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Little Sour

Hey All,

Long time brewer, first time ciderer. Bottled up one gallon that had been aged for about four weeks in primary and secondary fermenters. Final gravity on the gallon bottled was about 1.007. Let them age for a few weeks and cracked them on Christmas and New Years. Those that were bottled tasted great, but a little sour. Dry, very clear in color. Drank almost like a white wine. Limited apple flavor, due mostly to that little bit of sour.

I have another five gallons aging in a 5G carboy. I would like to bottle these 5G up pretty soon, but would love to add in a little sweetness. Just a bit. I also want to carbonate half of the 5G. My goal is to have some of the 5G has sweetened and carbonated and some as sweetened and not carbonated. I understand that to get the carbonation I could use brown sugar, concentrated apple juice, etc. And I’ve seen some traffic on the non-fermentable sugars to add a bit of sweet. Just not entire sure how to do this, when to add, how much to add, etc. Advice on how to accomplish?


A pound of lactose or maltodextrin and you should be good to go as far as balance between sweetness/tartness.

For carbonation, personally I have six 1-gallon batches right now that are ready to bottle, so I’m going to try all sorts of different things to see what turns out best. I plan to try regular white sugar, brown sugar, and apple juice concentrate. You could also try honey, corn sugar, etc. If you use low doses of sulfite and sorbate, it will kill some of the yeast without killing all of it. Then carbonation will take maybe 4 to 6 weeks but should still carbonate. Another method I might try is not using any sorbate or sulfite, but instead just the priming sugar, then wait to carbonate as normal, and finally kill the yeast with heat by boiling or running the capped bottles through a heated dishwasher cycle to bring the yeast up to pasteurization temperature. I’ve never tried this but others have and it seems like it should work.

Thanks Dave. Now when would I add the lactose/maltodextrin? Would I toss that into the carboy now or wait until bottling? Also, do I need to boil that for ten minutes (or so) before I add? (Similar to how I’d ensure clean bottling sugar before adding to beer and bottling).

I like your idea on multiple carbing techniques. I have enough corn sugar and brown sugar around here to probably cover me. Any idea the proportions for cider? Typically, with a 5G batch of beer I’m doing something between 3/4 and 1 1/4 C of light DME. Want to be careful with the cider that I don’t create explosions! I wonder what would happen if I used a little wheat DME that I have laying around…might get a little head retention on the cider.

Your guesses are all right. Dissolve the lactose or maltodextrin and boil for a few minutes to kill bugs, then cool and pitch it in. With unfermentables, it makes no difference when you add them. I add on bottling day at the same time along with priming sugar. Prime with the same amount of sugar as you would use for beer. Personally I would use table sugar in the amount of 5/8 cup per 5 gallons, or corn sugar at 3/4 cup. Brown sugar should be the same as table sugar. Other sugars, I’m not exactly sure. I’m going to do some playing around with different amounts of apple juice concentrate in the hopes of finding the sweet spot, so to speak. Wheat DME is an interesting idea – it might even provide the most subtle hint of beery flavor to the cider, although maybe not since it’s a pretty small amount.

Like it. Thanks again Dave. Feeling a bit more confident with this latest endeavor. I’ll report back in a few weeks on how we turned out. Slainte…


I’m real interested in hearing your results on using concentrate to prime. I’ve seen things all over the board for using it and have always been to chicken to try. haha

Nice thought on the wheat DME giving a little head retention. I have a Graff Cider in bottles right now that called for torrified wheat and it works great for head retention.

I could see this actually being an entire winters project!

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