Added sugar opinions

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Dex Pistol

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TL;DR
From people who have made zero sugar, some sugar, and lots of sugar batches, I would love to hear your opinions on the 3 options.

Hello. I am about to start my first my first brew. I'm looking to make a high abv bone dry cider (Edwort's Apfelwein) with zero residual sugar, but I'm trying to weigh the pros and cons of adding sugar, and if so how much I should add. I would like to hear your personal opinions and what you would do given your own personal tastes. I've done a fair bit of research but now I'd like to hear your opinions from your experiences.

I have 6 gallons of pure apple juice with asorbic acid, 1 pound of corn sugar, 1 kg of brown sugar, and Lav ec-118 champagne yeast. It will frement in a dark unused part of the basement, slightly colder than room temp.

Here are my options:
1. Just juice and yeast, will end up 6-7%, fermentation will be a relatively quick estimated 4 weeks, no real need to age but not the best bang for my buck alcohol wise (which is a concern cause I'm doing this to save money on drinking, I'm not yet in it for the art of apple juice prison hooch)

2. Juice, corn sugar, and yeast. Will probably end up around 9-10ish% if my math is close. Fermentation may take slightly longer (by a week maybe if I understand correctly). A bit of a rocket fuel taste expected. Aging recommended (but I'm not gonna).

3. Juice, corn sugar, brown sugar, and yeast. Apple wine. Could potentially get to the full 18% maximum but will more likely be 15-16% cause I will make mistakes, this is my first go. Will need the longest time to frement, will taste like rocket fuel, aging essential for taste (again not gonna age, I'm brewing for the love of cheap hooch, not the craft). I don't want any residual sugar so if there is a moderate chance of the yeast stopping before all the sugar is converted than option three is a no go.

Best bang for my buck alcohol wise is #3 but if it's going to be absolutely undrinkable then #2 is probably best. Then again if #1's taste is exponentially better than #2 and that much easier to drink, then maybe #1 is actually the best bang for my buck.

From people who have made zero sugar, some sugar, and lots of sugar batches, I would love to hear your opinions on the 3 options. Thank you
 

z-bob

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I generally use a small amount of sugar; maybe half a pound of white sugar to 4 gallons of juice. Then I add a little more sugar to prime it when I bottle it like beer. I've tried all different yeasts and they all work but EC-1118 and Premier Cuvee were my least favorite because when they were done there was no apple taste left. I really like Red Start Cote des Blanc but it won't go anywhere near 18%.

I made Edwort's Apfelwein once and I thought it tasted like crap. It was a dumper, and I'll usually drink anything. Maybe I screwed it up and didn't give it a proper chance.
 

Lampy

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One of my favorite batches had ¾ lb white sugar in one gallon of good quality apple cider (it also had some blueberries), so I believe that sugar is not a total killer for your batch.
 
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Dex Pistol

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I generally use a small amount of sugar; maybe half a pound of white sugar to 4 gallons of juice. Then I add a little more sugar to prime it when I bottle it like beer. I've tried all different yeasts and they all work but EC-1118 and Premier Cuvee were my least favorite because when they were done there was no apple taste left. I really like Red Start Cote des Blanc but it won't go anywhere near 18%.

I made Edwort's Apfelwein once and I thought it tasted like crap. It was a dumper, and I'll usually drink anything. Maybe I screwed it up and didn't give it a proper chance.
Appreciate the reply. What ABV are you generally around with a half pound white sugar/4 gallons of juice? From the replies I'm getting I think I'm leaning towards my second option, 1 pound corn sugar/6 gallons juice.

Is the only difference between a standard homebrew cider and Edwort's Apfelwein just that the latter has a specific recipe? Cause his recipe is just juice, sugar, and yeast, and every other cider recipe is just juice, sugar (sometimes not), and yeast.
 
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Dex Pistol

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One of my favorite batches had ¾ lb white sugar in one gallon of good quality apple cider (it also had some blueberries), so I believe that sugar is not a total killer for your batch.
Thank you for the reply. What ABV were you around and was there any residual sugar?
 

Kickass

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My standard: 5 gallons of juice, 1/2 pound dark brown sugar, D47 yeast and yeast nutrient.

It finishes at .998, like clockwork. Its too dry and bland if I don’t back sweeten.

Sorry, I know that doesn’t compare the three but it might be one useful data point for you.
 

z-bob

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Appreciate the reply. What ABV are you generally around with a half pound white sugar/4 gallons of juice? From the replies I'm getting I think I'm leaning towards my second option, 1 pound corn sugar/6 gallons juice.

Is the only difference between a standard homebrew cider and Edwort's Apfelwein just that the latter has a specific recipe? Cause his recipe is just juice, sugar, and yeast, and every other cider recipe is just juice, sugar (sometimes not), and yeast.

I don't know, about 7% ABV, maybe 8? I usually put it in 500ml bottles so I don't want it too strong. Also the more sugar I add, the less flavor it has until I take it too far and it starts getting a bad flavor.

And I forgot to mention that I add some yeast nutrient. A little over a teaspoon of Fermax in 4 gallons. If I added more sugar, I would use more nutrient.
 
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Dex Pistol

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On the same note,
My standard: 5 gallons of juice, 1/2 pound dark brown sugar, D47 yeast and yeast nutrient.

It finishes at .998, like clockwork. Its too dry and bland if I don’t back sweeten.

Sorry, I know that doesn’t compare the three but it might be one useful data point for you.
Solid data point, I appreciate it. Why yeast nutrient? I understand why for wines but is it really important for a 6-7% cider?
 

mashpaddled

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I would discourage you from option three because you're more likely to end up with an incomplete fermentation. Although some wine yeast are listed as maxing out around 18% that's under normal wine fermentation conditions. Yeast need nutrients and oxygen for healthy fermentation. You also need to pitch the right amount of yeast and corresponding nutrients and oxygenation to support what you want them to ferment. When you dump a pile of sugar in apple juice you're giving them a lot of basic food but not any nutrients to go along with it. That can result in some weird off flavors but importantly it can cause the yeast to give up early (sometimes very early) or not ferment at all. Even with proper nutrients, oxygen and pitch rate, you still might end up with residual sugar. Yeast are living creatures and do not always act precisely the way you expect.

Really with any of these options you need to provide nutrients and oxygen along with a sufficient pitch of yeast, but the lower the expected ABV the more opportunity you have for the yeast to consume all the sugar.
 
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Dex Pistol

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I would discourage you from option three because you're more likely to end up with an incomplete fermentation. Although some wine yeast are listed as maxing out around 18% that's under normal wine fermentation conditions. Yeast need nutrients and oxygen for healthy fermentation. You also need to pitch the right amount of yeast and corresponding nutrients and oxygenation to support what you want them to ferment. When you dump a pile of sugar in apple juice you're giving them a lot of basic food but not any nutrients to go along with it. That can result in some weird off flavors but importantly it can cause the yeast to give up early (sometimes very early) or not ferment at all. Even with proper nutrients, oxygen and pitch rate, you still might end up with residual sugar. Yeast are living creatures and do not always act precisely the way you expect.

Really with any of these options you need to provide nutrients and oxygen along with a sufficient pitch of yeast, but the lower the expected ABV the more opportunity you have for the yeast to consume all the sugar.
Much appreciated. I think I will do option 2, 1 pound corn sugar, 6 gallons juice, and 118 yeast. It's difficult to parse through the thousands of threads with similar tags to my question. I think I speak for all newbies when I say that answers like this that provide definitive cons to the pros that every thread has (e.g. lots of sugar plus hardcore champagne yeast=VE Day celebration champagne) are the most helpful in introducing new brewers to the craft.
 

Closet Fermenter

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I have been making various wines from juices and fruits for a number of years. I have never used corn sugar. I also do beer, and I learned early on that you don’t want to use cane sugar.

Beer yeasts do not work to completion, so there is some sugar left. If it’s cane sugar, you will get a cidery taste that is tolerable if you are on a tight budget and don’t want to pay extra for the corn sugar, but not particularly a flavor you would shoot for.
On the other hand, wine yeasts work to completion, (unless you have a problem, or intentionally stop fermentation early) so the less expensive cane sugar will be totally converted to alcohol and have no after taste that I am aware of. For this reason, I always only use plain white cane sugar; the cheapest I can find for my wine. Make sure that you use a yeast rated for the ABV your shooting for, and add the necessary nutrients.

I am open to learning though. If anyone knows of a reason I should consider using corn sugar instead of cane sugar in my wine, I would like to hear it.
 

Kickass

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On the same note,

Solid data point, I appreciate it. Why yeast nutrient? I understand why for wines but is it really important for a 6-7% cider?
Apple juice is absent of nutrients that are beneficial to a healthy fermentation. You don’t need nutes for a 7.5% abv cider but it promotes a faster, cleaner fermentation. Peace of mind can easily and cheaply be bought in this hobby. It also prevents the “why hasn’t my cider started fermenting” thread.
 
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Dex Pistol

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Apple juice is absent of nutrients that are beneficial to a healthy fermentation. You don’t need nutes for a 7.5% abv cider but it promotes a faster, cleaner fermentation. Peace of mind can easily and cheaply be bought in this hobby. It also prevents the “why hasn’t my cider started fermenting” thread.
Cheers. I will hold off on brewing until I have yeast nutrient, which will be easy because I forgot to buy a bung as well. Ordering both now.

I think I'm going to go with option 2, 1lb corn sugar, 6 gallons of apple juice, 1118 yeast, and yeast nutrient. Bucket until a few days after it's stopped bubbling, bottled/carbed for another week in the cold dark shed.

Appreciate everyone's input in helping me make my decision.
 

Zambezi Special

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I just use store bought apple juice (vitamin C as preservative) and generally the trub from a batch of beer. It comes out at around 6% which to me is a nice percentage for cider.
I only use sugar for carbing.
 

Miraculix

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You will need to age it anyway, so that's no surplus of the version without the additional sugar.

But it will taste better. I have no idea why somebody would want to add sugar to cider. It's perfect in itself, just ferment it, put it away for half a year to one year and enjoy it.

The original frankfurter Apfelwein is also without any additional sugar.
 
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