Sunday, December 8, 2013

Wines I'm Making: Hard Cider--First Racking (December 6, 2013)

On Friday, December 6, I racked the hard cider I'm making off the gross lees. I started fermentation on November 18, so fermentation took about 18 days. The cider is working in two five-gallon containers. Although I inoculated 11 gallons of juice, I used the extra gallon to top up the two other containers after the racking, which reduced the volume of both somewhat.

Having used two different yeast strains (see the last post on the subject of hard cider for details), and having left the two batches in different parts of the house (one warmer than the other), the batch using the White Labs yeast, in the cooler location, was slightly behind the other, but bubbling has mostly stopped in both containers--although it's been so cold the past few days, even in the house, that lower temperatures may have suspended what final activity there was in both cases, activity that will have to start again once the liquid is bottled and a little sugar added back to feed a second, in-bottle fermentation to create carbonation in the finished product. So far, the White Labs batch tastes noticeably better than the other. I'm not sure exactly why. It may just be the slight amount of residual sugar in the White Labs vessel. Both have a slight hydrogen sulfide smell, however, which is not desirable--although I think  easily corrected. Hydrogen sulfide production is usually the result of inadequate yeast nutrients during fermentation. I did use the recommended dose of Fermaid K as well as DAP (diammonium phosphate), which together are supposed to prevent hydrogen sulfide production. It's time to call The Beverage People for advice. It's still much too early to know what the finished cider will be like.

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