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Old 06-25-2011, 11:03 PM   #1
frascati
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Default Beginner hoping for a painless first try.

I found a 5 gal plastic bottled water deliver carboy at a garage sale for a buck. It was flawless and perfectly clean. It triggered a dormant interest in some sort of brewing.

I wanted to start as simple and as rock bottom cheap as I could. The less expensive the first cup turns out to be, the more satisfied I will be with my accomplishment.

I researched recipes and just went with the simplest.
4.5 gallons reconstituted Meijer's brand apple juice. Only vitamin C added.
5 cups sugar.
1 packet champagne yeast.
1 rubber stopper and plastic bubbler trap.

The interior was spotless so I just rinsed well. Threw in two cups of pharmacy H202 and two cups tap water, swished really well, drained well.
Sanitized bubbler and stopper with H202. Drained. No rinse.
Added apple concentrate. Heated three gallons of tap water to 170F and filled carboy. Added sugar. Waited till temp dropped to 110F and pitched dry yeast. Swirled well to mix. Stoppered with bubbler.
Put in 70 degree basement.

Next morning it was bubbling away contentedly. So far so good.
Any strong objections to the novice approach so far?

I have no bottling equipment yet. As I said... just philosophically I'm hoping for some small success and coming in under the cost of bottled cider at the liquor store. I realize that If I go further with this hobby then the "sunk" capital initial investments in better equipment and ingredients will pay off. I just won't have any fun if my mediocre first attempts cost three times the price of store bought.

I'll taste "farmhouse" style when it's done. But I think I'd like it chilled and lightly carbonated.

So.... I'm anticipating going through about a couple cases of Molson Golden (best cheap beer to my taste and friends will make sure that the job of emptying them gets accomplished on time) with screw off caps. I'll sterilize the bottles and caps and then fill them for carbonation. Reusing screw off caps ought to be ok, no?

Remember... cheap and effective. Can the sugar used for carbonation stater come in the form of pear juice? And can I expect this to give it any extra flavor and sweetness? You can't add extra sugar for more sweetness (beyond what is added for carbonation alone) since the bottles will just blow up,,,, right?

How can I end up with a somewhat sweet final product or is it necessary to make that judgment before starting the whole process?

Thanks very much. Hope this isn't an inappropriate first post. I have read quite a bit before I got started. But the above questions don't seem to be directly answered in the information I found so far.


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Old 06-26-2011, 01:27 AM   #2
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110* is pretty hot to pitch yeast. There are a few red wine strains that like to ferment at blood-warm temps, but most wine yeast (champagne included) will ferment more cleanly at lower temperatures.

At higher temps, yeast throw off flavors like acetone or solvent, and higher alcohols that give you a heck of a headache/hangover the next day.

As for making sweet cider, that's a huge PITA. Your homemade cider probably won't taste anything at all like Woodchucks etc. I personally really like homemade dry cider and can't stand Woodchucks. You could try mixing it with fresh apple juice, put it in 2L soda bottles, and drink it really fast before it got overcarbonated.

You can use plain table sugar to carbonate drinks, and that'd be cheaper than pear juice.


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Old 06-26-2011, 04:30 AM   #3
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It's difficult to have a sweet carbonated cider. You can either stabilise, backsweeten and keg or you can pasteurise (there is a sticky on this at the top of the forum). If you're going to prime with pear juice there probably won't be any residual taste.
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:00 AM   #4
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A couple things I noticed:
1) You didn't use any type of yeast nutrient. I didn't either my first time and it got stuck fairly quickly. You can add a handful of raisins at any point to give yeast more of the nutrients they need.

2)To get your cider sweet, there's a couple things you can try:

Cold crashing- Yeast won't ferment at low temps, so if you leave it sweet or back sweeten with sugar, then stick it in the fridge and leave it there until it is served, it will stay sweet.

Chemicals-I back sweeten with store bought juice that has preservatives in it, to hopefully slow down and prevent new fermentation. I'm not sure how effective this actually is, as I usually cold crash also

Sweeten or Back sweeten with a non-fermentable sugar- you can use something like spenda or lactose to add sweetness, and these sugars will not ferment. You can look at other threads on this site to see how successful other people have been with this. If you want to carbonate this is really your best and probably only option.

Good Luck!
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Old 06-26-2011, 03:12 PM   #5
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Guess I really only scratched the surface of this when reading up.
Yeast nutrients? Can I assume that the raisings must be boiled to 170 degrees for five minutes or so for at least a minimum of sanitization?

Seems like just tossing in a handful 1/4 of the way into the fermentation process would just negate all the care taken to sterilize the equipment beforehand.

I'll give it a try though as soon as any of this is confirmed.

I'm thinking that I'll just quaff this batch uncarbonated and sweetened a bit with added pear juice before consuming.
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:00 PM   #6
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I think that you will be fine. I find that yeast nutrient gets the process kicked off faster and with less rhino farts. If your batch is bubbling nicely I say leave it be. I too have just began to brew starting about 2 months ago. So far I've had four really good batches, a couple of "meh" batches, and 1 that was just vile. Cinnamon, 2 lbs sugar, and hops make for a horrible combo. LOL
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:04 PM   #7
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I think with raisins, and with your method, I really don't think you have a huge risk of contamination. If you have a Home brew store around you, you can buy small amounts of actual nutrient for like 1-2 dollars. I wouldn't worry about it unless it gets stuck. Its more for insurance than a necessity.
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:15 PM   #8
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Don't worry about it, it will be fine. Probably will not need any nutrient, I've never added any, and never had a problem. I'd just drink it dry, and forget about sweetening it.

A couple of comments for your next try:

Do not add 170 F water to the concentrate. You can potentially set pectins, and get a cloudy cider that will never clear. It will taste OK, but will be cloudy.

I use water straight out the tap. I do have a carbon filter in the house to take out chlorine.

1 cup of sugar (8 ozs) per gallon is quite a lot. You probably have around 1.070 for an OG. If it finishes around 0.996, you will have 9.5% abv. It may take a while to mellow. I usually limit my sugar addition to about 4 ozs per gallon to get an OG of 1.060 (about 8% abv).

Use an ale yeast rather than a wine yeast (example Nottingham, S-05, S-04). Ale yeasts seem to leave a little more flavor, and not dry it out as much.

110 F is too high to pitch yeast. Room temperature is better.

Screw top bottles are not recommended. I think they are weaker around the neck and harder to get a good seal.
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:03 AM   #9
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Wow, thank you guys very much. Lots of good info. I'll just leave it be. It's bubbling along quite nicely right now. The ale yeast sounds like a good direction to head in. I"m more fond of sweet and full bodied wines than dry thin ones. Not very snobbish of me, but I know what I like. I'd like a nice rich, sweet, full bodied cider with about 6 percent alcohol and a hint of carbonation eventually. Hopefully I'll learn enough before starting the next five gallons to get closer to something really rewarding.

When you recommend against 170 degree water, what do you suggest? 170 degrees and then let it cool before adding? Or is the whole sterilization push a little over emphasized? All the tutorials I read stressed clean, clean, clean. Some even suggested that 170 was insufficient and pressure sanitizing was necessary. Bottled distilled water is expensive enough to take too much of the satisfaction out of diy'ing this stuff. Is filtered tap water just fine?

What time frame should I expect given the description of this batch? About three weeks? Guess I'll just lay low for a bit until it stops bubbling. I'll be back to report on what happens. I'm kind of excited about this. Mom 'n Dad brewed quite a lot when we were kids (30 years ago) and it became a completely lost art. They did wine, beer, and even spirits with a little copper tubed still in a coffee can full of ice. It's amazing how a whiff of the process bubbling out of the plastic trap brings back a flood of memories.

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Old 06-27-2011, 02:34 AM   #10
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the longer you hold on to the cider, the better it seems to get. also, if its your first batch, it will probably end up tasting like white wine (dry, thin, likely not what you listed above.). also, did you say that you sanitized with diluted hydrogen peroxide? is that suitable for sanitizing purposes?


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