Carbonation and Sweeter Cider?

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CV_Apple_Gal

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Are there any tips for beginner brewers on how to have a slightly sweeter than fully fermented cider with carbonation? I know it is said to be difficult, but I'm wondering if anyone has any tips.

I would prefer to not back sweeten in the glass if at all possible.

I read a bit about Camden tablets, would this be helpful?

Thanks!
 

Golddiggie

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I made two cider batches last season using the Wyeast sweet mead yeast and they finished with a little sweet present (didn't go to dry). I didn't add any other sugars to the batches, so it was all from the base cider. Finished up about 6% ABV. The batches were very well received.

You could also make the cider, let it finish, then carbonate via CO2. You can bottle off of keg easily enough. Of course, you'll need that hardware. If you want to bottle condition/carbonate the batch, then use the sweet mead yeast and add your priming sugar as you would normally.

I plan to start a fresh batch of sider at the start of October (earlier if I can get the fermenter freed up). This will be in conical where I will also carbonate. This batch, and probably all future batches, will go from fermenter directly into can. Ready to drink at that point.
 

MtnGoatJoe

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The thread at the top of the forum is all about pasteurizing to give you sweet, carbonated cider.
 

Chalkyt

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Yes, your first cider (fully fermented) can be a bit Arrrgh!!!

One approach to retaining some sweetness is to use a yeast that typically finishes fermentation above 1.000. S04 will stop at 1.002 - 1.004 which leaves a touch of sweetness (5 -10 grams or 1 -2 teaspoons of sugar per litre). Of course you don't really know where a particular batch will finish with this yeast so you have to guess. As a guide, bottling at 1.006 or a bit above should result in a carbonated cider with this level of sweetness. It is worth taking some of your fully fermented (dry) cider and adding measured amounts of sugar to see what level of sweetness you want, then measure what FG equates to that. This will give you a bottling SG target.

More recently I have become aware of a new sweet cider yeast from Fermentis (I haven't used it yet) called AS-2 (Apple Sweet). You might like to try it and post the results.

Another approach is to simply let your cider mature for 6 -12 months. I find that over this time any acid sharpness softens and results in a perception of more sweetness.

I bottle carbonate and heat pasteurise to stop fermentation while the cider still has some unfermented sugar. I usually bottle at around SG1.010-1.012 and let up to 2 volumes of CO2 develop before pasteurising. At that point the SG should be in the order of 1.006 - 1.008 which is my "sweet spot" (no pun intended). Andrew Lea (Craft Cider Making) suggests that commercially, medium dry cider is about 1.010 and medium sweet is about 1.015. But, it is a matter of personal taste.

In an ideal world I would bottle and carbonate through a keg setup, but as I only do gallon batches spread over time, I rely on bottle conditioning (carbonation). About 0.002 change in SG equates to 1 volume of CO2.

Be aware that heat pasteurising can lead to volcanoes or bottle bombs if you don't know what you are doing, so read up on it and take PPE precautions if you go down this path. I don't have any problems if I keep the pasteurising temperature below 65C which limits the bottle pressure at 2 vols of CO2 to under 100psi.

If you want to explore this a bit more I have attached some information that I posted some time ago (it covers a lot of what I have said above plus some other stuff) .

Let the fun begin!
 

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Meadini

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Yes, your first cider (fully fermented) can be a bit Arrrgh!!!

One approach to retaining some sweetness is to use a yeast that typically finishes fermentation above 1.000. S04 will stop at 1.002 - 1.004 which leaves a touch of sweetness (5 -10 grams or 1 -2 teaspoons of sugar per litre). Of course you don't really know where a particular batch will finish with this yeast so you have to guess. As a guide, bottling at 1.006 or a bit above should result in a carbonated cider with this level of sweetness. It is worth taking some of your fully fermented (dry) cider and adding measured amounts of sugar to see what level of sweetness you want, then measure what FG equates to that. This will give you a bottling SG target.

More recently I have become aware of a new sweet cider yeast from Fermentis (I haven't used it yet) called AS-2 (Apple Sweet). You might like to try it and post the results.

Another approach is to simply let your cider mature for 6 -12 months. I find that over this time any acid sharpness softens and results in a perception of more sweetness.

I bottle carbonate and heat pasteurise to stop fermentation while the cider still has some unfermented sugar. I usually bottle at around SG1.010-1.012 and let up to 2 volumes of CO2 develop before pasteurising. At that point the SG should be in the order of 1.006 - 1.008 which is my "sweet spot" (no pun intended). Andrew Lea (Craft Cider Making) suggests that commercially, medium dry cider is about 1.010 and medium sweet is about 1.015. But, it is a matter of personal taste.

In an ideal world I would bottle and carbonate through a keg setup, but as I only do gallon batches spread over time, I rely on bottle conditioning (carbonation). About 0.002 change in SG equates to 1 volume of CO2.

Be aware that heat pasteurising can lead to volcanoes or bottle bombs if you don't know what you are doing, so read up on it and take PPE precautions if you go down this path. I don't have any problems if I keep the pasteurising temperature below 65C which limits the bottle pressure at 2 vols of CO2 to under 100psi.

If you want to explore this a bit more I have attached some information that I posted some time ago (it covers a lot of what I have said above plus some other stuff) .

Let the fun begin!
Yes, your first cider (fully fermented) can be a bit Arrrgh!!!

One approach to retaining some sweetness is to use a yeast that typically finishes fermentation above 1.000. S04 will stop at 1.002 - 1.004 which leaves a touch of sweetness (5 -10 grams or 1 -2 teaspoons of sugar per litre). Of course you don't really know where a particular batch will finish with this yeast so you have to guess. As a guide, bottling at 1.006 or a bit above should result in a carbonated cider with this level of sweetness. It is worth taking some of your fully fermented (dry) cider and adding measured amounts of sugar to see what level of sweetness you want, then measure what FG equates to that. This will give you a bottling SG target.

More recently I have become aware of a new sweet cider yeast from Fermentis (I haven't used it yet) called AS-2 (Apple Sweet). You might like to try it and post the results.

Another approach is to simply let your cider mature for 6 -12 months. I find that over this time any acid sharpness softens and results in a perception of more sweetness.

I bottle carbonate and heat pasteurise to stop fermentation while the cider still has some unfermented sugar. I usually bottle at around SG1.010-1.012 and let up to 2 volumes of CO2 develop before pasteurising. At that point the SG should be in the order of 1.006 - 1.008 which is my "sweet spot" (no pun intended). Andrew Lea (Craft Cider Making) suggests that commercially, medium dry cider is about 1.010 and medium sweet is about 1.015. But, it is a matter of personal taste.

In an ideal world I would bottle and carbonate through a keg setup, but as I only do gallon batches spread over time, I rely on bottle conditioning (carbonation). About 0.002 change in SG equates to 1 volume of CO2.

Be aware that heat pasteurising can lead to volcanoes or bottle bombs if you don't know what you are doing, so read up on it and take PPE precautions if you go down this path. I don't have any problems if I keep the pasteurising temperature below 65C which limits the bottle pressure at 2 vols of CO2 to under 100psi.

If you want to explore this a bit more I have attached some information that I posted some time ago (it covers a lot of what I have said above plus some other stuff) .

Let the fun begin!
Is it possible to use S-04, let it ferment down until it stops, and then prime it in the bottle? Won’t it stop at 1.04 or1.02 again with carbonation?
 

Chalkyt

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Yes, it should stop at 1.002 or 1.004 again. If you prime by adding sugar, you should end up with a SG of around 1.006 - 1.008. The remaining yeast will consume this sugar, converting roughly 50% into alcohol and 50% into CO2 and you will end up back somewhere around 1.002 to1.004. The "rule of thumb" is 2 teaspoons or about 10 grams per litre for "normal" carbonation of 2.0 - 2.5 volumes, which is about the carbonation level of most beer, soda, etc.

Depending on the rate of fermentation, if I miss out on bottling "on the way down", I can wait until fermentation has stopped then condition with sugar, juice, AJC or whatever up to my desired sweetness plus an allowance for carbonation. (e.g. if I want 1.008 sweeetness then I condition the now 1.002 cider up to 1.012 and plan to pasteurise when it has dropped back to 1.008 when it will be where I want it and carbonated).

The benefit (or otherwise) of adding sugar for carbonation is that you get extra alcohol. i.e. say 1.050 down to 1.002 gives you about 6.2% ABV plus 1.008 back down to 1.002 generates another 0.8% ABV.

Picking the right time to pasteurise can be a bit tricky. You can estimate it from the rate of fermentation (i.e. SG points drop per day, week or whatever), otherwise bottle some in a plastic soda bottle and use the squeeze test (compare it with a bottle of soda to get an idea of how much carbonation there is). I have rigged up a bottle (Grolsch is good for this) with a pressure gauge fitted to the cap. At normal room temperature, 1 volume of CO2 carbonation is around 15 psi or 1 Bar.
 

Meadini

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Yes, it should stop at 1.002 or 1.004 again. If you prime by adding sugar, you should end up with a SG of around 1.006 - 1.008. The remaining yeast will consume this sugar, converting roughly 50% into alcohol and 50% into CO2 and you will end up back somewhere around 1.002 to1.004. The "rule of thumb" is 2 teaspoons or about 10 grams per litre for "normal" carbonation of 2.0 - 2.5 volumes, which is about the carbonation level of most beer, soda, etc.

Depending on the rate of fermentation, if I miss out on bottling "on the way down", I can wait until fermentation has stopped then condition with sugar, juice, AJC or whatever up to my desired sweetness plus an allowance for carbonation. (e.g. if I want 1.008 sweeetness then I condition the now 1.002 cider up to 1.012 and plan to pasteurise when it has dropped back to 1.008 when it will be where I want it and carbonated).

The benefit (or otherwise) of adding sugar for carbonation is that you get extra alcohol. i.e. say 1.050 down to 1.002 gives you about 6.2% ABV plus 1.008 back down to 1.002 generates another 0.8% ABV.

Picking the right time to pasteurise can be a bit tricky. You can estimate it from the rate of fermentation (i.e. SG points drop per day, week or whatever), otherwise bottle some in a plastic soda bottle and use the squeeze test (compare it with a bottle of soda to get an idea of how much carbonation there is). I have rigged up a bottle (Grolsch is good for this) with a pressure gauge fitted to the cap. At normal room temperature, 1 volume of CO2 carbonation is around 15 psi or 1 Bar.
Thank you!
 

dmtaylor

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Lactose and xylitol are a couple of unfermentable sweeteners that are great to use in cider for this purpose. I've used both with great success. I add at the same time as the priming sugar, boil all together. Priming sugar will carbonate in the bottle, while the other sweetener will just stay in there and keep the cider sweet. So you can carbonate it without having to dork around with pasteurization. Or deal with other chemicals for stopping and preventing refermentation, which often (usually?!) do NOT work as intended.
 

Wolffie

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Lactose and xylitol are a couple of unfermentable sweeteners that are great to use in cider for this purpose. I've used both with great success. I add at the same time as the priming sugar, boil all together. Priming sugar will carbonate in the bottle, while the other sweetener will just stay in there and keep the cider sweet. So you can carbonate it without having to dork around with pasteurization. Or deal with other chemicals for stopping and preventing refermentation, which often (usually?!) do NOT work as intended.
I agree, I used Anthony's organic Erythitol sweetener. I tried to boost flavor with Brewers best Natural flavoring Apple, experimenting in very small samples of the 5 gallon batch. No matter it always had chemical after taste. (don't recommend trying to change natural taste) I found the right level of sweetness to suit with Erythitol (as usual time does matter). been 3 months in the waiting. It turned out super nice. forced carbonated early and maintained 7 psi. made wine for 21 years, but switched to homebrew. This was first hard cider and a success.
 

MtnGoatJoe

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Yes, it should stop at 1.002 or 1.004 again. If you prime by adding sugar, you should end up with a SG of around 1.006 - 1.008.
Not to disagree with the expert, but keep in mind that 1.008 is only has about 5% of the sugar left in it (if the SG is 1.050). Chalkyt finds that sweet, but I'm happier around 1.020 (after bumping my SG to 1.070).

I highly recommend experimenting to determine the final SG you prefer. Good luck!
 

thecraig

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Not to derail the thread at all--but I have a keg and use campden tabs and potassium sorbate to stop further fermentation to backsweeten and bottle. But, in my first attempt last fall using fresh-pressed apples, I had to back-sweeten with store bought juice, which made it taste like...apple juice, instead of hard cider. Maybe I oversweetened it, but it made me wonder, as I prepare to go out and press in the next couple weeks if there was a better way.

So my question(s) is(are): has anyone reserved a portion of what they press, treated it with campden and potassium sorbate, and kept that (would need to be in the fridge, I'm assuming) to backsweeten with once the main batch has finished fermenting? How much would you save to backsweeten with, and how long would it keep?
 

MtnGoatJoe

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So my question(s) is(are): has anyone reserved a portion of what they press, treated it with campden and potassium sorbate, and kept that (would need to be in the fridge, I'm assuming) to backsweeten with once the main batch has finished fermenting? How much would you save to backsweeten with, and how long would it keep?
If you pasteurize the juice, it should be shelf stable for quite a while, at least 12 months.

I've never back sweetened with juice, but it seems like dilution could be an issue. The juice is mostly water and would lower you ABV%, and I think that's why many people use frozen apple juice concentrate to back sweeten.

The approach I took last season was to bump up the SG to 1.070 with honey and light brown sugar, and then pasteurize at SG 1.020. This was very sweet and delicious with about 6.5% ABV.

Your other option is to remove some of the water from your juice. I've seen people freeze their juice, which actually freezes the water, and then they let the juice drain out the bottom of the water ice. If you repeat this process, your juice will become more and more concentrated. I tried this once, but had little success because I couldn't process enough with my little freezer to make the process worth doing. If I ever get a chest freezer, I'll try this with a 5 gallon bucket (or two).

Good luck!
 

Chalkyt

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Yep, I have also tried DIY AJC with the above process and also found that while it worked, it probably wasn't worth the trouble as I didn't notice much difference between using that and straight sugar.

The sugar and flavour components in frozen juice have a higher freezing point than water, and as things start to melt it leaches out while the water is still frozen. But, it does take a while and you do have to pick when to stop. Let it go too long and you start to get dilution from melting water, stop too early and you get a poor yield.

But, it was worth trying. My AJC was SG 1.100 from 1.050 juice. i.e I got a doubling in sugar etc concentration from 130g/L to 260g/L. So, to boost the fully fermented cider to something like 1.010 for carbonation and sweetness, very roughly I needed 100 ml (about 1/2 cup or 10%) per litre of DIY AJC, compared with 200 ml of straight juice.

If you can make enough frozen juice it is sort of worthwhile, but I imagine that commercial AJC is easier as I think it is something like three times the SG of my DIY version, so half a cupfull goes a long way.

I have tried using non-fermentable sweeteners in cider. Adding pears is useful as they contain three times as much sorbitol as apples (but sorbitol does have a reputation for being a laxative!). Stevia, Splenda, etc do seem to have a slightly different taste but O.K. Xylitol was quite good although its reputation for being toxic to dogs bothered me a bit. I also understand that saccharine is commonly used in English ciders.

On balance, as I only do small batches I elected to go down the heat pasteurisation path for no other reason than it isn't hard to do and seems a bit more "crafty".
 
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