Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Kegging cider with added sweeteners

Hi everyone,

I do not have a kegging system yet, but am doing the homework and plan to take the dive in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, I have 2 batches of cider that I started last November 2013. I like my cider with a bit of sweetness and have always added sugar syrup to each serving.

From what I’m aware of, there is no way to pre-sweeten cider that is naturally carbonated in the bottle because it will over-carbonate and explode the bottles, and of course those added sugars will no longer be there because of the natural carbonation process. I have to assume that adding sugar to a batch that I keg would present the same problem. Therefore I imagine that I would have to add a sodium metabisulfite tablet to kill the yeast prior to kegging to stop that (and obviously since I can force carbonation I no longer need the yeast around for that).

So before I run away with my assumptions, is there a way to keg cider and sweeten it without having to neutralize the yeast first?

Thanks for your thoughts on this!

Your assumptions are all correct.

In the past, I’ve added SO4 and K-sorbate to prevent the yeast from restarting fermentation before I’ve sweetened, kegged and then forced carbonated. It works very well and the chemicals have no impact on flavor. It has the added benefit of scavenging free oxygen and keeping the cider fresh longer provided the pH is low enough, just like it does in wine.

I’ve heard of others who have try pasturizing the cider (in the bottles) when it reaches the correct level of carbonation, but that sounds a bit risky to me, and might result in a “cooked” flavor, as you can’t very easily flash pasturize filled bottles. If you have the equipment for it, I would guess that could work for you.

I have a friend who sweetened, bottled and when the correct pressure was achieved, put everything in the fridge, which effectively stopped further yeast activity. So I know that works and should be equally possible with kegs. You will though have to worry about long power outages, as the yeast will go active again if allowed to warm up.

Thank you, rebuiltcellars, for this info. I’ll be doing the SO4 then. I’m looking forward to having cider that I don’t have to fuss with each time I serve it.

I pasteurized my last cider after fermentation. Two things happened:

  1. The cider now tastes cooked and is a shadow of its former self, and

  2. The cider turned from crystal clear to permanently hazy.

So I’ll never do that again. Sorbate and sulfite are your friends. Just be sure to use the specified amounts. If you try using less than recommended, it will continue to ferment and dry out.

You could also play around with yeast selection. Supposedly there are ale yeasts that will make a delicious sweet cider. This year I will be trying the 1728 Scottish Ale yeast as Zymurgy says it will leave a little residual sweetness and make the best tasting cider of all.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]I pasteurized my last cider after fermentation. Two things happened:

  1. The cider now tastes cooked and is a shadow of its former self, and

  2. The cider turned from crystal clear to permanently hazy.

[/quote]

Dave - thanks for taking one for the team. You have my condolences. If I can get my crap together this fall, I’d like to try that yeast as well. I hope you’ll report how that turns out!

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com