Noob needs help, will I have flats or bombs.

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akpediatrician

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So, new to cider, used to do a lot of beer in grad school 20 years ago, but now drink cider and can't get what I like (hard, dry, nicely carbed) much here in AK. I still was doing wine every year, and mentioned to the the LHBS guy, and he was like "why not just do cheap easy cider." He promptly gave me a sample of his last batch that was so dry and carbed it could have been champagne, and I loved it, except not quite enough apple flavor.

So, having all my stuff still I went sort of with his recipe. Basically took Walmart GV frozen concentrate to make 4.5 gallons, then I figured I'd substitute another 1.5 gallons of Knudsens to get some crud in it, I didn't want to resort to a juicer just yet. Fortified the result with corn sugar for starting SG 1.065. Used wine yeast I had at hand, don't recall which red pack of Red Star, but either Montrachet or Pasteur Red, both of which should be good to at least 12%. Let it sit in the bucket at 70F for 3 weeks (he indicated 1-2 should do it) but after 3 I got to 1.011 and it was holding there for 3-4 days. I racked it to a carboy let it sit 2 more, then used Super Kleer at his suggestion (that stuff is amazing BTW, I am new to using it in wine and it is amazing.) Let it sit 3 more days. Still at 1.011 and the lock with no activity. I had reserved the bottom/sediment from the racking in a Knudsens jar in the fridge as well letting it settle nicely. So I start reading here (have lurked for a while) that cider off of clear juice should get to 1.000 or even below. But as I was holding strong at 1.011 today I bottled, I went with the calculator shooting for 2.5 volumes CO2, 5.5 gallons, 70F room, and it told me 5 oz corn sugar which is what I went with mixed as a boiled simple syrup. I racked from the carboy to my bucket and also added back in what I siphoned off of the original first racking bottle. I've put it all in my old Grolsch bottles (used mostly greens as I may get back into beer so reserved my browns) well cleaned, all new seals, though I did use 2 much thinner Fischer big bottles as well.

Thing is this, by the time I had gotten down to the bottom of the bottling bucket it was already picking up action more than I expected. And I popped one of the bottles to reseat the top as I didn't like the looks of it, perhaps after 15 minutes in the bottle and already had a pretty impressive pop, nothing like that with beer in the day. I've only had 1-2 bombs in my life, sure don't wan't 45 now. So I'm sitting here a bit worried about the 1.011 FG and am hoping these things aren't destined to blow. They are sitting in lidded plastic bins of course. Any opinions welcome, and what temp should I carbonate at, I'm in AK and anything from 50-90F is possible in the room.

TIA
John
 

divi2323

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1.011 is still pretty loaded with sugar. My advice is to let it ferment out until dry. Somewhere in the .996-.990 range.

I would give it a little stir back in the bucket and let it go a few more days or a week.
 
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akpediatrician

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Ahh, unfortunately it is bottled, and I don't really want to pour them back in... I could watch carefully and cold crash it and store it refrigerated, I got the space, but am hoping the FG of 1.011 just equals more carb and no bombs. I've probably had 4 volumes of CO2 in the Grolsch under new seals back in the day. Does anyone have a way to guestimate roughly how much carbonation I'd get from the residual sugar of the 1.011 FG?
 

divi2323

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akpediatrician said:
Ahh, unfortunately it is bottled, and I don't really want to pour them back in... I could watch carefully and cold crash it and store it refrigerated, I got the space, but am hoping the FG of 1.011 just equals more carb and no bombs. I've probably had 4 volumes of CO2 in the Grolsch under new seals back in the day. Does anyone have a way to guestimate roughly how much carbonation I'd get from the residual sugar of the 1.011 FG?
Rough calculation of remaining sugar.... Very VERY rough:

16 oz sugar yields 45 pts gravity in 1 gallon of a batch. 5 gallon batch would be about 9 pts. So at .996 cider is almost always really dry. You've got about 14-15 pts of gravity. Or about 20-24 oz of residual sugar remaining in a 5 gallon batch. Plug that into your calculator for carb levels and you'll quickly see you have time bombs waiting.

My advice would be to pop the bottles every few days and read their gravity periodically. Once you get down under .998 I'd say let them go.

Just plugged it in. It's somewhere near 8-10 volumes of gas.
 

dinnerstick

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it's a pia but you could pasteurize them in hot water, if and only if you have ascertained that they are not over-carbed, and then not have to worry about bombs.
but... i'm puzzled. having enough gas to pop after 15 min seems like a fluke to me, not really possible unless the yeast was highly active already. after fining this is highly unlikely. yet it happened. why....? i would say it was degassing but you probably already got most of the gas out of solution stirring in the fining agent? huge temperature change can get you a pop but there was no change. if it were me i would break the seal on a grolsch bottle to see if it is really crazy pressure, and if not stick a few in the fridge every day or two and then open them as normal (like newly-carbed beer they need a couple days in the cold to equilibrate), gauge the carb level then. i just don't think that if the cider was fermenting so slowly that gravity was at 1.011 for several days, and then it was fined, that it is suddenly going to be off to the races. however, i also don't think it's likely that they are done fermenting.
one other thing that puzzles me is your casual use of the word 'knudsens'. no idea on that one! and don't know how these knudsens pertain to a juicer, but i'll say, off topic, since you mention juicers, i'm in the minority here, but i love juicer ciders, can't beat them for a small batch when someone gives you a little bucket of back yard apples, really gets my knudsens up
good luck! wear goggles
 

Insomniac

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Definitely sounds like a recipe for bombs to me. Your either going to want to pop them open to release pressure constantly, get them in the fridge or back in a carboy.
 
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akpediatrician

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16 oz sugar yields 45 pts gravity in 1 gallon of a batch. 5 gallon batch would be about 9 pts. So at .996 cider is almost always really dry. You've got about 14-15 pts of gravity. Or about 20-24 oz of residual sugar remaining in a 5 gallon batch.

My advice would be to pop the bottles every few days and read their gravity periodically. Once you get down under .998 I'd say let them go.

Just plugged it in. It's somewhere near 8-10 volumes of gas.
Ahh, that is what I feared, and now am scared. Plus that FG of 1.011 was before the addition of another 5 oz of priming sugar. The LHBS guy had told me 1.010 was my goal or 3 days of constant unchanging gravity and I went with it. Then I had nosed around here and saw FG's of anywhere from 0.996 to 1.013 mentioned (though admittedly most people said go sub 1.000.) Popped one just now, about 16 hours on, and frankly whatever I perhaps imagined yesterday did not happen, so I poured the smallest sip, sweeter than death obviously, and little if any tasteable carbonation, popped the top back on. I guess I'm going to go with popping every couple days and measuring gravity and hope for the best. Any opinions at what temp to let it go at, I have the room at about 68F (20C) at the moment. And should I go to 0.998 if I want pretty strong carbonation at the end?

To the european posters, Knudsen's is a CA made widely available (in the US) "organic" apple juice, pasteurized, but with some solids in it compared to totally clear sugar water like the bulk of my mix from concentrate was.

Thanks all, we'll see how it goes.

John
 
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