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Top layer of fermenting cider is brown

I’ve got my first attempt at hard cider in secondary fermentation and for the past few days I’ve noticed that the top inch or two is brown. It’s only a half gallon batch from fruit from my house. It was in primary for about two weeks, and has been in secondary about 4 weeks. Fermented with champagne yeast.

I haven’t tasted it yet, but it still smells fine. Is this a problem? I was waiting for it to clarify before I bottled it, but now this issue arose. Not sure what to do.


Not sure… Can you post a picture?

I’ve attached a pic.

try cold crashing it?

I’ve got no real advice. I have not seen this phenomenon. It might be similar to keeving, where the top is supposed to curdle and look like brains, but that’s not how this looks. Or it might be an infection of some sort. Or, it might just be how your yeast looks on this batch and everything is fine!? Only way to know is to taste it, wait a few weeks, then taste again and see how it evolves. Strange looking, though, I agree. If you want, you could try racking out the yellow cider from underneath the brown layer into a new carboy. But I really have no idea if that would be good, bad, or indifferent to the quality of the final cider.

my vote, for what it’s worth is oxidation. that’s a fair amount of air space in the jug.
i’d re-rack and top off higher into the neck…and push that plug in tighter.

For what it’s worth, I did a 5 gallon batch of cider last year that looked just like that in the carboy. Over the course of a couple of weeks, the whole batch turned that color. The cider was (and still is) great. My guess is that it’s yeast, pectin, or something else settling out.

I think its just yeast and other stuff settling. I bet the whole batch will turn that color over time. Did you add any pectinase?

cider newbie but not new to brewing (mead mostly)…I noticed a thin layer of brown stuff on my most recent batch of cider after the first day of fermenting (I’m using the typical plastic primary). I gave it a light stir and the layer went away. The bulk of the cider now looks to be about that color.
I don’t know about pectin (I added enzyme), but the actual cold-pasteurized cider I began with was already quite dark; much more so than your average store bought cider. I believe this might be more a product of using high quality fresh cider and the interaction of the champagne yeast, similar to the “scum” than can form during fermentation of fruit or honey for wine.
Just my guess.
good luck! and I agree with a previous poster…its all about the taste.

Looks like there’s a small hand floating in it.

I’d use a sanitized spoon to take it out. If it’s plastic, like from a doll or action figure, the cider should probably be alright. If it’s an actual hand, I’d say you should dump the batch.

Well, for some reason, when I woke up this morning the brown layer was gone. It looks to have fallen out of the cider, and now the whole batch is slightly darker than it was, but certainly not as dark as the brown layer.

I guess I’ll try bottling it soon. Thanks for all the input.

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