock activity, SG stable), I'll usually rack off the sediment onto the sorbate/pot-met, dissolved in 2cups cider, in a new carboy. Give that a few weeks and then rack again before sweetening. Once sweetened, give it another two weeks to be sure fermentation doesn't restart on the added sugars. Bottle, age, enjoy!!

Alternatively, and my preference, allow the cider to fall clear racking every 2mos for about 6mos. Stabilize, and then sweeten as needed. It never ceases to suprise how much cider and wine change/improve between rackings!!!

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Old 10-23-2012, 08:40 PM   #5
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I had a question to piggy-back on this thread. I brewed my first batch of cider on Saturday (3 days ago) and it was recommended by my LHBS that I go for the "option 1" as listed in the original post. I had an OG of 1.065 from juice and added sugar and was planning to stop fermentation with potassium sorbate at 1.015. After reading this thread I am reconsidering...

I would also like to bottle-carbonate, and am having some trouble figuring out this whole process. Any help or advice would be very appreciated!

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Old 10-23-2012, 11:28 PM   #6
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My preferred method of backsweetening a dry cider is to add Previously frozen apple juice concentrate. I find 2-3 12 oz cans suits my taste, 1.015 or so (for 5 gallons). I use the sorbate/sulphite to stabilize cause I think pasteurizing sounds like a PITA. If I want carbonated I stabilize and then keg it.

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Old 10-23-2012, 11:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwendel View Post
I had a question to piggy-back on this thread. I brewed my first batch of cider on Saturday (3 days ago) and it was recommended by my LHBS that I go for the "option 1" as listed in the original post. I had an OG of 1.065 from juice and added sugar and was planning to stop fermentation with potassium sorbate at 1.015. After reading this thread I am reconsidering...

I would also like to bottle-carbonate, and am having some trouble figuring out this whole process. Any help or advice would be very appreciated!
I don't bottle much so I'm not sure of exact number but....If you want to halt fermentation and bottle carb a sweet cider, I think you will want to bottle about .005 higher than your desired finished number. When bottling fill 1 or 2 plastic soda bottles along with your glass. These are your test bottles, when they become hard it is time to pasteurize.
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