Sour Cider ?

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Honey Badger-231

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Good Evening, Long time lurker , Just decided to start homebrewing and making wines and ciders etc, I made an Indian summer cider recently, used a champagne yeast and no additional sugars added. SG was 1.042 Its been a few days , gravity is 1.009 and it is bitter as it gets, doesn't taste off, just bitter, I know the yeast converts sugar to alcohol and c02 so it would taste "dry" but damn . So should I back sweeten this? what should I use? I'd like it to be sweeter and I still want to carbonate it . Can anyone give me a quick summary of how to easily do this ? Any insight is appreciated, Thanks
 

Hans O. Lowe

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I would say to let it sit. I'm going 2 weeks in primary, then 2 weeks in secondary before I back sweeten and pasteurize. Then I will let it sit for another couple of weeks before I start trying it.
 

Chalkyt

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Yeah... the first batch of cider can be something that you don't expect.

At 1.009 it should still have a sugar concentration of around 23 grams per litre. This is about the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee so there should still be a touch of sweetness.

As suggested above, time does wonders and I would typically leave my cider in a primary fermenter for about two weeks then transfer to secondary until it has reached the SG that I want for bottling or even longer (a few months). Even if fully fermented, adding sugar to taste plus a bit more for carbonation will give you an idea of how it should end up.

For a slightly sweet cider, I will typically bottle at around 1.010 to 1.012 then heat pasteurise when carbonation is at about 2 volumes (a SG drop of 0.004) for a modest fizz and a FG of around 1.006 to 1.008. Using a soda bottle as the "carbonation monitor" and doing a periodic squeeze test is an easy way to assess carbonation (I use a Grolsch type bottle fitted with a pressure gauge and look for about 30psi). If you end up with a SG of 1.006 or so, it should have a touch of sweetness.

Unfortunately IME, some champagne yeasts such as EC1118 are quite robust and tend to "blow off" some of the flavour compounds if they ferment too quickly , just leaving malic acid which is quite tart ("low and slow is the way to go"i.e. temp and fermentation) . To get from 1.042 to 1.009 in a few days suggests that this might be part of your problem. Do you have a Total Acidity test kit or at least pH test strips? if your TA is well above 0.6 or pH is below 3.5 you might find that acid is dominating the taste.

If you add any sugar, it will be consumed by residual yeast until you disable the yeast by pasteurisation. If you don't want to monitor carbonation, letting the SG drop to about 1.005 would be a good time to bottle as the remaining sugar will then only generate around 2.5 volumes of CO2 (i.e. about the same as bottled beer etc). One volume of CO2 will be generated from a two gravity point drop (i.e. drop in SG of 0.002)

For sweetening, using a non fermentable sweetener avoids generating more CO2 although some of these do have a strange aftertaste and can cause gastric issues. I have used Xylitol without any issues and its quantity and taste is quite similar to sugar, but beware it can be toxic to dogs.

Hope this helps.
 

lumpher

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If the gravity is 1.009, it's still got a while to go with champagne yeast. It could go to .995 or even lower. A bitter taste is a symptom of another problem. It should get tart, not bitter. To stop fermentation, you can add potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulfite, let it sit for 2-3 days, then sweeten. If you don't add both sorbate and metaK, it won't work effectively. I like US05 for my ciders, as it stops before it gets too low, and then I backsweeten with a bottle of apple cider, stabilized by keeping it cold. Got a keg of that I'm drinking now.
 
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Honey Badger-231

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Yeah bitter and tart i was using interchangeably , it was tart . I ended up taking 2 containers of FCAJ and added it to my fermenter, mixed it well and then bottled . I let it sit in room temps for 3 days till the bottles were hard and then fridged it for a few days, My first impression was too sweet but after a few days it was perfect, decent head and good flavor..... my neighbors and I finished it off in less then three days. Thanks to all who replied :)
 

Chalkyt

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Yep, it all makes sense. The FAJC will have added more sugar (you were probably starting around a teaspoon of residual sugar per glass plus whatever the concentrate added). By the time it was carbonated to around 2.5 volumes of CO2 about 2 -3 teaspoons of sugar per litre will have been gobbled up by the yeast, so after the few days in the fridge, a bit more sugar will have been slowly converted to alcohol and CO2 and you hit the "sweet spot" (no, its not a pun, maybe I should say the goldilocks spot).

It's all good fun. Cheers!
 
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