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Aug 27, 2021
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I’m having issues with my cider bottles carbing. I used fresh grolsch flip top bottles and one plastic coke bottle (w/hot glue) to gauge the average pressure. After 10 days the coke bottle had not firmed up. I popped one of the glass bottles and it’s flat. It’s darn good and strong, but I prefer my cider good, strong, and carbonated.

This is the recipe/process this batch underwent. It was my first cider, so I learned quite a lot. I also live in south Florida, so my thermostat is set to 74 year round.


  1. 1gal pasteurized cider (no preservatives)
  2. 1 lb brown sugar (fresh bag)
  3. 1/3 packet of Red Star Champaign Yeast
  4. 3/4 tbsp Yeast Nutrient
  5. 1 gal glass carboy w/ airlock
  6. StarSan’ed everything throughly

  • 2 weeks in primary fermenter, racked
  • 2 weeks in secondary fermenter, racked
  • Racked with a siphon/pump
  • Added a double dose of Pectic Enzyme (late, I know) to try and reduce haze: no results after 4d.
  • Added Super Kleer KC to further address haze: worked extremely well and was completely clear after 2d.
OG = 1.08
FG: 1.01
Estimated ABV: 9.1%

Backsweet/Bottle Carb Recipe:
  • 12oz frozen apple juice concentrate (no preservatives)
  • 8oz fresh apple juice (no preservatives)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (fresh bag)
FG At Bottling: 1.055
Current FG: 1.053

I have two suspicions…
  1. The Super Kleer worked too well and I racked away too much of my yeast. Some sediment has formed in each bottle, but nothing major.
  2. I rushed the addition of frozen concentrate while backsweetning. It was too cold and dropped the overall temperature of my cider in the bottling bucket. Essentially cold crashing right before bottling.

I’m not in a rush to drink, but I also don’t want to put off a possible solution for a month or two and have to address it then anyway.

Possible Solutions:
  1. Toss my bottles in the hot garage for 24hrs to reinvigorate whatever yeast remained after clearing, then cold crash when desired pressure is achieved?
  2. Pitch a yeast starter with equal parts water and this cider (to acclimate the new colony) and add a controlled amount to each bottle?

I'm going to guess you may have answered your question when you said your concentrate was still cold. I think you cold crashed your carbs.

Plus, I have gone to using .5 gram of bottling/conditioning yeast per gallon. Works real well.
I vote heat it up. Not much else you can try. At least the plastic bottle will let you know if it works. I'd try that before you add yeast.
This is just another view that is probably similar to your own, but might help give some logic to what you decide to do next.

It is "back of the envelope" stuff, but one thought is that I wonder if you created so much alcohol that it created an environment that was toxic to the yeast. Red Star quote 13%-15% tolerance but acknowledge that under favourable conditions this can be as high as 16%.

Very roughly, your original ferment starting at 1.080 should have generated about 10.5% ABV if fully finished, but if the FG was 1.010 this would only be around 9.1% as you suggest. Those numbers are sort of consistent with four weeks fermentation but could also indicate that the yeast had given up at 1.010 for whatever reason.

The back sweetening took the SG up to 1.055, which fully fermented would generate another 7% ABV, but I imagine that compromised yeast could start to give up well before all the extra sugar was fermented. Mind you, the sugar converts roughly into 50% alcohol and 50% CO2, so there should have been some CO2 if the yeast was still active. This doesn't really explain the absence of any CO2 unless the yeast was already stressed when the bottling occurred, or your racking got rid of it. The slight change from the bottling SG indicates that maybe there wasn't active yeast at the time of bottling. Grolsch bottle seals tend to be O.K. up to about 70 psi so I don't think you can point the finger at leaking bottles.

I must admit that out of many, I have had one bottle conditioning failure which I was unable to properly explain. I recovered this by decanting the bottles which were at 1.012 and adding a yeast starter then re-bottling. It sort of worked. Claude Jolicoeur uses several rackings to stop fermentation so your thoughts about actually throwing out the yeast are on solid ground.

This all points towards trying to re-ferment what is left using fresh yeast and nutrient. Both Jolicoeur and Lea refer to this approach using "a pinch" of yeast.

Good luck!
PATIENCE. At ~9% ABV, your yeast is tired as hell. Give it 4-6 weeks to carbonate. Yes I'm serious. Just leave it alone for a few more weeks. You didn't do anything wrong, except to expect carbonation within 10 days. It's going to be much more sluggish than that.
Following up on the carb issue.

I went ahead and resuspended the sediment of each bottle and stored them in the garage (~85*) for 48hrs.

Brought them back inside the house (~74*), resuspended the yeast again, and let them sit for about a week now.

It’s definitely working!! The plastic test bottle has gotten very hard. I’m going to continue carbing for another week or so before cold crashing the test bottle for 24hrs in the fridge.

thanks for all the support and info everyone!

Had my folks over for dinner last night and popped open a bottle. The carb was perfect, it was very tasty and everyone enjoyed a family home brew.

Happy Friday brewers!

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