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Stopping fermentation part way through

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Nick Z

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I gave some cider to friends of mine recently and they immediately rejected it for being too high in alcohol. It was probably around 7%. I know it fermented dry.

They said they are accustomed to want cider that is more around 4% ABV. The problem is that the weakest apple juice I have run across has an SG of around 1.050. That's too much alcohol for them.

Aside from literally watering down the juice the only thing I can think of is to shut down the fermentation before it is finished. Around maybe 1.010-1.020.

How would I accomplish this? I have heard Cotes de Blanc yeast is temperature sensitive. So could I stop fermentation by sticking it in the fridge and then hit it with sulfite and sorbate? Or could I just toss in sulfite and sorbate once it hits the SG I want?

Thanks
 

jseyfert3

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Fridge may work, but sulfate and sorbate won't stop an active fermentation on there own, so you can't just toss it in.

You can also ferment dry, then sulfate and sorbate and add juice to dilute and sweeten. This would probably be the easiest path. Both of these would be still ciders only, not sparkling.

Or my personal opinion: If my friends don't like it, they don't have to drink it. :D
 

Chalkyt

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Sorry if this gets a bit long winded, but what you want can be done, you just need to understand the process(es).

Assuming that you are dealing with non carbonated cider, if you start with a SG of 1.050 you can pasteurise to stop fermentation at 1.020 to get about 4% ABV. The formula is simply ABV=(OG-FG) x 131.25. So, (1.050-1.020) x 131.25=3.9% ABV. Alternatively, pasteurising at 1.010 will give you about 5% ABV and a medium sweet cider.

Or, as suggested in the post above, let the cider fully ferment, dilute with apple juice to taste or until you get 4% ABV (i.e a ratio of 10:7.5), then pasteurise the whole lot. Beware that if you don't pasteurise, the sugars in the plain juice will start fermenting because there will be residual yeast in the original cider and you will end up with something like 10 volumes of CO2 carbonation instead of the normal 2.5 volumes.... volcanoes!!!!

I am not sure if mixing your cider with chemically pasteurised juice would overcome this.

However, if successful the result from these approaches will be somewhat sweet because you should end up with sugars that are not converted to alcohol by the yeast. But, your friends may like it sweet as well as lower alcohol.

You can heat pasteurise or chemical pasteurise. To heat pasteurise, simply bottle and heat the bottles up to 65C-70C in a waterbath for 10-20 minutes to kill the yeast and let the bottles cool down (Pappers post at the top of the forum describes how to do this or for more information look at my post of 25 September on the same subject).

If you want low alcohol, carbonated cider, then bottle and let fermentation continue until some carbonation takes place before you pasteurise. It can be a bit tricky knowing when to do this as you need to allow a SG change of something like 0.005 to get 2.5 volumes of CO2 carbonation, so you need to have some idea of the rate of fermentation in order to estimate when the 0.005 change has taken place. Alternatively have some cider in a plastic soda bottle and when it is firm, you probably have enough carbonation (this is a bit imprecise but works O.K.).

I understand that an alternative to all of this is to rack at 1.020 then again at 1.015 and again and again with filtering. I have never done this because it seems too hard, but the idea is to denude the yeast population so that no further fermentation takes place. You can also suplement this process with chemical pasteurisation. Perhaps someone familiar with sorbate and sulphate for pasteurisation can contribute.
 
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doublejef

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I'm pretty sure that what your friends don't like is more the lack of sugar than high level alcool. Give them the same cider sweet and they will enjoy it without noticing the ABV.
 
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Nick Z

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I'm pretty sure that what your friends don't like is more the lack of sugar than high level alcool. Give them the same cider sweet and they will enjoy it without noticing the ABV.
I thought of that but that cider I gave them was back sweetened. After it fermented dry I stabilized it with sulfite and sorbate and used apple juice concentrate to sweeten it before bottling.

They specifically complained that it tasted and smelled too alcoholic. And yes, the cider was fermented cool and allowed to age for half a year before it was bottled. And then sat in the bottle for a couple of months.

Basically, they are used to stuff like Angry Orchard and other low ABV ciders.

It's ironic since I have been seeking out apples, like Golden Russet, that have a higher SG.

I did try to explain that they could have their cider dry and carbonated or sweet and still. I don't have the equipment for force carbonating and don't really want to get it. I bottle condition beer and cider.
 
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Nick Z

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I wanted to let you folks know that you were right: Sulfites didn't stop the fermentation. It didn't even slow it down. I tossed in some sorbate too but I know that wasn't wise. I've read that the yeast will eat the sorbate and turn in into an off flavor.

I measured the SG at 1.010 before I put in the chemicals.

Cotes de Blanc is less cold sensitive than I had hoped. I put it outside where the temperature was 49 degrees F. Didn't even slow down.

My cider may have fusels. When I fermented that batch it was winter when it was nice and cool (around 60 degrees where it was fermenting) and I let it age for a long time.
 
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