How to - simi sweet clear cider

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Srimmey

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Hello everyone,

My wife and I are trying our hand at hard cider for the first time. I have VERY limited experience with making mead, she has no brewing experience at all.

We want to make a cider that is…
1. Simi sweet
2. Sparkling
3. As clear as possible

We originally planned on bottling in standard 20oz beer bottles.

What is the best way to achieve these results? The catch always seems to be clarity. I can add bubbles with in “bottle fermentation” and sweetness with non fermentable sugars but if yeast is going to town in the bottle it will create more sediment.
 

Raptor99

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With bottle carbonation, there will always be a small amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. If you store and chill the bottles upright, the sediment will remain at the bottom. When I pour it into a glass and leave the last bit of cider in the bottle, the cider in my glass is crystal clear. If you don't want any sediment at all you will need to get a kegging setup to carbonate your cider. But I suggest that you try bottle carbonation first.

If you do bottle carbonation and want it semi-sweet, you have two options:

1. Use a non-fermentable sweetener such as stevia or erythritol (this is the easiest method).

2. Let the bottles carbonate to the desired point, and then pasteurize to kill the yeast and leave the remaining sugar.
 
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Srimmey

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With bottle carbonation, there will always be a small amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. If you store and chill the bottles upright, the sediment will remain at the bottom. When I pour it into a glass and leave the last bit of cider in the bottle, the cider in my glass is crystal clear. If you don't want any sediment at all you will need to get a kegging setup to carbonate your cider. But I suggest that you try bottle carbonation first.

If you do bottle carbonation and want it semi-sweet, you have two options:

1. Use a non-fermentable sweetener such as stevia or erythritol (this is the easiest method).

2. Let the bottles carbonate to the desired point, and then pasteurize to kill the yeast and leave the remaining sugar.
Thank you for the info!
 

GratefulBear

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It depends on what alcohol content you're looking for and what the original sugar content of the cider was. If you're ok with a lower abv, you could use a yeast that doesn't ferment all the way to dry and you could help it out by cold crashing then racking once you hit your desired ABV, then cold crash some more before bottling. Might be more than what you want to get into but you could also buy a corny keg and a CO2 tank for forced carbonation (before bottling). Then you wouldn't have to worry about sediment from bottle priming and you'd have a more stable product in the end I'm guessing, when it comes to issues like "bottle bombs". Are you familiar with the issues with exploding bottles that can happen especially with cider?
 

GratefulBear

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Also, I should add that in my experience the biggest factor is time for clarity. The longer you wait before bottling, the clearer. I know there are some additives that will speed up the clarifying but I haven't experimented with them yet (pectic acid maybe?)
 
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Srimmey

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Cider is all done and bottled! That was quick… compared to my mead. We reracked it 2 or 3 times to get it completely off the yeast cake. Once we got all the yeast crusties out it cleared up in about 1 week.

1 gallon is carbonated in the mini keg. The rest are bottled in wine bottles. Will uncork and force carbonate 1 gallon at a time as desired.

Total yield… 15 750ml bottles + 1 gallon on the keg. After 2 weeks @ 15 psi this stuff is amazing!

Final abv is around 8.5%. It was 9.75% prior to back sweetening. The flavor profile is lots of apple followed by honey, smoke vanilla and caramel.

We used some caramelized honey to back sweeten. Liquid smoke and vanilla paste was used in primary. The base was a pasteurized apple cider from a local farm. I think we used a Nottingham ale yeast.
 

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Zambezi Special

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I would be very careful of wine bottles.
Champagne bottles & sparkling wine bottles yes, "standard" wine bottles no.
Since you bottled already: check the cork daily. They may start popping out. Or your bottles may break due to pressure build up (carbonation).
Keep them in a closed box, just in case.
Unless I read it wrong and you didn't carbonate at all
 

madscientist451

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The OP said he was using the wine bottles for storage and would force carbonate in a keg later on.
So I agree its a good idea to keep an eye on any home made wine that's corked, the cider as described above should be fine.
 

Zambezi Special

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My bad.
I'm not a kegger, so automatically assumed bottle conditioning, without reading through the post properly.
But definitely keep an eye on the bottles, just in case fermentation is not totally finished.
Years ago, I had my wine rack in the living room. It was a hot summer and luckily I spotted a cork trying to get out of the bottle. Almost all had started moving and I, only just, prevented a red wine on carpet disaster!
 
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Srimmey

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I would be very careful of wine bottles.
Champagne bottles & sparkling wine bottles yes, "standard" wine bottles no.
Since you bottled already: check the cork daily. They may start popping out. Or your bottles may break due to pressure build up (carbonation).
Keep them in a closed box, just in case.
Unless I read it wrong and you didn't carbonate at all
We stabilized after primary. There is a tiny bit of residual carbonation left but it wasn’t enough to push the bung out of the carboy for the 4 weeks that it spent in secondary
 

bernardsmith

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If your cider tastes good today, a bottle held for about a year will taste amazing. Often the malic acids in cider are converted into lactic acids which add a slight sourness but which are less strong (pH wise).
 
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