Spiced Cider Gone Wrong

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New Member
Jan 3, 2022
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I'm new to the forum and this may be too much of a post for the first time out. My thanks in advance for patience for the new guy...

So I tried to make hard cider and my equipment is simple. My fermenter is a 1-gallon glass jug from a Brooklyn Brew Shop kit. I bought an additional glass jug and airlock from Amazon so I could have 2 going at once. I bought a sampler of Red Star Yeast packets. After watching a Northern Brewer video where they compared several yeasts for cider, I used the Cote des Blancs. You gotta start somewhere, right?

Into one fermenter went 2 bottles (minus some room for blowoff) of Mott's and half the packet of CdB. Into the other went a spiced holiday cider that my wife has been making for years un-fermented that consists of a boiled mixture of apple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice(all strained) , along with the other half of the CdB.

What I was going for was a dry, very cinnamon-y flavor like the amazing Starcut Magpie that we had sampled at Epcot Food and Wine.

Anyway, the next morning, the plain one was bubbling away, happy as a clam, but the spiced one was motionless. A quick bit of googling told me that cinnamon was a yeast inhibitor but you could overcome this with more yeast, so I dumped in the Premiere Rouge out of the aforementioned sampler. By lunch, it was practically effervescing in the fermenter. A few days later all motion had ceased and at the 2 week mark, we primed with honey and bottled them. At this point the plain one tasted like a dry wine made from apples, but the spiced one had an almost plastic-like taste and smell.

2 weeks later we put it in the fridge and when I popped the top, the plain one was like a very dry sparkling apple wine. Nothing to write home about, but hey, it was the first attempt.

The spiced one had a taste and smell that can best be described as somewhere between a floor cleaner and paint thinner. It is almost indescribably terrible.

While the mixture was boiled for 30 min or so, did something grow off of the cinnamon sticks and should they have been soaked in vodka?

Will two different varieties of yeast produce off-flavors when they interact?

Should I have used table sugar for priming? The honey is great in beer priming, but does it do weird stuff with the cinnamon and other tree spices?

Any advice or related experience would be greatly appreciated. It would be incredibly conceited to think that with a few bottles of Mott's and a packet of yeast I could replicate what others have been doing commercially or as a hobby for years, but this stuff is bad. I mean bad.



Brewing for sport
Apr 10, 2016
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South Eastern Michigan
What I don't see in the list is yeast nutrient. Apple juice usually needs this for a clean ferment. You may have off flavors from a stressed ferment, particularly since the cinnamon was trying to inhibit. Maybe next time just ferment the fermentables (juice and brown sugar) with nutrient (not just DAP, a good nutient) and when it is done, boil a small amount of water with the spices then add to taste.