1. Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Apple Cider Question ?

Discussion in 'Beer & Ale' started by mike johnson, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. mike johnson

    mike johnson Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

        I am making my first attempt at hard cider. I started with a 3 gal. carboy and the yeast the brew store recommended and a cup or so of natural pure cane sugar. I racked it at 1 1/2 weeks into 2- 1gal jugs and 1 half gal jug. The taste at this time was good and slightly bubbly but still had a hint of yeast taste. I passed out a few tasters of the extra and a friend of mine added a shot of FireBall ( cinnamon whisky ) to his and the taste was almost like apple pie. So I was wondering if I could add a shot or 2 of the whisky to some bottles when I bottle it. I really liked the flavor of it. Will there be any adverse reactions by doing this?

    I was also told that the fermentation would be about 3 weeks but in that amount of time my airlock is still bubbling away from 5 - 6 seconds a burp. I wanted to bottle it as soon as possible but I don't think that's going to happen. Any ideas?
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Mike, morning.....  I bottled beer early, while still bubbling, following the 'time suggested' method....  I had blown up bottles all over the house....   I have never made good beer, 3 tries, but....  I suggest you don't bottle while the yeast is still that active...

  3. mike johnson

    mike johnson Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    No, Im not. I had a friend get stitches from a bottle blowing up in his hands because of that. I'll wait until the bubbling stops. Im more interested in the adding of the cinnamon whisky at time of bottling .
  4. Get a hydrometer. Bubbling really tells you nothing. Temp changes can cause or even prevent bubbles. Only way to tell is to test it with a hydro
  5. mike johnson

    mike johnson Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I have one but have never used one. Since I never took an initial reading can you explain what I need to do? Im a total novice. Im keeping it between 68 - 70 deg.
  6. You will need to look at the documentation to see what temp your hydrometer is calibrated at to figure out temp adjustments. Most I have seen are at 68, some at 62 and a rare few other temps.

    Simplest thing to do is look for a steady reading three days apart. 2 readings at the same temp 3 days apart and you can be fairly certain you are done.

    For a more educated test you need to know about what your expected final gravity should be. With apple juice\cider and sugar you will be very near or even below 1.0 so that is what you are looking for. So if you have left your cider for over a month and you get a reading at or below 1.0 you can be fairly sure that you are done (though multiple steady readings over several days is still safest).

    If you have left it a month and you get a reading well over 1.0 then you know there is still sugar in the solution so something happened to your fermentation so you dont want to bottle because if it restarts you can get bombs. Temps could have fallen to low and put the yeast to sleep, you could have way under pitched or had dead yeast. Best thing to do is make sure temps are in range for your yeast strain and repitch.

    Without an inital reading you cant be 100% sure about ABV but there are recipe calculator s that will help you figure out close to what you inital reading should have been. And use that to figure out close to your ABV
  7. atio

    atio Fire Starter

    The sugars in the whiskey could cause problems too. If you are bottling in plastic bottles it may be worth a try, but I don't know that I would put that in glass. The only argument to try it is I think you used a lot less sugar than normal. All the recipes I've read talk about 2 pounds of sugar for 5 gallons. One cup seems low to me, especially if you used a whole yeast packet.

    My third batch that I bottled last weekend is the first decent tasting one and i used 3 pounds of sugar in a 5 gallon carboy. I "brewed" it almost 3 months ago and hope its ready by Christmas.
  8. mike johnson

    mike johnson Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

     I used nowhere near to that much sugar. I did not follow a recipe and just winged it after talking to the lady at the homebrew store.  I was going to carbonate this batch when bottled with carbonation drops. Do I need to wait until the airlocks stop bubbling or go with a gravity reading of 1 when I bottle? Maybe ill try a shot in a few of the bottles when bottled instead of the drops.( but keep these in a 5 gal bucket with a towel on top for the first month until I try 1 ( wraped in a towel just incase ).
  9. atio

    atio Fire Starter

    Another idea is getting a 20oz soda bottle and using that for the ones you want to try with the whiskey.  I'd just be really hesitant about putting it in glass.  I've read too many "Bottle bomb and now I can't move two fingers" threads on other forums.

    If the airlock is still bubbling, you don't want to bottle now.  Wait until it stops, then wait a few more days and start taking gravity readings.  When it's the same 3 days in a row, you're good to go!
  10. jlh42581

    jlh42581 Fire Starter

    You gonna bottle it still or bottle conditioned? Ive done both. If youre going to bottle condition you will have to pasteurize to avoid bottle bombs. Youll need to check it every day, cause it can carb up quick.

    Ive found I dont care for wine yeast, I like a beer yeast, nottingham to be exact.

    If you decide to carb it, dont pasteurize in your house. I do mine in a turkey frier kettle outside. Its not fun when the fam is eating breakfast and glass bottles are going off like grenades, which happens if you over carb.

    If you dont carb it, you are going to want to stop fermentation the best you can with sorbate and kmeta. Otherwise you might open it to find it semi carbed.

    Also worth noting is that when cider finishes, it typically loses a lot of taste. Youll probably want to back sweeten with concentrated apple juice.
  11. jlh42581

    jlh42581 Fire Starter

    The best way to carb a cider is let it ferment completely out, back sweeten it, put it in a keg and force carb it. Keep it cold and drink it.

    Most ciders will not develop fully until at least 12 months after brewing them.
  12. mike johnson

    mike johnson Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I ended up back sweetining it after adding the stuff to stop fermentation. I degassed as little as possible. I bottled it a few different ways. In 6 bottles with flip tops I added 2 shots of fireball ( cinnamon whiskey ). I filled 4 wine bottles with screw caps and I bottled the rest in large beer bottles and capped them. This is my first endeavor into this and I will follow a recipe next time for sure. Im letting them all sit for a while. My first taste will be Christmas Eve. I know its a bit early but waiting that long is going to be tough.

        P.S.   I am storing them in a metal container during that time just incase and will open my first one completely wrapped in a towel to be safe.
  13. jlh42581

    jlh42581 Fire Starter

    When did you start that cider? I expect that if you used this years cider its gonna taste down right disgusting. It needs time. Most guys say their ciders are barely even drinkable to them, let alone others for 12 months.

    Take those wine bottles, cork them and put it in a cold dark area for a year. If you taste this at christmas make notes of how it tastes, taste it a year out and see the change.

    New brewers always cant wait to get into it, I did it, youll likely do it. Youll learn soon that young booze is young booze, it sucks.
  14. jlh42581

    jlh42581 Fire Starter

    Is it even clear? Mine I started in October, isnt even remotely close to being ready to bottle. I started a black raspberry in august, its gonna get bottled next week because its been sitting on oak for a month. Its not even ready.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  15. mike johnson

    mike johnson Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Not perfectly clear but that's ok for this batch. I'll be starting another one soon. I'll let that one sit longer.
  16. jlh42581

    jlh42581 Fire Starter

    Just so you are aware that what you are going to end with is not what a finished cider tastes like. You can add all kinds of stuff at bottle time, like regular cinnamon. I personally dont like cinnamon in mine, maybe a liquor like fireball would be better.

    Try some different yeasts also, they all create different flavors. My cider comes in with an SG of about 1.06 on most years, I dont hop it up, it gets hot and then most wont drink it. If you are not feeding it to your wife, let er burn!
  17. mike johnson

    mike johnson Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I am going to do an Apple Pie Cyser next.  These are the ingredients.    3 gal. apple juice, 2 1/2 lb. honey, 2 lbs. dark sugar, 3 cinnamon sticks and some Mc Cormick apple pie spice. You back sweeten it with 2 cans of frozen apple concentrate at the end.
  18. jlh42581

    jlh42581 Fire Starter

    Thats a good bit of sugars. Id definitely take SG readings before adding it all. Different juice will definitely cause it to fluctuate. If you ever hope to replicate it you gotta keep records.
  19. I just took a gravity reading of bottled AJ - 1.050 @ 44F = -1 so, 1.049 @ 60F

    1 C of corn sugar is not going to add that much gravity.

    Your final gravity will really depend on the attenuation of the yeast used.

    Most beer yeast attenuate around 75% while Champagne yeasts will ferment out lower than 0. I had one mead with a FG of .0994.

    I like my ciders on the high end of the spectrum and have made them with 4 gals apple juice and 4 pounds of table sugar. That combination comes out over 12% ABV.

    What you need to do is take a gravity reading with your hydrometer. If it is down under 1.005 then wait a few days to see if it drops any. You don't want to bottle too early. That's the #1 cause of bottle grenades. OK, maybe #2...#1 is a lack of patience. ; ' )

    Question: Is it still cloudy? If it is then there's plenty of yeast still in suspension. I leave my ciders in a carboy (primary) for months before they clear.

    You wrote: I am going to do an Apple Pie Cyser next. These are the ingredients. 3 gal. apple juice, 2 1/2 lb. honey, 2 lbs. dark sugar, 3 cinnamon sticks and some Mc Cormick apple pie spice. You back sweeten it with 2 cans of frozen apple concentrate at the end.

    OK, you were OK until your last sentence about backsweetening.

    First off, you still have live yeast in the cider. That yeast will reactivate when you add AJ concentrate to it. You're only going to end up with 100% bottle grenades. You'll lose everything.

    What you need to do is rack the cider to another carboy and add Potassium Sorbate at 1/2 tsp per gallon. After a few days the yeast basically becomes dorment. Some people like to say it kills your yeast, but that's not 100% correct.

    After a few days on PS you can backsweeten without any threat of another fermentation.. Of course, once you use PS you can not make carbonated cider in a bottle. It will make a still cider.

    After using PS there is only 1 way to get carbonated cider and that is by force carbonation in a keg.

    FWIW, backsweetening with 2 cans of frozen apple concentrate works great.

    My wife has a cousin in Lacey. I was out there about 4-6 years ago and visited the new Cabela's they put up out that way.