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Making Cider with Belgian Yeast?

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TRainH2o

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I have the itch to make a cider or apple wine. I just happen to have some Belgian yeast in the refrigerator that is left over from a Belgian Strong Ale.

Is this a good yeast to use? I have read that many people use wine yeast to keep the krausen down but I thought that since this yeast has a good many fruity esters, it might make a good cider. What do you think?
 

KrisPaulk77

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I'm planning the same thing soon. I harvested the yeast cake from a Abbey Single I brewed and figured I'd play around and make a cider from it. I think the yeast would produce an interesting cider. If nothing else, it'd be a fun experiment.
 

msmylie

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I don't know if you guys have ever heard of the Goose Island brew called Sophia...it is a bottle conditioned Belgian ale that was aged in wooden barrels. I poured the dregs of one of those bottles into a gallon jug of cider from whole foods along with a pound of brown sugar and let ferment for over a month. It is damn tasty on its own but I am going to bottle condition it. Definitely has that funky Belgian taste from the beer but that's it. Finished out at about 9.5% and is very clear. I think it is a great idea to experiment with.
 

KrisPaulk77

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I've heard of Sophia and it's on my list to try. Your cider experiment sounds good. I'm gonna proceed ahead with my little experiment as well. I was planning on adding some brown sugar as well, and was even considering a "mini-graff" and steeping some Special B. I'll more than likely do a couple gallons as a test and bottle condition as well.
 

HokieBrewer

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I tried it, but I accidentally let it ferment pretty warm. Like 75-80 degrees warm. Definitely got a lot of Belgian characteristics out of it that way, but the esters were a bit too much for me.
 

msmylie

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yeah i fermented mine in the basement at about 60 degrees and you got some of the belgian notes but it was not overpowering. developed a slight banana taste along with some citrus.
 
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TRainH2o

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I guess the key to using the Belgian yeast is to control the fermentation temp a bit more than if I were using a wine yeast. Good to know.

I may make a small batch and ferment around 68˚ F and see how that works. I intend to stop fermentation before it gets too dry. I want it to be semi sweet for my wife.
 

CvilleKevin

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Which Belgian are you considering using? I've done both the 565 Belgian Saison and 3942 Belgian wheat, with and without sugar and with honey. The 3942 with a bit of turbinado/dextrose mix was OK, the rest were mediocre at bast. YMMV. The key to cider generally is to keep it as cool as you can. 68 is about the top end for decent results imho. Some ale yeast will do OK up to 75 but they become hard to control. 55-60 ideal imho.
 

lumpher

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i use montrachet yeast for my cider. cheap, no risk, and damn tasty. belgian yeast for a cider? not so sure about that. i think it would be too cloyingly sweet ( and you can ferment at 68-70, no risk )
 

Yan

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i use montrachet yeast for my cider. cheap, no risk, and damn tasty. belgian yeast for a cider? not so sure about that. i think it would be too cloyingly sweet ( and you can ferment at 68-70, no risk )
unless the cider is overloaded with sugar beyond the yeast's range, it will almost always finish completely dry, since the sugar in apples is almost totally fermentable.
 

lumpher

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unless the cider is overloaded with sugar beyond the yeast's range, it will almost always finish completely dry, since the sugar in apples is almost totally fermentable.
good point :mug: . guess it's the cheapness ( and flavor ) in me that makes me stick with montrachet. i can get that for $.95
 

CvilleKevin

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Right, just about any yeast will ferment out all the apple sugar, so its all about how easy the yeast is to control ie stop. The 565 got completely dry and tasteless in no time flat - much faster than any ale or wheat yeast. The 3942 with and without sugar both crashed no problems at 1.010, but for this much residual sugar, they did not have much taste. The one with the sugar added was the best even though they were the same sg. The 3942 batch with honey was going slower, but then it took off and I didnt catch it til it went to 1.002, by which point there wasnt a lot of flavor left
 

Edcculus

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i use montrachet yeast for my cider. cheap, no risk, and damn tasty. belgian yeast for a cider? not so sure about that. i think it would be too cloyingly sweet ( and you can ferment at 68-70, no risk )
I don't understand your logic here. Why would an ale yeast leave a cider cloyingly sweet? Monrachet will ferment cider drier than a desert and leave it tasting blander than a communion cracker.
 

Freezeblade

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I've used the following belgian yeasts in cider (My standard recipe): WLP400, WLP550, WLP530, WLP570. I made it a habit for quite awhile of using some extra starter whenever I brewed beer to start up a little cider batch.

From what I've seen the belgian yeasts all give of an interesting "floral" ester when fermenting apple juice. The women folk seem to love it, but I'm not a fan, makes me think of potpourri in my cider, meh.
 
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TRainH2o

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To answer an earlier question: I have Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abbey II. It's going to be estery, but my wife likes the fruity flavors.

Assuming that I want a semi-sweet taste, what would be a good stopping point for my gravity, 1.016-1.018? Being that this is my first attempt at cider, what is the best thing to use to stop fermentation?
 

Edcculus

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To answer an earlier question: I have Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abbey II. It's going to be estery, but my wife likes the fruity flavors.

Assuming that I want a semi-sweet taste, what would be a good stopping point for my gravity, 1.016-1.018? Being that this is my first attempt at cider, what is the best thing to use to stop fermentation?
If you brew beer too and keg, the easiest way is to rack to a keg when it reaches the sweetness you desire. If you keep it in the kegerator, it will be too cold for the yeast to continue. If you don't warm it back up, the yeast will never start fermenting again.

If you bottle, there is a lot of advice here about making sweet cider. The two easiest options are fermenting to dryness, then backsweeting, or pasteurizing the bottles in hot water after you get to the right carbonation level in the bottle.
 
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TRainH2o

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If you brew beer too and keg, the easiest way is to rack to a keg when it reaches the sweetness you desire. If you keep it in the kegerator, it will be too cold for the yeast to continue. If you don't warm it back up, the yeast will never start fermenting again.
I do indeed keg and I had that thought. I read that some guys "age" their cider for months, even a year. Will the taste continue to mellow if I keg and cool it down? Or is this not an issue if I decide to stop fermentation before it completely ferments out?
 

Edcculus

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Yea, if you are going to age it, you will have to let it ferment dry. It really depends on how you are making your cider. If you don't add any sugar, I've noticed you can get away without long term aging. The lower ABV of just apple juice seems to create a less harsh drink. My ciders usually ferment for a few weeks, then go into the kegerator for about a month. From there, I adjust the taste with tannin and lactic acid.

Something I just thought of - you might want to look at making "Graff". Its a concoction Brandon O came up with that basically uses malt extract in addition to apple juice. The non fermentables in malt extract add some residual sweetness without having to backsweeten.
 

msmylie

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I just started a graff using just over two pounds of two row LME a pound of corn sugar and a pound of crystal malt. I'm fermenting with a high gravity Canadian/Belgian yeast. I'll let you know how it turns out but ferment will probably take a month.
 
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TRainH2o

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I just started a graff using just over two pounds of two row LME a pound of corn sugar and a pound of crystal malt. I'm fermenting with a high gravity Canadian/Belgian yeast. I'll let you know how it turns out but ferment will probably take a month.
Yes, let me know how it turns out. I have decided to do the standard graff recipe for now. I am waiting until I have some free space in my fermentation chamber. I had the thought that my washed Belgian yeast might not be good to use. It was from a Belgian Strong Ale that had an OG of 1.080 something. I have since read that anything over 1.050 might not turn out so well because of the stress that was placed on the yeast during fermentaion.
 

msmylie

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I hope that is not the case since my wort/must was 1.0625 about when I pitched yeast. However mine is fermenting at about 64 degrees...I wonder if the stress only occurs at room temp or higher? We'll have to see. I used a champagne yeast on a previous five gallon batch and took two months to ferment out. Dry as hell though so it is still aging. That is what made me go this route to leave some residual sweetness. And in hopes that the crystal malt will lend a nice caramel flavor to the brew. I'll keep you posted.
mfs
 

pimento

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I'm not to familiar with belgian yeast, but most yeasts won't get stressed out by sugar content until you're OG is well over 1.100.

Normally champagne yeasts will rip through a simple cider, I'm guessing your 2 month ferment was from either lack of nutrients, low aeration or PH imbalance. Those are the usual culprits when it comes to slow/stalled cider ferments.
 

msmylie

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I'm nit sure what took so long...could have been the cool fermentation temp or the five pounds of additional sugars that went into it.
 
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