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Old 12-11-2012, 04:40 PM   #1
hungrygrad
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Default Sweetening cider until the yeast give up?

So, it seems like most of the backsweetening threads are about stopping fermentation. My question is can you add a sweetener (honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, etc.) to your primary, continuing to add it until the yeast produces enough alcohol to shut down? Theoretically, shouldn't I then be able to add whatever I want to get the desired level of sweet sans heat, antimicrobials, or artificial sweeteners?

(Some stats on what's in my bucket: I've got 3.5 gal of cider made from a random blend of apples (Fuji, Granny Smith, Red and Yellow Delicious) that I pressed myself fermenting with cider-specific yeast. I used a small amount of potassium metabisulfate to kill off the wild yeasts and let it sit 24 hrs before pitching late last night. It's bubbling away, smells slightly sulfurous, but it's far from Wretched Stank territory.)

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Old 12-11-2012, 04:46 PM   #2
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I've just started the cider making myself so take this with a little weight. I would think you could do that but depending on the yeast and what they an tolerate. You might have to go as high as 25% ABV before the yeast quit. I would think that would be a bit much for a cider.

My current cider is back sweetened and carbing now in a corny. When it's at the level I want I will drop Camden tablets and reseal it. I debated force carbing but my tank is low on co2 and I've got a party planed this Friday where I need the tank to last.

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Old 12-11-2012, 05:04 PM   #3
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Since cider is traditionally 5-10% abv and carbonated most of us don't do that. No reason that you couldn't though. Be prepared for a STRONG drink that will need a fair amount of sweetness or aging time to cover the heat. More of a sipper than an easy drinker

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Old 12-11-2012, 05:18 PM   #4
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Ok. I just checked the yeast strain that I used: http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/strains_wlp775.html It looks like if I add more fermentables, I'll end up with something intensely boozy.

Followup question; if I do add fermentables and end up with something intensely boozy, is this necessarily a bad thing? It's not a big deal if it needs to be drunk in smaller quantities, or if it ends up being closer in character to an apple mead (a melomel?) or an apple honey liqueur. What would be a big deal is if higher levels of alcohol from longer fermentation would result in off flavors or something else that would harm the overall flavors of the drink.

This is an exploratory project. I'm not making it for anything specific so all that has to happen is it should taste good. If it ends up not falling into the cider category... can't say that I really mind.

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Old 12-11-2012, 06:02 PM   #5
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Can't hurt anything to experiment. I have made pretty strong apfleweins (12-14% ABV) and found them close to undrinkable when they are young. The alcohol is HOT and overpowering (think jet fuel). I'm not sure you would be able to add enough sweet to mask that. I don't think you will get much apple flavor either.

Time is magic though and if you wait long enough... you may end up with something nice or at least something that won't make you cry for momma and/or go blind.

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Old 12-11-2012, 09:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FantasticMisterFox View Post
Can't hurt anything to experiment. I have made pretty strong apfleweins (12-14% ABV) and found them close to undrinkable when they are young. The alcohol is HOT and overpowering (think jet fuel). I'm not sure you would be able to add enough sweet to mask that. I don't think you will get much apple flavor either.

Time is magic though and if you wait long enough... you may end up with something nice or at least something that won't make you cry for momma and/or go blind.
Agreed. When my buddies and I tried my first batch of apfelwein after a few months, we dubbed it apple rocket fuel. A few months later now, it's starting to get tasty. Mellowing out and becoming more appley.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:21 AM   #7
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OP, you may want to do some research on ice ciders and such for tips etc. since the basic idea is the same.

Mr. Fox has a good point about losing most apple flavor by fermenting to such high levels via chapitaslization with non-apple sugars. I'd think the trick would be to balance any honey/whatever sugar with apple juice concentrate. Either way, aging time will be a factor.

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Old 12-12-2012, 02:29 AM   #8
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I have done this, although in a slightly different fashion. I was planning out my cyser (cider-mead) and screwed up my math. 6lbs of honey in 2.5g apple juice gave me 3 gallons of 1.134 OG must. I don't like wine yeast, so I was using 05. Pitched 2 packs and left it alone. It fermented slooooow, for what I assume are a variety of factors. About a month in, it turned crystal clear and stalling at 1.030. I assume the clearing is due to the yeast dying and dropping out of solution.

So how does it taste? It has a very appley nose (and while I get slight whiffs of vinegar, my wife hasn't mentioned it), that is almost overpowering. The first taste is quite sweet and heavy. The mid taste and swallow are both extremely light, which is surprising given the intensity of the beginning of the sip. The aftertaste leaves light honey flavors on the tongue that linger, but doesn't impose. In short: a true panty dropper!

Give it a try, post your results!


I signed up just to comment on this. Unrelated, but I wanted you to know that.

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