NOOB Cider Question

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BrewTech117

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OK So I have like Five 5 Gallon Carboys with air locks and was thinking of making some Hard Cider.

I have been doing allot of research on this and have a few questions still. I know im gona use a Wine yest (thinking Lalvin 71B-1122 Narbonne)

1) What quality do the apples have to be in - My friends have an apple tree that drop's little green apples all the time (Mind you im in NEVADA High desert) would this be usable or should i just go buy a few bags of apples (Green or red? does it matter)

2) Once i mash them all up and place the juice in the Carboys do i just pitch my yeast packet in and pop the air lock on? Than sit and wait. Do temperatures matter as much on a hard cider like they do for Ales etc? Also what is recommended Fermentation period im hearing anything from 2 weeks to a year now... and getting slightly confused. I know i want an OG as low as 1.10 (FG?)

3) "Racking" I keep hearing this term and i THINK i know what it means but can someone clarify what exactly it means to " Rack to a secondary " and why / do i need to do this? I had planned on using all my Carboys and wont have any " Secondary's "

Am I on the right track here or am I making this more complicated than it need be?

Thanks for the help everyone hope to start this project tonight.
 

worlddivides

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I'll let someone else answer most of those, but for the gravity, you will most likely get a final gravity that is below 1.000. Apple juice, unlike beer wort, is almost completely simple sugars and very few complex sugars, so it's not unusual to get a final gravity of 0.980 or even lower.

Racking is just transferring the liquid from one fermenter to another. This is done more with ciders than with beers because leaving the cider on the trub/lees can impart very yeasty flavors and getting it into another fermenter can help clear it up and clean up the flavor. Some people actually transfer it multiple times even after the secondary to keep getting it off the trub/lees and to continue clearing it up. At the very least racking to a secondary is highly recommended.

You'll probably want to kill the natural yeast growing on the skin of your apples before you pitch your yeast or those wild yeast will start fermenting your cider. Buuuut I'll let others answer those questions.
 
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BrewTech117

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OK I understand about the racking now - Makes since so basically i don't want my cider to sit on the Trub on the bottom for too long - So rack into another container so that 1/8 th inch is left or so - just take the good part of the cider out of the carboy and into a new carboy right?

When should this be done - I am thinking of fermenting some carboys for a week (to produce a sweet taste) and others for about 10 days before placing them into the bottle. Do i need to let them sit out and carbonate in the bottle like you would a beer for a while or can they go straight in to Cold Crash after a week Fermentation ?
 

Randzor

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I treat mine like a beer. To your apple question, I don't use real fruit, but if your going to you will want a mix of sweet and sour apples to get a decent end juice. Don't use red delicious. Racking is exactly like you described it, for the aging process for longer than a month. Personalty I ferment for a month then bottle Carb and let age in the bottle.
 

worlddivides

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OK I understand about the racking now - Makes since so basically i don't want my cider to sit on the Trub on the bottom for too long - So rack into another container so that 1/8 th inch is left or so - just take the good part of the cider out of the carboy and into a new carboy right?

When should this be done - I am thinking of fermenting some carboys for a week (to produce a sweet taste) and others for about 10 days before placing them into the bottle. Do i need to let them sit out and carbonate in the bottle like you would a beer for a while or can they go straight in to Cold Crash after a week Fermentation ?
I imagine you'll get different answers from different people, but I wait until there's about 1 bubble per minute (or less) before I rack to secondary. In other words, the fermentation has really slowed down.

Right now I have a cider in secondary and there are still bubbles in the airlock, but only about one ever ten minutes or so.

When you decide to rack to the secondary is up to you, but I think most people would sum it up as "wait until the fermentation is pretty much done." The one in my secondary right now had a specific gravity of 1.000 right before I transferred it and I imagine it's probably around 0.985 or so right now (or lower).
 

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Get a hydrometer so you can measure the gravity all the time. Add some potassium metabisulfite at the beginning to knock down the bad bugs. You can rack when the gravity falls down to about 1.01 or lower. You can let it clear and then rack if off of the lees again to age or bottle. You may want to use some pectinase to clear the pectins if you want a clear cider. What do the little green apples taste like, do they have any tannins in them that dry your mouth out a bit like tea, do they also have a lot of acid to pucker you up like a lemon, can you taste any sweetness in them at all? Do they taste good? WVMJ
 
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BrewTech117

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Well at this point i think the apples i was gona use are out of the question. I think i will just go buy store bought (Cider or apple juice?) and use it for my first few batches until i get the hang of this.

Last night I placed an order with NB for the WLP775 Yeast and some Campden tabs (Still dont know how many to use yet i assume the directions on the back will tell me ? ) I also bought a new airlock because mine have been sitting in a shed for a year and dont want to chance it. (just the " S " Style)

I do have a hydrometer and will find a way to post a picture of the stuff im using if yall are interested.

Thanks for the help - Im in the middle of a move for the next 45 days so dont want to do beer or anything that needs a specific temp / constant monitoring is why im going with the cider. Once i get into my new home the root cellar will be converted to a brew room.
 

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Campden tablets contain K-meta and that is what wine/cider/mead makers tend to use to sanitize carboys and equipment and to add enough free SO2 into the must (the unyeasted liquor) to either kill unwanted bacteria or wild yeast. K-meta also inhibits oxidation, so if you are planning on racking I would rack onto K-meta in the sanitized carboy. Typically, for oxidation and inhibition of contaminants you add 1 tab /gallon. I believe that K-meta does not dissolve well in alcohol so you would want to dissolve each tablet in a little water and add that mixture to yoor carboy.
Be careful when you buy apple juice or cider (better is unfiltered) that it does not contain any chemical preservatives. Often those include sorbates and sorbates will prevent your yeast from reproducing. The more flavorful the juice the more flavorful will be your cider.
My guess is that most non alcoholic ciders or apple juice have enough sugar to produce a hard cider of about 4.5 - 5 % ABV.
Cider ain't beer and like WVMJ suggests the best way to know when to rack the first time is not to count CO2 bubbles in your airlock but to measure the gravity of your cider. If I were you I would rack from the primary when the cider gets close to a gravity of about 1.005. It will continue to drop and may fall to .996 or lower. Cider ain't beer and when yeast chomps down on the sugars in the apple despite what White Labs may say about their yeast all yeast will attenuate 100 per cent. That means - as I am sure you know - that there will be no sweetness left in your cider. You may then want to back sweeten the cider. You will need to stabilize the cider first.
Last point: apples contain malic acid. IMO malic is a sharp acid but if you allow the cider to age - (you can probably drink this after a month - six weeks) - but if you allow it to age 9 months or a year - the malic tends to convert to lactic acid and lactic acid tends to be smoother and less harsh. After a year of aging, cider moves into a different league. HOWEVER, if you do intend to age the cider then you don't want to stabilize it by adding K-sorbate (with additional K-meta) because the K-sorbate will either prevent this malo lactic fermentation (it is microbial and not, like yeast, fungal) AND it reacts with any lactic bacteria in the cider to produce off flavors (geranium-like))
In my opinion, cider is probably one of the easiest fermented brews to make- not least because you can buy the juice in small batches in containers that you can - at a pinch - already use to ferment the juice and the fermented juice is quite drinkable in a very short period without any need for any expensive equipment.
 
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BrewTech117

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Ok guys and gals

I have yet Another newbie question - So Lets say the Cider is done and bottle (Gona use Glass 12 oz with caps for now) and i want to store some for next year - This stuff is gona continue to ferment - is there something i can add to it prior to bottling to KEEP it from fermenting or turning to vinegar? Was honestly thinking about getting some casks and keeping some around id like to brew this in mass quantity however do not want to tap a bottle 2 years later and have it come out like vinegar.
 

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If the cider is "done" that means that there is no more sugar for the yeast to ferment, so it cannot continue fermenting in the bottle. And if you ensure that you have sanitized everything then there is no fear of the cider being contaminated by the bacteria that will transform the cider to vinegar. What you also want to do before bottling is rack your cider onto some K-meta. The SO2 will help prevent the cider from oxidizing and will also inhibit bacterial contamination. So... the secret is to allow the cider to age until it has in fact "done fermenting".
 

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OK Newbie, if its "done" why would it continue to ferment? Good cider needs every bit of care that you would give a good beer, so letting it set out hot might stress the yeast and give you a bad result that you might think is because its a cider and not because you didnt take care of it because you were moving. First thing I would do in the move is to make the brew room and then move everything else into the house, you need to get your priorities in order :):) WVMJ

Ok guys and gals

I have yet Another newbie question - So Lets say the Cider is done and bottle (Gona use Glass 12 oz with caps for now) and i want to store some for next year - This stuff is gona continue to ferment - is there something i can add to it prior to bottling to KEEP it from fermenting or turning to vinegar? Was honestly thinking about getting some casks and keeping some around id like to brew this in mass quantity however do not want to tap a bottle 2 years later and have it come out like vinegar.
 
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BrewTech117

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lol My Priority is brewing :p I have both homes for the next 2 months - I heard that the cider can continue to ferment and become more Dry rather than sweet if you just bottle and place it on a shelf for over a year. and that it can turn to a Apple wine so maybe i was mis informed or need to do some more research here.

Thanks for the info though - The brew room will take probably a few months to complete (beings that its almost winter here in the high desert of Nevada)
 

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OK So I have like Five 5 Gallon Carboys with air locks and was thinking of making some Hard Cider.

I have been doing allot of research on this and have a few questions still. I know im gona use a Wine yest (thinking Lalvin 71B-1122 Narbonne)

1) What quality do the apples have to be in - My friends have an apple tree that drop's little green apples all the time (Mind you im in NEVADA High desert) would this be usable or should i just go buy a few bags of apples (Green or red? does it matter)

2) Once i mash them all up and place the juice in the Carboys do i just pitch my yeast packet in and pop the air lock on? Than sit and wait. Do temperatures matter as much on a hard cider like they do for Ales etc? Also what is recommended Fermentation period im hearing anything from 2 weeks to a year now... and getting slightly confused. I know i want an OG as low as 1.10 (FG?)

3) "Racking" I keep hearing this term and i THINK i know what it means but can someone clarify what exactly it means to " Rack to a secondary " and why / do i need to do this? I had planned on using all my Carboys and wont have any " Secondary's "

Am I on the right track here or am I making this more complicated than it need be?

Thanks for the help everyone hope to start this project tonight.
Just buy apple juice from the store; just as good and less hassle. You can dry pitch the yeast, I do it all the time. Your yeast will have temperature range specifications - follow them. If you use DAP, you will finish fermentation in around 7 days as opposed to 6 weeks. Terminal gravity is dependent upon your yeast - I use Kitzinger's champagne yeast and I normally finish around 0.996. Cider is never going to finish as high as 1.010 - you'd need to cold crash it to keep it at that level of sweetness. There's no need to do secondary with cider.
 
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BrewTech117

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Just wondering if im on track here - So I started this Hard Cider On Thursday the 26th of August (Date i pitched) And took a S.G. Reading last night I started at 1.045 and am now down to 1.030 so if i take my formula : 1.045-1.030 X 131 = 2 % ABV .... so its been about 4 - 5 days and im at 2 percent ABV target was 6 percent ....

Im assuming if i make 2 % in 4 days that i should estimate that in another 8 days ill be at max ABV and be at my target .999 ? Should I rack it to a secondary then?
 

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It's not unusual for your cider to take as much as 3-4 weeks to fully ferment. Don't worry it's doing fine


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BrewTech117

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IDK why but I was just trying to plan out When to bottle - I want to make this one More Dry and higher ABV than the next one im going to start I want to make a Sweeter and less ABV maybe 4% ? Trying to get them perfected to make 6 Packs for me and the wife,
She likes the sweet cider taste - i like the dry taste with higher ABV. Hope to get 6 Carboys of each going soon.
 

podz

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IDK why but I was just trying to plan out When to bottle - I want to make this one More Dry and higher ABV than the next one im going to start I want to make a Sweeter and less ABV maybe 4% ? Trying to get them perfected to make 6 Packs for me and the wife,
She likes the sweet cider taste - i like the dry taste with higher ABV. Hope to get 6 Carboys of each going soon.
Plain old apple juice will ferment down to between 6-7% ABV. There is not much you can do to lessen that other than add water. If you want stronger, then you just need to add sugar.

What size are your carboys? If you are planning 6 x 5 gallon carboys, then you need to get a handle on your process before you waste your money.
 

phug

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For your dry and strong cider, let it ferment dry and like said above you should get somewhere near 6%. For the sweeter lower kick stuff, maybe you could try fermenting some dry, and then blending it with apple juice to get the desired abv. You'll have to decide if you need it carbed or still, and if still you would need to stabilize it. If carbed, you'll have to decide on your carbonating process as well as how you want to stabilize it.


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Pay the extra couple of bucks to get White Labs English Cider Yeast. My first batch was done with Lavlin Champagne yeast on advice of my LHBS guy. It came out tasting like acidy water. I forget how many cans of concentrate I added to even get something drinkable after six months. The significant other hated it. Since switching, I can gget a much better product straight out of the fermenter. Three to four months of aging and it's great.
 
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BrewTech117

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Right now Pods im using just 1 5 gallon carboy - Hope to move to either bigger carboys or more carboys once i get the formula down. Just seems to me its fermenting a bit slow (Temps are in range for the yeast im using) and it was a apple juice from a bottle (1 gallon jug X 5 )

Idk why i was expecting it to ferment faster - A few of the youtube videos are claiming it will be ready to drink within 2 weeks (I know better than that) but seemed fermentation has slowed down and was contemplating adding some brown sugar to it.
 

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Fermentation is not linear, if in two days you have X, then in four days you will have X times two. Nope, not even close. I'm not saying it can't happen, I am just saying don't set your watch by it. If you add brown sugar, your cider will be even dryer and taste of molasses, some people don't like that flavor. Unless you stabilize your yeast, adding more sugar will work the opposite of what you are looking for.
 

podz

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Idk why i was expecting it to ferment faster - A few of the youtube videos are claiming it will be ready to drink within 2 weeks (I know better than that) but seemed fermentation has slowed down and was contemplating adding some brown sugar to it.
Drinkable cider within 2 weeks is certainly doable; I do it all the time, but then again I don't carb. However, you must use yeast nutrient/energizer (DAP works well). Without it, you can wait for up to 6 weeks for fermentation to finish. The reason is that apple juice lacks the nutrients that yeast need to thrive.

But yeah, get your process and recipe down to where you're happy with it then move on to larger scale production.
 
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BrewTech117

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I understand my formula above is way inconsistent - I was only using that to estimate out the 6 weeks due to the fact that im moving and want to have this one done before the end of the month. I would have to assume with out feeding the yeast extra nutrients that it would slow down towards the end of the 6ish weeks?

Im checking my S.G. Tonight and will see where im at - I knew i should not have started this when I did due to the move, but was determined to brew something lol.

Ill keep yall posted. And yes this one im hoping to make dry the next batch ill back sweeten so i have 2 kinds of cider. A his and hers so to speak. Thanks for the info everyone Its my first time doing cider and hope to perfect this to keep a year round drink as my new house has a TON of apple trees (rare in the high desert of Nevada - at least where im at anyways) So I figure this will put those trees to use.
 
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UPDATE:

09/10/14 18:00

Well I started with a 1.045 OG - SG = 1.004 X 131 = 5.3% Abv

I sampled what was in the hydrometer tube .... something doesn't seem right to me - I get the hint of cider and alcohol but my buddy who was with me says he "tastes the yeast" I did pull off the top with a turkey baster so i'm assuming that could be why.

I'm thinking of carbonating this and want to know what you guys would recommend, I assume its not like a beer where i just prime the bottles and let it sit for a few days / weeks? It does have a nice dry taste to it (and that's what I wanted) so I will not be back sweetening.

I do not have a keg set up (As of yet) but do have plenty of 12 oz glass bottles.

I think i'm going to wait a few more days and see if i can get it below 1.000 but at a 5 % if i'm doing my math right ill be happy.

How do you guys recommend removing the Cider from the Carboy just a hose or is it like beer where I can use my Mr beer bottling set up (just a stick siphon)
 
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BrewTech117

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PS I did NOT rack to a 2ndary at all during this process. I thought about it and was going to but packed my other carboys for the move. So Next time I will be racking to secondary (maybe it will help with the "Yeast Taste" he says he got?)
 

podz

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I sampled what was in the hydrometer tube .... something doesn't seem right to me - I get the hint of cider and alcohol but my buddy who was with me says he "tastes the yeast"
Either there is some yeast still in suspension and he really does taste it, or it can be attributed to confirmation bias. Since you put "tastes the yeast" in quotes, you lead me to believe that you believe it was confirmation bias.
 
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It did have a off flavor to it - I personally don't know what the yeast would taste like. I think ill just wait a bit longer.
 
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When dealing with a Cider rather than a beer how much priming sugar should i use would it be the same for a 12 oz beer as a cider?
 
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So here is my Plan after many PM's Researching, and calculations.

I am going to wait until Saturday and check the SG. (Hope its 1.000 or lower)
than ill take .48 cup of white table sugar and blend in with 1/4 cup of water until it dissolves ill place this in a bottle bucket and siphon with some 3/8 line from the carboy to the bucket allowing it to "Swirl" the sugar water and mix up. once the carboy is empty ill transfer to bottles and allow them to sit for 1 week and transfer a few to the fridge to test (if its not around 2.2 ill wait longer)

Does this sound right? (PS remember i did not rack to a 2nd carboy so it probably wont be very clear) Next time i will sooner.
 

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Prime as you would for beer. Condition similarly. I prime with 55 mold apple juice concentrate per gallon because it's super easy.


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Phug I read your comment after I had done the priming, It was Sunday that I primed, and I forgot a step hopefully it comes out ok.

I transferred the Carboy to the Bottle bucket I had and put .48ths of a cup of white table sugar in the bottom of the bucket as it transferred it swirled around in the sugar. (I was told to boil the .48 cup and 1/4 cup of water than add that ..... don't know how i forgot to do this but I did) than i bottled the Cider i only got about 4 gallons out of the carboy but was told that's normal.... ? anyways Its been sitting in a dry dark place (in the kitchen cabinets at our new house) for almost a week now. Hope to pop a top today and check to see if its carbonating or not.
 

phug

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Sounds good, don't be upset I your carb levels aren't where you want them yet.


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How long would you wait - Northern Brewer told me to check them in a week and that it should be done with the amount of sugar i put in ill be around a 2.2 (how do i measure this do they make a tool? I just dont understand carb lvls yet and need to do some research to find what lvl im at etc.)
 
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Well Its been 2 Weeks (ish) I put these in the fridge the other night and tried it last night. I must have done something wrong, It taste like fermented apple juice with very little carbonation. I know I messed up the priming steps like I stated before but still the taste is just bland and not all there (taste like an apple wine more than anything) I am told this is kinda normal but somehow I still seem disappointed. I think next time i need to add higher carbonation level and maybe some cinnamon flavor to it ?

Have you guys tried a Woodchuck Hard Cider, What are they doing to make it more like a beer than a wine?
 
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