Weird question

Ok, so I’ve got two batches of cider going at the moment. Both are 5 gallon batches, from a local orchard. Organic and unpasteurized. Both batches I pasteurized on my stove top at home. No problem there. I separated them into Batch A and B. Batch B was pitched with champagne yeast and 2lbs of honey. Batch A was pitched with Nottinghams Ale yeast and two lbs of brown sugar. Batch A turned out fantastic! Everyone loved it. Not so much for poor Batch B. It was so damn dry that it was bitter. Sharp. Undrinkable. It’s been going since 10/14, and after the first week when I tested SG and sampled it I knew I was going to have problems with it. So I decided to change tacks. I had planned on turning it into an apple wine of sorts. I put more sugar to it and more yeast hoping to see some kind of improvement. It only got more dry and more bitter. Just gross.I couldn’t stand it. In my infinite wisdom, I then decided to rack it on top of the yeast cake from Batch A after I bottled it. And add more brown sugar. This just happened tonight, and I noticed a remarkable difference in taste. I’m hoping that will transfer through the end of this fermentation period. I’m also going to post my SG notes here along with additions. If I did my math right, and this attenuates fully, it’s looking like a 14.6% batch!! :shock:

10/14: Pasteurized and put into primary. OG 1.063
10/21: Racked to secondary 1.046
11/7: 1.006
11/15: .998
12/6: .994
Added 1 packet yeast and 2lbs brown sugar 1.018
12/10: 1.012
Added 1lb brown sugar 1.020
12/18: 1.006
12/31: .992
1/01: Racked over ale yeast cake, added 1lb brown sugar 1.004

Let me know how off my rocker I really am! Thanks!

Cider with champagne yeast takes a long time before it’s drinkable, in my experience. Had you left it alone for several months, you probably would have been surprised at how it changed. At this point, though, I think your best bet would be to forget about it for awhile and see how it is in 6 months or so. With that much sugar and alcohol, it’s going to burn for awhile, but it still might be OK if you bulk age it.

any idea what kind of apples? The reason I ask is as a rule of thumb, the apples that are horrible for eating are usually the best for cider because of tannins, and with cider as with wine, the fruit itself is more important than the process. Tannins can really help give a cider some structure, when without them it can be dry-arse rocket fuel. You can try adding citric/malic/tantaric acid, but you will need to measure pH and figure out a target pH as well. Adjusting samples to different pH’s would probably be the best way for the latter, then scale up.

There’s a Brewstrong episode within the last year with Drew Beechum on where he gives a lot of great advice on cider, particularly adjusting after fermentation.

With your current ABV though, I would agree that age (and maybe even some oak spirals to add additional tannins/polyhphenols) will help improve it’s taste more than anything. The good news is you have some to drink (Batch A) while B is aging!

I also think you may benefit from some stabilizers (camden and potassium sorbate) and backsweetening. This sounds like a pretty dry product at present. Whatever you do, stop feeding the yeast!

EDIT: research adding of the oak prior to doing it. I am not sure if experienced cidermakers do this regularly or if it has good results.

Adding oak sounds like a FANTASTIC idea! Had I not just finished bottling all my 2013 cider last week, I’d be tempted to try that.

Well, I went ahead and bottled it all after the SG hit about 1. The oak spirals do sound like a good idea, but it seems like the bet course to take is to be patient. I’m not sure what kind of apples they were. The cider came from a local cider mill, so I’m assuming that they are cider apples. The place also makes cider vinegar. They don’t sell apples for consumption. Thanks for the feedback guys!

I know this is quite a bit late for you, but I wanted to add my 2 cents for future reference. My very first batch of cider was done with Lalvin D47 yeast and no additions (og was right at 1.05). The cider went very dry .096. I left it to bulk age for about 2-3 months and it changed considerably. When I decided to bottle, I did back sweeten just a bit, I think it was almost 1.01.

As a final experiment, I kept 1/2 gallon aside in a small jug and added oak cubes to it where it sat for over a month before I did anything with it. It’s amazing how much it changed. Honestly I should have removed the oak after about 2-ish weeks as it was perfect then. But interestingly enough, it now has a very distinct bourbon aroma/flavor to it and NOT in a bad way. By the way, I am not a bourbon drinker, but this cider is still quite nice. The oak really helped smooth it out. I still have some of the cider from the original batch that I bottled (unoaked) and they are quite a bit different. I will definitely oak my cider in the future.

Again just my 2 cents as I am still very new to this as well. Best of luck!