What do I do with this stuff??
So here's the story,
my homebrew club got together back around October of last year and we did a cider pressing. Lots of fun! Anyway, we all left with 5 gallons of fresh pressed apple juice from a mixed variety of apples.
I didn't have any yeast at the time so I had to order some (I hate not having a LHBS)
This left the juice sitting for what I'm guessing to be about a week. In this time wild yeast started fermenting the juice. I saw what was happening, and added some campden tablets to kill off the wild fermentation a couple days before I was able to pitch the intended yeast.
I didn't check gravity so I dunno how far the wild yeast got before I was able to pitch my bought yeast.
I pitched the cider wyeast on 10/15/12, and left it in the primary for another 3 weeks or so.
After the cider was all fermented out, I racked to a secondary (FG was right around 1.000 even), and this is where it sits now. Much to my surprise the gravity sample I sipped when transferring was pretty damn tasty, not half as funky as I expected.
I'd like to bottle condition this cider, carb it up a bit, and add maybe just a slight little hint of sweetness. I'm thinking I'd either like to add some store bought juice at bottling or some brown sugar. I'm not trying to back sweeten so much, or to make anything super sweet. I'd actually rather it remain closer to the dry side of things, but just a lil sweetness to ease the tart flavors could be nice (or so SWMBO says.)
What do you guys think? How am I going to create the cider I'm envisioning? I'm kind of assuming I'll need to add some more yeast at bottling but I'm not completely sure. I'd like to get away without needing to pasteurize, but I guess I could if need be. Refrigerating the bottles in the more likely choice (again, only if absolutely necessary).
Thanks for the help!
I would urge you not to back sweeten at all, but let the secondary fermentation take its course. The tart will mellow and the apple favors will come back, but it'll stay nice and dry. You do still have plenty of yeast, its sleepy, but it is there. Racking off the lees and you'll eliminate some, but not all.
At the very least, rack some off from the rest with no added sugar and check it in three months. I bet its great.
Are you open to using splenda or other non fermentable sugar to backsweeten? You could add that to taste then add enough regular sugar to get the carb you want.
I've never used splenda or anything like it in brewing, but I've never liked the taste of artificial sweeteners in anything else.
If you're not looking to pasteurize or use artificial sweeteners but want to have some residual sweetness then that leaves you with cold crashing as your only real option.
Assuming it's pretty clear at this time and ready to bottle, go ahead and rack to your bottling bucket and add your preferred sweetener until it's as sweet as you want to it be to drink, measure with your hydrometer and add another 0.003-0.004 points of gravity to account for what the yeast will use to make the carbonation. Since you've let it sit for over 3 months in secondary and are going to be racking off the lees once again into the bottling bucket I would recommend adding more yeast to ensure a healthy yeast colony for carbonation. Yeast is cheap, while overly sweet, still cider would be a bummer.
Now go ahead and bottle, filling a plastic soda bottle along with your glass. By giving this bottle a squeeze, you can roughly track the progress of the carbonation in glass. Once the soda bottle is nice and hard, open a glass bottle and ensure the proper carbonation has been achieved, if yes, put your bottles in the fridge to halt further fermentation, if no give it more time.
Store cold and drink at your leisure!
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