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Old 03-25-2010, 03:16 PM   #1
Panik
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Default Theoretical Ideas on Stabilizing w/o Chemicals

Okay, so I have a theoretical question about cold crashing, stabilizing, and back sweetening. A lot of the commentary and experience on this forum seems to suggest that there are two predominant methods of creating a sweet cider if you are not setup with a kegging system. The first is to allow the cider to reach its final gravity and then stabilize using k-meta and sorbate and then back sweeten with the brewer’s choice of substances; creating a still sweet cider. The second is to utilize an unfermentable sugar as a back sweetener; enabling the brewer to create a carbonated sweet cider.

As CvilleKevin has demonstrated, it is possible to cold crash and rack with certain yeasts to induce a late-term, stabile stuck fermentation in cider that can endure bottled storage without significant risk of bottle bombs. If this is possible then would it not also be possible for a brewer using a yeast such as Notty to do something similar and incorporate back sweetening. As example:

1) Ferment cider as normal, allowing the cider to go to final gravity and clarity.
2) Rack to a clean carboy.
3) Add frozen concentrate to increase gravity to say between ~1.005 and ~1.010.
4) Rack and cold/crash to induce a stable, stuck fermentation between those gravity points.
5) Age and monitor to ensure fermentation does not restart.
6) Bottle.

Looking back on this concept I realize that it does seem like a lot of steps to produce a semi-sweet cider as compared to other available methods. However, it also would allow an individual to add flavor, sweetness, and body back into a cider that might be lacking these components without having to resort to chemical stabilization.

In any case I would love to hear peoples’ thoughts on this idea. As I’ve mentioned in a couple of other posts I’m laid up right now so I’ve got enough down time that all the ideas I have had about brewing over the last several months are able to get some space on the front burner so to speak.

Hopefully this is not a rehash of an old discussion. I’ve done a fair amount of searching and reading and haven’t seen this idea presented in quite the same treatment. If it is a rehash and I missed the thread I please do feel free to point me in the right direction and this noobe will tuck his tail and head over the appropriate thread and do some more reading.

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Old 03-25-2010, 04:45 PM   #2
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This sounds like it would work. You'll have to do testing with temperatures and yeast strains.

Other methods that I have thought about are heat and filtration. If you pasteurized the cider or beer by bringing it up to 170° and holding it there for 15 mins you would kill off all the yeast. This may affect the flavor of the cider/beer, but it would not use any chemicals.
The second idea would be to filter. If you used a low micron filter, like a polishing type, you may be able to filter out the yeast cells from the beer/cider.

All of these methods would require a kegging system to force carbonate unless you wanted still beverages.

This has always been a topic of interest to me. I've been curious about also using yeast that is less attenuation, that would naturally leave some sweetness behind.

The real crux with this is that there is a lot of trial and error experimentation that would need to be done to find an affective no chemical solution.

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Old 03-25-2010, 05:10 PM   #3
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From what I understand, cold crashing isn't a reliable way to permanently stop fermentation, unless you are going to keep the bottles refrigerated until consumed.

No matter how long you age/monitor it, you can't be certain it will remain stuck. A slight rise in temp or the yeast getting stirred by moving the bottles, could restart fermentation.

You might get away with it 99 times out of 100, but you are always risking bottle bombs.

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Old 03-25-2010, 06:00 PM   #4
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Schoolmaster - Yah, I figured that doing it this way would likely require some experimentation in order to get things correct. It's one of the beautiful things about this forum, before you experiment on something you can appeal to a huge knowledge base before you commit to a potentially dumb, dangerous, or disgusting experiment.

You bring up pasteurization and that is a very good point actually.....and is one of the other thoughts I had running around in my head after reading the threads on dishwasher, oven and stovetop pasteurization.

Say for example there exists a measurable correlation between gravity points and carbonation. If so it would seem that it might be relatively straightforward in terms of theory to let one’s brew go to a specific gravity where:

Current Gravity = (X amount of points for carbonation + Y amount of points for final sweetness)

At that point you could bottle as normal as well as bottle some of your brew into several plastic, screw top test containers. Once done the brewer could allow their bottles to carbonate and use the test bottles to measure both specific gravity as well as carbonation. Once the specific gravity has been reached pasteurization can accomplished.

I realize that people have experimented with the soda bottle tester method of measuring carbonation. I wonder however if a chart exists that correlates gravity points specifically to carbonation. If so that would take out a lot of the guess work in trying to hit a certain final gravity as well as achieving an appropriate amount of carbonation.

All that being said you would still have to contend with the possibility of blowing bottles during pasteurization or losing the seal on the bottle caps due to overpressure while heating.

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Old 03-25-2010, 06:04 PM   #5
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Pimento –

What you expressed is exactly my concern in this matter. It does appear that it can be done, just with what amount of risk you are willing to take (and it is certainly not an inconsiderable risk). We are all after dealing with living organisms here and while we can use science and math to model their behavior it can be very difficult to precisely predict what even a simple organism like yeast will do.

If I remember correctly CvilleKevin even mentioned that of his experiments only one bottle has ‘xploded. I just wish I knew exactly what the different conditions were in that bottle as opposed to the others that he produced. It is truly one of those things where the devil is in the detail. Although I am zoo keeper by current career I have worked as a biologist and scientist and its those little details that get my mind going.

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Old 03-25-2010, 06:29 PM   #6
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Hehe, I was just re-reading CvilleKevin's sticky to check my memory.

His process is a bit different than what you were proposing. He racks the cider off the main yeast cake, then cold crashes to get the majority of the yeast flocculated out, then racks again.

Unless I missed a post, he's making still cider not bottle carbed, his bottles should have no yeast left to carb.

It's likely there weren't any noticeable differences in conditions for the bottle that exploded, it was just his 1 in 100 where a few yeast got through.

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Old 03-25-2010, 06:42 PM   #7
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Nah you didn't miss a post, unless I missed one as well

I managed to throw together a couple of ideas that I should have kept in separate posts. The original idea was to make a still sweet cider adapting CvilleKevin's concept.

The idea was to allow the cider to go to dryness and the rack to clarity. Following that I was considering using concentrate to bring the F.G. back up to between 1.005 and 1.010for flavor and sweetness and then cold crashing/racking for a no chemical stabilization.

I had wondered if the above concept that was a viable alternative to improve store bought cider without using chemical stabilization; however I also got off on a bit another interesting tangent about carbed sweet cider with schoolmaster. Seeing as both concepts are a bit outside of "normal" cider making and both deal with sweetening cider they seemed extensions of each other. Sorry 'bout the confusion.

In either case I would be interested in your input.

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Old 03-25-2010, 07:03 PM   #8
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Ahh, your original post seemed to suggest you were using it cold crashing to make a sweet carbed cider.

CvilleKevin seems to have done a lot of testing on cold crashing for still ciders and it seems to work fine for him. I suppose if you wanted to be certain you could cold crash and rack twice to be sure.

It should work fine whether you backsweeten or monitor your gravity closely and cold crash when it hits your sweetness level.

I don't have a large enough fridge myself, so i just use campden tablets, never detected any off flavors from them when used properly.

I'm thinking of trying the dishwasher pasteurization technique on my next cider, but I'm a bit leery about getting broken glass in there.

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Old 03-25-2010, 07:46 PM   #9
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Lol my wife would kill me if I spread glass shards throughout our dishwasher! I seem to remember Ken Schramm (sp?) mentioning using the oven on this board or gotmead as a tool for pasturizing although I also remember sombody else trying this and
bulging their caps in the process.

Although I believe that is was hea related it is one of reasons I wish I could find a chart correlating points of gravity and carbonation. I seem to remember reading dome
literature about this but I can't remember where or if it was a figment of my imagination.

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Old 03-25-2010, 10:18 PM   #10
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extended cold crashing definitely can stabilize a cider when using an ale yeast. I hate the taste of sorbate. I'd rather use a yeast that isn't cold tolerant, leave my cider out for a while in the early winter, rack, and then store in my icehouse, just above freezing temp for a period of around six months. But right now I don't have kegging gear, so I just make very dry, bottle conditioned cider which is perfectly fine by my tastes. I have the right kind of facilities and climate that I can keep stuff cold for extended periods, though. If I were force-carbing, I'd just be patient and chill the heck out of my cider and then backsweeten after a really looooong time. I always have something going, so waiting wouldn't be all that hard.

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