Author Topic: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders  (Read 30224 times)

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #30 on: February 03, 2016, 10:58:42 AM »
I have a bag of turbinado sugar waiting to be used when I bottle carbonate my first batch in a couple weeks.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2016, 08:14:44 PM »
I was thinking and did some googling but most found opinions... so I'll ask for more here:

Should cider/mead fermentation be done in the dark? I bought brown bottles to block UV light but I'm fermenting in clear glass... that doesn't seem to make sense to me. Looking online I found people in both camps. Some saying to do it in the dark and others saying it didn't matter because there are no hops involved... Anyone have insight?

Offline David in MN

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2016, 08:29:01 PM »
Lots of us old-schoolers put old t-shirts over our carboys if out in light.

Light is destructive to wine (by industry standard) so being protected is key. Hence "cellaring" where heat and light are limited. No hops in wine.

I'd chalk it up to a "best practices" kind of thing. Preserving anything (usually) means a lack of heat, light, moisture...

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2016, 11:22:05 PM »
That's what I was thinking after the reading I was doing.

I moved everything into my closet last night where it's dark most of the time unless someone is getting clothes. I'll throw some shirts over everything just to be safe. I'm bottling my first batch this weekend and looking forward to it.

Sugar in first, then cider, then cap, right?

Offline eternal_pupil

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #34 on: February 10, 2016, 06:38:56 AM »
I was thinking and did some googling but most found opinions... so I'll ask for more here:

Should cider/mead fermentation be done in the dark? I bought brown bottles to block UV light but I'm fermenting in clear glass... that doesn't seem to make sense to me. Looking online I found people in both camps. Some saying to do it in the dark and others saying it didn't matter because there are no hops involved... Anyone have insight?

I follow the school of its better to do it and not need it then not do it and need it.

Also if it is in direct sunlight it could elevate the temperature due to the lack of air movement. just my 2 cents

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #35 on: February 12, 2016, 10:23:36 PM »
How do you guys label your bottles? I'm going to bottle tomorrow and have some address tickers I can do for a quick solution but I wondered if there was something better?

Offline eternal_pupil

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #36 on: February 13, 2016, 01:16:21 AM »
How do you guys label your bottles? I'm going to bottle tomorrow and have some address tickers I can do for a quick solution but I wondered if there was something better?

I use masking tape and a sharpie for the brewing and a proper label maker for long term aging and storage.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #37 on: February 17, 2016, 01:30:55 PM »
How do you guys label your bottles? I'm going to bottle tomorrow and have some address tickers I can do for a quick solution but I wondered if there was something better?

Color code the caps. The Belgian monks at Westvleteren only use the color caps to designate their different beers as they feel printing labels is inefficient and therefore sinful in their all-for-charity brewing. I always found that cool.

Painter's tape works the best of all tapes but I hate putting on anything that gunks up the bottles.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #38 on: February 17, 2016, 10:50:39 PM »
Yeah, I used masking tape this first time around. Since I'm using swing tops I wonder if I can get the rubber seals in different colors... that would be cool.

I also took my berry cider experiment and racked to the secondary early this week. I sampled them both and really liked the Champagne one. The red wine not so much (which I expected).

David, what champagne yeasts have you had good experiences with? I think those and similar types are going to be what I prefer. I still have an ale yeast to try after my 'proof of concept' rounds are completed as well.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #39 on: February 18, 2016, 07:57:13 AM »
I use Red Star or Lalvin. I'm not really picky. Bear in mind I only do meads and ciders to have something to sip on between batches of beer (which I am a passionate stickler for). I'd much rather drink a well-brewed saison or tripel but I only brew 10-ish times per year. Ciders are just a good way to keep the keg full.

Champagne yeast is a tradeoff. It ferments very clean but takes a while to clear. If I were on a timeline I'd try Wyeast 1056 (Sierra Nevada's yeast) for its clean flavor or Wyeast 1028 London Ale which I can personally attest will ferment a 12% abv barleywine in 36 hours. But these are pricier liquid yeasts. For cheap reliability I find champagne the way to go.

YMMV.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #40 on: April 05, 2016, 12:43:12 PM »
Any update here? I'm drinking my dirt cheap Costco cider out of my keg currently. The Mrs. likes it because it's Champagne-y and a fun bubbly drink. I like it because it's a cheap drink I don't mind drinking.

I hope there's some successes out there. If there are failures we could be a support group as well...

Offline skas

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #41 on: April 05, 2016, 01:27:39 PM »
Been having great luck with some juices (including a peach juice mix) found at our local Trader Joe's.  Have 2-4 more batches going atm, and have done 2-3 so far.  Big hit with guests and the missus.  I'm super lazy and don't mind drinking it still (or mixing with sparkling water if we really want it sparkling) so we're actually racking to a clean bottle of the same size and going straight to the fridge.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #42 on: April 05, 2016, 11:54:47 PM »
Any update here? I'm drinking my dirt cheap Costco cider out of my keg currently. The Mrs. likes it because it's Champagne-y and a fun bubbly drink. I like it because it's a cheap drink I don't mind drinking.

I hope there's some successes out there. If there are failures we could be a support group as well...

I got side tracked and need to put a couple bottles in the fridge. I did try the one that was made with red wine yeast and it was gross. I figured it would be but I'm hopeful for the champagne yeast batch. I actually have two that need to be drank, a plain one and the second batch that I added fruit too. I'll let you know in the next couple of days!

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #43 on: April 08, 2016, 10:10:36 AM »
Alright, gave them an earnest taste yesterday and last night. I didn't bother with the red wine yeast batch because I wanted to try the champagne yeast batch. The plain cider was good and I did enjoy it. It wasn't quite what I was expecting (I'm used to Angry Orchard, which I don't drink at all after trying it a looooong time ago) but once I wrapped my head around what I was drinking it was good.

Last night while enjoying a cigar with my neighbor I tried the batch made with berries in the primary ferment. I took a bottle for both him and I and I really enjoyed that one. It was very tasty, champagny, and just a touch of the berry notes in there. I'm very pleased with how this turned out.

The berry batch was 8oz of berries to 1 gallon. I think I'll do another batch but up it to 16oz of berries to see what that gets me. I also have some ale yeast I picked up when I bought my bottles that I'm going to try out. I also plan on taking a page form David's book and adding some turbinado sugar to the primary ferment for a plain batch of just cider and yeast. Three more batches are on the horizon... I just need to empty some bottles first :)

Offline David in MN

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #44 on: April 08, 2016, 10:57:24 AM »
Alright, gave them an earnest taste yesterday and last night. I didn't bother with the red wine yeast batch because I wanted to try the champagne yeast batch. The plain cider was good and I did enjoy it. It wasn't quite what I was expecting (I'm used to Angry Orchard, which I don't drink at all after trying it a looooong time ago) but once I wrapped my head around what I was drinking it was good.

Last night while enjoying a cigar with my neighbor I tried the batch made with berries in the primary ferment. I took a bottle for both him and I and I really enjoyed that one. It was very tasty, champagny, and just a touch of the berry notes in there. I'm very pleased with how this turned out.

The berry batch was 8oz of berries to 1 gallon. I think I'll do another batch but up it to 16oz of berries to see what that gets me. I also have some ale yeast I picked up when I bought my bottles that I'm going to try out. I also plan on taking a page form David's book and adding some turbinado sugar to the primary ferment for a plain batch of just cider and yeast. Three more batches are on the horizon... I just need to empty some bottles first :)

Congratulations! Cheers! Prost! Na zdrowie! (I'm German & Polish and my wife loves the Prost ritual where we click beers hard enough to slop them and prove we're not poisoning each other and keep eye contact while drinking or risk 7 years of bad sex.)

On a serious note, what berries? I'm kinda interested because I'm thinking of using my currants in either a cider or mead this year. Every year I fill a gallon bucket at least but struggle for a use and end up putting them in vodka or rum with other fruit. We krauts call it a rumtopf and while it's kinda good it's really just a hodgepodge of unused fruit.

Definitely try adding a lightly refined sugar. It adds complexity (which I like) and more booze (which I like). I figure if you're going to homebrew make something unique. Delicately sipping something in the 8-12abv just feels more rewarding than gulping a 4abv in my opinion.

Also consider trying a bottle of calvados, French apple brandy. Far better than the over-sweet German schnapps (though we keep apfelkorn for shots after fancy meals). It's spendy but will get the wheels turning on how far you could take the hobby.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #45 on: April 08, 2016, 12:35:39 PM »
Congratulations! Cheers! Prost! Na zdrowie! (I'm German & Polish and my wife loves the Prost ritual where we click beers hard enough to slop them and prove we're not poisoning each other and keep eye contact while drinking or risk 7 years of bad sex.)

On a serious note, what berries?

Definitely try adding a lightly refined sugar. It adds complexity (which I like) and more booze (which I like). I figure if you're going to homebrew make something unique. Delicately sipping something in the 8-12abv just feels more rewarding than gulping a 4abv in my opinion.

I like everything about your post :) I've got some kraut in me as well (how I miss my grandmother's cooking, kraut and ruskie combined). I do like the Prost bit, I'll have to do some research there...

The berries were nothing special. It was from a frozen pack of mixed berries from Costco. I believe it has blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries in it. I figured 'why not?' and threw them in. My peach tree has a done of peaches on it right now and I will be experimenting with those once it's time for harvest.

What amount of sugar do you use for your 5gal batches? I'm doing 1 gal so I can easily convert but a starting point would be good to have.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #46 on: April 08, 2016, 12:57:11 PM »
What amount of sugar do you use for your 5gal batches? I'm doing 1 gal so I can easily convert but a starting point would be good to have.

I use about 2 lbs in 5 gallons. YMMV.

I like everything about your post :) I've got some kraut in me as well (how I miss my grandmother's cooking, kraut and ruskie combined). I do like the Prost bit, I'll have to do some research there...

Haha the eastern Europeans are just the best. I once took a Mexican friend to a Polish dinner and he commented that my cabbage roll with sauerkraut was just cabbage stuffed with cabbage served with a side of cabbage. We howled. Not surprising to see it pop up on this thread. The Germans, Poles, Russians, Norwegians, Swedes, Icelanders, etc. do a ton of preservation with fermentation and distillation. Not always the best quality though.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #47 on: April 08, 2016, 04:08:26 PM »
...he commented that my cabbage roll with sauerkraut was just cabbage stuffed with cabbage served with a side of cabbage.

I don't see the problem here... ;)

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #48 on: April 13, 2016, 11:49:01 PM »
Started three more batches tonight.

Two with Red Star Champagne yeast and one with Lallemand Nottingham Ale Yeast


Offline InquiringMind

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #49 on: April 25, 2016, 07:00:03 AM »
Looks good! And also familiar (see below).

One question: how do you sanitize the fruit before adding to a cider when it's a 'cold' process? When people use adjuncts for mead, I've seen them pour hot water over first.


And the glamor shot:

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #50 on: April 25, 2016, 08:34:30 AM »
Please let me know how the brown sugar turns out, I was thinking of using that but chose not to. My wife bakes with it and I would have used all of it so I erred on the cautious side of keeping her ingredients intact.

To sanitize the fruit I very a pot of water up to about 155-160 and then add the fruit. It usually drops the temp to150 or slightly below. I then get the temp to hold around 150 for a minute and thats it. It worked great the first time around so I did the same with this batch.

Offline InquiringMind

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #51 on: April 25, 2016, 09:50:04 AM »
Please let me know how the brown sugar turns out, I was thinking of using that but chose not to. My wife bakes with it and I would have used all of it so I erred on the cautious side of keeping her ingredients intact.
Will do. My wife usually does the grocery shopping, but when I go I pick up ingredients I think I'll use in the future. Currently have squirreled away 1 lb brown sugar, some honey to try my hand at mead, and some pure cherry juice for a cherry-cider.

To sanitize the fruit I very a pot of water up to about 155-160 and then add the fruit. It usually drops the temp to150 or slightly below. I then get the temp to hold around 150 for a minute and thats it. It worked great the first time around so I did the same with this batch.
Then you strain, cool, and add to the juice?

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #52 on: April 25, 2016, 10:57:18 AM »
Then you strain, cool, and add to the juice?

Yup. I pour the fruit into a strainer and then place the strainer over a large measuring cup since it has a spout. I then mash up the fruit a little so it will easily go into the container. Any juice that ran into the measuring cup during the mashing gets poured into the juice as well.

The fruit is pretty well cooled by this point and I make sure to shake the juice really well. Add yeast and give it another shake and on goes the airlock.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #53 on: April 25, 2016, 11:02:22 AM »
Looks good! And also familiar (see below).

One question: how do you sanitize the fruit before adding to a cider when it's a 'cold' process? When people use adjuncts for mead, I've seen them pour hot water over first.

Depends. Most folks hold the fruit at temperature for a little time to kill any wild yeasts. The lower the temp the longer the hold. Some just throw it in the secondary fermenter figuring the existing alcohol already has the upper hand. I tend to do a 140-ish hold.

If you've got 1 lb of brown sugar in 1 gallon of apple juice I'd recommend a small glass. If that's dark brown you might get blackstrap rum flavors. That's more than double the sugar I use and I'm usually on the high end. You might be over 10% abv...

Offline InquiringMind

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #54 on: April 25, 2016, 05:11:48 PM »
If you've got 1 lb of brown sugar in 1 gallon of apple juice I'd recommend a small glass. If that's dark brown you might get blackstrap rum flavors. That's more than double the sugar I use and I'm usually on the high end. You might be over 10% abv...

You are correct. The juice itself had a gravity of 1.058. Adding 1 lb of dark brown sugar to the gallon brought that up to 1.081, which should yield an ABV of about 10.5%. I'm new to this so I have lots to learn - what's your typical ABV for a cider?

Offline David in MN

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #55 on: April 25, 2016, 08:44:19 PM »
You are correct. The juice itself had a gravity of 1.058. Adding 1 lb of dark brown sugar to the gallon brought that up to 1.081, which should yield an ABV of about 10.5%. I'm new to this so I have lots to learn - what's your typical ABV for a cider?

I like 6-8 abv. As I've stated before I want enough alcohol to make it a complex sipper. Some people prefer a 4 abv to drink as a refreshment and that's fine but not my speed. I also prefer a lighter sugar like turbinado for a hint of complexity without overwhelming the apple flavor.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #56 on: April 28, 2016, 08:24:20 PM »
If I'm racking to a secondary and both the primary and secondary containers are the same can I transfer the airlock or do I need to use a freshly sanitized one?

Offline David in MN

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #57 on: April 28, 2016, 08:48:32 PM »
If I'm racking to a secondary and both the primary and secondary containers are the same can I transfer the airlock or do I need to use a freshly sanitized one?

I'd say it's a best practice to sanitize a new one but in the past I've just dipped the bung into a tub of no rinse sanitizer (poured from the secondary) for a couple of minutes while racking. Not what you do in front of an expert but probably good enough.

For all the panic about sanitation, I've never lost a batch for it. Our ancestors had no sanitation at all and they made all these drinks... I'm not encouraging laziness just pointing out that if you're pretty clean you're pretty good. Some Belgian brewers still open ferment and top crop.

The only batch I ever lost was a hefeweizen I fermented too hot and left on the lees way too long due to work travel.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #58 on: April 28, 2016, 09:15:48 PM »
For all the panic about sanitation, I've never lost a batch for it. Our ancestors had no sanitation at all and they made all these drinks... I'm not encouraging laziness just pointing out that if you're pretty clean you're pretty good.

Thanks, and that's what I was thinking. I'm clean when I do everything and I've got vodka in the locks instead of water so I didn't see what the big deal would be.

Offline Vilkas

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Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
« Reply #59 on: October 23, 2016, 09:39:58 PM »
I have a gallon of cider I am wanting to back sweeten and  make it sparkle. I am using Lavlin champagne yeast and curious as to recommendations to add some bubbles while leaving enough sugar (or honey) to bring what is currently dry to atleast off dry. Also any tips on reusing and storing the yeast?