What's the deal with cider secondary fermentation?

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talco92

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I have 21L of woolworths brand apple-juice currently doing some nice bubbling away

So I've been doing some googling and some aussiehomebrewering and have come to the understanding that letting cider sit in a PLASTIC secondary fermenter for longer than ~6months is not ideal. Can anyone comment on this? yay or nay?
(the plastic carboy i'm thinking of using is an old Neverfail water dispenser thing, 15L, any leeching or off-tastes expected?)



Also a few questions which would be great if they could be answered:
1. Is the main aim of secondary in a carboy just to take the cider away from the lees and let it mellow?
2. If so why can't this be done in a bottle (i.e why don't people just bottle it ASAP and let it sit in there)
3. IF I let it sit in secondary for couple of months, will the yeast still be alive when I finally bottle it and want it carbonated?

cheers!

(I also saw somewhere that someone got a few glass carboys off freecycle; if anyone has any spare that they're willing to lend me that would basically solve this whole thread...) :icon_cheers:
 

NewtownClown

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if the gravity is stable over a number of readings over a number of days. You can safely assume fermentation is complete.
yes you certainly can achieve "secondary" fermentation in a bottle. Many use a secondary vessel for a number of personal reasons. For adding fruit/flavours, hopping, to bulk condition rather than the space taken up by bottles, yeast etc seem to drop out faster in larger vessels and conditions quicker
 

Bribie G

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I'd guess a water container would be ideal.
 

talco92

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NewtownClown said:
yeast etc seem to drop out faster in larger vessels and conditions quicker
does this mean that I won't be able to prime it later?
 

talco92

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Bribie G said:
I'd guess a water container would be ideal.
Yeah I kind of assumed that neverfail wouldn't want their water tasting like plastic, however cider is a completely different liquid.. alcohol and acidity might leech some nasties out I thought...
 

Fossey

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Plastic is porous and with long aging times, can allow oxygen into your brew (although small amounts) potentially creating vinegar...

Secondary is to get the brew off the lees for aging and help the other solids drop out of suspension to clarify your cider.

The yeast should lie dormant once fermentation is complete and generally will fire back up when primed for carbing.
I have read of others re-pitching a small amount of yeast after long aging - purely for carbing purposes but haven't tried it myself and am unsure of how much etc...

You can age in the bottle but bulk aging will result in consistency of flavours between bottles and the temperature of 21 litres will fluctuate less than a 300-500mL stubby.
 

Adr_0

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One other thing about the secondary is that your proteins and yeast that drop out will form a layer on the bottom of your secondary - rather than in your bottle.

Secondary also gives you an opportunity to cold crash if you have a temp controlled fridge.

Regarding yeast, most floc agents will drop out a fairly high degree of yeast. I'm not sure on some of the quantities, but I know that wine floc agents will have a goal of long-term stability and have zero concern for carbonation, so I'm a bit hesitant to just grab anything.

Having said that, I will probably use isinglass and pitch some champagne yeast or S-04 when priming. I would simply rehydrate and mix in halfway through the transfer from primary to secondary.

I will be transferring primary to secondary on Thursday, let it finish up and then cold crash and probably add a touch of isinglass. I will let you know how it goes.
 

NewtownClown

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talco92 said:
does this mean that I won't be able to prime it later?
Not at all, there will still be enough yeast in suspension. If cold condition for a long period n a secondary vessel, you may need to re-seed with yeast at bottling.
 

Adr_0

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Adr_0 said:
One other thing about the secondary is that your proteins and yeast that drop out will form a layer on the bottom of your secondary - rather than in your bottle.

Secondary also gives you an opportunity to cold crash if you have a temp controlled fridge.

Regarding yeast, most floc agents will drop out a fairly high degree of yeast. I'm not sure on some of the quantities, but I know that wine floc agents will have a goal of long-term stability and have zero concern for carbonation, so I'm a bit hesitant to just grab anything.

Having said that, I will probably use isinglass and pitch some champagne yeast or S-04 when priming. I would simply rehydrate and mix in halfway through the transfer from secondary to bottling drum.

I will be transferring primary to secondary on Thursday, let it finish up and then cold crash and probably add a touch of isinglass. I will let you know how it goes.
Whoops... see edit above.

By the way - I'm sure they're fine - the only reason Paranoid Adro is steering away from things like Turbo Clear or pre-mixed wine clarifier is I'm not sure about the preservatives, concentration of sodium met etc. that is already in there. I'm sure it's fine, but I don't want to add something that is going to kill the yeast that's already there, or the yeast I subsequently add.

I don't want to steer you away from something that could be fine, but moreso waiting for someone to go "Absolutely fine" or chime in with other recommendations...
 

talco92

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Thanks for the advice and help guys.
I think what I'll do is move it to the plastic carboy after fermentation is done (glad-wrap airlock of course) and let it sit for one month, then bottle to be on the safe side of the 'plastic' issue and the carbonation issue.

N.B would be amazing if I had a massive centrifuge to spin out all of the yeast and other colloids...
what do people think of putting the cider in 3L plastic bottles and spinning it in a washing machine??? haha, but seriously...?
 

Fossey

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Don't do it!!! Oxidising factor - if you aerate your brew after fermentation, you risk turning it to vinegar.

When transferring to a secondary, avoid pouring, even carefully - best is to syphon with the hose emptying at the bottom of the new vessel using an auto syphon.
 

JDW81

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Adr_0 said:
One other thing about the secondary is that your proteins and yeast that drop out.
Apple juice has bugger all protein in it, so not likely to cause a haze problem. Yeast will fall out though.

talco92 said:
N.B would be amazing if I had a massive centrifuge to spin out all of the yeast and other colloids...
what do people think of putting the cider in 3L plastic bottles and spinning it in a washing machine??? haha, but seriously...?
I don't think that tis such a good idea, broken bottles mainly. Also won't spin fast enough to really have that much of an effect.

If you're worried about yeast (and you shouldn't really be), then once you bottle just let it sit in a cool place (corner of the garage on cement floor is perfect in winter) and it will settle on the bottom. Decant off into a glass when you want to drink it. The longer you leave it the better it will be. Drank a 3 year old cider last night and it was clear as crystal and bloody beautiful.

JD
 

Adr_0

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JDW81 said:
Apple juice has bugger all protein in it, so not likely to cause a haze problem. Yeast will fall out though.
True, I incorrectly grouped pectin as a protein rather than a carbohydrate. I think this is more of a problem if you boil/pasteurise the juice before you ferment but some juices have probably had this done anyway.

Cold temps are great for clearing beer or cider. If you want to separate out the yeast - if you really really must overcomplicate it - try this and post the photos :D :
http://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/methode-champenoise-beer
 

talco92

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I sampled the cider after taking an SG reading and it was thin and tasted quite like strongbow.

Was wondering if anyone knew any ways to make cider a bit more bold or thick during secondary fermentation?
(should have used malt and a beer yeast to begin with!)
 

punkin

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Long secondary ferments are about letting a malo-lactic fermentation (or encouraging one) happen to convert some of the harsher malic acids to lactic acid. It's a process the cider goes through if left alone long enough.
 

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