Aging on lees (sur lies) - still cider…

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Oct 1, 2022
Reaction score
Yesterday I found an old bottle of cider from one of my first batches 3 years ago. When I was a real newbee ;)

It was supposed to be a sparkling-champagne-style, but it was a plastic-cork which probably had leaked co2 so it was completely still.

Also - I didn’t do any secondary back then, and had bottled this straight from primary fermentation. It was very clear - but had quite a yeast-cake in the bottom of the bottle.

Surprisingly - it was AMAZING!! Very complex. Very fruity. Very smooth. It tasted like some of the best orange wines I have had! (the style of white wine - not the fruit orange) It was on par with great wine!

My guess is that some autolysis from the yeast has happened. It has spent almost 2 years in the bottle. The yeast was Nottingham.

Now — anyone here that ages still cider on lees? (Sur lies). How long is usually recommended? Which yeasts work well for this? I am definitely trying to reproduce this !! It not really sure how to go about it.

I have even saved the lees from that particular bottle - wondering if that could be useful somehow?

Any help or discussion on the topic would be greatly appreciated:)
You can search some info about batonage which is bascally a way to increase the impact of the lees on cider flavour by shaking it one in a week or so with a stick (baton).
You can search some info about batonage which is bascally a way to increase the impact of the lees on cider flavour by shaking it one in a week or so with a stick (baton).
That is exactly what i did :) Found great info on sur Lie and batonage methods when it comes to Wine-making. Alteady have a gallon going as an experiment.

I was hoping to get more info from cider-makers doing sur lie … this has been quite difficult to find. Also some more specific info on yeast types/strains good for sur lies. Other than d47 which seems to be a good choice for sur lie I haven’t really found any good information…
This is a little bit off topic but related. I posted some thoughts a few weeks ago about adding pomace to primary fermentation. The idea being that the skins in the pomace would give up tannin. As you point out, there is plenty of wine information on batonage but nothing on cider (which after all is a sort of "fruit wine")

I imagine that there would be fine skin particles in the lees, particularly if the primary juice was quite cloudy as mine often is before it settles. This could be one of the benefits that you would get from sur lies fermenting.

Altogether it sounds like a fruitful (no pun intended) area to explore. So, if anyone is dabbling, please let us know what happens.
I started using batonnage on all my ciders last year. I had heard a lot of good things on Cider Chat about this practice and really liked the idea of it, particularly the idea of preventing hydrogen sulfide rhino farts and producing a richer, rounder mouthfeel. A quick search of the Cider Chat just now yielded a couple of more focused podcast episodes that discuss using batonnage, including one that analyzes the short term vs. long term benefits of it: I happened to be doing more small batches than large last year, so to save myself the trouble of removing lots of airlocks and sanitizing stirring rods between dips when I batonnaged every few weeks, I went with the also acceptable method of tipping the carboys on an angle and just rotating them around to stir things up. Whole lot less trouble. I batonnaged for a few months only, then bottled. About to start cracking open some of these bottles in the next couple of months, when they're about a year old, and will try to remember to report back.

I've been very interested in utilizing our pomace, as well, to increase tannins, color, and flavor, but actually in beer (graf) more than cider, which does have some precedence in the microbrew and wine world (often use grape pomace, too, for hybrid winemaking and brewing). I did add Redfield pomace that I had reserved to some graf made with our cider syrup last year and did frequent early taste tests on it. I was amazed at the very quick increase in tannic profile - too much . . . but probably should be expected with a higher tannin apple like Redfield. I'm really going to have to look at refining quantities and timing, but intend to keep playing around with this. Clearly a little goes a long way on both fronts, but would expect results to vary wildly depending upon the particular apples used.
I also recommand the Cider Chat podcast on the subject.
Some few points I learn from it :
- Avoid gross lies (pieces of skin or appel) and prefer fine lees from the yeast. The increase of mouthfeel comes from the yeast cell, gross lees will maybe give some tanins but you increase risks of mold and infection
- Use commercial yeast cell lees, not spontanious fermentation, unless you want to increase the farmhouse taste and smell but you better like horse sweat and leather smell
- a year is needed to get a real impact but you can reduce it to 6-8 month if you deep freeze you yeast lees before puting it back in you vessel with cider.
I have not heard of this before. How does freezing the yeast lees help with sur lie?
Yeast cells explode because of the cold and that increases the speed of flavour exchange to the liquid. Something like that but I just heard it from a podcast a couple of years ago, you better listen to it if you want an extensive explanation.