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Long Primary Ferment Vs Primary And Secondary.

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Hi everyone. I'm Coen and this is my fist post here. Have had a look around and this place seems great.

Anyway, I am working on some cider (very small 4l batches) and I have question.
There seems to be two ways of lookin at things from what I gather. Some people seem to think that it is best to let the cider ferment all the way out, then rack it to secondary and leave it to settle for a few weeks longer. Others seem to think that secondary fermentation isn't worth the fiddling and chose instead, to just leave the cier on the lees in primary fermentation for a month or so, then straight to bottling.
IN some ways I like the idea of leaving the cider on the lees, to let it clean up after itself a bit. In other way, I dont want to leave it on the lees too long from a flavour point of view, and would like to rack off to allow it to settle bit on its own. I also think the racking can be beneficial from a splash racking point of view, to kick that last bit of yeast in the butt and really dry the cider out.
I am thinking of racking off half of a batch to secondary, and leaving the other hallf on the lees and comparing them in a months time.
Anyone got any thouhts here? How do you do it? Would love to get a bit of an idea of what people think the advantages an disadvantages of the two options are.

Thanks in advance everyone!
 

jbowers

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If the fermentation is complete, any kind of splashing is a terrible idea. Personally, I never rack. I have never had any signs of autolysis, and so will probably never change this practice.
 

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So you reckon just leaving it on the lees is the best way to go then hey? How long would you be looking at leaving something like that on the lees before you bottled?

Thanks for the quick reply mate.
 

DarkFaerytale

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i'm with JB i use to be a die hard racker but have found that you get very little reward for the effort involved and exposure to off flavours. i only do it now when i'm lagering a beer which is very rare.

personally though i wouldn't leave a beer in primary for longer than a month for fear of autolosis, altho i'v never had it happen. Just to note though, i'm talking about beer, not cider. cider might be a whole different kettle of fish
 

JDW81

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If the fermentation is complete, any kind of splashing is a terrible idea. Personally, I never rack. I have never had any signs of autolysis, and so will probably never change this practice.
I was listening to the brew strong pod cast on yeast a few months ago and both John Palmer and Jamil were saying that autolysis is less of an issue these days due to the better quality brewing yeasts that are available. I never rack and have ales sitting in the primary for 6 weeks + with no problems at all.

My 2c.

JD
 

Bribie G

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In the case of ciders and wines which are prone to sour off flavours I guess racking is prone to danger. My mate round the corner does black rock cider kits which are expensive but IMHO turn out as nice as the likes of Mercury Cider when he puts them on tap, and he just CCs them in primary.

A guy to PM on the subject is King Brown Brewing as he's a bit of a ciderist by trade at the moment.
 

glenwal

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I am thinking of racking off half of a batch to secondary, and leaving the other hallf on the lees and comparing them in a months time.
People can give their opinions till the cows come home, but at the end of the day what matters is your perception of the end result. Did it make a notiable difference to you (either good or bad)? As was the difference good enough to be worth the additional risk (in your eyes).

The only way you'll find the answer is to try it your self. Doing a half/half experiement is a great way to test it, because you know you're only changing one variable. Make sure you do a blind test for the comparison.

Having said that though - i wouldn't rack personally. I haven't done a cider, but i often do lagers and leave them in the primary for a month or two with no noticable ill effects.
 

JDW81

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I was listening to the brew strong pod cast on yeast a few months ago and both John Palmer and Jamil were saying that autolysis is less of an issue these days due to the better quality brewing yeasts that are available. I never rack and have ales sitting in the primary for 6 weeks + with no problems at all.

My 2c.

JD
Also, I don't rack my ciders either and leave them to ferment out for about a month @ 18degrees. They are always very clear and clean finishing.

P.S. What has happened to the edit button? <_<

Cheers,

JD
 

stux

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I don't rack my ciders, let them ferment dry... And then some. Normally 6 weeks or so in primary, then keg
 

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Wow, that's what I would call a unanimous decision. Sounds like primary isn't really the way to go. Saves a bit of screwing around too which is good. Also seems like getting any oxygen in the cider once it has fermented isn't a great idea. My plan for bottling is to rack off into a bucket the same size as my brew buckets, but with a tap attached. so that I can then pour off into the bottles with (relative) ease.
Will that expose my cider to too much oxygen?

By the way, just wanted to say thanks for all the super quick and helpful replies. This is way better than waiting a week on a yankee site for a single, non helpful reply.
 

JDW81

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Wow, that's what I would call a unanimous decision. Sounds like primary isn't really the way to go. Saves a bit of screwing around too which is good. Also seems like getting any oxygen in the cider once it has fermented isn't a great idea. My plan for bottling is to rack off into a bucket the same size as my brew buckets, but with a tap attached. so that I can then pour off into the bottles with (relative) ease.
Will that expose my cider to too much oxygen?

By the way, just wanted to say thanks for all the super quick and helpful replies. This is way better than waiting a week on a yankee site for a single, non helpful reply.
So long as you let the liquid flow very gently with no splashing then you should be fine. I bulk prime my bottles and use a similar method. Use a nice long piece of sanitised hose which reaches the bottom of the bucket, and loops around on the base (like a coiled snake).

Another reason I don't rack is it adds another potential source for infection (and oxidation). IMHO the less you transfer your brew between vessels the better.

JD
 

Nick JD

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I keep 300ml bottles of stored yeast trub in my fridge to pitch into new fermenters.

If I pitch them within a week, they smell fine - and fire up like nobody's business.

If I pitch them after 2, or 3 weeks, when I open the bottle there is a significant amount of autolysis; a definate whiff of vegemite; and the beer on top's (admittedly a huge ratio of trub to beer) flavour is heavily tainted by the autolysis when I taste test for infection before pitching into a starter to revive the yeast population.

4 weeks? Rancid vegemite. This is at fridge temps, which I would assume to slow autolysis, at the same time slow the yeast metabolism so they can't feed on the ruptured cells.

I think the flavours of autolysis are often subtle - and sometimes not unpleasant if there in the beer in very small doses - but autolysis is a very real thing 2 weeks after FG.
 

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Cool, I do have a long piece of clear hose that I can use for that, I will try to make it all happen as quickly as possible. I guess once the bottom of the bucket is full past the height of the end of the hose sitting in it, there is no more oxygen exposure apart from that from the surface of the cider. Correct? I actually like the idea of keeping trub for the next batch, although I know you just mentioned it to make an example, it is something I have wanted to try. Glad to hear that someone is doing it.
Thanks guys.
 

ekul

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A good thing about apple cider is that you can use apple juice to bulk prime. I haven't made a cider for ages but from memory its about 10% sugar.

Whenever i've done it i've just added the apple juice to the fermenter and given it a stir. Let it settle for 10mins and then bottle. Perfect carbonation across every bottle.

If your fermenter doesn't have a tap just add the apple juice to the bottling bucket and then transfer the cider on top of it. The movement of the transferring cider will mix it up.

ANother plus of using apple juice to prime is that you get extra cider :)
 

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That is an awesome idea. Just gonna have to do a bit of a calculation to work out how much sugar is in my juice, and therefore how much juice to use. The idea of ending up with extra cider sounds pretty great. And im gueaaing it will give a more appley taste to the end product as well. Are all the sugars in apple juice fermentable? I would assume they were cos you can ferment to 1.000 and sometimes lower, but im not certain. Thanks again people. Im loving the in depth reaponses. Also just thought id add....im studying first year viticulture and oenology at Curtin uni....but i plan to make cider instead of wine.
 

manticle

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For how long are you wanting to bulk age the cider before bottling?
 

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Well. It has been sitting in primary for about a week. Was looking at leaving it there for a month...then assessing the situation. Thoughts? That is what you meant by bulk aging right?
 

Greg.L

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When you are dealing with small volumes you are better to bottle it soonish. Small volumes oxidise easier but once bottled and carbed it is much safer.
The only disadvantage is you can't do a MLF once it is bottled.
If you are a viticulture student you should be planning for a fresh-pressed juice, craft style cider.
 

manticle

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Well. It has been sitting in primary for about a week. Was looking at leaving it there for a month...then assessing the situation. Thoughts? That is what you meant by bulk aging right?
By bulk aging I mean the whole volume, whether in primary or racked to secondary.

Do you have the means to age it cold? I would be happy with 2-3 weeks post ferment in cold, having already conditioned on the yeast at ferment temps (post hitting final graity) for 1-2 weeks. these times are, as suggested, post finished ferment. I make no decisions about conditioning time until ferment has finished.

More than that and I would consider racking to glass with minimal headspace but I have generally found with my ciders that that is unnecessary unless adding flavourings or maybe trying for a malolactic ferment as Greg mentions (not something I have done). If you plan to rack and age, reduce the headspace as much as possible and keep sealed. Make sure ferment is finished completely and check the CO2 production of a malo-lactic ferment before doing this- MLF is not something I'm willing to advise on as I've never done it.
 

stux

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Cool, I do have a long piece of clear hose that I can use for that, I will try to make it all happen as quickly as possible. I guess once the bottom of the bucket is full past the height of the end of the hose sitting in it, there is no more oxygen exposure apart from that from the surface of the cider. Correct? I actually like the idea of keeping trub for the next batch, although I know you just mentioned it to make an example, it is something I have wanted to try. Glad to hear that someone is doing it.
Thanks guys.
There will be some c02 dissolved in the cider in the primary. When you rack gently to the bottling bucket some of this will de-gas and form a protective blanket over your cider which will help prevent excessive oxidation.
 

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