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AWKBrewing13

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hey guys and gals. I am new to brewing and cidering. I apologize for not reading the sticky's yet. I was too excited to read after registering!

My first cider is in a gallon jug. I used a full packet of nottingham yeast from an ale kit. The cider I used was a pasteruized cider from Whole foods ( first experiment)

How do I get more clarity from my cider?
I have heard a lot about aging from Ocktoberfest beers and ciders. How long is "good" what exactly does it do?

I saw a cool English cider recipe. I would like to learn as much as I can so that I can get few 1 gal batches and let them age till september/october for College football season :) Is there a 1 gal recipe for this? any good ones for a sweeter spiced cider?

When would I add spices? how long do you add them for?

Also how/when would one use brown sugar or maple syrup in a recipe to bring out these flavors?

Thank you all in advance. I look forward to many posts and great answers.
 

Blanchy

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I'll take a stab at it-

First of all, when you select cider/juice, make sure that there are no preservative chemicals in it, such as potassium sorbate. These will inhibit yeast production. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid, sometimes) has no effect on yeats though, and is a safe bet.

Nottingham and juice- in my experience, good, but a bit thin and watery. I made it just with organic apple juice and yeast, and drank it after about two months. You might find that adding some acids or tannins, such as lemon juice or black tea, gives your finished product a bit more body.

You can clear some of the solids out of your cider by using a fining agent such as gelatin or irish moss, but I've never made cider with anything other than just apple juice, so I don't know how an unfiltered cider would respond to this. I'm sure other members can chime in.

As for aging- essentially as long as you want. All cider will improve with age, though I don't think the exact scientific processes are known. Mostly age will mellow the hotter alcohol flavors, and bring more of the apple flavor back.

Small amounts of spices go a long way (especially cloves) and should be used cautiously. They can be added during either primary or secondary. How long you add them for depends on how strong you want the spiced flavor to come through, but the flavors will generally grow stronger with aging, even once the spices are removed.

Sugars are usually added for the primary fermentation, though they can be added later (which will restart fermentation). Different types of sugar impart different flavors, though your cider will not be sweet if you do not stop the yeast before they have consumed all of the sugars.

Check out the stickies, and poke around the forum, but above all, experiment- even if you end up with something you didn't expect, it won't kill you, and you still made it yourself. And the best part is, if you are stumped by something, you can always brew another batch and see what happens. :mug:

Good luck!
 

oldmate

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First of all, welcome! Be prepared to learn a lot, there a plenty of helpful people around these parts. Don't be afraid to ask what might seem a stupid question, there are no stupid questions.

If you're interested in some different recipes you can check out the cider section in the recipe database. If you are looking at making 1 gal recipes then you can always scale back a recipe for 4 gal by dividing everything by 4, so that you are essentially using 1/4 of the ingredients (this applies to all ingredients BUT yeast and nutrients).

As for aging (which is the best way to achieve clarity in your final product), I leave my cider for up to 3 months in either primary or secondary depending if I am adding different flavours. In my personal opinion this would be the very least amount of time to wait, longer is usually better an will allow for an apple flavour to return to your cider. The reason I prefer to age rather than use fining agents such as gelatin, superkleer and bentonite is that these can impart different flavours (such as an earthy flavour for bentonite) as well as stripping out any flavour that was originally there.

After about 3 months I bottle, and drink whenever I want. They usually don't last long so I'm a bit of a hypocrite telling others to age it longer (they just taste too darn good).

I should also add onto Blanchy's reply in saying that fermentables, such as sugars, syrups and concentrates are most commonly added before fermentation to both increase the % ABV of your cider and to impart flavour (such as malt or maple). This will cause a longer ferment and the need for a longer aging time. You will find that it will taste harsh when it comes out of the fermenter, and needs time to 'mellow' out. It will still taste delicious after aging though!

I might also suggest that if you have ideas forming in your head, the very best thing to do is type it into the search bar to see if anyone else has already done it, their outcomes and go from there. You will find that something you thought would taste really great, really doesn't and you can adapt the recipe. This is subjective though! Let us know how you go!
 
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AWKBrewing13

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wow thank you guys. thats a lot right at first. I have a bunch of ideas so I need to do some searching like you guys suggested.

I have heard that Sodium Metabisulfite makes hangovers. Can you make cider without using this chemical? if so how long would it last.

When you add in these other fermentables, do you have to heat anything up or is it mix it all together in the cider? Is creating cider much like doing beer in which you need to aerate your cider (wort for beer) to help with fermentation, or will that impart odd flavors?

I had this idea for making a Maple, Molasses or Brown Sugar cider but using a little dry malt extract either light or amber to see if I could get more body out of it. Like a cider beer with more cidery taste and slightly spiced.
 

DoctorWho

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Well, I'll tell you right now that if you want a cider/beer cider look no further than Brandon O's Graff It's delicious, relatively easy (compared to beer) and sound just like you describe because of DME and a small hops addition.

Now on to you other questions!

1.) Sodium Metabisulfite is a preservative that is used to help stop an active fermentation or prevent re-fermintation later on when sweetening. I don't use it at all in my Cider recipes (but some might depending on how they like their cider.) I need there to be some active yeast left for bottle conditioning (where the cider carbs in the bottle by adding a little priming sugar.)

AFAIK, you don't need this for a Cider. I age mine for about 3 to 4 months, then bottle and age in the bottles and I don't have any problems with the cider not keeping.

2a.) When adding fermentable (or most other things) I find it easier to dissolve them into solution. So for the main sugars I do boil them in a little water (about 4oz per cup) just so they dissolve easier in the juice. It's important to let this cool as adding hot liquids to apple juice can cause cloudiness due to pectin setting. You can buy petic enzyme to prevent or reverse this, but if you never heat up the juice or add hot liquids you don't need it.

2b.) When you are adding your juice and sugar solution to the primary it is a good idea to aerate at that time. I believe that yeast always like oxygen and in the beginning its a safe time as the fermentation will create Co2 to push out any lingering o2.

If I am wrong on any of this, someone please correct me (this is what I have gleaned in my 4 months on the board it might be a tad off). I don't want to pass along false information:)

Oh, and welcome to cider brewing...it's a lot of fun and tastes great.
 
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AWKBrewing13

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thanks again. i like the idea of making this more "natural". Ill look up that Brandon O'graff cider and maybe manipulate it a bit.

Do the cider guys here do a shake method for aeriation or use aquarium stones?
I read in a book about using a 25-30 dollar filter to make it more clear. Has anyone heard of this or use a budget filter method to help clarity?
 

oldmate

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It doesn't really matter how you aerate, whatever you find the easiest or most convenient. I myself use my trusty whisk and stir the living hell out of it. You definitely won't need a filter, every single one of my brews has turned out clear (even my chocolate mead, slowly but surely). All you need to do is age it for the appropriate amount of time and the yeast will fall out of suspension. If you find that the resulting cider is too yeasty for your taste (may happen, but unlikely) then you could look at using a filter.
 

Fanoffermentation

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My poor mans aeration was to get a plastic rod (maybe like a stake for a garden plant) that would fit in my drill chuck, heat the end in boiling water then shape it into a paddle (flatten it). I would chuck it to my drill and run that thing at full speed whipping around in the container.
 

Fanoffermentation

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I just read Brandon O's recipe and I have something vert similar, about 3 wks old in bottles now. It's a very easy brew, and his comment is dead on about going easy on the hops. I used a 4% AA hop (about .5oz for about 45min) and I wish the hop flavor was a bit less pronounced, but it's still good. Part of me wonders what some cinnamon or some other earthy fall flavor could add to this brew. Possibly a citrus/acidic addition would be part of my next try. Just my thoughts on the Graff.
 
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AWKBrewing13

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cinnamon was exactly what i was thinking. for my hops (i just picked up all supplies yesterday) was kent goldings... I got one ounce but i thinking of using a third instead of .5.The yeast I got English cider yeast because I heard it would give more complexity. The kent goldings i was told would compliment the spices i was looking to use. I was also told spices need heat. So he said use it in the last 15 min of the boil and crush the cinnamon stick a bit. Thoughts?
 

DoctorWho

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cinnamon was exactly what i was thinking. for my hops (i just picked up all supplies yesterday) was kent goldings... I got one ounce but i thinking of using a third instead of .5.The yeast I got English cider yeast because I heard it would give more complexity. The kent goldings i was told would compliment the spices i was looking to use. I was also told spices need heat. So he said use it in the last 15 min of the boil and crush the cinnamon stick a bit. Thoughts?
Sounds good. Are you doing a 5gal batch...if so you are right about the hops. I use .5oz of fuggle @4%AA and it's perfect for 5gal, but less is better than more.

Otherwise, do what you say and you'll have a very nice spiced cider soon!
 
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AWKBrewing13

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sweet thanks guys. So when doing the wort for the beer portion is that when i add the cinnamon to it? How many sticks? one? Any other spices I should look at? aging ? i have thought about adding a bit of molasses to up the ABV and give it some different flavor.

what are your thoughts on using the English cider yeast instead of Ale or champagne yeast?
 
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AWKBrewing13

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oh yes I am doing a 5 gal batch. I can still get unpasteruized cider from the mill. should I use that or pasteruized juice from Whole foods?
 

fendermallot

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ok, If I'm repeating anything, sorry. Some of the posts were really long and I didn't have the patience.

The Whole foods cloudy juice and nottingham was the first cider I tried to make. No fermentables other than the sugar in the juice were added. You'll never see it clear up. So let it get to where you want it and call it good. Mine actually went bad for some reason and I had to pitch it (didn't even make good vinegar!).

if nothing happens with that cider, remember you have a new gallon jug for future endeavors! win win!
 

fendermallot

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I've seen several people on this forum say that the WF just doesn't seem to want to clear. I left mine, undisturbed, in the bottle for 4 months. The Lees were over an inch thick and the juice was still very cloudy. I don't think it'll clear like a normal juice.
 
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AWKBrewing13

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lol i think so too. im already at 1 inch of lees at the bottom of mine.

So for this graff recipe what type of juice should I use for the 4 gal. fresh unpasterized or something from the store?

what store cider do you guys typically use?

I was told good cider comes from unpasteurized cider because it gives it more complexity. Is this true?
 

fendermallot

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don't over think it at first. Make some simple, yet tasty ciders and then experiment after you get a few under your belt.
 
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AWKBrewing13

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i just wanna make sure that I get something that will clear up well and is easy.

whats the easiet one to use that will clear easy and is easy accessible?

i agree. i just dont want to make something after waiting 4-6 months thats nasty lol.
 

fendermallot

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I just use store bought juice (tree top, store brand, etc.) just make sure the only preservative is ascorbic acid (vit. C). Since it's clear it'll clear easily.
 

fendermallot

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have you tried making EdWort's Apfelwein? It's basically what everyone recommends for your first cider. It's easy and damn near impossible to goof up! last page of the cider Recipes, FYI.
 

fendermallot

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any grocery store is going to have normal apple juice. Just shop around for the best deal. Tree Top, Langer's, Western Family, etc. Just check the label and make sure there isn't anything other than ascorbic acid for a preservative.
 

Fanoffermentation

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I just tried my 3 week old and it tastes TOTALLY different from 2 wks. The harsh hop finish at 2 wks is nearly gone. Also, the apple taste has intensified, as has the tartness for some reason. I am very surprised at how quickly this taste has evolved. There was little to no apple in it at two weeks. I think a cinnamon could have helped it, as the tartness is adequate at present. It will be interesting how this matures. I'll subscribe to the bottle a week program.
 
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AWKBrewing13

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so i got tree top juice, english cider yeast... any other spices you think i should add?

how many cinnamon sticks do you guys use? Do you use that when you make the wort for the beer? or add to the secondary when racking?
 

RobWalker

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the more simple you keep it early on, the less that can go wrong. just bear that in mind - your first few brews will be solely to get you used to the process, really, so don't be afraid to try simple recipes as they'll help you develop a taste!
 
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AWKBrewing13

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ok. ill look up more about spicing in some of the other recipe sections. I tend to jump in with both feet like i previously mentioned.

I had a carbonation question. Because Im doing the Graff I do want a little bit of head and carbonation (plus body) but I do not want to use the campden tablets. what will that do over time? continue to carbonate? what if I keg it. I will be kegging this fall with beer so I should have the process down.
 

Fanoffermentation

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In the batch I just did I used about .6oz of torrified wheat for 3 gallons (recipe called for 1oz/5gal) and it could have used more as my head was a little weak. I'll go for closer to 1oz if I do another 3 gallon batch.
 

Fanoffermentation

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Well, all the recipes I read seem to show 1oz for 5 gallons. Perhaps it just does not work to scale it down proportionally like I did. According to the recipes I have read 1oz/5gal seems to be accepted. I may have just had an off batch. I think you would be wisest to go with what the recipe calls for as I've never done a 5 gal batch myself.
 

Fanoffermentation

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Forgot to mention...re: campden tabs...it sounds lime you are trying to use them to halt the fermentation for residual sweetness? Then maybe you are adding some form of additional sugar to sweeten? If you put this stuff to bottle when it's still actively fermenting, then yeah, it'll have some bubbles, but not much. If you want gas and don't want to keg, just prime with sugar and carbonate in bottle. If you want still, then that could take more time in the carboy, or some type of agitator to free up the CO2, or one of those vacuum systems.
 
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AWKBrewing13

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For using English Cider yeast from white labs does anybody use a yeast starter for their ciders?
 
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AWKBrewing13

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So i went to walmart to find a cheap apple juice and found indian summer. Contents: Apple juice, Apple Juice Concentrate, Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C)

Is this ok to start using? it was like 3.88 a gallon I think.
 

DoctorWho

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Yes, that juice is ok to use. Really any juice that has Ascorbic and/or Malic acid as the additives will be fine. You want to stay away from any that have sorbates or sulfites.
 

RobWalker

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every now and then. just pour a little of your apple juice into a sterile container with the yeast, let it sit airtight until it's foamy, then chuck it in your brew. you're basically making a mini version of your main brew. I always found that it doesn't really matter though - most of my stuff starts fermenting the same day, usually, and that's with dry yeast.
 

DoctorWho

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Generally, a yeast starter is unnecessary as the apple juice has plenty of sugar and nutrients for yeast to start off happy and healthy. I know many people who don't even rehydrate, they just pitch dry from the pouch.

The only time I would do a stater is if I was going to use natural/wild yeast from hand picked or organic apples, but this idea seems too much trouble with how easy it is to use prepackaged champagne/ale yeast.
 
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AWKBrewing13

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I see a lot of champagne/ale yeast... Not a lot of English cider yeast. Why is that?
 

DoctorWho

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For me it's the price...also most of the recipes I use actually call for a champagne (I like Red Star Montrachet and Lalvin EC-1118) or ale (Danstar Nottingham) yeast.
 
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