Acid additions, Ph of cysers

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Dan_K

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Hey guys,
I recently made a cyser and I learned some valuable lessons that would probably benefit other people, so here we go.

In apple juice the primary acid is malic acid. Some yeasts are able to metabolize some of the malic acid. One such yeast is Montrachet wine yeast, if you do a little research you can see which ones have this effect.

Montrachet can produce some good beverages, but the malic acid is actually something you want and need in the finish product- and the Montrachet may remove more than you want.

Before acid adjustment, the cyser just tasted weird, I'm not sure how to describe it but a bit of a funky flavor, kind of flabby, tasted overly sweet and not terribly like apple juice. The technical reason was that the pH was higher than it should have been, due to the removal of malic acid by the yeast.

First I added some lemon juice, which has a high concentration of citric acid. I knew I was on the right track because the flavor improved dramatically. 1/3 cup of lemon juice (into 3 gallons), I use fresh juiced lemons and a fine mesh filter to get most of the pulp out.

I then stopped being lazy and dusted off my pH meter that I have had for a while. I measured the pH to be 3.9- which is decent. For ciders and cysers they say the ideal range is 4.2 - 3.2 pH... I would say 4.2 is on the "low end"(or high end, depending on your frame of reference) of the acidity you want.

I then added 1/2 tsp of malic acid granules* - this is kind of a shot in the dark as I couldn't find a definitive answer as to how much to add. Anyway, mixed well and waited 24 hours, measured the pH at 3.5. It tastes good and has the acidic bite I was looking for. Essentially I added some of the malic acid back into the cyser that the yeast was able to metabolize during primary fermentation.

I think from now on I'm going to be taking the pH of all of my meads going forward, and adjusting the final pH in the 4.0 - 3.4 range depending on what type of mead I'm making and how it tastes. I think the general idea is that an "acid blend" is a mix of malic, tartaric, and citric adic and can be used for "general acidity" but if you pay attention to what fruits are added, you can further refine the acid profile.

*In the future I want to use the malic acid dissolved in distilled water to form an acid solution.

Any ideas or discussion on acidity are welcome.
 
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Interesting, and thanks for starting the discussion Dan. I haven't yet tested or adjusted the pH of my ciders, but depending on what people may pipe in here, I might do something with the batch that I currently have in the fermenter. I see threads in the wine and mead sections on checking titratable acidty instead of just pH. I wonder...
 

Maylar

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I'll comment on a couple of things. First, I see no references to Montrachet yeast (either Red Star or Scott Labs) as having any effect on malic acid. There are a couple yeasts that I know of that do metabolize malic acid, notably 71B-1122, and one of Scott Labs' that I forget. 71B will reduce acidity by metabolizing malic acid into ethanol. I won't use it any more unless the TA of the cider is more than 0.7 g/l.

Secondly, it's not the pH that matters it's the TA (titratable acid). pH is the strength of acid, TA is the quantity. That's what we perceive in taste. I've never measured the TA of a cyser, but for my ciders I like them to be about 0.6 or a bit more.
 
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Dan_K

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I'll comment on a couple of things. First, I see no references to Montrachet yeast (either Red Star or Scott Labs) as having any effect on malic acid. There are a couple yeasts that I know of that do metabolize malic acid, notably 71B-1122, and one of Scott Labs' that I forget. 71B will reduce acidity my metabolizing malic acid into ethanol. I won't use it any more unless the TA of the cider is more than 0.7 g/l.
It may have been Narbonne. I pitched it quite a while ago and I don't know that I noted the strain at the time.

Secondly, it's not the pH that matters it's the TA (titratable acid). pH is the strength of acid, TA is the quantity. That's what we perceive in taste. I've never measured the TA of a cyser, but for my ciders I like them to be about 0.6 or a bit more.
To say that pH doesn't matter wouldn't really be accurate. In terms of taste yes, but in other aspects such as preservation no.

This is a good primer here:
https://www.awri.com.au/industry_su...es/frequently_asked_questions/acidity_and_ph/

"The pH of a wine or juice is a measure of the concentration of free hydrogen ions in solution, while the TA is a measure of the total amount of hydrogen ions."

And unfortunately, the two aren't always directly related - so where does that leave us? You can certainly modify your pH, but can you modify the TA?
Edit: yes you can. And when you know your TA, you can theoretically calculate how much acid blend you need to achieve the desired TA:

3.9 grams of acid blend will raise the acidity of ONE gallon of must by 0.1 %.
according to this here:
http://www.grapestompers.com/measure_acidity.aspx
 
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Maylar

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It may have been Narbonne. I pitched it quite a while ago and I don't know that I noted the strain at the time.
Right. I too have had 71B leave cider and cysers flabby, requiring acid adjustments at bottling. Which is why I don't use it any more.

To say that pH doesn't matter wouldn't really be accurate. In terms of taste yes, but in other aspects such as preservation no.
And it's directly related to how much sulfite is required to keep unwanted bugs from taking hold.

But your post was about the yeast leaving a lifeless product behind, and that's all about TA, not pH. We need to be able to measure both.
 

piojo

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How do you all feel about 71B for melomels or regular meads? I haven't tried 71B since the bad old days when I had no temperature control, so I'm not quite sure how it't supposed to taste.
 
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Dan_K

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There is a procedure in which you can measure both the pH and the TA of your liquid. Some prefer it to the standard TA method as well for things like red wines in which the color change is difficult to detect. Essentially you do the TA procedure with the pH meter, titrating the acidity until it reaches 8.2 pH. (the pH at which the indicating solution changes color in the standard procedure). You'll end up with an initial pH reading and a calculated TA at the end.
 

S-Met

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Right. I too have had 71B leave cider and cysers flabby, requiring acid adjustments at bottling. Which is why I don't use it any more.



And it's directly related to how much sulfite is required to keep unwanted bugs from taking hold.

But your post was about the yeast leaving a lifeless product behind, and that's all about TA, not pH. We need to be able to measure both.
I've had great results with 71b thus far. But I also add lime zest and juice to add some bitter/sharp flavors since the apple juice blends are not usually built for cider. Sounds like I may be inadvertently conditioning my juice for the yeast.
 

Maylar

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I've had great results with 71b thus far. But I also add lime zest and juice to add some bitter/sharp flavors since the apple juice blends are not usually built for cider. Sounds like I may be inadvertently conditioning my juice for the yeast.
You're adding citric acid. Only malic acid is metabolized by the yeast, so 71B is great for anything except apples... unless the TA is really high, then it'd be beneficial. It'd be my first choice for crab apple wine. There always seems to be a pack of 71B in my fridge.
 

FunkyMunk

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I know of one local meadery that uses 71b exclusively (or at least mostly), and they make a lot of excellent traditionals and melomels. Not sure about cysers though. I used it in a blackberry mead that came out pretty good. Blackberries have a lot of malic acid.
 
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