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Old 10-14-2011, 03:06 AM   #1
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Default very newbie - started fermenting w/o any added sugar, is this ok? HELP!

Hi,

A few weeks ago I got some UV pastuerized cider from the local orchard. Then I stopped over the local brew store and got some other chemicals like pectic enzyme, acid blend powder, tanin powder, red star champagne yeast, and so forth. I also got a recipe from the store but I forgot to buy a hydrometer.

I put the cider in my carbouy and added the campden tablets. 2 days later I added some of the other ingredients including the yeast but did not add sugar (the recipe said the sugar was optional unless SG was under 1.06). Since I forgot to buy a hydrometer and figured that the cider was pretty darn sweet, I said, what the heck, let it ferment.

After 5 days (recipe recommended SG around 1.020) I racked it into a secondary fermenter (bucket) per the recipe. Well now its day 9 (day 4 in second fermenter) and no bubbles are appearing in the airlock. I've made beer (from a tested recipe) before and it usually continues to make bubbles.

The question is: Did I just waste 5 gallons of nice apple cider? should I be worried about no bubbles? Should I add sugar? What should I do? Let it continue as is? I want the finished product to be at least 6% ABV.

Please help if you can!

I'd appreciate any response or feel free to call me, 412-401-1477.

I'm going to buy a hydrometer tomorrow morning to see where my SG is at.

Much thanks,
-KP

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Old 10-14-2011, 03:13 AM   #2
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Did the cider have it's neutritional info on the label? Probalby not as it is probably a small place, not a distributed on. It will be fine. Maybe a little low in ABV, and probably dry - to have it finish sweet, you need to start with massive amounts of sugar.

You can make it sweet now, but you have to first kill the yeast. And how does it taste? And you need the hydrometer, there is no other way to really test it. Well maybe taste test, but that doesn't tell you as much as a hydrometer.


If you add sugar now, you will probably kick of a fermentation again. It probably won't to adversly affect anything. But really test it first. Commerical apple juice (not cider) has a OG around 1.045 The cider should start I'd guess there or higher. So if your hydrometer shows it at like a 1.010 or more likely a .995, then your ferment is done, although aging might be needed.

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Old 10-14-2011, 03:19 AM   #3
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Hi ACbrewer,
Thanks for the response and advice.

The cider is from a small local farm, about an hour out of town. The cider was very sweet tasting (sweeter than what I remembered) but had a lot of apple characteristics but not like commercial apple juice.

So if I want to make it have a higher ABV and have it not be so dry, I would have to add sugar now? How should I kill the yeast? Add Campden crushed tablets? Wait a day, then pitch yeast and sugar? To what level of SG should I add sugar?

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Old 10-14-2011, 11:53 AM   #4
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I've had a similar issue with my last batch and so I was "back to the boards" looking for advice for pitching new yeast into a secondary or just letting it sit for several weeks, etc.

For now, mine is in my glass carboy waiting for a week or two - I will revisit it then.

Definitely get the hydrometer.

5 Days in primary doesn't seem like enough time to me, though.

I wouldn't throw it out - - search on here for advice about pitching a second time. As long as it doesn't taste bad or have bad characteristics it should be workable.

I'll post links to anything I find. Good luck.

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Old 10-14-2011, 01:12 PM   #5
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Kap - Today get a hydrometer. Also after you read what I have to say, you could get a few other things.

If you go back by where you bought the cider, you coudl get some more and test that. While the given pressing will have it's sugar level, other pressings they've done should be similar, and you could test that to have an idea of what the start was for your cider.

If you want a higher ABV, you can add sugar(table, brown, honey, corn, frozen apple concentrate, etc). depending on your yeast strain, this can be quite a lot of sugar to add. Typically for the yeast you use I think it's alcohol tollerance is 16%. Assuming 5 gallons of liquid, with an OG of 1.040, (probably 1.050+ is more likely) and you want to leave it at 1.010 or more for sweet, you will need to add a lot of sugar... I think about 9 or 10 lb of table or brown sugar. Much more of honey. This would take the assumed OG up to about 1.130 - which would probably still

If you are happy with an ABV around 7 or 8, then I recommend doing this instead (heck I recomned this anyhow). Others have said - and I beleive them - that it is nearly impossible to stop fermentation.
1 Let it run out of sugars (SG of about .995 to .990). Get some Campden tablets and some Potasium Sorbate (a preservative). These two items will inhibit yeast growth, but not kill all the yeast that is there.
2 IF you can put your carboy in a fridge, or somewhere aroudn 30-40F to help the yeast go dormant and help it drop. If you can't don't worry about it.
3 Rack into a sanatized container, and put in the tablets and sorbate as per instructions.
4 Add sugar to taste, take and OG and let sit for a couple more weeks taste and take the gravity again.

The down side of doing this is that you kill or dormatize your yeast which means you can't do carbonation unless you can force carb.

Pretty much your choices are 1 sweet and still or 2 carbed and not sweet. Trying to do natural carb with sweet is an invitation to bottle bombs. Even PET bottles(plastic) even cold, Sweet and natural carb is still a risk for bombs.

I'd missed before that it is 5 days. - With cider (and wines) that is probably not enough to be finished, but it could be.

Your shopping list to do what I've mentioned here.
1. Hydrometer.
2. a contact sanatizer (idaphor or star san or equivlent. - one step and such are nice but take 10 mins or rinsing or something). Along with that at a lowes/Home depot get a spray bottle.
3. Campden - you said you had and Potasium Sorbate (a decent lhbs with wines will have this)

(I'm seeing Red Star Champagin yeast only goes 13 to 15% so each lb of sugar in a 5 gallon batch will give you about 1% ABV - thus you can drop it to probably 7lb)

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Old 10-14-2011, 11:40 PM   #6
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Thanks ACBrewer! This is sound advice and I can't thank you enough.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ACbrewer View Post
If you go back by where you bought the cider, you coudl get some more and test that. While the given pressing will have it's sugar level, other pressings they've done should be similar, and you could test that to have an idea of what the start was for your cider.
That is an excellent idea! Thanks for the tip! I will certainly do that. I may not be able to get the UV only treated cider since I had to order it special.But that's ok, I will drink it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ACbrewer View Post
If you want a higher ABV, you can add sugar(table, brown, honey, corn, frozen apple concentrate, etc). depending on your yeast strain, this can be quite a lot of sugar to add. Typically for the yeast you use I think it's alcohol tollerance is 16%. Assuming 5 gallons of liquid, with an OG of 1.040, (probably 1.050+ is more likely) and you want to leave it at 1.010 or more for sweet, you will need to add a lot of sugar... I think about 9 or 10 lb of table or brown sugar. Much more of honey. This would take the assumed OG up to about 1.130 - which would probably still
1. First, what does OG stand for? How is that different from SG (specific gravity - relative to water) or is it the same?

2. What do you mean by "Assuming 5 gallons... OG 1.040 and you want to leave it at 1.010 or more..." I'm slightly confused by that statement.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ACbrewer View Post
If you are happy with an ABV around 7 or 8, then I recommend doing this instead (heck I recomned this anyhow). Others have said - and I beleive them - that it is nearly impossible to stop fermentation.
1 Let it run out of sugars (SG of about .995 to .990). Get some Campden tablets and some Potasium Sorbate (a preservative). These two items will inhibit yeast growth, but not kill all the yeast that is there.
2 IF you can put your carboy in a fridge, or somewhere aroudn 30-40F to help the yeast go dormant and help it drop. If you can't don't worry about it.
3 Rack into a sanatized container, and put in the tablets and sorbate as per instructions.
So I should chill my carboy (fortunately its 40-50F here in Milwaukee) meanwhile buy those chemicals. Now for the questions:
3. How long should I chill, until it reaches a steady state ambient temperature? I have some thermocouples to continuously measure temperature (I'm an engineer)
4. I already racked it a few days ago.. Should I rack it a 2nd time?
5. How much of those chemicals, respectively, should I add?
6. How long do I wait before I add the sugar?
7. Add sugar until SG is about 1.130?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ACbrewer View Post
4 Add sugar to taste, take and OG and let sit for a couple more weeks taste and take the gravity again.

The down side of doing this is that you kill or dormatize your yeast which means you can't do carbonation unless you can force carb.
8. Dissolve in warm H20 first or just add to carboy?
9. Hmmm. If I dormatize, how will it metabolize that sugar into alcohol? I'm assuming I bring it back inside to room temperature? Will it come back alive? What do I do if it does not start to bubble in a few days?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ACbrewer View Post
Pretty much your choices are 1 sweet and still or 2 carbed and not sweet. Trying to do natural carb with sweet is an invitation to bottle bombs. Even PET bottles(plastic) even cold, Sweet and natural carb is still a risk for bombs.
10. So what do the manufacturers like woodchuck, fox barrel, etc do to stop the yeast from metabolizing the sugar in the bottles? Do they add preservatives or just radiate it?
11. How much sugar do I use to create the reasonable "sparkling" carbonation I like?
12. What if I want it sparkling and sweet? Bombing aside and since I don't have a CO2 tank... I guess I would sweeten it with stevia so it doesn't bomb. Would you recommend stevia? If not, what would you recommend? How much?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ACbrewer View Post
I'd missed before that it is 5 days. - With cider (and wines) that is probably not enough to be finished, but it could be.
That's what the recipe said! I thought it was awefully short.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ACbrewer View Post
Your shopping list to do what I've mentioned here.
1. Hydrometer.
2. a contact sanatizer (idaphor or star san or equivlent. - one step and such are nice but take 10 mins or rinsing or something). Along with that at a lowes/Home depot get a spray bottle.
3. Campden - you said you had and Potasium Sorbate (a decent lhbs with wines will have this)

(I'm seeing Red Star Champagin yeast only goes 13 to 15% so each lb of sugar in a 5 gallon batch will give you about 1% ABV - thus you can drop it to probably 7lb)
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your advice and the time you took to write it!!!
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Old 10-15-2011, 02:25 AM   #7
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Right where to begin.

SG is specific gravity and then OG and FG is Original Gravity and Final Gravity, which are both specific gravities, just one at the beginning (original) and end (final).

Ok, you can control your ABV by adding more sugar. The question is do you want to. Of course without an Original Gravity it would be hard to figure out the ABV.

Now some math - sugar in the must (wine) or wort (beer) can be measured either in terms of SG, or in terms of Points, points are effectivly the SG, but normalized by the total volume. So 1 gallon with a 1.040 would be 40 points. a 5 gallon with 1.040 would be a 200 points. Why is this important? Because if you have something with 200 points and add a pound of sugar -45 points - you have245 points in your must. 245/5 gallons =49 or and anticipated 1.049. Anyhow knowing this makes it easier to figure mixing and such.
Like 2 gallons of apple cider at 1.040 SG would be 80 points, and then adding 3 lb of sugar and 3 more gallons of water - 215 points in 5 gallons - or 1.043 SG (215/5). Anyhow to answer 2. that is what I was musing on. I should have tightened up my writing-or look to write tech manuals.

#3-7 Look up Cold Crashing - It is usually a few days at cold temp, but the key there is to bring the temp down as quickly/safely as possible. You aren't worried about killing yeast, in fact that is part of the goal. The only thing I'd be worried about is to rapidly cooling a glass carboy and having it break.
You will need to rack again after cold crashing. I'd personally cold crash, and rack on to my chemicals - campden and sorbate. Sorbate will be in about the same size as the campden. The use of sorbate is like 1tsp per gallon, or plenty in the bottle for a 5 gallon batch. There are directions on the bottle.
#6 and 7 bring back the 'how much ABV do you want'... More than 6% and you probably have that with your cider, although adding 2 or 3 pounds will certianly do it. If you want to limit it to 7%, then you have a bit of dificulty because you don't know the OG.


Anyhow assuming a Start OG of 1.040 from the cider and you want to max out the yeast (at 15%) and have residual sweet cider -min of 1.010 FG, possibly higher. This means 15%*8=120+10=130 so creating an OG of 1.130 your start (I'm guessing) was 1.040 so that leaves again of 90. Sugar is 45 points per gallon pound, or isit pound gallon. Basically 1 pound of sugar adds 45 gravity points in 1 gallon. So 45/5=9 points in 5gallons. 90/9=10lb ..... (more math out loud).

Since your Gravity is now lower than 1.040, adding 10 lb should move it up +.090 when you put it in. You could do either disolving in water- although then you need more fermentor space, or such. More likely just add it, and stir gently. Heck with that, you'd be doubling or trippling the sugars, so a bit of oxygenation is not out of the ordinary.

#9 - Add sugar and let it go first. then cold crash. then sorbate and campden, then back sweeting (ifneeded) then bottle.

#10 I'm not sure what the pros do. There are several options. One used by BMC (Bud, Miller,Coors) is to pasturize beer to kill the yeast -like 120 or 130F, they also force carb. Woodchuck might use asimilar force carb and pasturization. Since consistancy is important, killing the bio's is also important.

#11 and 12 - right so sparkling and sweet -I don't know if stevia ferments, that would be a question. Also there other things to sweeten with that don't - lactose (gives milky/creamy flavor) or splenda.
Assuming you just wanted some carbonation (and you carbed beer before) about 4 oz of table sugar. maybe 5 oz.

So first question back to you is what is your target? ABV like? or perhaps commerical like?

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Old 10-15-2011, 03:04 AM   #8
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Thank you again so much for your continued advice, ACbrewer. Kudos. It's now friday night and still not hydrometer in hand. Got home from work too late unfortunately. Tomorrow morning I will have the time and its saturday anyways.

I suppose I'm interested in 7-8, maybe even 9% ABV. Not sure how good 9% tastes - I've never had it that high. I guess I nice higher ABV than typical would be nice, so 7-8%.

Thanks for the explanation on SG, OG, FG - I figured it was some kind of contraction of the abbreviation. Your explanation on the math is great too. I took a mechanical engineering fluid mechanics class once and spend several weeks doing nothing but SG calculations calculating static physical properties - so this brings back memories. Actually I had SG in several classes.

Anyways, I will do as you say and let you know how it goes.

Stay posted!!

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Old 10-15-2011, 03:15 AM   #9
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Glad to help. So the question really is now what was your OG. and that is going to be impossible in this situation. A gravity reading from the similar cider isprobably the best you can do, and wing it from there. if your SG is now about .995 or so, then what ever sugar (from the apples) you have is probably been consume.

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Old 10-16-2011, 03:24 AM   #10
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Just got home from buying a hydrometer and some more cider. The brew supply store, Northern Brewing, was awesome. It was my first time in a large brew supply store. WOW, its was a nice place.

Anyways... I measured the raw cider's SG and found it to be 1.047. I'm willing to take the risk and assume the OG is 1.047.

Since we don't want bombs and my wife wants it bubbly, I did some calculations and it seems that I want to add about 2.5 lb of sugar total to arrive at 9% PA.

I think I'll add about 2 lb of sugar tomorrow and after that goes still, I will add another 1/2 lb before bottling. What do you think?

I will let you know what the current SG is (before adding sugar) tomorrow morning.

Thanks for the tips.

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