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Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics => Food Preps => The Homebrewer's Board => Topic started by: theBINKYhunter on January 09, 2016, 01:53:16 PM

Title: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 09, 2016, 01:53:16 PM
I haven't listened to many podcasts lately and only recently listened to the dead simple cider show. I am going to listen to the follow up QA when I have time.

I'm all for giving this a shot and appreciate the simplicity of it all but am not sure about a couple things:

Yeast - where should I buy it and what should I buy?  I saw this champagne yeast (http://www.amazon.com/Red-Star-Champagne-Yeast-10/dp/B00434CB74) on Amazon. Is this an OK kind to buy? I've read stuff in the FB group about this yeast and that yeast. I'd like to try a couple different kinds to see what happens. Is there a list somewhere of good yeasts to start with or which was attenuate lower/higher? (see, I did listen).

Airlocks -  I see all of these different types and sizes  (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=brewing+airlock) that I can choose from. I realize I could use a balloon but if I'm going to go down this road I suspect I'll be traveling it for a while and getting some equipment is not going to bother me. What should I look for or please show me which one I should buy?

When it's done... Can I leave it in the gallon jug (or transfer to a different jug) or do I need to bottle it to store it? If I need to bottle it do I just need bottles/caps/capper? Jack mentioned growlers but they seem pretty expensive for just starting out. I probably need a successful batch or two before I can look at getting deeper into this and not have raised eyebrows from my wife.

Is that it? Jack mentioned several times it's that simple and I believe it is but I want to make sure I cover my bases.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN on January 09, 2016, 02:28:29 PM
OK... Couple things. First, it is that simple, second it isn't.

The yeast and airlocks you've selected will work just fine. No worries there. You might find a yeast with a more preferable flavor (to you) but for a start it's fine.

If you ferment in the storebought bottles you don't need a fermenter but this will be a scale-up if you get into it.

If you want your cider sparkling as I prefer you need a bottling setup so you can add sugar and cap. A few bottles (you could just buy Grolsch type swingtops) are easy to come by. If you want to drink it still you don't really need to bottle but leaving the ferment on the yeast is poor form and can lead to off flavors. At minimum you need to pour the ferment off the lees in order to keep it good flavored.

I'd strongly recommend Homebrewing For Dummies which actually has a chapter on cider. Moreover it has chapters on cleaning, sanitizing, yeast, and multi stage fermentation. It's a good jumping off. You might consider (for your first batch) a kit from a supplier like Midwest Homebrewing. While I respect Jack's "dead simple" ideas it's not really beginner stuff to play with multiple small batches to perfect a formula. Start with something you know will work (in beer we call this pale ale).

When I've done ciders I buy apple juice and add turbinado sugar for a dry 6-7% ABV cider. But I've got a decade of homebrewing (I'm currently drinking a saison from my keg while a 5 gallon mead ferments). I use the very yeast you asked about.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 15, 2016, 08:10:28 PM
Well... I went for it this evening!

I bought a case of the Grolsch swing top bottles (16oz). I'll need another case to bottle both batches but it's a start and the shop I went to only had one unopened case of brown bottles.

I'll get a siphon and some other things I need to bottle but I plan on making it sparkle at the end of this. I've got two different yeasts going and have a third (ale yeast) that I'll try once I know I did it right and these two batches are going. I haven't been this excited about something new in a while!

(http://i.imgur.com/KCogW2Y.jpg)
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: archer on January 15, 2016, 08:32:45 PM
wait 'till you can drink it... ;)
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 15, 2016, 08:45:36 PM
I'm already looking at mead for the future ::)

I listened to the Q&A cider show and loved the idea of buying glass containers of juice. I'm going to pick up one or two tomorrow and use them to rack to and then start a new batch in them in a few weeks.

I think I may be hooked...
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN on January 16, 2016, 07:30:23 AM
Make sure you age it completely and then age it a month more. Ciders take a little time to clear (for me).

If successful (and if it's bubbling you will be). You've taken a big step. Knowing that process you're ready for mead, almost ready for wine, and 75% ready to extract brew beer.

I'd still recommend some literature. You might like the DIY types to set up a bottling station. And check Craigslist for gear on the cheap. Lots of us quit once we have kids.

Congrats on getting into it! I'm looking forward to see your recipes. Full confession, cider is my lazy drink. Between well thought out Belgian ales and long fermented meads I use sugar added cider to have a dry 6% abv drinker while I plan my next brew.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 16, 2016, 08:14:04 AM
Yup, I have bubbles! This is pretty cool. My kids watched me set it up last night and this morning I explained why it was bubbling. Pretty cool science experiment for them.

I'll eventually go deeper into this but that will have to wait a few months until school is done. Keeping it simple right now is good enough for me and will also keep my wife happy.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 16, 2016, 06:53:12 PM
Picked up two gallons of organic apple juice in glass jugs for $8 each today. Cheapest I could find empty jugs were $10 and up. Looks like I got paid to have my family drink apple juice! I'll get these cleaned out and rack into them when my ferment clears. I realize I'm barely 24 hours into this venture but I'm pretty sure I'm hooked. This is pretty freaking amazing.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: jerseyboy on January 17, 2016, 07:11:01 PM
Picked up two gallons of organic apple juice in glass jugs for $8 each today. Cheapest I could find empty jugs were $10 and up. Looks like I got paid to have my family drink apple juice! I'll get these cleaned out and rack into them when my ferment clears. I realize I'm barely 24 hours into this venture but I'm pretty sure I'm hooked. This is pretty freaking amazing.

Good job getting started. If you want to add to your list of things to do in the future, one is apple wine. Basically you add sugar so it will ferment out to 11% or so and add tannin for aging and you will have something that will keep for years and smell like apples when you open it.

Jerseyboy
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 17, 2016, 10:12:58 PM
I am not a big wine guy, and neither is my wife, however I'm already thinking about what cool gifts this could be for holidays, birthdays, etc. and wine could go on that list. If I can nail some really awesome recipes and get some great looking bottles/labels I can make unique gifts for the rest of my life that people will look forward too, rather than buying them crap they don't really need.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: goofyshooter on January 24, 2016, 09:07:20 AM
Anyone know how much corn sugar i should use to carbonate 1 gal? I am ready to bottle but cannot remember how much sugar to use
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 24, 2016, 09:18:00 AM
I thought I heard Jack day .5 tsp to 12oz. I could be wrong though and am not at that point do I haven't looked it up yet.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN on January 24, 2016, 09:55:45 AM
Anyone know how much corn sugar i should use to carbonate 1 gal? I am ready to bottle but cannot remember how much sugar to use

The ratio is 3/4 cup of dextrose per 5 gallons of ferment for most brewers. Some styles carbonate a little more or less but this ratio will work and not explode bottles.

If you're doing small batch it may be easier to use carbonating drops rather than measure out minute amounts of corn sugar.

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/fermenters-favorites-fizz-drops-8-oz.html
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 30, 2016, 02:25:18 PM
It's really not that exciting, but I am excited. Racked to the second fermenter last night.

(http://i.imgur.com/1DkuZta.jpg)
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 31, 2016, 08:14:14 PM
Quick airlock question: Is my airlock supposed to be sitting like this?

(http://i.imgur.com/ggU3nlx.jpg)

I used S airlocks for my primary ferment and switched to 3 piece airlocks for the 2nd stage. When I assembled the bells were sitting down low but the pressure from the fermentation has pushed them up. They've been sitting at this cockeyed angle constantly. I'm assuming if there is enough pressure pushing the bell up that no air is getting in through the couple bell-holes that are above the water line but I would love some feedback from someone with more experience.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN on January 31, 2016, 08:32:41 PM
Never fear, you're using it correctly it just needs more water. The inner bell should be pushed up nice and high. I'd guess .5 tsp. would have you perfect so the holes are covered with a nice bit of safety. You've got a difference in water level so it's OK but I'd just like a splash more. Just don't go over the center post.

The great debate in airlocks is that 3 piece are easier to clean but "S" types function better.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 31, 2016, 08:39:27 PM
Thanks, I wasn't sure if I needed more water or if that's how it was supposed to function. I guess the bell stops rising when it hits the cap on the top.

From what I gathered with airlocks the 3 piece/S type debate is similar to the 9mm/.40/.45 debate.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN on January 31, 2016, 08:47:32 PM
Thanks, I wasn't sure if I needed more water or if that's how it was supposed to function. I guess the bell stops rising when it hits the cap on the top.

True.

From what I gathered with airlocks the 3 piece/S type debate is similar to the 9mm/.40/.45 debate.

Mmmm... Maybe. I'm dedicated to "S" type. They're just easier to use. When I used 3 piece I used vodka instead of water because I got nervous about condensation in the bell part. Probably unfounded but it was enough to sway me. If an "S" won't work I use a blowoff tube in a bucket of sanitizer. That's rare.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on January 31, 2016, 09:04:47 PM
With my extremely limited experience I think I'm going to prefer the S locks.

What's bad about condensation? Will a little water dripping into the must/ferment ruin it?
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN on February 01, 2016, 05:35:00 AM
No. Just kinda poor form and a possible way to introduce contamination. Once fermenting it's a low risk but it offends my sense of perfection.

That said cleaning blowoff from an "S" type sucks. But I doubt this will happen in meads and ciders, only in high gravity beers.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on February 01, 2016, 09:09:24 AM
I see... I guess I better buy some Vodka them for the next batch I run in case I use the 3 piece locks... ::)
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: Marinesg1012 on February 01, 2016, 10:04:29 PM
I see... I guess I better buy some Vodka them for the next batch I run in case I use the 3 piece locks... ::)

That is how I do it, I run the three piece ones becuase they are easier to clean I have had some mead's and ciders get a little rambunctious on me and blow through the air lock. I fill mine half way with vodka and leave them be.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: Beetlebum on February 02, 2016, 12:58:25 PM
I see... I guess I better buy some Vodka them for the next batch I run in case I use the 3 piece locks... ::)

Nah, you're fine. Use vodka if you want but not using it wont spoil your beer. You should be keeping it in a "safe" place where it wont get disturbed by dirty things... no dogs licking it, no blowing leaves at it, don't drop dirty diapers on it, etc. You'll be fine. RDWHAHB (Relax, Don't Worry, Have A Home Brew).

I've only tried one yeast so far (a wine yeast) and it came out like a wine... surprise surprise. I need to try a couple ale yeasts because I suspect the yeast is going to be the biggest factor in apparent style. I'm currently conditioning a cranberry cider and a spiced cider (cinnamon, cloves) with the same wine yeast, Premier Cuvee ($7.40 for a 10 pack on Amazon). I suspect they will still seem like a wine even if I carbonate them.

I've brewed beer for a while, extract and grain, and I may give that up in favor of cider. Its just TOO easy and so far, I've gotten a better product out of it.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN on February 02, 2016, 01:22:29 PM
I've brewed beer for a while, extract and grain, and I may give that up in favor of cider. Its just TOO easy and so far, I've gotten a better product out of it.

OK... True. I've been making beer, cider, mead, and wine for over a decade. I find beer to be the most enjoyable because I like the process and the control of the outcome vis-a-vis the ingredients and process. But it is time consuming. Before the baby I'd brew a beer and make a mead during the mash and a cider during the boil. But I have the fermenters to do so.

I actually think the real value of homemade drinks is in the cost offset. I could never brew a Budweiser clone cheaper than its street price. But I only brew Belgian farmhouse and Trappist style beers that run upwards of $12/bottle and it costs me $1/bottle. I can't find ciders I like outside of crazy expensive English and French varieties but the homemade stuff tops American producers for pennies. Same with mead.

As I write this I have a cider fermenting (5 gal Costco apple juice, 2 lbs. turbinado sugar, champagne yeast), recently bottled my mead (10% abv dry sparkling), and have a saison on tap while I plan my next beer which will likely be in line with Westvletern 12. I say keep brewing and use the gaps to do the easy stuff.

On yeast.. For ciders and meads I only use champagne. It tastes clean and highlights the original apple or honey. YMMV but I like that. I used to buy mead specific yeast from Wyeast but the results weren't worth the cost in my book.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: Boozemaker on February 02, 2016, 05:00:09 PM
If you're considering making mead, I strongly recommend reading The Complete Guide To Making Mead by Steve Piatz.  The cost of the book is minimal compared to the cost of wasting honey at $3+ a pound.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: Beetlebum on February 03, 2016, 08:53:29 AM
On yeast.. For ciders and meads I only use champagne. It tastes clean and highlights the original apple or honey. YMMV but I like that. I used to buy mead specific yeast from Wyeast but the results weren't worth the cost in my book.

Now my understanding from the reading I've done is that a champagne yeast is more likely to strip out the apple flavor. You've found that to not be true?
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on February 03, 2016, 09:04:50 AM
Now my understanding from the reading I've done is that a champagne yeast is more likely to strip out the apple flavor. You've found that to not be true?

I bought two yeasts to start, both were Red Star from Amazon. Montrachet and Pasteur Champagne. I racked to a secondary on Friday and sampled them both. One one tasted like wine and one like champagne, but I could tell it was appleish for both of them. I'm sure I'll prefer the champagne after sampling but maybe someone else will like the red wine yeast ferment.

As I write this I have a cider fermenting (5 gal Costco apple juice, 2 lbs. turbinado sugar, champagne yeast), recently bottled my mead (10% abv dry sparkling), and have a saison on tap while I plan my next beer which will likely be in line with Westvletern 12. I say keep brewing and use the gaps to do the easy stuff.

David, did you add the sugar to bring up the alcohol content or does it do more for flavor as opposed to fermenting pure apple juice?

Last night I started two more gallons of juice. Same yeasts as before but I added 8oz of mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) since I had them around and wanted to see what will happen with this. I figure I'm still in the experimental learning stage plus I have enough bottles to bottle four gallons so why not?

(http://i.imgur.com/ydIwRbx.jpg)
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN on February 03, 2016, 09:31:17 AM
Now my understanding from the reading I've done is that a champagne yeast is more likely to strip out the apple flavor. You've found that to not be true?

Not really. It might strip some flavor but the yeast adds no flavor itself. On the extreme end think of the banana/clove funk that a good hefeweizen yeast adds. I don't want that. I want it clean. I know of mead producers who like using wine yeast and cider makers who swear by English ale yeast but I'm kind of stuck in my ways.

The other benefit of champagne yeast is that it ferments to a very low terminal gravity and I like my drinks dry. It also handles high initial gravity well and I tend to aim for 6-12% alcohol in everything I make. My current cider will be about 8% abv and very dry with a lean body. My kind of drink.

If you want your cider to be really "apple-y" just add a couple frozen concentrate mixes to the must. It'll jack up the flavor.

David, did you add the sugar to bring up the alcohol content or does it do more for flavor as opposed to fermenting pure apple juice?

Last night I started two more gallons of juice. Same yeasts as before but I added 8oz of mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) since I had them around and wanted to see what will happen with this. I figure I'm still in the experimental learning stage plus I have enough bottles to bottle four gallons so why not?

Sugar ferments clean. It jacks up the booze but it also leans out the body. Since I like dry, lean bodied ciders I add sugar. If you're familiar with Belgian ales this is the trick that keeps the light and drinkable despite a very high alcohol content.

Traditionally we add the fruit to the secondary fermenter as its essence is diminished in primary. But you never know...
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter on February 03, 2016, 09:54:33 AM
Traditionally we add the fruit to the secondary fermenter as its essence is diminished in primary. But you never know...

Good to know, I'll report back what happens with these. I guess for my next round I'll add sugar to my primary and see how that goes. A dry lean body sounds right up my alley. Too bad we're not closer since it sounds like we'd get along great with our drinking preferences.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN on February 03, 2016, 10:46:28 AM
Good to know, I'll report back what happens with these. I guess for my next round I'll add sugar to my primary and see how that goes. A dry lean body sounds right up my alley. Too bad we're not closer since it sounds like we'd get along great with our drinking preferences.

I don't know. I'm a horrible influence. But it could be fun...  :beer:

Try turbinado or demerara sugars in your cider. They're like super-light brown sugar with just a hint of molasses. I find it a complement to the apple. But you could use anything from corn syrup to maple syrup to honey to plain beet sugar. It all works but some give a nice flavor to add to the apple. Lots of personal taste here.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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?
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN 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...
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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?
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: eternal_pupil 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
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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?
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: eternal_pupil 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN 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...
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: skas 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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!
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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 :)
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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... ;)
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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

(http://i.imgur.com/n6VENDF.jpg)
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: InquiringMind 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.

(http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e33/inquiringmind1776/TSP%20Forum/095EEA2F-794C-4D91-AA59-9D4548E67AD2_zpsxpxiutod.jpg)
And the glamor shot:
(http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e33/inquiringmind1776/TSP%20Forum/F6C2D40B-58F3-441A-836C-CCA454F06322_zpswnump9sw.jpg)
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: InquiringMind 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?
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN 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...
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: InquiringMind 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?
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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?
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: David in MN 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: theBINKYhunter 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.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: Vilkas 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?
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: fritz_monroe on October 24, 2016, 05:50:39 AM
I'm late to the party, but...

For labeling, when I use the swing top bottles I got some 1/2" round labels to put on the lid.  You have to write small or use shorthand.  I've also just printed up labels on plain paper.  Cut them to size and glue them on with a glue stick.  The beauty of this is they wash off with nothing but plain water.  Not good if you have different brews in a cooler of ice, though.

For carbonation, I like to stick to using the sugar that produced the alcohol.  So when I brew beer, I use dry malt extract.  For mead, I used honey.  The few times I made wine, I didn't carbonate.  If I ever do cider, I'll probably leave them still, but if I carbonated, I'd probably use apple juice concentrate.  It may be in my head, but it seems like it makes things taste more "pure" to use the same sort of sugars.

Vilkas, the only advice I can offer is what's been told to me in the past.  It is much easier and safer (i.e. no bottle bombs) to ferment dry and bottle, then sweeten in the glass.  Since you want it sparkling, I'd prime it like I'd do any beverage and sweeten it at time of consumption.   Just add a little simple syrup to the glass before you pour the wine.
Title: Re: Couple questions about getting started with the simple ciders
Post by: Vilkas on October 24, 2016, 08:27:17 PM
Thanks Fritz. Since I'm not setup to force carbonate I think sweetening in the glass is the route I'll take. I prefer mine dry but my wife and guests have more of a sweet tooth so a simple syrup is a great idea. I may even infuse one with vanilla and possibly cinnamon. I haven't been able to wait so I've sampled my cider and cizer and sweetened with table sugar and also honey and both work well.