Anyone mastered cider?

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brockboland
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Anyone mastered cider?

My wife can't do gluten, so I thought I'd take a stab at making some cider. I picked up two gallons of juice from Whole Foods, and since they come in glass jugs, I just pitched the yeast (Lalvin E-1118) right into one of the two. After fermenting about two weeks, I racked that to secondary and pitched yeast on the other gallon. Two more weeks later, I bottled both batches, so that I could compare two batches with the same time in primary, to see how much it would be improved by a couple weeks in secondary.

I just did the bottling on Thursday, so it'll be another week before I can try it carbonated, but flat? It was…not great. I added two packets of Stevia to each gallon to try to back-sweeten it a little, but that might not have been enough: it was really dry.

I think I'll try using an ale yeast next time instead of the wine yeast. There was an article in Zymurgy a few months ago about a homebrew club that brewed cider using a half-dozen different yeast strains, so I need to find that again and see which one worked best for them.

Jeff W
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Brock, I'm certainly not a

Brock, I'm certainly not a cider expert, have had great results using one packet of Nottingham ale yeast for a five gallon batch:

Five gallons apple cider

Two pounds brown sugar (Some people boil it, but I didn't get an infection adding the sugar directly to the apple cider.)

I packet Nottingham ale yeast (rehydrate before pitching)

Ferment for 10-14 days

Bottle and prime with 3.6 ounces of corn sugar

brockboland
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Interesting: I hadn't thought

Interesting: I hadn't thought to add more sugar at the front. I'll give that a try next time, thanks Jeff!

MarkWalters
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I often add a half gallon of

I often add a half gallon of honey to 4 gallons of cider for a cyser. I've found fermentation needs a good long secondary - think 2 months or more. I've got one that's just about to finish up, I'll bring it in. I used Wyeast 4766 - cider.

IGZ
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ive had great success with

ive had great success with Target brand apple juice, often on sale, one pound of sugar in raw/turbinado, and a single happy packet of champaign yeast. finishes dry, around 7% abv, and ready in about a week.

...igz...

ChuckMac
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Last September I bought a

Last September I bought a couple of gallons of fresh unpasturized apple juice from Lost Creek orchard. AS instructed by the folks there, I cracked open the cap and left it loose and stuck it in my fridge for a month. The wild yeast in the juice did its thing and I had a nice sweet 5% abv cider

Lost Creek's web site;

http://www.localharvest.org/grissom-lost-creek-orchards-and-farm-market-...

krisblouch
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I have brewed cider for 8

I have brewed cider for 8 years now.

I won't digress into a small novel on it (which is completely possible), but I will say that cider is both the easiest and the hardest thing I brew. Easiest because you can just toss yeast in juice and get alcohol (kinda like in prison!) hardest because making that taste good is very complicated.

OP, with those glass jugs you used, you could in the future just rack them into each other (just to get rid of trub), and then stick them in the fridge. No reason you can't pour that cold cider into a pint glass that's 1/4 full of apple juice or has a little apple juice concentrate in it. You could even add concentrate to the jugs, so long as they stay in the fridge. This is effectively "back sweeted still cider".

I have brewed cider many times with sugars/honey added in, and it always ferments down to 1.001-1.005. I had a .998 once, which I didn't even think was possible. Basically, if you want to bottle this stuff, be prepared for it to be dry. Very dry. Kegging is better (see below). But, for now, on bottling... ferment this very cold using safale-04. Make a 5 gallon batch by taking 2 gallons of cider and boiling it down to one, and adding 1 tbl of irish moss 15 minutes before done, then top up with other 4 gallons of cider and pitch yeast. This next part is very important: ferment at 58 degrees. It'll take 2-3 weeks to ferment, but it will be super clean and will taste fine even without back sweetning. Ignore any advice about yeast nutrients. Don't use them. I could talk for a long time about why, or how they can be used well (pitching cycles), but for now, just know we want sluggish yeast who are just barely able to make alchol and not freak out and produce tons of by-products.

Otherwise, Keg. Use whatever yeast you want (people swear by champange yeast, I hate it though. I like safale-05 for fruityness and cleanness although I have used wine yeasts to good affect also). Once fermented (cold), back sweeten with sugar or apple juice concentrate. Force carb IN THE KEEZER. If you are not force carbing in the keezer, you'll have to add potasium sorbate to kill the yeast as they will eat all the juice and possible create pressure issues in keg.

I've just joined the homebrew club, and only a few months in Chicago. I've got a batch of cider about ready and will make more soon. Any one who's curious to learn more or just have a brew day. I'm down.

joefalck
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Welcome Kris!  With your

Welcome Kris!  With your expertise in cider, don't feel shy about maybe organizing a cider seminar or something, perhaps nearer to the harvest.  We welcome that sort of thing, and want to encourage it.

brockboland
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Awesome, thanks for all the

Awesome, thanks for all the info! I haven't tried cider again since I posted this, but I might take another crack at it over the summer so it's ready for the fall.

josh s
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Ill be brewing 30+ gallons of

Ill be brewing 30+ gallons of cider for my wedding starting in Sept. Ill be taking that opertunity to do some cider experiments.  Any Ideas are welcome.

Matt Omura
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I made "Graff" once...

I made "Graff" once... basically took Aldi apple juice concentrate ($.99/can) and enough grain and hops for 10 gallons of 1.035-1.045 beer and added juice at end of boil. Turned out great. I would love to experiment with different styles.

krisblouch
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Graff is great. Ive only made

Graff is great. Ive only made one batch, but I almost made another this week, I know a really popular graf recipe I want to try, (but ive got a cider ready to keg and that is too much apple at once for the keezer.)

30 gallons of cider! Awesome. Might be worth making a trial batch or two before going "all in?"

Sounds like a cider brew day might be in order...

Nick D
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I have made quite a few

I have made quite a few ciders of varying complexity (and quality). I'm not a huge fan of super dry ciders, so I typically use an ale yeast and add some unfermentables on the front end to keep the FG from dropping too low.

Take a look at this video Brewing TV posted a few years ago - good introductory video about back sweetening with wine conditioner in the event that FG drops lower than desired:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tDP1ubIci8

krisblouch
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What FG do you get with which

What FG do you get with which ale yeasts? I've used many, and I have yet to get an FG over 1.005 when using 100% juice and left till fully stopped bubbling. I feel like the secret to bottling cider is some random yeast that doesn't love apple juice as much as they all seem too; and I'm on something of a mision to find it.

Also, are you kegging (wine conditioner has potasium sorbate in it)? Can I ask which unfermentables you use? Lactose, splenda, or something else?

That video is great. The graf video it's linked to is also pretty cool. I really like Brewing TV and wish they had more videos.

You mentioned complex ciders. I'd love to nerd out/learn from what you've done? Any recipes worth sharing?

Thanks man!