Slow cider fermentation making me anxious

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beernutz

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I've have made cider before but it has probably been about ten years since my next to last batch.

I started my last 5 gallon batch on 3/14/2014 with the following recipe. I boiled in 1.5 gallons of water:
2 lbs Brown Sugar, Dark (50.0 SRM) Sugar 1 29.6 %
1 lbs Molasses (80.0 SRM) Sugar 2 14.8 %
with cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves

I added about 3.5 gallons of Walmart apple juice and ran everything though my CFC into a 5 gallon carboy and pitched a re-hydrated package of SafLager West European Lager (DCL/Fermentis #S-23) and put in my fermentation freezer at 57 degrees.

It was very slow to start as nothing visible changed and no bubbles came through the airlock for almost 72 hours. However, since the time when it visibly started fermenting 21 days have passed and 24 days since I pitched and the bubbles are still coming out of the airlock at 11 to 12 second intervals.

I like my cider somewhat on the drier as opposed to sweeter side so I don't mind letting it ferment to completion but this is the longest I've ever had one go by over a week. This is the first time I've ever used dry S-23 lager yeast as I've always used some type of dry or liquid ale yeast in the past.

I'm just curious if what I"m seeing is normal or expected. I did a search but could not find many details on how this yeast works with cider except some recommendations that it produced nice results.
 

phug

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I have one cider that's going right now, taking it's sweet time.
4 litres low-acid juice ( I may have to throw in some malic acid later, time will tell )
pitched a partial packet of cooper's ale yeast (first time, but I tried it because I paid all of $.85 for it)
I pitched it on 02/23/2014, it's now 04/07/2014 it's been fermenting at about 60 degrees. I tried warming it up to about 66-70 after it got down below 10.014
Last I checked, it's still bubbling and only down to about 1.007.

Remind me to try to find the spec sheet for the yeast next time.
 
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beernutz

beernutz

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I have one cider that's going right now, taking it's sweet time.
4 litres low-acid juice ( I may have to throw in some malic acid later, time will tell )
pitched a partial packet of cooper's ale yeast (first time, but I tried it because I paid all of $.85 for it)
I pitched it on 02/23/2014, it's now 04/07/2014 it's been fermenting at about 60 degrees. I tried warming it up to about 66-70 after it got down below 10.014
Last I checked, it's still bubbling and only down to about 1.007.

Remind me to try to find the spec sheet for the yeast next time.
Wow, 43 days if my math is correct is one *really* long fermentation. I hope mine speeds up and I may try taking it out of the freezer to speed things up. When I checked tonight it was still bubbling every 12 seconds.
 

MoonDawg

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Beernutz, I guess that's the dilemma you run into when trialing a new strain. I always use the same species of saccharomyces(except for a proprietary strain i harvest from apple trees on my property when they are in season.) As a microbrewer who does Hard Cider only, my only advice is this; If you enjoy dry cider as i do, let the fermentation continue for as long as it will.(Perhaps take a G reading at some point and bottle at maybe 1.025.) Some fellow brewers would scoff at this. However, i bottle at this gravity and have never encountered "Bottle Bombs".

Primary: Hard cider.
Secondary: Hard cider.
Drinking: Warm apple pie and Hard cider.
 

phug

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Wow, 43 days if my math is correct is one *really* long fermentation. I hope mine speeds up and I may try taking it out of the freezer to speed things up. When I checked tonight it was still bubbling every 12 seconds.
Yeah, put that in comparison with some of the batches that I started after that using ec 1118. that 43 and counting fermentation was batch number 7 or 8, and the bartlett/macintosh perry that was batch number 11 with 1118 at the same temperature was done in about 2 weeks. Like I said that was my first batch with cooper's yeast from the wine supply store. If it tastes good, it may be that it's worth the wait, but I have a long way to go with this one, as I suspect carbonation will take a while even warmed up to 75F. But if it's good, who can pass up 85 cent ale yeast. I have a feeling my freezer will end up with a few emergency packets of it along with ec1118 that I can get for the same price.
 
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beernutz

beernutz

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Beernutz, I guess that's the dilemma you run into when trialing a new strain. I always use the same species of saccharomyces(except for a proprietary strain i harvest from apple trees on my property when they are in season.) As a microbrewer who does Hard Cider only, my only advice is this; If you enjoy dry cider as i do, let the fermentation continue for as long as it will.(Perhaps take a G reading at some point and bottle at maybe 1.025.) Some fellow brewers would scoff at this. However, i bottle at this gravity and have never encountered "Bottle Bombs".

Primary: Hard cider.
Secondary: Hard cider.
Drinking: Warm apple pie and Hard cider.
Thanks MoodDawg. I will just try to be patient and let nature take its course.
 

phug

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that 43 day ferment of mine looks like it might actually be done, no bubbles, perfectly clear, clocking in at 1.004. going to have to check again in a few days to confirm.
 
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beernutz

beernutz

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Good deal phug. I checked my airlock bubbles after resisting counting them for a couple of days and they are now actually coming more frequently than before which I can't explain. But I'm relaxed and I'm not worrying so it's all good.
 

phug

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that 43 day ferment of mine looks like it might actually be done, no bubbles, perfectly clear, clocking in at 1.004. going to have to check again in a few days to confirm.
nope, not done, I have a bigger ring of bubbles around the edge of the surface tan I did a few days ago, and I can see bubbles rising up to the surface. I'll check gravity again in 3-4 days, just in case it's goign to slow for me to notice d change over 2-3 days.
 
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beernutz

beernutz

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After the airlock bubbling finally subsided a couple of days ago I kegged and chilled the cider for a day then filtered it into another keg and force carbonated it last night.

First impressions can be misleading but the initial taste right out of the keg was that it was a bit on the dry side with mild apple flavor though the holiday spices I added (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, molasses) were not very obvious. Perhaps if I tasted this side by side with some un-spiced cider they would stand out more. It is definitely drinkable right now and hopefully will smooth out more with time as it had a slight bite to it probably due to the forced carbonation.

At right at 8% ABV it is the strongest drink I've brewed in the last year and it definitely kicks ass. I had only two last night and they knocked me sideways. The moral of the story if there is one is to try and be patient.
 
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beernutz

beernutz

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After the airlock bubbling finally subsided a couple of days ago I kegged and chilled the cider for a day then filtered it into another keg and force carbonated it last night.

First impressions can be misleading but the initial taste right out of the keg was that it was a bit on the dry side with mild apple flavor though the holiday spices I added (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, molasses) were not very obvious. Perhaps if I tasted this side by side with some un-spiced cider they would stand out more. It is definitely drinkable right now and hopefully will smooth out more with time as it had a slight bite to it probably due to the forced carbonation.

At right at 8% ABV it is the strongest drink I've brewed in the last year and it definitely kicks ass. I had only two last night and they knocked me sideways. The moral of the story if there is one is to try and be patient.
Here's an update on my update. I wasn't completely ecstatic about the final taste profile of this cider so I decided to run it through my recently-purchased 1 micron (um) whole house water filter and if I had to describe the change from pre- to post-filtered in one word, it would be "wow!"

Oddly the cider is still not completely clear but the taste profile is so much better that it is hard to put into words. I know I have paid many times for commercial cider products that this kicks right to the curb. It is completely amazing how filtering smoothed all the taste sensations and yet resulted in an vastly improved product.

I am somewhat new to filtering but the few times I've done it, it has always resulted in an improved product but this change is drastically better than those previous times by a wide margin.
 

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When cider doesnt finish in approx 7 days, then what I have found is that it means that the yeast is seriously lacking nutrients. I use two key items to feed my yeast a high level of nutrients - raisins and DAP. Lacking proper nutrients, it can go on for a month or more until it stops fermenting. Nobody wants to wait for a month for their cider fermentation to finish.

Here's my recipe (fermenting in a room at 22c):

18 litres AJ
750 grams sugar
5g pack Kitzinger Champagner dry yeast
handful of raisins
30g DAP


Put your funnel on top of a 20 litre demijohn, pour in 5 litres of juice. Pour half of the sugar into the funnel and wash it down with a litre of juice. Repeat for the second half of the sugar. Put the DAP into the funnel and wash it down SLOWLY with another litre of juice (the DAP can fizz all over the place if you're not slow). Pour in a few more litres of juice, empty the dried yeast into the funnel and then pour in the rest of the juice. Remove the funnel and put the raisins in. Airlock immediately.

This will finish in 7 days. At this point, I split the batch into a couple of 5 litre jugs and a 2 litre jug (airlock them all), and the rest into 8 x 750ml PET bottles that go straight into my fridge for cold crashing. They are crystal clear after 24 hours in the fridge and can be drank straight away. By the time those are drank, the cider in the jugs has also dropped clear.
 
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