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Best sweet cider yeasts and cold crashing

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ace1719

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Over the past two winters, I've put together a group of friends, pressed apples and made an assortment of different types of ciders for them. In short, I make both sweet cider (FG=1.045) and dry cider (FG=?), sparkling and flat, and ciders at 5%, 10% and 14%.

In proper Quebec style, freeze and thaw the juice to concentrate the sugars in it to the desired level (ie. 14% sweet would have an OG of about 1.150). The yeast I used was EC-1118.

For the sweet ciders I use sorbate and sulfate to stop the fermentation. I force carbonate them to make them sparkling. For the dry ciders, I let them ferment dry and bottle condition them for carbonation.

Last year the cider turned out really fantastic and everyone was very pleased with the result, but I think I can do better this year.


Questions:

Sweet ciders: My sweet cider was excellent, however I would prefer a bit more profound apple flavor. Which yeast would be better? I've heard great things about Nottingham (which company makes it?), but others as well. Might it be worth cold crashing it, before adding the sorbate, sulfate and filtering?

Dry ciders: My dry ciders were very, very dry, almost like white wine. This is something that I would perhaps like to change. I would prefer a bit more residual sweetness as well as a stronger apple flavor, without having to filter. I've heard cold crashing can help this. This shouldn't be a problem for the flat ones, but here's the conundrum for the sparkling ones; if I cold crash, rack, prime and bottle it at 1.015 what is stopping the yeast from fermenting down to dryness (which would probably make the bottles explode)? Also, what would your recommendations for yeast be? Thanks!
 

WilliamSlayer

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Over the past two winters, I've put together a group of friends, pressed apples and made an assortment of different types of ciders for them. In short, I make both sweet cider (FG=1.045) and dry cider (FG=?), sparkling and flat, and ciders at 5%, 10% and 14%.

In proper Quebec style, freeze and thaw the juice to concentrate the sugars in it to the desired level (ie. 14% sweet would have an OG of about 1.150). The yeast I used was EC-1118.

For the sweet ciders I use sorbate and sulfate to stop the fermentation. I force carbonate them to make them sparkling. For the dry ciders, I let them ferment dry and bottle condition them for carbonation.

Last year the cider turned out really fantastic and everyone was very pleased with the result, but I think I can do better this year.

Questions:

Sweet ciders: My sweet cider was excellent, however I would prefer a bit more profound apple flavor. Which yeast would be better? I've heard great things about Nottingham (which company makes it?), but others as well. Might it be worth cold crashing it, before adding the sorbate, sulfate and filtering?

Dry ciders: My dry ciders were very, very dry, almost like white wine. This is something that I would perhaps like to change. I would prefer a bit more residual sweetness as well as a stronger apple flavor, without having to filter. I've heard cold crashing can help this. This shouldn't be a problem for the flat ones, but here's the conundrum for the sparkling ones; if I cold crash, rack, prime and bottle it at 1.015 what is stopping the yeast from fermenting down to dryness (which would probably make the bottles explode)? Also, what would your recommendations for yeast be? Thanks!
Glad to hear you have a good thing going! When it comes to yeast for your cider I always prefer to use something other than champagne. It takes the flavor right out and leaves only dryness in my opinion. My first recommendation would be to change your yeast selection. There are many good yeast selections from both Lallvin and Red Star that let you keep more of your fruit characteristics. My favorites are D-47 and K1-1116 from Lallvin, or Cotes de Blanc from Red Star. Both are commercially available from most local homebrew shops.

Nottingham yeast is another good one to use. For me, it's often stops fermentation @ around 1.010 - 1.005, leaving behind the residual sweetness that's my wife and I prefer. I don't feel there is any need to cold crash Nottingham. It flocculates very well, clearing from your cider in just a few weeks after fermentation.

The yeast then I recommended work very well for both sweet and dry ciders. Enhancing the fruit characteristics of your dry cider will increase the perception of sweetness. I think that will make your dry cider into the slightly sweet version: you desire. I hope this helps!

Good luck. :)
 
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ace1719

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Which Nottingham yeast are you referring to, Danstar or White Labs?
 

Puddlethumper

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Great thread. Just now planning my first batch of cider and never thought of using Nottingham for cider. (I use it a lot for ales.) Are there two producers of this yeast strain?
 

blakelyc

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Danstar Nottingham dry yeast is said to be the same as white labs wlp039, although I don't have any personal experience with comparison. I'd say that on these boards, 99.9% of the time "Nottingham" refers to danstar. Liquid yeast peeps usually call out the lab number.

This year I did ciders all with ale yeast, although I used us-05. Maybe I'll use an English strain next year--seems like a natural fit.
 

WilliamSlayer

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Yes, the Danstar dry yeast was what I was refering to.

I agree that with such a long history of cider making in Britan, many of the ale yeasts that hail from there seem to go well with what we think of as cider.
 

Puddlethumper

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Yes, the Danstar dry yeast was what I was refering to.

I agree that with such a long history of cider making in Britan, many of the ale yeasts that hail from there seem to go well with what we think of as cider.
As an update, I made my first cider using the Wyeast cider yeast called for in the recipe. Fermentation was vigorous and lengthy but gave off a rather foul rotting fruit odor. When I moved it to secondary a few days ago it tasted OK if rather flat and characterless and attenuated to 1.002 from 1.059. It has cleared nicely since and will bottle in a few days.

Meanwhile I made another batch following exactly the same recipe but using Nottingham yeast. So far the difference has been in the smell. Vigorous fermentation with a wonderful smell of freshly crushed cider. A huge difference in that category.

I'll post my results as these are bottled and tasted.
 

WilliamSlayer

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Ok! Hope you get good results from both batches. I would be interested to know what's your final gravity on the Nottingham when you get to it!
 

Puddlethumper

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Ok! Hope you get good results from both batches. I would be interested to know what's your final gravity on the Nottingham when you get to it!
Thanks for your interest. I'll make a point to post it.

One thing to note, just to be fair to the Wyeast, I did ferment that batch in the low 70's per the package instructions. Lacking any instructions to the contrary, I fermented the Nottingham batch at 64-65F because that's where Notty has worked well for me with my ales.
 
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