First brew questions

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Hi guys,

I've just joined the forum and just completed my first ever brew. I've bought the Oztops after many good reviews from here and it was pretty easy to get it working.

I bought some Aldi Apple and Blackcurrent juice, added some of the Oztops #1 yeast and let it do its thing for 3 days. Wifey and I agree it's sweet/dry enough but need a bit more kick.

Everyone talks about adding sugar to get a higher alcohol content. Which type of sugar do you recommend? Is plain old brown sugar OK or is something finer, eg Castor Sugar better?

Also I want to buy a hydrometer and there's gazillions to choose from on ebay. Is one type recommended?

Also I want to decant the cider into smaller bottles, and also make smaller batches. How do you guys clean/prepare used plastic juice bottles for brewing? Is washing them in soapy water enough or do I need to use something like Miltons?



Ohhh... I can write anything I like here
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Any sugar will increase the strength. Plain old white sugar will do that without adding much additional flavour. Other sugars will add flavours. Brown sugar will add a brown sugar flavour, honey will add a honey flavour and so on. Experiment and see what you like.

Any hydrometer that reads from 0.9 to around 1.1 or so will do nicely for beer/cider. For wine you might want one that reads higher.Usually the more you pay, the more accurate but not always.

To clean and sanitise bottles you need a sanitiser. Milton will work but you need to rinse it off otherwise your brew will taste of bleach. Rinse using boiled water. If you use tap water you will re-infect what you just sanitised. Better still go to the brew shop and get some no rinse sanitiser. I use iodophor. Its amazingly cheap. 1ml will male 1l of sanitising solution and you only need 500ml or so to sanitise a batch of bottles so one little bottle will last a very long time. There are others based on colloidal silver that work well but are much more expensive. If you can get hold of it, starsan is another good one.

If you are going to carbonate bottles, be careful using fruit juice ones. They aren't pressure vessels so they will go foom. Anything that has held a carbonated beverage will take pressure. PET soft drink bottles work great.


Bribie G

Adjunct Professor
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I make Aldi cider (or should that be Apfelwein :p ) - I measured the "original gravity" of the juice and when fermented it would only come out a bit stronger than a mid strength beer, so yes if you want something about regular beer strength you would need to add sugar. Plain old white will do the trick - according to my brewing software 20g of sugar per litre will raise the alcohol content by around a percentage point.

Note: dissolve it in the juice before adding the yeast, if you decide to tip it in when fermentation is underway you'll get Niagara Falls in your kitchen.

For a sweeter cider like Bulmers or Mercury style, just add a dash of juice to the glass.

Edit: not trying to do Oztops out of business but it's a shame to tip all those juice bottles out into the recycling, and with quite a few years of beer brewing experience I'm sure that adding the yeast to the bottle and fermenting with the bottle lids open just a crack will do exactly the same job - I intend to do just that with a batch and see how it goes. Should make a very passable West Country style scrumpy.
Cider yeast can be bought from home brew suppliers.

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