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Old 06-02-2011, 07:53 PM   #1
MrFishy
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Default Champagne Cider and Kegging Cider

Hi all,
My friend is getting married in October and he wants me to make some cider for the wedding, and I need your help! We are trying to make two different ciders- one champagne style (for the toast, etc) in bottles, and then another kegged cider for the reception. I'm looking for recipes and advice regarding both; I know the forums are full of info (and I'm reading) but I also know I have very little time to do the conditioning necessary for the champagne style, so I'm looking for help/to start fermenting soon.

For the champagne style, the main thing we're looking for is clarity and fine carbonation. I kinda want to show off with this one and maybe actually use the champagne method. I'm thinking we'll make 3 gallons:
===Champagne Style===

Purchase clear apple cider with no preservatives. Set aside a container overnight and make a starter by pitching a champagne yeast into maybe 8 oz of cider.

Start primary with 3 gallons of cider and starter. Ferment for ~1 week/until fermentation slows. Rack, ferment. If there's still a lot of stuff at the bottom of the carboy, rack again. Wait till fermentation slows to a crawl, then bottle in champagne bottles, cap.

Store upside down for ~1 month. Attempt methode champenoise- freeze neck, uncap and let yeast cake pop out. Replace lost liquid with some cider. Cork and let finish until wedding.
===
A couple questions on that one-
1. Should I bother finding a clear apple cider? I have some very tasty cloudy stuff, but I'm not sure if fermentation will remove that haze. I find the clear stuff less tasty/complex and am worried it won't taste like much.
2. How will I achieve high alcohol and fine / high carbonation? Maybe I should add honey to the cider I add at the very end (I've heard honey can clarify)?
3. Can a regular wine corker handle champagne corks (I'm borrowing one, hopefully)?

===Kegged Cider===

This stuff is for the reception and doesn't really need to be anything but tasty and carbonated. Mildly sweet would be good, but I always have difficulty with that part. 5 gallons

Buy organic sweet and tart AJ. Make a starter the night before with a couple oz juice and an ale yeast. Pitch the starter into 5.5 gallons AJ. Wait until fermentation slows, move into secondary. Rack again if necessary. Add some more AJ (maybe .5 gal? maybe just keeping adding to taste?) and sorbate. Keg and pressurize.
===
I'd like to avoid sorbate if possible but I don't know how I could stop fermentation of my newly added AJ as I can't really pasteurize an entire carboy on the stovetop.

Thanks for any help!



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Old 06-02-2011, 09:41 PM   #2
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I've made good sweet kegged cider by just going through the entire fermentation, racking 4 gallons of fermented cider over 1/2 gallon of sweet apple juice, and cold crashing the keg while it force carbonates.


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Old 06-02-2011, 10:08 PM   #3
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That's a great idea. I even have an extra fridge. If I keep it in the fridge for a month or so, should I expect any fermentation?
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Old 06-03-2011, 02:39 AM   #4
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Nope....I've had mine in the fridge for over a month at 40 degrees, and it is only getting better!
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:13 PM   #5
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What ABV are you looking to achieve? If memory serves Champagne has ABV from the high single digits to like 13% right depending on how sweet/dry it is. I like my Champagne dry so I'd use at least 6lbs of honey to 3 gallons of cider. The batch I just did I used 3 gallons of cider at 1.050 SG and added 1lb of honey which brought it to 1.055. If 1lb of honey increases the SG 5 points in a 3 gallon batch, you'd want 6lbs of honey. This would yeild an 11%ABV cider.

Although I've never done this type of brew, which sounds more like a cyser, I'd use two packets of Champage yeast. MrMalty says so.

To add clarity you could look into Pectic Enzyme. I'm not an expert on this by any means and I'm about to start a new thread asking a few questions on it myself. I just used it for the first time and I think I used it improperly.

You might also want to use filtered apple juice instead of cider since most of the pectin is actually already filtered out. I think this would yeild a much clearer and lighter cider. Using a secondary fermenter would clear it even further.
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Old 06-03-2011, 05:05 PM   #6
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Thanks screwbrew. I didn't think much about OG but yeah, especially with the store bought stuff I may need to bump it with some honey so I can get it to at least 13%. Good idea. And yeah, I'll make sure to read up on pectic / other clarifiers.
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Old 06-05-2011, 03:31 PM   #7
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I made something similar to the "champagne" style you mentioned. I don't think you need to use a clear cider, it will clarify if you give it enough time. You may also add pectic enzyme if you start with a cloudy product. I like a white wine yeast such as EC1118 or redstar cote du blanc. I've also used nottingham and the white labs product (the latter I didn't like). I just saw a post where a wheat yeast was used (www.themadfermentationist.com). You probably know this, but don't forget to add some yeast nutrient and ferment on the cooler side of ale temps if you can.

Store bought cider will be less tannic/acidic than something designed for hard-cider, but if you go high on the CO2 you will cover that up a bit. If you are going for "champagne" level CO2 then aim north of 4 volumes. For a wedding you want that nice POP when you open the cork, so going even to 5-6 volumes could be in order. For this you will need champagne bottles and a corker that can do the wider corks. I know some people that have been able to push the heavy corks into the smaller corker, which runs about $70 (get the corks first, bring one to the shop to try it out). I use the ferrari corker, which is more expensive but works great. Many HBS will rent them for a few days at a time; this would be the most economical way to do that. You don't need to use "champagne" corks, I would get the "belgian" corks from more-beer or elsewheres. They hold pressure in champagne bottles and are cheaper and easier to find. The champagne corks I got from midwest supply (or something like that) were junk.

If you are interested in the "methode champonoise" or whatever, there is a really nice review on the maltose falcons website. Watch out though, you would need to first cap the bottles with the 29 mm caps (make sure you bottles will accept caps, belgian bottles will not) then cork later after discharging the yeast. I've never done this, it looks hard.

For the keg version you may wish to try and backsweeten to increase the mouthfeel as you will have less CO2.

Higher OG = more aging/conditioning time and will thin the mouthfeel down some. As you know, cider will usually go all the way down to 1.000 or less, which ends up being around 6-9+% depending on your juice. Most of the adjunct driven ciders I've done did not taste as good as with the juice alone, but this is a matter of taste. Either way, I would measure the OG of the juice before you start and decide how much adjunct you want to add from there.


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