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First time cider- "Even stink would say that stinks."

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Brentranome

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I just did my first ever batch of cider (4.5 gal), made from honey crisp apples at a local orchard owned by friends (Let no man ever complain of free cider), and I added in crushed campden tablets and let it rest in a fermenter for 36hrs. After that, I dry pitched the yeast and let it sit for 2 weeks in the fermenter. Starting gravity was 1.040 and final gravity was .98, so I was very happy with a damn near 8% ABV with no sugar additives. I did however encounter what smelled like sulfur whenever I walked past my fermenter in my basement. I decided to smell the airlock to see if that was where the smell was coming from. I then picked myself up off the floor and said "Ho lee fahk". I hoped the smell would go away on it's own. Well it didn't. I primed and bottled after the primary fermentation, so now every bottle I crack smells like eggs. I can get past it, but my friends can't. I'll add yeast nutrient next time and maybe rack it off to a secondary for a week to see if it makes a difference. Will my bottles still prime if I ferment for a month (2wk primary, 2wk secondary)? I know eventually the yeast is spent. I just want to make sure I can still get the 2.2 volumes of carb that I like with my cider.
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.”- Edgar Allen Poe
 

stella_tigre

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Four weeks in the fermenter will still leave plenty of yeast to do the carbing. I had a sulfury batch, which we then force carbed. Finally resorted to exposing the cider to some copper for a little while (sanitized, clean copper wire.) It reduced the sulfur to drinkable levels, and we didn't die of copper exposure....maybe if you served it in genuine copper moscow mules cups?
 

Yooper

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Stinky isn't normal- those famous "rhino farts" are a sign of stressed yeast. A little yeast nutrient and some stirring early in fermentation will go a long way to prevent that.

The gravity readings are three places- so your cider is likely at .998. From 1.040 to .998 is about 5.5%.
 
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Brentranome

Brentranome

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Stinky isn't normal- those famous "rhino farts" are a sign of stressed yeast. A little yeast nutrient and some stirring early in fermentation will go a long way to prevent that.

The gravity readings are three places- so your cider is likely at .998. From 1.040 to .998 is about 5.5%.
I double and triple checked my gravity, it was showing me .98, but I am still new at this. might have to get the digital to help me out. The taste came out very dry, and without a doubt has quite a zing to it. I'm positive it's above 5.5%.
 

Yooper

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I double and triple checked my gravity, it was showing me .98, but I am still new at this. might have to get the digital to help me out. The taste came out very dry, and without a doubt has quite a zing to it. I'm positive it's above 5.5%.
Because of the amount of alcohol, it's impossible for the SG to drop below .990, so it's not .98 unless you added a couple of shots of straight alcohol like everclear. Straight booze IS lighter than water so if you take the SG of something like vodka, it will be lower than .990, but cider/wine/beer/non-distilled products never will be. Your hydrometer likely doesn't even go below .990 unless you have a distilling hydrometer.
 

ten80

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yes, just serve in copper mugs. Swirl for a minute then enjoy. I just tested this using a piece of boiled copper pipe in a cup full of sulfury, undrinkable cider. The sulfur odors rapidly dissipate. I ended up dropping the piece of copper in the keg overnight, then racking to a new keg and the cider is now drinkable with only a hint of sulfur.
 

dmtaylor

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Yeast hates Campden. I hear of this problem all the time, but I don't get rhino farts in my cider because I don't use Campden. I might get a bit of sulfur during fermentation, but it's not extreme.

Fortunately for all of us, sulfur will always age out over time. It's just a question of how much time. Sometimes it's gone in a matter of a couple weeks, sometimes many months. Let it age. Eventually it will disappear. Hopefully you are patient. As I always say, patience is an absolute requirement for good cider.
 

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Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is caused by stress , not by the addition of SO2 (Campden tabs or K-meta). Some yeast are notorious producers of H2S and others are not but ALL yeast will produce H2S if stressed. H2S is a sign of poor protocol. ALWAYS. and that applies whether you make cider, wine from grapes, wine from fruit or mead.
 

dmtaylor

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I'll put this another way.

Campden = metabisulfite = a sulfur compound. It kills bacteria and hurts yeast. Most wine, cider, and brewers yeasts can tolerate metabisulfite to some extent, but they hate it. So what do they do? They try to get rid of it. How do they try to get rid of it? By converting the sulfite into highly volatile H2S gas!

In summary, if you don't add the sulfite, you shouldn't get the H2S.

I might not be a chemist, but I played one in college for 4 years.
 

stella_tigre

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I'll put this another way.

Campden = metabisulfite = a sulfur compound. It kills bacteria and hurts yeast. Most wine, cider, and brewers yeasts can tolerate metabisulfite to some extent, but they hate it. So what do they do? They try to get rid of it. How do they try to get rid of it? By converting the sulfite into highly volatile H2S gas!

In summary, if you don't add the sulfite, you shouldn't get the H2S.

I might not be a chemist, but I played one in college for 4 years.
I have had plenty of stink without adding campden. (EDIT: I know, it sounds like a personal problem!)

That being said, some yeast strains like K1-V1116 are tolerant of low nutrients and will produce far less sulfury smell than other yeast in the same juice. (Is it Montrachet that is so prone to sulfur?) So nutrients added will help more for yeast that is picky. If you are dead set against adding nutrients, there's always the trick of adding some chopped raisins...

For the smelly batch I did the copper wire in the keg, then racked to a new keg, like I said not 100% perfect but way better. The yeast I used that came out so sulfury was Pasteur Red, no nutrients. It was fresh juice so did add campden. A second cider with fresh juice, also using campden, but with nutrients and EC1118, had no problem with sulfur or farts. And have had farts even without campden added (bottled juice and mead.)

Just sayin'.
 
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mwilcox

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While some strains can and will create hydrogen sulfide from sulfur dioxide, it would be misleading at best and more accurately outright incorrect to state that without sulfite yeast will not produce sulfide. The tendency to make sulfide from sulfite is considered fairly rare. Making sulfide due to nitrogen or vitamin deficiency is much more common. Unfortunately the tendency of S. cevevisiae to create H2S from the aforementioned shortages varies widely (as in, sometimes by orders of magnitude) by yeast strain. So let me just reiterate that people should know their ingredients, and that includes yeast. Know how they react to conditions you are giving them, but understand that without knowing the full story you are guessing somewhat - this stuff is incompletely understood so neither can we assume that adding more nutrients will fix a sulfide-laden cider. It might, but it might not. Frustrating, eh?

All other things being equal, I recommend people stick with lower H2S-producing strains.
cheers--
--Michael
 
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Brentranome

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So now that we are into it, if I don't use campden, how do I suppress the natural yeast found in cider without hurting the yeast I am introducing? After all, that's why I used it in the first place. Mind you, this is handmade cider from a friend, so it still has all of the natural goodies in it.
 

Cool_Hand_Luke

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So now that we are into it, if I don't use campden, how do I suppress the natural yeast found in cider without hurting the yeast I am introducing? After all, that's why I used it in the first place. Mind you, this is handmade cider from a friend, so it still has all of the natural goodies in it.
You can use campden tablets and still avoid the sulfur smell and taste. You just need to add yeast nutrient as Yooper alluded to earlier. For cider I normally just use DAP (diammonium phosphate). You can get it at your homebrew shop. Cider doesn’t have all of the necessary nutrients for the yeast to stay happy like beer does. Add the nutrient when you pitch your yeast. You can sniff the airlock now and then during fermentation and if you get that sulfur smell you can add a bit more.

If you don’t want to use the campden you could heat the cider to 140F for 15-20 minutes to pasteurize then chill and pitch yeast. But you will still need to add nutrient or the yeast will get stressed and produce those off flavors.
 

madscientist451

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I dry pitched the yeast and let it sit for 2 weeks in the fermenter. Starting gravity was 1.040 and final gravity was .98, so I was very happy with a damn near 8% ABV with no sugar additives. I did however encounter what smelled like sulfur whenever I walked past my fermenter in my basement. I decided to smell the airlock to see if that was where the smell was coming from. I then picked myself up off the floor and said "Ho lee fahk". I hoped the smell would go away on it's own. Well it didn't. I primed and bottled after the primary fermentation, so now every bottle I crack smells like eggs. I can get past it, but my friends can't. I'll add yeast nutrient next time and maybe rack it off to a secondary for a week to see if it makes a difference. Will my bottles still prime if I ferment for a month (2wk primary, 2wk secondary)? I know eventually the yeast is spent. I just want to make sure I can still get the 2.2 volumes of carb that I like with my cider.
What yeast did you use? Also Cider isn't beer, 2 weeks in primary and 2 weeks in secondary is nothing for a cider. Ferment low (high 50's) and slow, after about a month, transfer to a smaller secondary with no headspace and let it age for 4-6 months. You'll notice a big difference. Or maybe you won't,everyone has different tastes.
I've had the same problem with Nottingham yeast and the problem didn't go away and I eventually dumped it. I didn't know about the copper pipe trick, (posted in the thread above) I'll try that next time.
 

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Here's the thing - but feel free to disagree - the number of indigent yeast cells in your cider are few. You are pitching (or should be pitching) billions of viable cells. The lab cultured cells you pitch will very quickly overwhelm the native cells and they (the cells you pitched) will very quickly shape the environment of the must (pH etc) to suit them and not the few indigenous cells which may or may not all have the same characteristics. Bottom line: you can add campden tabs if you want but I don't know that you need to and you certainly don't need to if the juice was expressed commercially and the commercial orchard UV pasteurized the juice to eliminate e-coli and listeria. But even if they did not, the addition of K-meta does not result in H2S. Poor protocol does. :mug:
 

madscientist451

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I agree with bernardsmith re: do you really need Campden? However, the one time I had really bad sulfur smell and taste, I HAD used Campden. Lots of people say it doesn't produce sulfur smells, but I haven't used it since. And haven't had the same problem since either. I believe my problem cider was a combination of the Nottingham yeast, Campden and the type of apples I was using, (old growth, low nitrogen input) but that's pure conjecture, I can't prove it.
Using sulfites for cider and wine goes back a long time, originally to get rid of bad bacteria and old yeasts in barrels that were used for fermenting. In those days, sulfur (brimstone) was burned in the barrels, not added to the juice. In modern times, people who know way more about cider than I do say to use Campden, so I guess its OK. Some pro cider makers use it a low level and some not at all, so I suppose whatever works for you is the way to go.
 

ten80

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"Yeast hates campden" is an inaccurate anthropomorphism of what is actually happening biologically and chemically when sulfites are added pre-fermentation. Before we throw around a bunch of anecdotal information full of variables, let's consider some published studies which provide controlled, reviewed investigations of this subject.

Based on published research, The reduction of SO2 (sulfide) to H2S (hydrogen sulfide) by yeast is RARE AND UNLIKELY in wine. A research paper by A.Linderholm et al. in the Practical Winery and Vinyard Journal states it well:
"The majority of H2S produced occurs during the process by which Saccharomyces makes sulfur-containing amino acids."

and concludes:

"Our research has shown that there is significant strain variation in sulfide production and that while nitrogen supplementation does tend to reduce sulfide levels, even with high nitrogen supplementation, some strains will still produce sulfide at an order of magnitude over the threshold of detection under these conditions."

This is a common theme presented in papers on the subject of hydrogen sulfide production in wine and cidermaking. SO, the takeaway message is:

Rhino farts are largely dependent on yeast selection, nutrient levels, fermentation health, and aging on lees, but not likely related to pre-fermentation addition of SO2 (from sodium or potassium metabisulfite, aka. campden tablets)

This agrees with anecdotal evidence I have collected over 20 batches of cider, I agree that sodium or potassium metabisulfite don't result in noticeable H2S in the final product. I have used about 8 different yeasts and "rhino farts" have only occurred on two batches, one fermented with T-58 and one with S-04 ale yeasts. No farts with finished ciders using D47, 71B, EC1118 wine yeasts, and R4600 appears to be clean as well based on airlock sniffing. I do not add nutrients to any of my ciders and ferment slow and cold.
 
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madscientist451

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Thanks to ten80 for posting some outside sources on the subject. I was looking for some research on any connection of potassium metabisulfite and sulfur odors/tastes in cider but couldn't find any.
I think ten80 is also the first to ever use the phrase "inaccurate anthropomorphism"
on HBT.
My cider is feeling neglected and my jugs are feeling lonesome so I guess I should get them together so they can enjoy some bonding.
:inbottle:
 
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Brentranome

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What yeast did you use? Also Cider isn't beer, 2 weeks in primary and 2 weeks in secondary is nothing for a cider. Ferment low (high 50's) and slow, after about a month, transfer to a smaller secondary with no headspace and let it age for 4-6 months. You'll notice a big difference. Or maybe you won't,everyone has different tastes.
I've had the same problem with Nottingham yeast and the problem didn't go away and I eventually dumped it. I didn't know about the copper pipe trick, (posted in the thread above) I'll try that next time.
I had used cider house year from a local brew supply store. I may try an ale yeast next
 

madscientist451

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I've used the cider house select many times without any issues, even done multiple re-pitches.
What temperature did you ferment at?
 
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