First time cider - bottle conditioning/carbonation process

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Spaceball1

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So the wife and I made our first cider last night. We actually made four one-gallon batches in order to compare results from various yeasts, but set that aside for now.. Fermentation was already rocking along this morning in all of the fermenters so we've got a good start. We like dry ciders so I added some brown sugar to the must and expect about a 8.5% ABV by the time I get to 1.000SG.

Now I'm thinking ahead towards bottling (keg not available atm). I've bottled several batches of extract kit beer before, and most of them carbed up very nicely in the bottles. My plan with this cider was to follow the same process...

0) Santitize (duh)
1) Rack from primary ferm to bottling carboy, disturb as little as possible, leave as much of yeast cake as possible
2) Calculate & mix in priming sugar (i have some leftover from a past batch of beer)
3) Rack to bottles & cap
4) Condition for 2-4 weeks then move to fridge

I don't plan to backsweeten or add any other flavoring with these, so is it as simple as this? I've read about degassing & pasteurizing during the bottling process, but I don't see why I would need to do anything different than what I've previously done with beer.

It seems like I see alot more concern with bottle bombs in the Cider forum than I remember seeing on the beer side of things. Is there really any difference when it comes to a straightforward batch like mine?
 

Chalkyt

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The short answer to your question is... "probably not".

However there are a couple of aspects about cidermaking that need to be kept in the back of your mind. Depending on the yeast, fermenting to "dry" (i.e. consuming all the sugar) can result in a SG of anything from 1.002 to 0.098, which represents potentially 2 volumes of CO2 difference. So a cider may stop at 1.002 (SO4 is a good example of this), but has the potential to keep on going.

Some folk like a bit of sweetness in their cider, so stopping it at SG1.005 - 1.010 (a bit like a teaspoon or two of sugar in a cup of coffee) will involve stopping fermentation by cold crashing or pasteurising by chemical or heat means. However if the approach taken doesn't stop the yeast and it keeps on going, then you have the potential for more volumes of carbonation than planned for.

By itself, this isn't an issue except that most "beer" bottles are conservatively rated at around 4 GV (gas volumes) by some manufacturers and they typically can be batch tested to something in the range 1.2 to 1.8 MPa (175 - 261 psi). i.e. there is a big margin of safety.

The problem here is that with batch testing, not every bottle is tested so there can be some "below spec" bottles in the batch which get out into the marketplace. The spread of individual bottle strength can be up to 50% from the mean of the batch, so there can be a very small number of bottles in a large batch that might only withstand around 2 GV or 80psi. As recyled bottles are typically considered to be good for 75% of the rating of new bottles (and we all use them a lot), the potential for bottle bombs is there if carbonation gets too high.

So, the fuss about bottle bombs is that it is reasonably easy to get bottle pressure approaching concerning limits if you don't keep some awareness of what is happening. However in your case, as above, the answer is you probably won't go anywhere near these limits, and most of us don't anyway... "thus endeth the lesson."

Note: When I wrote this late on Saturday Night, I put in a couple of wrong numbers that have now been deleted/corrected... Sorry if it created any confusion!
 
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Zambezi Special

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I bottle my cider exactly the same as my beer.
If I deviate, it's on a little more sugar per bottle as I like my cider fizzier than my beer.
I don't back sweeten, but if I would, then I would use a non-fermentable sugar, or put some sugar in my glass, or sweeten in the glass with a little apple juice.
Cheers
 

Beermeister32

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I back-sweeten in the bottling bucket with Splenda. Cider carbs up identical to bottling beer, I usually usually add 4.3 oz of corn sugar carbonating charge. I find cider needs 90 days aging after bottling for flavors to mature. Be careful adding a bunch of sugar, I’ve found you can produce headache inducing fusels with too much sugar and insufficient aging.
 
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ealu-scop

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Here's my lazy man 1 gallon cider carb/sweeten hack is this:

After fermenting to dry (sometimes I don't even measure...I just forget it for a month or so), I then rack the cider into the bottling vessel and add 1 thawed (to room temp) can of apple juice concentrate. Then I bottle them into PET bottles and leave them on my counter until they are nice and firm. Then I put them in the fridge and cold crash em. (You can do the same with glass bottles and use one pop bottle for a firmness test, but I have enough PET bottles for it, plus twisty caps are easy.)

When I first did it I was worried that this would lead to gushers and that 1 can for 1 gallon was too much, but I've never had a problem. I've been doing this for a few years. Technically I guess the fermentation process will still go on, albeit slowly, in the fridge, so maybe at some point they'll gush...but I drink em too quickly for that I guess.

It's always turned out sweet and fizzy.
 
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