Cider still fermenting after 50 days

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Ibrew2

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Decided to try and make a cider and it seems to be taking forever.

I am shooting for a dry carbonated cider with a target of 8% abv.

Start date: 1/17/22
Juice: 4.5 gals, generic, 1.050
FAJC: (4) 12 oz cans, 24 oz total sugar
Wyeast wine nute blend: 1/2 tsp.
(1) pack Nottingham sprinkled in.
SG: 1.065
Starting temp: 58 degrees

Took 24 hours to start active fermentation. Carboy located on towel on floor in 68 deg room. Floor is over an unheated crawl space, so temp of carboy was between 58 and 63 degrees.

1/20/22: Added 1/2 tsp mutes due to sulphur smell from airlock.

1/30/22 SG 1.013 Tasted pretty good, slightly sweet with a pleasant lingering sour taste with only a hint of alcohol bite.

2/28/22: SG 1.004, transferred to secondary. Added 1/2 gal of store brand honey crisp cider from sealed container to top off. Forgot to check SG after addition.
Moved carboy to kitchen cart where temps are closer to 66 degrees.

3/3/22: SG 1.009. Tasted drier, aftertaste has faded, pleasant.

As of 3/8/22: bubbles still rising from bottom.
Cider quite cloudy, no evidence of it clearing.

Any thoughts on how to progress from here?
I plan on bottling when clear, but doesn’t seem to want to clear.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts, ideas and/or critiques!
 

brewSJ

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I started my cider mid-November and it's not even close to clear yet (I don't use finings). Just give it time, the yeast will drop out when they're good and ready. Four to six months before bottling is normal for me.
 
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Ibrew2

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SJ,
Do you use store bought or fresh pressed for your ciders?

How long does it normally take before your cider reaches FG?

Concerning finings, I’m not opposed to using them as long as it doesn’t effect the finished product in a negative way.
 

brewSJ

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Mine juice is fresh from the orchard. I don't take a gravity reading until I'm ready to bottle (hate to break that seal). My assumption is that if the yeast are still in suspension, then they're still finding something to eat. That's why I key off the clarity of the cider (confirmed by one final gravity measurement, just to be safe).

Four plus months is normal for me -- I usually get impatient and bottle when its still a little cloudy. This year I'm doing a wild ferment, so I expect it may take a bit longer than average to clear, but it's always measured in months, not weeks.
 

Raptor99

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I'm not sure how much YAN (Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen) is in the Wyeast wine nute blend, but 1/2 tsp. in 5 gallons doesn't sound like very much. That's probably the cause of the sulfur smell. But at this point I wouldn't add any more.

I usually bulk age my ciders for 4-5 months. The usually clear during that time.
 
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Ibrew2

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I'm not sure how much YAN (Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen) is in the Wyeast wine nute blend, but 1/2 tsp. in 5 gallons doesn't sound like very much. That's probably the cause of the sulfur smell. But at this point I wouldn't add any more.

I usually bulk age my ciders for 4-5 months. The usually clear during that time.


Raptor, I did add another 1/2 tsp when the smell started, and it settled down.

I tried to find out wyeasts YAN for the blend, but they list it as a “proprietary” blend.

What is your normal nute addition for straight cider?

Would it be beneficial to rack to another carboy to get it off the yeast for aging? If I do, would topping off with more apple juice be ok or would that just restart active fermentation and delay clearing?
 

Raptor99

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Adding more nutes when you smelled the sulfur smell was a good idea. I don't have my notes here with me right now, but in the beginning I used "yeast nutrient" all added in the beginning. Recently I have been experimenting with D47 yeast in my ciders. D47 is fairly sensitive to adverse conditions, so I have followed a SNA (staggered nutrient additions) schedule and used Fermaid O and Fermaid K.

On 3/3 your SG was back up higher because you added more apple juice. Each time you top off with apple juice the fermenaiton will re-start and your cider will become cloudy again. So I prefer to top off with finished hard cider.

It is very helpful to add pectic enzyme at the beginning beore you add your yeast. That will break down the pectins and help it to clear. Pectic enzyme does not work as well in the presence of alcohol, but you could still try adding some at this point to help with clearing.

Then I would let it clear somewhat for 3-4 weeks, and then rack and top off with some hard cider. At that point you can bulk age for 3-4 months.
 
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Ibrew2

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Adding more nutes when you smelled the sulfur smell was a good idea. I don't have my notes here with me right now, but in the beginning I used "yeast nutrient" all added in the beginning. Recently I have been experimenting with D47 yeast in my ciders. D47 is fairly sensitive to adverse conditions, so I have followed a SNA (staggered nutrient additions) schedule and used Fermaid O and Fermaid K.

On 3/3 your SG was back up higher because you added more apple juice. Each time you top off with apple juice the fermenaiton will re-start and your cider will become cloudy again. So I prefer to top off with finished hard cider.

It is very helpful to add pectic enzyme at the beginning beore you add your yeast. That will break down the pectins and help it to clear. Pectic enzyme does not work as well in the presence of alcohol, but you could still try adding some at this point to help with clearing.

Then I would let it clear somewhat for 3-4 weeks, and then rack and top off with some hard cider. At that point you can bulk age for 3-4 months.

I couldn’t find my Fermaid K that I knew i had, so I just purchased the wine nute blend that the brew store had on hand. They also said they are all basically the same.
I have since located the moving boxes with all my brewing stuff.
As far as an SNA, do you follow the standard formula as if making mead?

I wish I had some hard cider to add. I had some that I made in 2016, but it didn’t age well , in fact it never tasted good. Several cases in fact. I have been dumping it over the last few days to free up bottles, but still have another 30+ bottles left, but I can’t imagine it would be a good choice to add to what I hope is a better cider. Some was made with WP775 and some with EC1118.
As far as clearing, it has yet to clear at all. Cloudy all the way to the top.
In the future I will be adding pectic enzyme at the start.
I was thinking that because the juice was clear to start, it would clear without too much fuss. But that’s not the case.
In fact when I racked to secondary, I tried yeast harvesting (for the first time as an experiment) and the liquid has yet to clear in the fridge. Not much yeast sediment at bottom either. Looks like a failed experiment.

I will be following your advise on the next racking and aging, hoping it will clear some before and after next racking.
 

Raptor99

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As far as an SNA, do you follow the standard formula as if making mead?

With D47 I do follow the mead procedure, because D47 is more sensitive to having the nutrient levels just right. But with other yeasts I usually rehydrate the yeast with GoFerm, then split the nutes into two parts, added at 24 and 48 hours. My guess is that for cider you don't need to split the nutrient additions into four parts because fermentation finished faster than a higher sugar mead. So in the future I plan to try the 24 and 48 hour additions schedule for cider.

I had a batch of cider earlier last year that still had not cleared after 6 months of bulk aging. Once the room temperature was higher last summer it cleared up in about a month. I'm not sure, but I'm wondering if pectic enzyme works better at warmer temperatures. My kitchen is normally around 67 degrees F in the winter, and 75 or so in the summer.
 
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Ibrew2

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Follow up on the cider:

5 months since start of fermentation. Picture attached.
Still cloudy with no signs of clearing.
Added Super Klear KC 24 hours ago. Still cloudy. I’m inclined to give it another few days and if it still tastes ok, bottle it.

By comparison, I started a 3 gallon batch of Edworts Apfelwein per recipe, on May 5th, was pretty clear on June 14th when I bottled. Bottle conditioning in basement at 66 degrees. Looking forward to trying a bottle after 3 weeks.

Ibrew2
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