Hard cider very bitter

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The forager

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I made my first hard cider. After two weeks it has fermented to .990. So I back sweetened with some erythritol and added 6g sucrose to each bottle to carbonate. It still tasted very bitter (almost like vinegar). I don’t think it’s an oxygen issue.

Does hard cider improve over time when bottle conditioning?
 
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The forager

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Are you sure you mean bitter? Not acidic?
Try mixing a bit of pure apple juice in with your cider. See if that helps.
Or a teaspoon sugar in the glass

Yes I would say acidic would be more accurate. I added eythritol (a lot) and I could still taste the underlying acid.
 

madscientist451

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The traditional method is to let the cider sit in barrels until you see the blossoms on the apple trees next spring. I usually age my cider for a year, and it does improve; I can do that because I have lots of it sitting around, I make way more than I drink.
I found that using ordinary apple varieties that are good for eating raw produces a cider that is tastes acidic and unpleasant to me.
Using some commercial juice will provide the same result, but sometimes you can find juices that work OK.
So get some better apples, or juice, but meanwhile, go get a 30 pack of light lager and "blend in the glass" 50/50 beer and cider and you can use it up that way.
:mug:
 
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The forager

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The traditional method is to let the cider sit in barrels until you see the blossoms on the apple trees next spring. I usually age my cider for a year, and it does improve; I can do that because I have lots of it sitting around, I make way more than I drink.
I found that using ordinary apple varieties that are good for eating raw produces a cider that is tastes acidic and unpleasant to me.
Using some commercial juice will provide the same result, but sometimes you can find juices that work OK.
So get some better apples, or juice, but meanwhile, go get a 30 pack of light lager and "blend in the glass" 50/50 beer and cider and you can use it up that way.
:mug:
Thank you.
 

TheBluePhantom

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If it is just too much acid, a bit of potassium bicarbonite will cut the acid. Had to use that on a wine I added too much acid to. Use too much though and it is outright boring tasting. Aging will bring out the flavor properly but I don't know how much the acid will change. I have had to adjust for ciders that turn out wrong before, usually adding just a touch of malic acid when they are rather flat tasting.
 

hawkwing

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Well acid is usually sour not bitter. It there is too much malic acid you could try malolactic fermentation.

I’m not familiar with the taste of erythritol but if it’s like other artificial sweeteners that taste like chemicals that’s likely your problem.
 

GratefulBear

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I made my first hard cider. After two weeks it has fermented to .990. So I back sweetened with some erythritol and added 6g sucrose to each bottle to carbonate. It still tasted very bitter (almost like vinegar). I don’t think it’s an oxygen issue.

Does hard cider improve over time when bottle conditioning?

I've never met a cider that got worse over time. The closest thing would be a dry hopped cider where the hop flavoring became more bitter and less aromatic. Most of the cider I've made has lasted long enough to tell that it was improving over time. This is with apple juice from "eating apples" and not traditional cider apples. I think Hawkwing was on to something when he mentioned Malolactic Fermentation. Eating apples are supposedly higher in acidity, amplifying the benefit of the slow process of MLF. I had a 4 pack of cider from Shacksbury Cider that was made from traditional cider apples in the English tradition. I wrote dates on them, stuck them in the fridge, and tried them over a 6 month period. In that case the tannins or something definitely changed but I didn't detect an acidity change. The first can which I drank right away tasted bitter in a good way. The last one at 6 months tasted almost like the cider version of a confetti birthday cake for lack of a better description. The bitterness went down and the juiciness came out. So, long story short, I think aging is extremely beneficial for cider from eating apples and is more a matter of preference for traditional cider apples.
 

GratefulBear

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I should add, I keg and don't pasteurize my cider and frequently use unpasteurized local cider instead of storebought juice. There may be naturally occuring MLF that may not happen for someone who is bottling and pasteurizing, which could kill off the bacteria responsible for the process. However, I think you could do MLF on purpose, remember seeing something in Claude J's book.
 

TheBluePhantom

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Not sure if you are doing yoursef any favors with MLF. Lactic acid is said to have a sour taste, while Malic acid is tart. the wine I took acid out of was cherry, I believe that was mostly malic. very easy process.
 

bernardsmith

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What was the source of your apple juice? That may be the source of the problem. Have you measured the TA? TA measures the amount of acids in the liquid (g/L) not the pH (malic is a strong acid, but we taste acidity because if the amount and not the strength: too much of the acid and it tastes sharp, too little and it tastes bland. Doesn't matter if the acid is malic or citric or tartaric or???
 

GratefulBear

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Not sure if you are doing yoursef any favors with MLF. Lactic acid is said to have a sour taste, while Malic acid is tart. the wine I took acid out of was cherry, I believe that was mostly malic. very easy process.
Lactic acid is produced by the bacteria used in sour beers, so is that where you're coming from? I would assume the amount of lactic acid from MLF in a cider would be way less. In sour beers, bacteria is converting sugars to lactic acid, whereas with MLF the idea is that the bacteria converts malic acid to lactic acid. I imagine that a bacteria that has access to a significant amount of sugar (in the case of brewing a sour beer) would thrive and create tons of lactic acid and possibly do MLF after that depending on the strain of bacteria. However, after a vigorous yeast-only fermentation in a typical cider, I think the amount of lactic acid produced by MLF during aging would be much less and would have a balancing rather than a souring effect.
 
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hawkwing

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Can you measure the pH? I wouldn’t add anything neutralize acid without some measurement.

The idea of the MLF is converting malic acid to lactic acid which is softer. The pH often goes up as a result. Wine makers do this regularly.

I feel sorry for you guys who want a sweet cider and bottle with artificial sweetener. I just can’t imagine anything good and worthwhile coming from that stuff. But hey many people like diet soda.
 

Raptor99

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Can you measure the pH? I wouldn’t add anything neutralize acid without some measurement.
Agree. Don't start adjusting acidity unless you measure it first.

Most of my cider is bulk aged for about 6 months before bottling. So I suggest leaving it alone for a while, then tasting again. After several months of bulk aging, you can bench test by adding more erythritol to a small sample of cider until you like the taste, then calculate how much to add to the entire batch.

I use erythritol and bottle carbonate my cider. Erythritol is a natural product made by a fermentation process, so I don't consider it an artificial sweetener. I can't detect any off flavors like with some other non-fermentable sweeteners. I have never liked diet soda, and do not drink soda of any kind.
 

TheBluePhantom

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And how exactly do you stop the MLF from converting too much Malic acid to Lactic acid? If you take the malic acid away from apple cider you take away one of the defining components of the cider. I have had a cider come out with too little acid and it was bland and just flat tasting. And if the acid is of a different type the MLF will not work. Potassium bicarbonate can be added a small amount at a time, and adjusted again later if needed.

I agree it is a good idea to measure the acid. But I always make my final acid adjustments by taste. It would have been best to measure first, but that is not an option. In lieu of that, a second opinion of the tase would help, preferably one who is familiar with the difference between acidic, bitter, sour, or other problems cider tends to have.

But if nothing else, a fast test would be to take a small glass and put a small pinch of baking soda in it and see if the taste improves to you. Acid changes hav to be done carefully, a small amount makes a big perceptual change.
 

bernardsmith

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Not discussing the value or not of converting malic to lactic but SO2 inhibits the bacterial action that creates the lactic from the malic. Simply add K-meta as you might normally do at each racking.
 
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