A Question about Gravity

Sun Nov 20, 2016 4:13 am

Three weeks ago I put up a batch of hard cider. It was juice from a local orchard which is known for their cider. It comes pasteurized and filtered. That is what they recommended. This was a 15 gallon batch. Prior to pitching yeast I took a gravity reading. The juice was at 1.056. I used 3 packs of White Labs WLP 775 English Cider yeast; I used three simply because I didn't have time to make a starter. Normally I wouldn't have paid for the extra packs. After two weeks in primary I racked over into a secondary fermenter. At three weeks out I still have a gravity reading of 1.020. This seems high to me. I'm thinking that maybe I should be down around 1.000 by now. Has the yeast stalled? Perhaps a yeast nutrient is in order? Or do I just let it sit a while longer? So far it tastes pretty good. It is smooth and there's nice apple characteristics. Just wondering if I need to help it along a bit.

Any input would be appreciated!

Mark
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Re: A Question about Gravity

Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:22 pm

It's impossible to say if your fermentation has stalled without some reading of its activity. I judge fermentation rate by bubble evolution through the blowout tube or airlock. This is a crude but usable measure. Obviously we don't know the volume of the bubbles, and therefore the yeast's metabolic rate, but anything over a couple of bubbles per minute indicates an active (if slow) fermentation.

The last apple cider I made (OG 1.056) spent just under two months in the fermentor before it was still.

Charlie
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Re: A Question about Gravity

Tue Nov 22, 2016 12:22 pm

I fermented a cider once so I'm no expert but I do remember having to add yeast nutrient. I believe cider lacks nutrients found in malt such as FAN. It's also possible you over-pitched by a lot.
Brian
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Re: A Question about Gravity

Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:57 pm

Thanks for your input. Each pack of the YLP775 is for 5 gallons of cider, so three packs should have been ok.
mobrewer wrote:I fermented a cider once so I'm no expert but I do remember having to add yeast nutrient. I believe cider lacks nutrients found in malt such as FAN. It's also possible you over-pitched by a lot.
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Re: A Question about Gravity

Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:36 pm

Sorry, just realized it was a 15G batch. Duh. Yeah pitch rate obviously ok assuming healthy yeast.
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Re: A Question about Gravity

Thu Nov 24, 2016 5:57 pm

My take is that you may have taken the cider off the yeast too soon. Mine normally sit on the yeast for at least a month. There really is no reason to use a secondary at all.

Using a little yeast nutrient is always helpful, but more important is aeration. If you don't get the O2 in there the yeast won't take off right and will crap out early.

Most of my ciders are unfiltered and unpasteurized by the orchard. I add some sugar to bring the gravity up to around 1.070. My usual yeast is Wyeast 1732 French Saison yeast. This yeast and the sugar take the alcohol level up high enough in the first couple of days to keep all the nasty stuff from growing. Once the saison yeast slows down, the natural wild yeasts take over and slowly work on the remaining sugars over time. Depending on the wild strains growing in orchards in your region you normally end up with a nice "belgian" flavor profile and it does go pretty dry without losing the nice apple flavor. Mine finish out around 1.005-1.010. I use both nutrient and pure O2 and don't move it out of the fermenter for 4-6 weeks. It then goes to a keg and sits for at least 8-12 months. The keg I just tapped is 2 years old and is wonderful.

Hope this helps a little. Cheers!
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Re: A Question about Gravity

Wed Nov 30, 2016 4:57 am

Patience. Good cider takes time. I usually ferment mine for like 3-4 months, mostly due to laziness but it sure doesn't hurt either. I would say 6 weeks is a minimum. 3 weeks is not done yet. Patience is all you need.
Dave

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