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Old 01-06-2013, 02:00 PM   #1
drewmey
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Default Tips advice before starting this batch.

I am planning to start the following batch of cider this afternoon but it is only the second time I have brewed anything. It is also my first time with a hydrometer and two carboys so I wanted any advice or help I can get! Still have a couple questions...

2 Gal of Natures Promise Apple Juice
2 Gal Kirkland 100% Fresh Pressed Apple Juice
Brown Sugar until batch is an OG of 1.075-1.085
Half Packet Champagne Yeast (Will check in cup of the juice first)

Here are my questions...
1) Is this an appropriate OG to shoot for if I am going for a low alcohol wine or high cider. Obviously I can't predict the FG on the spot but I think it will probably end near 1 right?

2) When do I rack into my second carboy? I think once the SG stops changing for a couple days. Is this correct?

3) I have some fresh cranberries that I want to include. Should I include them in the initial ferment or after I rack to the second carboy? And I honestly have no idea how many to add. I want a predominantly apple flavor with a slight cranberry flavor. I guess it may depend on whether I cook them first or just chop them and throw them in. Any advice would be great!

4) My previous (and only other batch) came out pretty sour but tasted alright after adding my own sweeteners at the end. This might be getting ahead but I am curious about what other people do. Last time I pasteurized after adding honey to sweeten. This time to make things easier I plan on cold crashing, siphoning to the bottles, adding splenda or lactose (have both), then refrigerating. What do people think of this and when do those who use non-fermentable sweeteners add them?

Thanks for all the advice!

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Old 01-07-2013, 02:25 PM   #2
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I thought I would reply since I use the Kirkland juice a lot. I also use brown sugar for the nice flavor it lends to my ciders. The main difference is, I typically use ale yeast instead of wine yeast.

In my experience the Kirkland brand juice usually comes in around 1.050. I usually boil the sugar and a handful of raisins in a small amount of juice to sanitize everything. I add enough brown sugar to bring my gravity up to 1.065 or so. Most of the ciders I age for extended periods end up in the neighborhood of 8% abv. To me, this is a high range for cider and low for wine. If your original gravity is much higher than 1.065, you are probably looking at more of a wine taste (Especially with that yeast) and IMO it takes a little longer to bring the apple flavor back and smooth it out.

I like to rack my ciders after about a week to 10 days. Usually this is around 1.020 or so. My (theory) is that racking at this point (instead of 1.000) allows for another layer of CO2 to form on the surface giving the cider some protection from oxidation.

As for adding whole fruit...I would probably add them to secondary instead of primary, but I'll let others weigh in on that. I typically use fruit juices for flavoring instead of whole fruit.

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Old 01-07-2013, 11:56 PM   #3
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Thanks! I'll move to the secondary a little earlier like you suggest. I left it a lot longer last time I made a batch so I am curious to see if it clears things out better. I ended up only using enough sugar to bring it up to 1.060. Guess I got lucky because I thought it might end up too weak until you replied. I'm still trying to make sense of converting the OG and FG to an ABV. I'll need to do some more research. I appreciate the reply! Would you recommend using a different yeast next batch? Just curious because I am always up to try something else if people think it makes sense.

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Old 01-08-2013, 04:52 PM   #4
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My personal preference is beer over wine. I do like wine also, but I prefer my ciders more towards the beer flavor. I think the ale yeasts help achieve this flavor profile and you can control the final gravity a little more. (in my experience anyway) The beauty of making ciders at home is that you can control everything and you find a method and ingredients that work for your palette. A LOT of people use wine or champagne yeasts and enjoy their results. I prefer Nottingham or S-04 fermented around 58º-60ºF.

It's all about what you enjoy. What I make isn't going to be liked by all, but it satisfies my needs

As for the ABV, I use this online tool:
http://www.brewersfriend.com/abv-calculator/

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Old 01-10-2013, 03:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewmey View Post
I'm still trying to make sense of converting the OG and FG to an ABV.
(OG-FG)x131.25=___%ABV
that should get you somewhere in the ball park
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:08 PM   #6
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They make a ton of apps for smart phones that calculate ABV for you.

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Old 01-10-2013, 06:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewmey View Post

Here are my questions...
1) Is this an appropriate OG to shoot for if I am going for a low alcohol wine or high cider. Obviously I can't predict the FG on the spot but I think it will probably end near 1 right?

2) When do I rack into my second carboy? I think once the SG stops changing for a couple days. Is this correct?

3) I have some fresh cranberries that I want to include. Should I include them in the initial ferment or after I rack to the second carboy? And I honestly have no idea how many to add. I want a predominantly apple flavor with a slight cranberry flavor. I guess it may depend on whether I cook them first or just chop them and throw them in. Any advice would be great!

4) My previous (and only other batch) came out pretty sour but tasted alright after adding my own sweeteners at the end. This might be getting ahead but I am curious about what other people do. Last time I pasteurized after adding honey to sweeten. This time to make things easier I plan on cold crashing, siphoning to the bottles, adding splenda or lactose (have both), then refrigerating. What do people think of this and when do those who use non-fermentable sweeteners add them?

Thanks for all the advice!
1) It will end near FG 1.000 (or slightly lower) so you do the math of how much alcohol you want. Brown sugar can become a dominant flavor if you add too much of it so don't go overboard.

2) Yes.

3) Rack onto cranberries in the secondary. I've done 1 lb per 3 gallons of cider and found that it gave about the right level of bitterness and a rosy pink color after about 10 days. I brought the cranberries to a boil with a little water to sanitize them but also to break them down a little.

4) I've added Splenda (sucralose) at bottling time (1 T per bottle, of the "fluffy" Splenda that is volumetrically equivalent to sugar). It tasted nice (and indistinguishable from sugar) at first but as time goes on, it tastes worse. I wish I could remember the taste better but I want to say plasticky and maybe metallic, with a weirdly thin mouthfeel. The half of the batch with no Splenda was fine. Since then, I've started experimenting with sorbate and sterile filtration, but those won't be much help unless you're kegging. Maybe you'll have better luck with lactose. Or you could just add a splash of simple syrup when you pour a bottle to drink.

Good luck and let us know how it works out!
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Old 01-11-2013, 03:49 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the advice. SG it's currently still 1.032. I'll probably check it again in another four or five days since it is only about halfway there. I plan on cold crashing and racking onto some cranberries for at least a week, probably longer. Haven't heard great things about splenda and lactose so far but that is still probably the plan. Will update later.

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Old 02-13-2013, 11:40 PM   #9
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Default Finished Today

Finished racking this out of the secondary today. I ended up not using any cranberries, might try something like that next time. The Lactose I used was not very sweet but that ended up being ok because I like it dry anyway. I'll be doing my next batch soon!

I had a quick question about storage. I do not have a system set up to bottle these in individual bottles. Instead, I just sealed them back into half gallon plastic jugs. I am not worried about explosions, because they have been sitting at 1.000 for over a week so it is done. I am more curious about whether it is ok to leave them in 72 degree (F) temps to age for a month or two? Or should I refrigerate?

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Old 02-14-2013, 02:58 PM   #10
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Do you want to condition/mature it or just store it? Putting it in the fridge is going to slow or stop any chemical/biological processes involved in maturation. I don't think there will be any harm in storing at 72 F for a couple months, as mine is stored around 68 F and has improved in flavor. Why not put a couple jugs in each and do a taste test a month from now?

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