Originally Posted by jstampler
What's the best way to make this a bit sweeter other than back sweetening? I love my batch now but I want to make another batch with a tad more sweetness to it. Brown sugar? A different yeast? Apple cider instead of apple juice? Another kind of juice mixed into it? Cinnamon sticks? Any suggestions?
More sugar will only give you a sweeter product if you have more of it then the yeast can consume at it's max alcohol tolerance. If it's short of it's alcohol tolerance it will continue to ferment, even in the fridge.
In the US, apple cider is just apple juice with some of the apple particulates left in. So, that doesn't really effect your ending sugar content. Adding another kind of juice probably won't change the fact that all of the sugar in the solution is fermentable.
IMO, cinnamon sticks add depth of flavor. They don't change the ending sugar content of the brew.
You could pick a yeast with a really low alcohol tolerance, so it stalls out before all the sugar is consumed. Honestly though, I can't think of anything off the top of my head that would stall out before you ended up with a fairly dry apfelwein.
You can halt the fermentation by pasteurizing before all the sugar is consumed. This is a little tricky as you have to time things right. Basically, taste it often. Once the sweetness reaches the point you want, pasteurize the batch. Either in the bottle, or in a big batch on the stove.
You can add something sweet that isn't fermentable. Either baking splenda, or for something novel like lactose. I suppose you could do that before fermentation starts.
IMO, the best approach is to let it ferment dry. Then sweeten to taste. Then bottle pasteurize, for a sweet cider.
Honestly though, unless you want carbonated cider, I don't see the point in bottling sweet. I usually bottle dry. Then use a bottle of simple syrup to sweeten the glass I'm drinking to whatever level of sweetness I'm in the mood for at the time. That way I can have a glass dry, or any level of sweet. It's easy to add sugar, it's harder to take it back out.
To make simple syrup, stir 1 part water to 2 parts granulated sugar by volume
and a dash of lemon juice over medium heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool. Poor into the bottle of your choice. For a 1 gallon batch of syrup, this should take no more then 15 minutes. Though it does take about an hour and a half for that big of a batch to cool. The acid and heat breaks some of the sucrose into glucose and fructose. That keeps the syrup from crystallizing in the bottle. Any acid will work, lemon juice is just the easiest to find.