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Mjc

First Cider attempt

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Have four LBK's sitting around and only use 2 for beer (picked up a few as spares during a $5 sale years ago), so I thought I would try one with cider.  Found a recipe for Apfelwein online, basically apple juice and some sugar/yeast, figured I would give it a shot.  I had a couple questions to any experienced cider brewers:

 

1 - Can I switch back and forth from beer to cider in LBK or designate it one or the other (like root beer).

2 - I have read a wide range of fermenting times (from days to months/a year).  My idea is to ferment in the LBK for 3 weeks, but than I want to put it in a secondary.  I was thinking of using some old beer Growlers, so I am curious if that would work just capping it, no airlock and storing it 2-4 more months in the dark just letting it mellow and than if I want to carb some of it, batch prime it like a typical beer and bottle it, or will I blow up the growler if kept at room temperature?  I suppose I can move it to my 4th LBK and store it that way if the idea of the growler is no good, or can it be stored in the original LBK with no off flavors for several months?

3 - Temperatures similar to beer?  My wine fridge has a top temp of 65 degrees which works great for my beer, assume it will work fine for cider, but figured can't hurt to ask.

4 - Types of yeast?  Anyone have any insight.  Seems some use cider yeast, some champagne some ale (S-05 has been mentioned and I have some laying about so that would be ideal, but not adverse to getting the right yeast if needed).

5 - Thoughts on carbonation (how to do it, if to do it at all), or just treat it like beer carbonation?

6 - any other thoughts on sweetening or anything I have missed?  Anyone added Light DME to see if it has any effect on flavor?  (assume it will up the ABV %)

 

 

Thanks as always to everyone.

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19 minutes ago, Mjc said:

Have four LBK's sitting around and only use 2 for beer (picked up a few as spares during a $5 sale years ago), so I thought I would try one with cider.  Found a recipe for Apfelwein online, basically apple juice and some sugar/yeast, figured I would give it a shot.  I had a couple questions to any experienced cider brewers:

 

1 - Can I switch back and forth from beer to cider in LBK or designate it one or the other (like root beer).

2 - I have read a wide range of fermenting times (from days to months/a year).  My idea is to ferment in the LBK for 3 weeks, but than I want to put it in a secondary.  I was thinking of using some old beer Growlers, so I am curious if that would work just capping it, no airlock and storing it 2-4 more months in the dark just letting it mellow and than if I want to carb some of it, batch prime it like a typical beer and bottle it, or will I blow up the growler if kept at room temperature?  I suppose I can move it to my 4th LBK and store it that way if the idea of the growler is no good, or can it be stored in the original LBK with no off flavors for several months?

3 - Temperatures similar to beer?  My wine fridge has a top temp of 65 degrees which works great for my beer, assume it will work fine for cider, but figured can't hurt to ask.

4 - Types of yeast?  Anyone have any insight.  Seems some use cider yeast, some champagne some ale (S-05 has been mentioned and I have some laying about so that would be ideal, but not adverse to getting the right yeast if needed).

5 - Thoughts on carbonation (how to do it, if to do it at all), or just treat it like beer carbonation?

6 - any other thoughts on sweetening or anything I have missed?  Anyone added Light DME to see if it has any effect on flavor?  (assume it will up the ABV %)

 

 

Thanks as always to everyone.

 

1. Yes you can switch back and forth as long as you clean and sanitize properly between batches.

2. If you ferment for 3 weeks, there is absolutely no need for a secondary. Do NOT store your beer in growlers. They can explode.

3. 65 is where I like to be, but you can go as high as 70, or even higher for some yeasts, such as some wheat, Belgian, or Saison yeasts. Remember that lager yeasts need around 45-55.

4. Not sure what "cider yeast" is since every cider I've ever made uses ale yeast or wine yeast. Never use Champagne yeast unless you are making wine. There are MANY ale yeasts you can use (dry and liquid). I recommend researching them a bit. US-05 and S-04 (an English strain) are both great yeasts for cider.

5. The process of carbonation is the same regardless of liquid being carbonated. Some people like still ciders, some like them carbonated.

6. DME will add some flavor and body.  It will also add a small amount of residual sweetness. Some people use lactose to sweeten their cider, but the BEST way to sweeten it is to stabilize it, keg it, and back-sweeten. But you need a kegging system to do this. Without that, you won't get anywhere near the sweet American ciders found in the stores.

 

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I found that adding some Briess Traditional Dark DME  (54% Munich and 13% Caramel) adds residual sweetness.  You don't need much in 2 gal, 1 cup or even 1/2 cup to taste the difference. And 1/2 up won't change the color that much.

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Many Thanks Josh and Nick.  Any tips on how long to condition?  Or I guess the old answer of "make it and drink one a week until you figure it out" is always a good rule when brewing new things!

 

Josh, by "stabilize" it do you mean just let it ferment the proper amount of time?  I have read about some people "back sweetening", is that where a non-fermentable sweetener is added at bottling and let it condition for a while?  You may mean something different as not sure why you would need a kegging system to do that.

 

Anyway, thanks again for the thoughts.

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"Stabilize" means to add potassium sorbate to kill the yeast. You cannot back-sweeten unless you kill the yeast because the yeast will just eat the sugar. And since you killed the yeast, you cannot naturally carbonate in the bottle so you must use a keg with a Co2 tank. Then you will need a counter-pressure bottle filler to fill from the keg to bottles.

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And even more questions! ;)

 

So, still reading up on how to brew a cider.  I think I will go with a still cider the first time, maybe just a 1-gallon batch to start, using my LBK (as carbonating a sweet cider seems to be a bit challenging for a first timer).  I am a bit confused about getting a sweetish cider as a final product.  Is there a difference between fully fermenting till a dry cider, adding potassium sorbate and then adding honey or sugar or agave or whatever to sweeten and tracking SG and adding the potassium sorbate to halt fermentation at a level where residual sweetness still exists?  Also reading about using  potassium or sodium metabisulfite in addition to potassium sorbate.  Is that a required thing to use both or are they interchangeable?

 

I am hoping/guessing that once I bottle this it is like beer, it will age and condition in the bottle and (hopefully) improve in flavor?  Since I will not be carbonating this batch, any reason not to use screw top wine bottles to condition and store or is there still potentially enough living yeast to make this a bad idea?  Any ideas on how long to peak flavor and how long till it generally would go bad?

 

Thanks again to all that help, especially Josh.

 

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Yeah, I would recommend using both sorbate and metabisulfate in the batch if you want a still cider. And since it won't be carbonated, it's perfectly fine to use the screw cap wine bottles. Cider doesn't really age well, however, unless you can completely filter it. Any sediment can create off-flavors when aging. The flavors will peak in about 6 months. After that, it won't really develop further.

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Thanks Josh, I have my juice and gonna try S-04, probably add a little sugar, but not going to use DME this batch as I figure I should try a simple batch to use as a benchmark moving forward.

 

I know you said not to worry about doing a secondary, but I have a question about this.  Say I wanted to do a small 1-gallon test batch for my first attempt.  I assume enough CO2 is off-gased in the LBK during primary to create a CO2 blanket over the liquid.  If you do do a secondary with that much less liquid than the design of the container, will enough CO2 be created at this point (assuming secondary done after full primary fermentation) to create a similar CO2 blanket to prevent oxidation, or if doing a secondary should you do it BEFORE full fermentation is complete to ensure at least some CO2 generation?  I suppose the same question is relevant of beer.  I have never done a secondary in my dozen or so batches, but if I did, at what point does the head space become problematic..if ever?

 

If I am not carbonating a bottle of cider, is there any difference between bottling and letting it bottle condition and using a secondary process for a few weeks before bottling?  My mind just tells me its just simple either sitting in a bottle or sitting in the LBK while the yeast does it clean up, but that assumption does not mean I know what I am talking about!

 

Thanks again.

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There is NO headspace at all in a secondary fermentation. If you have any headspace, then you're doing it wrong.

 

When brewers brew in larger batches, such as 5 gallons, they will use a 6-7 gallon bucket for primary (for the headspace), and a 5 gallon carboy for secondary (no headspace). There will not be enough Co2 to form a protective blanket. Even if there were, it would off-gas in a couple of days or so. There is no need to do a secondary, especially with cider. The ONLY point of a secondary fermentation is to clarify your beer (cider doesn't need much help to clear because it lacks the proteins beer has), and for malo-lactic conversion in wine (You can do this for cider, too, but it mostly happens in the bottle after a month or 2 of aging).

 

Not sure what you mean by a "secondary process before bottling". Just bottle the cider after fermentation and let it sit. There's no need to make things more complicated than they have to be, especially when they won't add any benefits.

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Thanks Josh, think I am ready to go.

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3 months in the basement pretty much clarifies anything I brew, even bottled directly from LBK..

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