How to increase cider ABV post fermentation

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nbstl68

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Recently finished my 2nd ever batch of cider.
I do pear cider as I have three pear trees and can't eat them all so why not drink them!

I think my first batch last year turned out good IMO with a supposed ABV of high 5ish% (OG 1.065, FG 1.022-ish), according to just plugging in my numbers on the brewersfriend site's ABV calculator.


This year's batch also finished right about 1.022ish but it has a lower OG of 1.050-ish, thus the calculator says that would equate to about only 3.6% ABV. which I think is far too low for cider maybe.

It's been sitting for a few months in the carboy and has been racked twice and FG has not changed so it is definitely done doing whatever it is going to do.

Given this is such a low ABV, I'd like to raise it before bottling, if for nothing else, to help ensure it will keep longer if it turns out good as I still have some to polish off from the last batch...


So long story, short question...How can I increase the ABV post fermentation here prior to bottling? What issues may occur or other adjustments may be needed in doing so?

Also, any thoughts on why neither batch would ferment below 1.020?

I'm using the same yeast each time, (Wyeast Sweet Mead 4814 as was recommended by my LBS originally), proper temps the whole time...I tried to re-start fermentation when I saw it stalled again this time by adding more of the same a little later but that did nothing.
 

fuelish

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Perhaps you could pitch some rehydrated 1118 in there, it should eat anything available ....or maybe add vodka to finished product? Dunno....why not just drink it as is and enjoy a light adult beverage? Am not a fan of the yeast you used, personally
 

mucci2k

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I had to add yeast nutrient to get my cider to finish, due to all the simple sugars the yeast get lazy.

To increase the abv you could add fireball whiskey then bottle, adds a nice cinnamon flavor, or boil a predetermined amount of sugar in a little water with yeast nutrient then add to carboy and hope the yeast re-energize.
 

Yooper

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It's unbelieveable that the FG would be so high, at 1.022. Simple sugars generally ferment out completely, and end at .990 or something like that.

Why did the yeast stall out so prematurely? If you fix that, you will have a much higher ABV.
 

dmtaylor

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I doubt it's done fermenting. How do you know it's "done"? How long has it been in the fermenter? If anything less than 6 weeks then I would argue that it's almost definitely not done yet. Patience, grasshopper.

And regardless of amount of time..... How are you measuring final gravity? If you are using a refractometer, you need to be aware that it does not read correctly when there is alcohol in there! You must use a hydrometer for accuracy for final gravity readings.

My bet is your issue is one of the above two things.
 

TopherM

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You could pitch some Brett . The Brett would definitely take care of the remaining sugars, but it might take 4-6 more months. Brett ciders are delicious, if you're into that kind of thing.
 
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nbstl68

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Thanks for the replies...a few responses.

I say it's done because it's been in the carboy since November , so like 4+ months now aging and the SG has not changed since then.

I used the same hydrometer to measure both OG and FG.
(tested it with just water and it appears to be working properly).

My last batch a year prior stopped at the almost same place using the same yeast. (This yeast says it will "give you 3-2% residual sugar", but I expected that should be below 1.022)

This is PEAR cider, no apples...just pears directly from my trees...so maybe the same rules don't apply...I've been reading elsewhere (wiki) that pears contain a higher amount of "unfermentable sorbitol sugars" than apples, ....but enough to stop at my FG I don't know.

Anyway, I believe at this point it is what it is...Right now it does not taste very good IMO, (even has a slight metallic taste?).
My first try a year prior though was similar but after 6+ months it tasted great....but it had a higher alcohol content so could sit around longer.

So, I want to hold out and hopefully be able to drink this batch after all the work, but would still like a higher alcohol content and don't think trying to restart fermentation will do anything.

This is only batch#2 for me so I certainly could be doing many other things wrong.

Is it basically ok to add something like Fireball or other alcohol, like maybe a rum or vodka that would not affect the flavor too much to the finished product then?

How do I determine how much to add to up the ABV a specific amount like to 6%?

Thanks for all the input!
 

laredo7mm

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...How do I determine how much to add to up the ABV a specific amount like to 6%?...
I don't know if I would add another type of alcohol to boost the ABV. I would probably lean toward adding more simple sugars and restart fermentation. Add some cane sugar, corn sugar, honey, maple syrup, or whatever.

There is a Chaptalization Calculator over on brewer's friend that will help you with how much sugar to add.

If you were to add alcohol to it, the calculation should be proportional. For example; 5 gallons of perry (pear cider) at 3.6% and wanted to boost it to 6% you would need to add 38.4 fluid ounces of 80 proof liquor.

6% x 5 gallons = 30

you have 5 at 3.6% = 18

You need 12 more "points" of alcohol. 80 proof is 40%. 40 x "Y" = 12

Y = 12/40 = 0.30 gallons or 38.4 ounces
 

dmtaylor

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Wow... could it be a nutrient deficiency? I have heard that pears are deficient in nutrients compared to apples. I would add both sugar and nutrients, as well as fresh yeast, and just get it going again. A pound in 5 gallons would give you about 1% more alcohol, so you can do the math based on that.

Good luck!
 

Maylar

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Did you use yeast nutrient? Wyeast recommends it for 4814. Maybe the yeast just stalled. I suppose you could pitch some EC1118 in there and start it up again.
 

bernardsmith

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It might be useful to share your protocol. There may be something that you are doing that stalls the fermentation. A detailed account of your processes and ingredients and readings (temps, pH etc) would be helpful.
 
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nbstl68

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yes, actually used yeast nutrient both times....the 2nd time nothing at all happenned so not sure trying more yeast again will have any different affect...unless I did it wrong the 2nd time.
The LBS actually told me probably the alcohol content in it already could kill the new yeast anyway and keep from restarting fermentation?

@laredo7mm thanks for the info and the math!

If restarting fermentaion is not going to work...thoughts on the best neutral alcohol to add? Any down side to adding alcohol like this?
 

dmtaylor

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Well, if you must, then maybe Skyy vodka or Grey Goose or one of the premiums should work okay. But...... that's like cheating! :(

Hope it turns out to be something you can enjoy.
 

worlddivides

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I actually really enjoy low-alcohol ciders. In France, 2-4% cider is one of the common traditional styles, but they don't add anything. They just stop the fermentation when it's about half-done (and either bottle in with light carbonation or still). I forgot the French name for it, but it's basically the exact opposite of "brut." There used to be a French cider around 2.4% ABV that was sold at a liquor store I'd go to. It was pretty good.
 

timdillon36

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Taking a stab at it but 4814 is a sweet mead yeast. I have used it for cider and love the results. It will finish high because that's what it's supposed to do, leave some sweetness.

If you add another yeast to get the gravity down it will dry it out. Have u tasted this.

It sounds like a great summer time drink. If u really want to just up the abv u can add simple sugar or add some juice concentrate.

Yooper has a great welth of knowledge and I would like to hear more from her but this is a low attenuation yeast and can b used to make a semi sweet bottle carbed cider.
 
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nbstl68

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I tasted it..not that great right now, quite astringent, ( I think that is the right term for what I'm tasting \ feeling) and even a wierd slight metalic taste...no idea what that's about.
So I wanted to age it longer...like I mentioned about my previous (first ever) batch from 2014...aged longer and suddenly it tasted pretty good after about month 6.

I've read around this forum that basically the lower the ABV the sooner it could go bad, which is another reason for wanting to up the ABV...so it will not go bad before it , uh, goes good. :)
 
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