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Few more questions before first cider attempt

There seems to be a discrepancy about the potential ABV of ciders without added sugar…some say potential ABV will be about 6.5 just from pressed cider alone…others say this would only result in about 3.5 to maybe toping out at 5…what gives?.. As of right now im considering adding 1lb of brown sugar to this batch, mostly because i dont want to end with a weak cider at 3.5

Also, according to NB’s document about brewing cider, they say to give it about three weeks on primary or until gravity reaches about 0.996 to 1.010…so I’m thinking about giving my batch four weeks in primary…but i have no idea what to expect for a secondary wait time…I have heard from four weeks up to a year or so…not really looking forward to a year long secondary.

Lastly…another time question… after bottling should i expect about two weeks in bottles before being able to chill and drink??

The exact alcohol level depends on two main things: 1) the sweetness of the apples, and 2) the strain of yeast used. Cider contains all simple sugars that most healthy yeasts can take down to the 0.990s. Most apple juice is at a specific gravity between about 1.040 and 1.060. To get the alcohol level, you need to subtract the final gravity, then multiply by 131. So for 1.050 juice finishing at 0.995, you get (1.050 - 0.995) * 131 = 7.2% ABV. Even for 1.040 you can get like 6% ABV. So you’re not going to end up with a weak strength hard cider unless you screw with the yeast. If the yeast is not healthy, or not enough is pitched, or the fermentation temperature is very cold, or preservatives including sulfite and sorbate are used, then the fermentation might quit a little sooner at 1.001 to 1.010, and this will of course reduce the alcohol level a bit. But pitch enough quality wine yeast such as Cote des Blancs in there, and you won’t have any problem at all.

You can safely rack the cider to secondary anytime in that intermediate range of 0.996 to 1.010. The sooner you rack, the slower the secondary fermentation will be. If you want things to go fast, then skip the secondary and just leave the cider in the primary for a good 6 weeks. It won’t hurt a thing. The thing to know with cider is… patience. You need to give the yeast a lot of time to do their job. They like taking things slow, so let 'em.

Carbonation can take anywhere from 2 to 4 or even 5 weeks. Like I said… patience.

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