Three yeast comparison (S04, Cote des Blancs, AS2)

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Chalkyt

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A few weeks ago, I decided to try a couple of different yeasts that seem to be popular for cider, mainly to see how they compared with my usual “go to” Fermentis Safale S04. They were Red Star Cote des Blancs and Fermentis’ new AS2.

The idea wasn’t to start WW3, but simply to share what I found out. Be kind to each other, I know everyone has their favourites.

It was interesting to see that all three behaved a little differently despite using exactly the same juice for each batch. The plan was to ferment each down to SG1.012, bottle, then pasteurise at 1.008 for a touch of sweetness. i.e. make a good social quaffer.

Of course, the process didn’t end up being completely straightforward. S04 started stalling at 1.020 for some reason and actually stopped at 1.010. Cote des Blancs behaved exactly as expected, however AS2 went beyond 1.008 because the pressure monitoring bottle had a slight leak and I didn’t stop the fermentation at the right time, and So, after initial tasting, the others were brought up to 1.010 for another tasting by the addition of sugar syrup. Who said that cider making is predictable????

They all produced good results, but for my tastes S04 had the most complex flavour with apple notes and a touch more sweetness than the others, so it is still my “go to”. S04 does have a reputation for sometimes finishing above SG1.000 so for me it is good for an all purpose quaffer. It started fermenting quickly but then slowed down and ended up being the slowest to finish. I have no idea what caused the finishing problem as I haven’t had that problem before.

Cote des Blancs was cleanest and driest and probably doesn’t skew the final taste one way or the other. Its fermentation was slow and steady and reached 2 vols of carbonation after two weeks in the bottle.

AS2 was a little slow starting but completed fermenting before the others and actually ended up at SG 1.005. It had a pleasant touch of bitterness which the Fermentis data suggests comes from dominant citrus notes.

So, “you pays your money and makes your choices”.

For those who want to look into it further, attached are the fine details, including the stumbles along the way.
 

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  • Yeast Comparison S04, CdB, AS2.pdf
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Kickass

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Thanks for sharing! I’ve been a belle saison guy but recently switched to D47. Always interesting to see others do yeast comparisons.
 

NTBeer

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Thanks for making the comparison @Chalkyt ! I've used S-04, Nottingham, AB-1 and TF-6. For me, TF-6 is probably where I'm going to stay. Only done one batch, was fermented pretty low (upper 50's F) and took a long time to finish, but has a lot of apple character, almost like a tart pie filling even though it's totally dry (0.99).
 

CKuhns

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Great review
I use SO4 or SO5 if fermenting a bit warm for traditional ciders with an OG of 1.060 or so and agree they provide some nice flavors. Typically finish about 1.004 to 1.008.

Use Cote Des Blanc or D47 for Faux ice cider OG 1.135 no nutrients ferment at 50 to 55 Deg F and finishes about 1.030. Again as you mentioned nice and clean.

Will definately try AS2
 

dirty_martini

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I never use beer yeasts for cider. I worked for a cidery and the cidermaker said you will never get as good a result from beer yeast because it’s not what those yeast do best. Much like fermenting beer with wine yeasts doesn’t give you good results, beer yeasts don’t produce their same flavors fermenting fructose the way they do with maltose.

The cidery I worked for used QA23 and Rhone4600 as their house yeasts. QA23 produced nice tropical fruit and melon esters. Rhone4600 was better for producing polysaccharides that gave the cider more body and mouthfeel.

I’ve also used d47 and GRE at home with great results. Ferment cooler in the mid 50s F (13-14C) , and the slower ferment will give you lots of character while cleaning up any fermentation “off flavors” as it goes.

Another note from the cidermaker. Don’t use Red Star and never use champagne yeast (because it’s bland and boring). Seek out lalvin/lallamond. You’ll be rewarded.
 

Cider Wraith

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Great post @Chalkyt … I read your PDF write-up a couple of times. You certainly are the boutique cider maker but also with an inclination for laboratory type work … lots of numbers and data.

I got here from your comment on my recent thread. Looks like we’re on the same path at present with an interest in comparing yeasts. A few differences in our approaches is that I specifically wanted to use a highly-available juice - for reproducibility into the future - and I don’t stop or alter fermentation but let the yeasts go wherever they’re happy going .. and anyway I’m specifically looking for a crisp, dry result. And it’s funny, I do have a few gallons of the best juice I could easily get locally which I’m saving for when the time feels right, but then again I guess it’s possible my preferred yeast, as it performs in budget juice, might behave differently in something else.
 
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Chalkyt

Chalkyt

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Yep, I come from the school of "if you can't measure it, it ain't real!", although that can also lead to analysis paralysis... sometimes gut feel and taste can work best.

The "Summer Snow" juice is my preservative free, constant quality, go-to if I am short on my own apples (from eight assorted trees which are mostly eating apples), or as in this case if I wanted use the same juice with each yeast. "Summer Snow" from Bellevue Orchard is so named because their trees were all trashed by hail one January (like in the middle of Summer!) about 20 years ago. The trashed fruit was juiced and resulted in a very successful permanent shift from fruit to juice, to the extent that they can now supply commercial cider makers.
 

Cider Wraith

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Yep, I come from the school of "if you can't measure it, it ain't real!", although that can also lead to analysis paralysis... sometimes gut feel and taste can work best.
I can appreciate a laboratory inspired approach ... not knocking it ... but so far for me it's not how I've been approaching this interest. I recently purchased a hydrometer kit and can't bring myself to put it into action because I mean, with no intention to alter fermentation at any particular SG, the process just goes where it goes. So in your comparison testing you mentioned each batch being about two liters, and then you mentioned multiple SG tests. So how did you do the tests given each one takes a relatively liberal amount of liquid? A refractometer? Hm, I didn't discover they existed until a couple days ago. Now one of those I would entertain using. And, with your test underway, what else were you drinking? :)

EDIT - (Light bulb goes on) ...Ah ... now you're making me think I should hold off on beginning my comparison test until I can order and receive delivery of a refractometer, because having those numbers could help tell a tale ...ah...
 
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Chalkyt

Chalkyt

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I break the rules by removing some cider using a large 100cc syringe and put the sanitised hydrometer (usually a "finishing" one that covers 0.990 to 1.020) straight into the carboy or sometimes a test cylinder to measure the SG, then return the cider. (I use starsan and boiled water to keep everything sanitised to avoid introducing nasties).

Be aware that the refractometer reading will be distorted once alcohol is present, but I believe you can do an adjustment for this. I haven't done this yet and would check the adjusted refractometer value against a hydrometer reading before doing it as a regular practice.
 
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