My plan - Any suggestions?

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Active Member
Oct 16, 2011
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Hello all, first time cider brewer here. I just wanted to run my plan by some experienced cider brewers. I plan on kegging to a 15.5 gallon Sankey Keg in the end so its compatable with my system. I will be fermenting about 17 gallons of my local orchards cider. They actually set aside a day to press a different mix for hard cider brewers. Not sure of the dominant local wild yeast at the mill, so was going to campden at 1 tab per gal. and add 1/4 tsp. per 5 gallons of Wyeast nutrient blend to the juice the day before pitching Nottinghams. I wanted to shoot for an original sg of 1.055 or so to get around a 7% hard cider. So, depending on the juice, I may or may not have to adjust the sugar accordingly.

After pitching, run these carboys out at around 60-64 degrees (basement temp.) until primary slows considerably or a sg of around 1.000 is obtained. About how long for primary with this yeast/temp/OG? Anyone have similiar starting setup?

After primary, can I rack to the keg, add potassium sorbate (1/2 tsp per gallon) and campden (1 tab per gallon) and wait 5 or so days for it to dissipate, then back-sweeten with frozen cider concentrate to 1.015 for semi-dry, and leave the keg for three to four months at 60-64 degrees, then chill and force carb? Or should I rack to carboys every couple months discarding any lees and bulk age in the carboys, only backsweetening before I keg and carb.?

Also, should I attempt malolactic ferm.? Is it worth it? Should this occur naturally in cider, or do I have to add the culture? I know i would have to omit the campden and potassium sorbate until later, before any possible backsweetening.

Thanks in advance, just dont want to go in blind or make adjustments/decisions on the fly.:mug:


Well-Known Member
May 23, 2007
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she's a moderator and you can search under contacts and pm.. or just search site for yooper and pm... I have asked questions about some recipes that she has posted and gotten almost immediate responses. The reason I suggest yooper is when i searched for potassium sorbate, her name came up in reference to that and back fruiting. I think she has a lot of experience with cider and wine making.


Ale's What Cures You!
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Jun 4, 2006
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UP/Snowbird in Florida
Well, the cider may or may not stop at 1.000. I've seen ciders go dry to .990 so a good plan would be to wait until the SG no longer changes, and then you'll know it is done.

As far as backsweetening, I would suggest waiting until no new lees fall and the cider is clear before racking it to the keg with sulfites (one campden tablet per gallon) and sorbate (1/2 teaspoon per gallon). The reason is that neither sulfite nor sorbate kill yeast- but sorbate inhibits yeast reproduction and works better in the presence of sulfites. What that means is that if the cider isn't clear and there are still trillions of yeast cells hanging around, any sweetener you add will just ferment out, sorbate or no. But if you wait until much of the spent yeast has fallen out and then rack off of it and there aren't so many still in suspension, the sorbate will probably work.

I'd suggest waiting until fermentation is finished, then chill the fermenter (called "cold stabilizing" by winemakers) to clear it up. Once it's clear, rack it off of the lees into the keg with the sulfites and sorbate. Wait a couple of days, just to make sure it's not going to restart, and add the sweetener as desired. You can rack the cider over the time period if you'd like, but it's probably not necessary unless you get very thick lees.

When I make cider, I usually rack from primary after about day 14 when I tend to have a TON of lees. Then only rack again if there are thick lees after 60 days, and I'm bottling not kegging.

I'm not a fan of cider that's gone through MLF, because it loses some of it's tart "bite". Sulfites will prevent MLF. MLF can occur spontaneously in non-sulfited cider.