I'm a first-time cider brewer. I've tried several varieties of commercial ciders, and after talking with a beer-brewing friend, decided I wanted to give cider-brewing a shot on my own. I actually don't like the taste of beer (!) but I love a good wine or cider.
I was really excited to find this site because there is a lot of contradictory information out there on the web. This seems like a really active and positive community. Hopefully you won't be bothered too much by my inexperience!
I started off with 3.2 quarts of Martinelli's Apple Juice
, and a 1 gallon glass jug. OG was 1.056 at room temperature. I pitched about 1/8th cup of Wyeast 4766
in a 1 gallon glass jug, added rubber stopper and airlock on 8/10/2008, and let it go. Saw foam the next day and fermentation has been continuing ever since. Temperature for this yeast is 60-75F according to Wyeast. I've been keeping my jug in a mini-fridge to try to keep the temperature under 80F (my apartment can get quite hot). It's probably gotten as hot as 85F in the fridge at times, but the yeast seems to be moving along nicely. There's a really nice apple smell coming out of the airlock.
I have a fruit press coming in the mail as well soon as well as a source for local tart crabapples. I've probably got around 30-35 lbs. of Gala, Fuji, and crabapples waiting to be pressed. As soon as that comes in, I plan to press a second batch into another 1-gallon jug, kill off wild yeasts with a Campden Tablet, then use the Wyeast 4766 on that as well. I'll try to get the pH somewhere around 4.0. I've got malic acid at the ready in case I need to bring it down.
From what I've read here (particularly the lauded apfelwein threads), cider actually seems to come out better using ale yeasts than cider-specific or wine yeasts. Oh well. We'll see how this turns out, I can always make more!
1. Any obvious mistakes in what I've done or my plans so far?
2. I haven't been tracking airlock bubbles-per-minute at any point. Is that worth doing?
3. How often should I check on my cider? I was planning on waiting for this first batch to stop foaming, then give it 1-2 more weeks.
3.b. How to make sure things are sanitary when I do check on my cider, and what is the best way to check it?
3.c When checking, what should I do? I was thinking: taste, measure SG. Is it important not to expose the main batch to fresh air while checking?
4. How do people track liquid temperature without having to let fresh air in? Is it important to do this?
5. Racking to secondary: how useful is it with cider, or should I just move straight to bottles and age there? If not, how to tell when it's time to move to secondary?
6. (last one I swear!) What's a good ratio of sugar/yeast to add to safely carbonate in capped bottles?
7. (edit, I lied, not the last one!) Is it considered a requirement to read the "I love apfelwein" thread from start to finish?