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Have I killed my cider?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Techniques' started by Luchadore Brewer, 30/3/19.

?

What went wrong?

  1. Not enough yeast.

    0 vote(s)
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  2. Not enough yeast nutrient.

    0 vote(s)
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  3. Not enough sugar.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Needed more time in primary fermentation.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. A hidden preservative not listed on either the juice or cider.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%

 

  1. Luchadore Brewer

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    Posted 30/3/19
    Sorry about the long post, trying to be specific.
    I'm still new at this and making 5 litre batches at a time. The aim was to brew a carbinated sweet cider, but the results kept going dry, or just didn't taste right which wasn't what I wanted.

    First attempt was just apple juice, which fermented too dry for my taste. I lost the batch to last summer's heatwave (Penrith average 38 to 45 degrees and no air conditioning)

    The 2nd attempt was an apple cider back sweetened with Applestroop (a preservative free Dutch apple spread with the same colour and consistency as malt). It darkened my cider and made it taste sour. I believe one of my mistakes was using the Applestroop as it's sugar component came from Sugarbeets and not cane sugar. It didn't carbonate, but then I didn't prime my bottle either (live and learn).

    My 3rd (and latest) attempt was an Apple and Blackcurrant cider using a preservative free blackcurrant syrup.
    I also reconsidered the portions of my additives. Since I'm only doing 5L batches I wouldn't need a whole pack of yeast.
    Here's what I used:
    1x 5L glass bottle
    1x Morgan's Sanitizer diluted in a spray bottle of 1L of water as per instructions
    1x airlock and bung
    1tsp Yeast Nutrient
    1tsp Pectinase
    1tsp Mangrove Jack Cider Yeast (activated in apple juice)
    1cup white sugar
    4x 1L cartons of Dewlands Apple juice (the brand they sell at indy greengrocers, preservative free)
    1x 420ml bottle of Herbapol Blackcurrant syrup (a preservative free Polish brand, as Ribina has a preservative that needs to be boiled off before use)

    I had a potential alcohol content of 11%. I was aiming for 5%, but knew the added sugar and the sugar in the syrup is what pushed the reading up. From what I understood the alcohol content would come down in time as it aged.
    The odd thing about this was how fast it fermented. It has completely stopped bubbling in a week. I racked it into another sanitized 5L bottle and tested the sample. It had completed fermentation. It tasted alright. Not sweet, but not too dry. Couldn't really taste the apple or the blackcurrant, and thought the flavour may come back over time. I gave it another week before bottling them into 330ml swing top bottles (Thank you, Aldi), one soda stream bottle for taste testing, and one 600ml coke bottle for carbonation testing. I sanitised the bottles and added less than 1/4 of a teaspoon of sugar to each bottle to add some fizz.
    I tested one bottle just now, 1-2 weeks after bottling and a few hours in the fridge. It doesn't taste right.
    Not sure if it's oxidised somehow, or needs more time to age.

    Have I missed something somewhere?
    Everything was sanitized.
     
  2. asterOne78

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    Posted 31/3/19
    Fermentation to dry - Unfortunately, not much you really can do during the fermentation stage unless you use an artificial sweetener, something the yeast won't chew up. Back sweetening at the time of consuming after fermentation/carbonation has completed is another option.

    From what I understood the alcohol content would come down in time as it aged. - Not sure where you got that info from, alcohol does evaporate but would only be an issue at much higher concentrations I think. In Fact if fermentation continues in the bottle (very slowly) alcohol content would rise, though not by much. Perhaps you meant the taste of alcohol would diminish, this can be true with time but is not the same as alcohol content diminishing.

    As for your recipe I probably would leave out the sugar, the apple juice would normally give you enough fermentable sugars to provide a nice kick.

    I tested one bottle just now, 1-2 weeks after bottling and a few hours in the fridge. It doesn't taste right. - Depends on how it tastes, if it tastes sour or foul then you may have an infection, this can be accompanied with excessive carbonation. If it just tastes a little different to what you were expecting then it may be the ingredients used or it needs more time to age. 6-8 weeks max, after that i'm not entirely sure it's going to change too much more.

    Not sure if it's oxidised somehow - Oxidation should not occur in an enclosed container, however after fermentation has completed you need to be careful not to allow oxygen to mix in with the cider, so when transferring from fermenter to bottles always fill from the bottom up, avoid any splashing or agitation.

    Couldn't really taste the apple or the blackcurrant - Fermentation plays with flavours, not uncommon for flavours to be lost or changed due to the ferment. You can cheat by using an alcohol flavouring essence that you find at Homebrew shops, they should have ones for both apple and blackcurrant schnapps. Add these before or after the ferment, one bottle would probably do 25L.
     
  3. ThirstyFish

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    Posted 31/3/19
    I've only made cider a couple of times, but here it goes...

    Unless you like really, really dry cider, you have to do one of three things:
    1. Let the yeast finish fermenting, then back-sweeten with a non-fermentable sugar (e.g. stevia, xylitol); or
    2. Stop the yeast (using an additive) when it reaches the level of sweetness you like; or
    3. Let the yeast finish fermenting, stop the yeast (using an additive) and back-sweeten with whatever you like.

    It sounds like you've tried to back-sweeten after fermentation was complete, but because you used a fermentable sugar (syrups, applestroop etc.) the yeast have hooked in again.

    When I make cider, I just grab 20L of apple juice from the supermarket, add yeast, wait til fermentation is complete (usually a week), transfer to keg, back-sweeten with liquid stevia to my wife's taste, carbonate. My wife consumed the last keg in 3 weeks!
     
  4. Luchadore Brewer

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    Posted 31/3/19
    3 weeks?!
    I'm impressed.

    Yeah. I'll need to look into an additive to stop the yeast. Options 2 &3 seem to be the way to go from you've suggested.
    I got the majority of my advice from Youtuber Bearded & Bored's video here

    He back sweetened with a can of concentrated apple juice (haven't been able to find it in Australia). I got the idea to use a coke bottle for carbonation testing from here too.

    My local homebrew shop doesn't recommend pasteurising the way Bearded and Bored did it, so I thought a few hours in the fridge would do the job and kill off the yeast.

    I also used this guy for reference. Robert Jones primed his bottles using a small amount of sugar per bottle.

    He learnt from an episode making carbonated wine not to use too much sugar per bottle.
     
  5. Fossey

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    Posted 31/3/19
    A sweet carbonated cider is the hardest kind!

    As stated, you need to stop the yeast. Personally I never liked using additives to do this so after I adjusted the sweetness of the brew and had capped my bottles, I would test the carbonation levels over a few days until it was where I wanted (open a bottle and check).

    Once I was happy, the whole bottled batch went in the dishwasher on a full hot cycle.

    As long as the bottles aren’t overcarbed, you shouldn’t have bombs but if you do, the mess is contained.

    Doing 5 L batches, opening a couple over the course of a few days may not be ideal for your final batch quantity though!
     
    Luchadore Brewer likes this.
  6. ThirstyFish

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    Posted 1/4/19
    Luchadore Brewer likes this.
  7. Tomislav

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    Posted 10/4/19
    What about lactose as a sweetener, like in a milk stout? It doesn't ferment and tastes sweet. I haven't made a cider yet, but have made a few milk stouts. Also lactose doesn't taste artificial. I would also boil it in a little bit of water (or apple juice) just to melt it.
     
  8. ThirstyFish

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    Posted 10/4/19
    I don't have any personal experience using lactose but it should work in theory. A quick google suggests others have done it with some success.

    It might be worth getting your hands on a few different sweeteners and doing a bit of an experiment. Pour a cup of very dry cider into 3 or 4 different glasses and add different types and amounts of sweetener until you find what you like best.
     
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