Newbie question on cyser

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Raygina

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We made our first cyser in October using just apple juice, red star champagne yeast and honey. The honey we used was wildflower and a sage, alfalfa and sunflower mix. We racked it for secondary last weekend and it seems to have stopped fermenting. When we racked it, it smelled okay, just alcoholic hot. It's pretty clear, so I'm wondering if we should just bottle it and let it age into something that may be drinkable.
 

Seamonkey84

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Primary fermentation usually is done within 10-14 day, bubbles are just the co2 coming out of solution. At this point your in secondary, which is more of the first stage of aging and clearing. Once it’s completely clear and no longer dropping any more lees (sediments) after several weeks, you can rack again, degas it (sulfite and sorbate if you must) then bottle.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi Raygina - and welcome. You don't say what the starting gravity was but you do say that it tasted "hot" and that it stopped fermenting. Do you know what the current gravity is today? If you don't have an hydrometer you might consider getting one. They cost less than $10 and in my opinion an hydrometer is the one essential tool in wine making.

That said, apple juice has a typical gravity of about 1.050 (+/-) and a pound of honey when added to water to make a gallon of must will raise the gravity of water from 1.000 to about 1.035 (+/-), so if you added 1 lb of honey to every gallon of juice the starting gravity would have been about 1.085. If you added significantly more honey then the gravity would have been significantly higher. Champagne yeast can handle 1.085 with ease but sometimes apple juice is low in nutrients and honey is always a nutrient desert as far as yeast is concerned and you make no mention about how you dealt with the need for nutrients... In short, it is not obvious (to me) whether the fermentation has quit or has stalled or has truly ended because the yeast have no more sugars to eat...
 
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Raygina

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Hi Raygina - and welcome. You don't say what the starting gravity was but you do say that it tasted "hot" and that it stopped fermenting. Do you know what the current gravity is today? If you don't have an hydrometer you might consider getting one. They cost less than $10 and in my opinion an hydrometer is the one essential tool in wine making.

That said, apple juice has a typical gravity of about 1.050 (+/-) and a pound of honey when added to water to make a gallon of must will raise the gravity of water from 1.000 to about 1.035 (+/-), so if you added 1 lb of honey to every gallon of juice the starting gravity would have been about 1.085. If you added significantly more honey then the gravity would have been significantly higher. Champagne yeast can handle 1.085 with ease but sometimes apple juice is low in nutrients and honey is always a nutrient desert as far as yeast is concerned and you make no mention about how you dealt with the need for nutrients... In short, it is not obvious (to me) whether the fermentation has quit or has stalled or has truly ended because the yeast have no more sugars to eat...
Hi,
I don't have a hydrometer. We didn't add anything other than honey and apple juice. A bit of water to the honey when we heated it, but nothing else. We've made some fairly good other types of mead, but this was our first cyser, so I was wondering if we did something wrong.
 

madscientist451

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Hi,
I don't have a hydrometer. We didn't add anything other than honey and apple juice. A bit of water to the honey when we heated it, but nothing else. We've made some fairly good other types of mead, but this was our first cyser, so I was wondering if we did something wrong.
Nothing you did was really "wrong" but next time you may want to try these things:
-Don't add water to the honey when making Cyser, just use the apple juice.
-Heating honey above 100F causes a loss of aromatics and changes the flavor, so avoid doing that
-Champagne yeast (in my opinion) seems like it scrubs out all the flavor out of mead/cyser, try a different yeast next time like 71-B.
-Use staggered nutrient additions and degassing procedures
 

Solstice Meadery

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I'd like to add 1 thing to madscientist's list:

-get a hydrometer. You will love yourself for it.

The mysteries of the meadverse will still be complete mysteries, but what is in your buckets and carboys will be just a little bit clearer.
 
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Raygina

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Thank you all. There has been no activity in the airlock so I think it's time to bottle it, let it sit and hope for the best.
 

Seamonkey84

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Don’t forget to rack and degas it! The natural carbonation built up from the primary fermentation adds some funky flavors and aromas.
 

bernardsmith

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The only way to know that the fermentation has successfully ended and not, say, stalled, is to check the gravity. You wrote earlier that you don't have an hydrometer but in truth that is the one piece of wine making equipment that is essential. Sure , you can fly by the seat of your pants but if you don't know where the fermentation is after you pitched the yeast sealing bottles may result in popped corks a few days, weeks or months later (if you are lucky) and bottle bombs (exploding bottles) if you are not. It does not take a lot of CO2 produced by the yeast to create enough pressure to pop a cork.

But all that aside, bottling can be done after months of aging in the secondary: Malic acid in the apples often transforms into less harsh acids over 9 months to a year and after a year cider and cyser can taste incredibly different.

The time to bottle depends on many things including how well the yeast have cleared up after themselves, how clear the wine or mead is and whether you are planning to age in bottles or in the fermenter. Bulk aging seems to be better than bottle aging but no one seems to know why.
 
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