Cider fermenting/aging advice needed

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Oct 2, 2011
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Fort Worth
Hi - I have a batch of a Crispin "The Saint" clone in a fermenter now. It consists of:
5 gallons honeycrisp apple juice (pasteurized)
32 oz Andersons Grade A Dark, Robust maple syrup
1 packet T-58 yeast

I set my fermentation chamber to minimum 72 and max 83. Space was shared with a belgian dark strong beer with a different belgian yeast. Together they pushed the temp to 78 on day 3 but fell off after that (we also had a very cold snap come through and the fermentation chamber is in my garage).

It seemed to ferment out within the first week, but has been sitting in the fermenter 2 weeks now. Gravity reading is at 1.000. Taste has some clear belgian character but is rather sharp. I have trouble pegging the right word for it, but "tart" could be right, or a strong "tang" to it. Wife says it has a bit of a slightly salty flavor (I thought that was rather interesting. I would not have picked that out but I can see that).

I just set the fermentation fridge to cold crash to 32 (the belgian dark strong is ready and super tasty) and this is my first try at cold crashing too. The interesting thing is as the temperature is dropping, I am seeing airlock activity on the cider (minor) like the yeast is kicking back up and the fermenter (Fermonster) sides have not sucked in like the belgian dark strong. This makes me wondering if stopping the yeast soon is a good plan.

Clearly this is very young and needs some time. How to provide that time is my question that I need some advice on. I am brand new to kegging and my next step plan was to rack to a corny keg with potassium metabisulfite and potassium sorbate to stop further fermentation, then backsweeten with an extra 1 gallon jug of honeycrisp apple juice I saved. I was planning on using the keg as the "secondary".

-Will adding potassium metabisulfite and potassium sorbate and hindering fermentation stop the yeast from cleaning up the flavor (I know it doesn't kill the yeast)? Or is flavor cleanup/aging more a matter of the flavors mellowing over time and not yeast related at all?
-Will storing the cider at a warmer temperature aid in flavor cleanup speed?
-Does it make sense to backsweeten BEFORE flavor mellowing/aging has occurred? If so I could do that and presumably even start carbonating it while aging.
-With a 5 gallon keg and 5 gallons of cider, it is going to be interesting fitting in another gallon to backsweeten. Will probably do 4 gallons into the keg and 1 gallon into a glass jug with airlock. While I know all tastes vary, does anyone have any advice on how much pure juice will decently sweeten (aiming for light sweet) a fully fermented out cider?