Sweet Cider

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Bender

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I decided to make a batch of BrewFrink's Sweet Cider Recipe. Here are a couple of hints.

First, I used the recipe as posted.

  • 8 cans of Wal-Mart Apple Juice Concentrate
  • 2 Gallons Tree Top Apple Juice
  • 2 lbs Regular White Table Sugar
  • Sweet Mead Yeast – WLP720
  • Topped up to 5.5 gallons with bottled spring water

Heated one gallon of juice up to 150 and added four cans of concentrate and the sugar to dissolve. I had previously left out the other four cans of concentrate to soften and to use to cool down the heated mix. Combined all ingredients in my primary bucket and it was right at 90 degrees, so I pitched that mead yeast.​

----------------

I was making a batch of apfelwein at the same time so I was a little careless reading the instructions and nearly burned the sugar to the bottom of the pot. Fortunately it hadn't caramelized yet so I turned off the heat and let the sugar dissolve while I stirred. I then heated the syrup solution to 120, but the table sugar had dissolved and I don't want it to convert so I turned off the heat and tossed in the remaining concentrate. Added to the remaining juice and most of the water this brought the temp down to 80 degrees.

Before I pitched the yeast I noticed the syrup hadn't really mixed with the water. Many years ago I tried to make some mead (there was a waste of 12 lbs of honey) and it separated the same way and never fermented properly.

I shook the carboy thoroughly and got the heavy and light fluids to mix, pitched the yeast and topped off to 5.5 gal. I haven't used liquid yeast in years so it was pretty cool watching is spread through the solution.
 

fatbloke

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Hum? well coming from one of the locations where cider (a.k.a. hard cider in some parts of the US - apparently) is traditional, we have 2 slightly different versions.

"Kentish Cider" tends to be made from a mix of sweet and sharp apples - which tends to result in a more "wine like" cider.

Whereas, "West Country Cider" is usually made from bitter sweets and bitter sharps a.k.a. cider apples.

They tend to be smaller, more acid and with more tannin.

Hence when I make a batch, I usually add a little acid mix (2 malic to 1 tartaric) so the pH is down about the 3.0(ish) level and some tannin @ 1 tsp per gallon.

I then ferment it dry, and back sweeten if I want medium or sweet cider.

Dunno if that's any help

regards

fatbloke

p.s. Oh and across the "Channel", Normandy cider is done a little differently again (often a little weaker at between 4 and 6% ABV, whereas UK cider is usually between 5 and 7% - sometimes 8%+)
 
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Bender

Bender

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Hum? well coming from one of the locations where cider (a.k.a. hard cider in some parts of the US - apparently) is traditional, we have 2 slightly different versions.

"Kentish Cider" tends to be made from a mix of sweet and sharp apples - which tends to result in a more "wine like" cider.

Whereas, "West Country Cider" is usually made from bitter sweets and bitter sharps a.k.a. cider apples.

They tend to be smaller, more acid and with more tannin.

Hence when I make a batch, I usually add a little acid mix (2 malic to 1 tartaric) so the pH is down about the 3.0(ish) level and some tannin @ 1 tsp per gallon.

I then ferment it dry, and back sweeten if I want medium or sweet cider.

Dunno if that's any help

p.s. Oh and across the "Channel", Normandy cider is done a little differently again (often a little weaker at between 4 and 6% ABV, whereas UK cider is usually between 5 and 7% - sometimes 8%+)
Hard cider in the US isn't what it is on your side of the pond, and you have what I am craving. Back about 10 years ago I had to travel a lot and did a several week stint in England. I got hooked on cider there and have been trying to replicate it since. The brands I remember are Blackthorne and Strongbow. I like both, my wife prefers a sweeter cider.

The acid idea may add what's missing in my dry ciders (where were you this morning?). How do you back sweeten? Solve these problems and I promise to use grey instead of gray and use an extra u wherever possible.
 

fatbloke

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Hard cider in the US isn't what it is on your side of the pond, and you have what I am craving. Back about 10 years ago I had to travel a lot and did a several week stint in England. I got hooked on cider there and have been trying to replicate it since. The brands I remember are Blackthorne and Strongbow. I like both, my wife prefers a sweeter cider.

The acid idea may add what's missing in my dry ciders (where were you this morning?). How do you back sweeten? Solve these problems and I promise to use grey instead of gray and use an extra u wherever possible.
Ha ha! "we" just happen to be nearer to the source of the orignal language :D

As for Blackthorne and Strongbow, in truth, they're pretty low on the league of desirability to a "true cider fan" (I'll call it cider if it's fermented and apple juice if not - irrespective whether it's cloudy or not). I'm a little spoiled for choice as I live about 15 miles along the road from this hallowed site and let me tell you, after tasting some of their offerings, you'd know the difference between "factory rubbish" (Magners comes to mind for some reason) and "real" cider :drunk::rockin::D

I'd guess that it depends whether you're actually juicing the apples yourself of whether you're buying the juice in.

I haven't much of an idea which varieties of apples you can get easily/cheaply, but if you went for apples/juice that's aimed at drinking, then it's probably mostly sweet/eating apples (and it shouldn't matter if, as juice, it's got some vit C/ascorbic acid in it).

Then you'd want some sharp/cooking apples or the juice of them.

The blend would be up to you percentage-wise.

Then test the pH, I like to knock it down to about the 3.0 mark or so - but again, it's up to you - here's a good link that might give you enough of an idea as to what you want to try, though I'd suggest experiments of 1 gallon at a time - until you're getting close to what you like.

Then, if it were me, I'd be adding some tannin. I usually use grape tannin as it's easily available at the local HBS - the last batch I made was 1tsp per gallon (you might want to start/try a little less - I'm on about imperial gallons, not US).

Yeast ? well as most ciders here are between 6 and 8% ABV, you shouldn't need anything that makes rocket fuel. I understand that there's a table of yeasts around somewhere (sorry I haven't got a link for it) that says which might be suitable - I just use the one that's sold as "cider yeast".

I also tend to take a jug of the juice/must before pitching the yeast and that's what I add any of the additives too and then give it a damn good whizz in the liquidiser (notice the anglo-saxon use of the letter S instead of the Americanised use of Z) which adds a good amount of oxygen to the must/juice.

You shouldn't need to add much, if anything, in the way of sugar the juice should have enough. You'd want to be looking at an SG of between 1050 and 1060 (1060 would be just over 8% ABV).

Then it's just a case of brewing.

Once it's dry, you can filter it, then when it's being bottled between half and 1 tsp of sugar to each pint/500ml's (either direct or added as sugar syrup) to the bottle - but that will ferment a little more, naturally carbonating the stuff so to actually sweeten the taste of it, you'd need to work out how much "non-fermentable" sugar/sweetener to add. Lots of the HBS carry artificial sweeteners, some stock lactose. It's up to you.

I'm no expert I've just managed to make a few brews that have turned out well, by experiment - and read a lot of s**t about making cider. Hell, if you're juicing the apples yourself then read up about "Normandy Cider" to see the differences in how it's made in France.

regards

fatbloke
 
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I think I'm going to have to settle for cider that's low on the desirability scale. Pressing my own apples (never mind hunting them down) doesn't fit into my schedule. I'll hang onto these notes for when I retire.
 

fatbloke

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I think I'm going to have to settle for cider that's low on the desirability scale. Pressing my own apples (never mind hunting them down) doesn't fit into my schedule. I'll hang onto these notes for when I retire.
Ok, so buy the juice, then make it sharp i.e. add some acid.

Then make it astringent i.e. add some tannin

Then brew brew brew!

If you do it in 1 gallon test batches and just note down what you've added etc, you'll be able to repeat the one(s) you like.

It's a cheap way of messing around and getting hammered at the same time.

Oh and if you make it back across this side of the pond, then just hit one of the big super markets and read the labels because over the last week I've drunk quite a passable medium dry, from Gaymers - except they sell it under about 2 or 3 different labels - you see their name in small print on the side.

It's between 5 and 6% and it's cheap cheap cheap (I paid £1.64 for 2 litres and it might sound expensive for the US, I don't know - haven't been to America for about 10 years) but for the UK, 82 pence per litre is a pittance :rockin:

regards

fatbloke
 
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Bender

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Ok, so buy the juice, then make it sharp i.e. add some acid.

Then make it astringent i.e. add some tannin

Then brew brew brew!

If you do it in 1 gallon test batches and just note down what you've added etc, you'll be able to repeat the one(s) you like.

It's a cheap way of messing around and getting hammered at the same time.

Oh and if you make it back across this side of the pond, then just hit one of the big super markets and read the labels because over the last week I've drunk quite a passable medium dry, from Gaymers - except they sell it under about 2 or 3 different labels - you see their name in small print on the side.

It's between 5 and 6% and it's cheap cheap cheap (I paid £1.64 for 2 litres and it might sound expensive for the US, I don't know - haven't been to America for about 10 years) but for the UK, 82 pence per litre is a pittance :rockin:

regards

fatbloke
Thanks. That's about what I can handle right now. The 1 gal experiments are easy enough. I've tried several with Apfelwein.

My last flight anywhere was the UK in August of 2001. I've managed to stay out of the air since then.
 

brewpig

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I'm curious if Sweet Mead yeast would actually leave the cider sweet. I recently made a mead with Wyeast sweet mead yeast that is supposed to have an ABV tolerance of only 10%. Well by 2 weeks it had fermented from 1.112 to 0.996 with an ABV of 16.25% and dry as the desert.

Has anyone actually had any success at all making a cider which has some residual sweetness AND bottle carbonated? In theory if you want to make a sweet cider you would pick a yeast with a low alcohol tolerance and then make the spec grav of the cider such that it would only be fully fermented if it went several ABV points above the tolerance of the yeast. Am I thinking about this wrong?
 
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I'm curious if Sweet Mead yeast would actually leave the cider sweet. I recently made a mead with Wyeast sweet mead yeast that is supposed to have an ABV tolerance of only 10%. Well by 2 weeks it had fermented from 1.112 to 0.996 with an ABV of 16.25% and dry as the desert.

Has anyone actually had any success at all making a cider which has some residual sweetness AND bottle carbonated? In theory if you want to make a sweet cider you would pick a yeast with a low alcohol tolerance and then make the spec grav of the cider such that it would only be fully fermented if it went several ABV points above the tolerance of the yeast. Am I thinking about this wrong?
I'll let you know next week. I have a batch of this that just ended fermentation. It fermented fast for about 8 days and slowed and slowed and slowed for the next 4 or 5 days, and I said to myself this is going to be a dry as a desert.
 

brewpig

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I'm thinking long and hard about the type of yeast I am going to use. Unless you want a cider that is like 17% ABV it might be more prudent to use a yeast that isn't meant for wine or mead. This is only my theory of course.

I was looking at one of the yeasts that is supposedly just for cider :
Wyeast ACT4766
It is listed as having an alcohol tolerance of 12%. Given my experience with the "sweet mead" yeast, ABV tolerance of 10%, I would bet that the cider yeast in question would go much much higher than 12%.

I think the problem with the higher alcohol tolerance yeasts is that they will use up all the sugar and leave you with a sour cider. I wonder if most successful "sweet ciders" are made with a spec grav to give a desired ABV and then fermented. After the fermentation is complete they are probably put into secondary for a while to clear. After they clear I would think that the yeast would be sulfited/sorbated and then the cider backsweetened and keg carbonated.

Is there anyone who has successfully made a cider with residual sweetness? If so how did you do it?
 

fatbloke

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-----%<-----
Is there anyone who has successfully made a cider with residual sweetness? If so how did you do it?
Yes, but I just used the stuff that one of the UK home brew kit sells as "cider yeast", which will go to about 14%.

I just fermented the juice with the yeast (vv small amount of nutrient), then when it was finished i.e. dry, it was bottled in 2 litre PET bottles (coke bottles), which were primed with a bit (half a tsp if my memory serves me correctly) of dextrose/glucose. The residual sweetness ? wasn't actually residual, it was back sweetened with lactose - though you could also probably use one of the artificial sweeteners like aspartame (I believe that some home brew shops sell non-fermentable sweetners).

Whether you'd get the desired result by just fermenting the apple juice with bread yeast, I don't know. Though in theory, it shouldn't go anywhere near as high % ABV than wine type yeasts do.

Gotta be worth a gallon experiment ??

regards

Fatbloke
 

mysteryberto

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I'm thinking long and hard about the type of yeast I am going to use. Unless you want a cider that is like 17% ABV it might be more prudent to use a yeast that isn't meant for wine or mead. This is only my theory of course.

I was looking at one of the yeasts that is supposedly just for cider :
Wyeast ACT4766
It is listed as having an alcohol tolerance of 12%. Given my experience with the "sweet mead" yeast, ABV tolerance of 10%, I would bet that the cider yeast in question would go much much higher than 12%.

I think the problem with the higher alcohol tolerance yeasts is that they will use up all the sugar and leave you with a sour cider. I wonder if most successful "sweet ciders" are made with a spec grav to give a desired ABV and then fermented. After the fermentation is complete they are probably put into secondary for a while to clear. After they clear I would think that the yeast would be sulfited/sorbated and then the cider backsweetened and keg carbonated.

Is there anyone who has successfully made a cider with residual sweetness? If so how did you do it?

I've used the Wyeast 4766 and it makes for a very dry cider. Sort of a wineish taste. However if you sweeten it with sugar water you can actually make it taste darn near close to regular apple juice. Of course this wouldn't work if you're bottling and not kegging. I started a batch with sweet mead yeast last week. Will update on how that turns out.
 
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