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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Cider Forum > Time to move to the secondary?
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Old 12-17-2006, 01:40 PM   #1
blambert
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Default Time to move to the secondary?

First, let me say that this board is an excellent source of information. I am an extreme newbie at home brewing, in fact, I started my first batch of anything fermented (apple cider) 5 days ago.

I put 4.5 gallons of Central Market organic apple cider (initial SG 1.050) into the primary 5 days ago. Within 24 hours of pitching the yeast, it was fermenting at 1 bubble per second through the airlock. That rate of fermentation continued for about 3 days before it began to slow.

Today, fermentation has essentially stopped and the foam on top of the cider has disappeared. The cider is really cloudy and I would like to clear before bottling, not matter how long that takes.

My questions are:

1. Is it time to rack it to a secondary?

2. Can I remove the airlock to check the SG without hurting anything?

3. Can I add pectin enzyme (or something else) to help clear the cider in the secondary?

Thanks in advance for any advice you guys might have.

BL

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Old 12-17-2006, 02:17 PM   #2
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On page 37 of EdWort's ApfelWein thread, you will find that I've consolidated nearly all the posts into a simple question-answer format and most of what you want to know is contained therein.

About using a secondary. Normally the purpose of the secodary is to get the beer away from all the sediment (trub) that settles at the bottom of the fermenter so the remaining fermentation can take place without drawing odd flavors out from the sediment (or from the plastic bucket, if you are using one for a primary). Since you are using juice, there really isn't any trub to speak of, so it's not really necessary to transfer it to a secondary unless you are using a plastic fermenter. If that is the case, you may want to rack to a secondary, but not everyone thinks it's necessary. You can just let it sit for a few weeks in the primary.

About checking the S.G. after 5 days. I guess you can check the SG so long as you sanitize your equipment and are careful not to breathe into it or cause a mess. But why would you want to? What is there to gain by checking the SG when everything looks perfectly normal and the airlock is bubbling away? You know it's working, you know it's not finished yet, and you know that you are risking an infection by taking a measurement. So why would you do it?

About clarifiers. My understanding is that clarifiers are used to help precipitate junk out of your beer. However, since your apple juice began life as a clear liquid, it will more or less return to that state after the yeast is done fermenting. It will eventually become quite clear, but since the yeast is still working, it's not going to do be doing that yet. Can you add clarifiers? Sure. Is it going to help much with this recipe? I doubt it. Once the yeast is done, you will have clear hooch.

According to all the information in EdWort's Apfelwein thread, it takes about 4-5 weeks before it'll clear. The clearing occurs when the yeast dies and stops doing its thing. So, since you've still got bubbles, it's not going to be clearing yet. The yeast is still active. I'm on about day 12 with my recipe now and I've gone from a bubble per second to a bubble about every 6 seconds. But it's still bubbling, so the yeast is still active, so it's not clearing. Fruit wines take considerably longer to clear than beers.


FWIW, EdWort's recipe is my first "brew" as well. I've seen this phenomenon in other hobbies, though. A lot of people are just impatient. I believe that it's natural to obsess about a new hobby that excites you, but I believe that if you buy into all the hype and buy every last gadget, supplement and doodad then, at best, you will wind up spending money unnecessarily in the process. At worst, those purchases will wind up being a crutch for you to lean on and will actually prolong your quest to become good at your craft.

The recipe says to wait a month and after a week people are already worried that their efforts have not paid off yet. It doesn't matter if we're talking about beer, bodybuilding, guitar, or whatever, people want things to happen faster for them than for anyone else. They want to speed up the process. I know bodybuilders want to start taking extra pills or supplements if they don't see an improvement after 2 days. Guitarists figure they need new strings, picks, or a tuner if their music sucks. Apparently brewers feel the need to check S.G.'s and buy clarifiers. lol

Personally, long term, I think this is detrimental to your enjoyment of the hobby because if you keep it up, you may eventually burn out. So my advice (besides RDWHAHB) is to get yourself another hobby so you can stop obsessing so much about this one. Just let nature run its course. And I'm not saying it's just you. A lot of folks are doing that. I, too, find myself having to resist the urge to go check on my carboy 30 times a day. I can't help it. It's natural. I even busted out my hydrometer and got very close to taking a reading myself before common sense prevailed and I put the hydrometer back in the drawer. I followed the recipe (more or less), everything looks like it should, so I'm not worrying about it, I'm not messing with it. I'm trusting that the recipe will work just as well for me as it has for countless others.

Remember, the longest journey begins with a single footstep...


Cheers!

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Old 12-17-2006, 02:34 PM   #3
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Thanks for the information and I will check out pg 37 of the referenced thread.

You may not have understood that my fermentation has all but stopped. I am not getting more than a bubble per 30 minutes now.

Also, the juice that I started with was not clear. It was "apple cider" that I would describe as unfiltered apple juice. There is approximately 1.5 inches of apple pulp on the bottom of my primary. This is why I was interested in the use of pectin enzyme and possibly transfering to a secondary.

Thanks,

BL

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Old 12-17-2006, 02:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blambert
Thanks for the information and I will check out pg 37 of the referenced thread.

You may not have understood that my fermentation has all but stopped. I am not getting more than a bubble per 30 minutes now.

Also, the juice that I started with was not clear. It was "apple cider" that I would describe as unfiltered apple juice. There is approximately 1.5 inches of apple pulp on the bottom of my primary. This is why I was interested in the use of pectin enzyme and possibly transfering to a secondary.

Thanks,

BL
Gotcha. Since it's only been 5 days, I would say to wait a while longer before racking. A little extra time in the primary shouldn't hurt anything. But since the airlock has slowed significantly, I suppose it wouldn't be a bad time to take an SG reading in anticipation of getting three consecutive readings, but I'd probably wait a few more days. From what I've read, it just seems like an awfully fast fermentation for a fruitwine or cider. FWIW, I used apple juice and after 24 hours was getting a bubble per second with an O.G. of 1.062. So I don't think you've gotten nearly enough bubbles from your cider, but I dunno.

Out of curiosity, what yeast did you use and what temp was it fermenting at?

I apologize if I flew off the handle. I read through all 37 pages of that thread to compile the answers because people kept asking the most basic and ridiculous questions (I'm not naming any names). I mean, it's not their fault. We're all guilty of that from time to time, but having to read thruogh 37 pages of it? Jeeeeeezzzzz......

you might want to send a PM to "homebrew !" about the use of pectin. I know he makes a lot of fruit wines and is quite knowledgeable on the subject, in addition to being a very helpul individual. Or, there's always the search function...


Cheers!
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Old 12-17-2006, 03:28 PM   #5
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Sorry...I forgot to add those important details.

I used Lavlin EC-1118 (saccharomyces bayanus) and it is fermenting in my kitchen (68-72 F).

Hopefully someone will come along and answer the question about pectic enzyme. I have plenty of time. I plan on letting it sit in the primary for a while and then in the secondary for as long as needed to clear.

From what I have read, an acitve 4 day fermentation is within the normal range. Next time, I might add some sugar at the beginning which would allow for more fermentation time. But my mix should produce about 7% alcohol and that is plenty for cider. I will be adding campden tabs and sorbate before backsweetening with sugar (or splenda). I am not interested in carbonation on this batch.

thanks again,

BL

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Old 12-17-2006, 03:32 PM   #6
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I'm sure I will be educated by some smart person here as well because I'm just not seeing how 1 bubble a minute for a couple days is anywhere near enough activity.

Unless... my concept of an airlock and yours are vastly different...

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Old 12-17-2006, 03:42 PM   #7
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I would be interested to hear what others have experienced as well.
Again, it was at 1 bubble per second after 24 hours and was producing a lot of gas (possibly more than 1 bubble per second of very large bubbles) for the next 72 hours.

It has now slowed to 1 bubble each 30 minutes or so.

Is it reasonable to think the fermentation could be close to complete?

Barry

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Old 12-17-2006, 05:34 PM   #8
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Hey I think I am one of them who kept asking them rediculous questions........ LOL .......
I also did EdWort's Apfel-wine recipe to the letter Blambert. Using dextrose I was getting the same rate of bubbles approx 1 per second for 2 days or so...then it slowed to 20-21 per minute for the past 2 days.

I pitched December 10, 2006 so were right about in the same timeframe (me, you and toot) I have a nice sediment of dead cells approx 1/4" worth on the bottom of the carboy. still rather cloudy and bubbling away. Using Montrachet dry wine yeast and fermenting at 69*-70* in the corner of my kitchen. Had a small sulfury smell at day 2 that lasted approx one day, since then it sweetened up a bit and is a bit beerish smelling now.

the way I am understanding it, it will stop bubbling when either 1 or 2 things happens. either all of the fermetable sugars are gone or the yeast itself dies off. what type of sugar did you use? If all of the sugar is gone and there are no more bubbles then perhaps your fermantation period is finished. All the information says there is no reason for a secondary. but i plan to use a secondary for clearing (plus the practice of transfering it will help) as this is my first attempt at brewing as well. Perhaps waiting a bit longer before you transfer over to secondary may be best as it seems that it is okay to not use a secondary at all (according to some) but getting the cider off the dead yeast and pulp will also help prevent off tastes as mentioned in a few other threads.
Toot did a great job explaining the entire post in just a couple of replies on the "Man I love apfelwine" thread, making it easier for noob's like me to find the information that is compiled in 36 pages before it. so thanks Toot.
I am thinking when I bottle to try to carb some and leave some flat...also I will using 3 types of bottles. Grolsh green flippies, amber brown crown style cappers and belgium beer cork and wire style bottles.....i will give a bunch away to friends and family so the cheaper bottles will be for them.
great post, glad there are a few other newbie brewers out here doing the same thing as me, as the learning curve is a bit greater with mulitple batches going at the same time. hoping to enjoy a bottle in about 4 weeks......
thanks
anthony

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Old 12-17-2006, 05:36 PM   #9
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Just let it sit. If it's bubbling, it's not done. If you used EC-1118 (champagne yeast), it will ferment completely, and be bone dry. Give it another week, then rack to secondary. Then leave it be. The particulate will all settle out on its own, over time, unless you did something to set the proteins. Did you boil the Cider? If not, don't worry about it. To keep your mind off of things, why not start a batch of something else....say, a one gallon batch of mead?

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Old 12-17-2006, 05:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NurseNan
don't worry about it. To keep your mind off of things, why not start a batch of something else....say, a one gallon batch of mead?
NurseNan,
You must have been reading my mind.....hahahaha.......i just compiled the list of ingredients for a one gallon batch of mead and am heading over the the LHBS on my way to a christmas party to pick it up.........man oh man this is addictive!!!!!
anthony
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