View Full Version : Apple Juice and Sugars/ABV

10-17-2007, 11:10 PM
Hey all,

First post here on the forums as I'm planning out my first mead. I'm going to do a 3 gallon batch of cyser, I think, and I've seen several posts talk about just outright using apple juice or cider instead of water at all in the must.

My question is how does using apple juice affect the sugar content and eventually the ABV? Right now, I'm kind of cobbling together a basic recipe from what I've seen, something like the following:

3 gallons apple juice
9# Honey (sadly I'll probably wind up using clover honey from the supermarket, at least for the first batch)
undetermined amount of cinnamon
White Labs Liquid Sweet Mead Yeast

I'm more of a fan of semi-sweet wines myself, so that's my overall goal to hopefully emerge from the process with. If I'm reading the mead calculator right, using that amount of honey in that size of batch should theoretically yield something like a final gravity of 1.11 and 14.85% ABV. According to the yeast chart, that particular yeast tolerates up to around 15% ABV, so that's good. Granted, that's theoretically, but I'm not sure if I should use more/less honey to balance out the apple juice. It also seems to me that apple juice is kind of acidic, so that might play a part as well, no?

10-17-2007, 11:32 PM
Hi geminigrey, and welcome to the forum!!!

I just started a cyser myself, so hopefully I can help you out while this info is still in my head...

First of all, if you are planning on a 3 gallon batch, remember to also account for the volume of the honey. Nine pounds of honey roughly equates to 3/4 gallon, so if you use all 3 gallons of juice you'll end up with 3.75 gallons of must. Whether you want to go that route, or scale it back to 3 gallons total volume is up to you but just something to think about.

Secondly, apple juice varies from brand to brand and year to year I guess but the stuff I just used had a SG of 1.056. If yours is similiar, and you used 9 lbs of honey for total must volume of 3.75g your OG would be roughly 1.144 and would leave you with a pretty sweet cyser. I would just suggest that you take a hydrometer reading of your juice to see what its SG is and plug that value into the "current gravity" field of the mead calculator to help you plan out what you want.

As far as the acidity goes, I can't really comment on that because I'm still trying to figure out what an optimum pH for mead or cyser should be myself.

Hope this helps,
Cheers and good luck! :cheers:

10-18-2007, 01:34 AM
Welcome, Geminigray!

Apple juice is a tricky thing. It will push your yeast beyond expected tolerances, no messing. I use the RedStar Champagne yeast (rated at 15%) in my Ginger Meth (look in the recipe forums, I'm too lazy to give a direct link). My last batch, the third, came out 21.5%. Granted, I use a step feed but still, just be prepared! I also use grocery store honey too so...

I guess my point is that you may have to back-sweeten. In other words, let it ferment dry (0.098-0.0996), add campden and sorbate to stop the fermentation and then add honey to get the sweetness you want. My last batch, I added less than 3/4 cup at fermentation completion and it was about right. But I prefer mine drier. I like just a hint of honey sweetness, not a gaggingly sweet mead. Your mileage may vary...

10-18-2007, 02:01 AM
Hello Geminigrey!

Welcome to Got Mead!

Let's pay attention to your cider/juice since I've seen this more and more frequently lately.

Be absolutely certain before you purchase your juice/cider, that there are absolutely no preservatives (sorbic acid, sorbate, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, etc) in the juice/cider.

If the cider is pasteurized be sure to add some pectinase (pectic enzyme), or a bit of grape tannin (about 2.5 grams/gallon) or oak tannin (white fluffy tannin, about 1/2 gram/gallon) in small amounts to help clear the mead and give some depth of flavor.

The mead calculator will get you into the ballpark of where your gravity will be based on an estimation of the sugar content of the honey you'll be using. My advice is to get and use a hydrometer and go by actual specific gravity rather than by using pounds since different types of honey have different sugar content.

I'd also advise to lose the liquid yeast and go with Lalvin ICV-D47 yeast. Reydrate with Go Ferm and add Fermaid K at the end of the Lag phase, then again at the 1/3 sugar break. Balance your starting gravity to 1.125-1.130 and you'll have a nice semi-sweet mead.

Here's the recipe I'd recommend you try:

Total volume 3 gallon yield:
6-8 lbs honey (Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? If so you can buy their mesquite honey which is excellent in 3lb cans)
3 gallons Apple juice (It's ok to get different types of apple juice and blend them, again, be sure there are no preservatives)

5 grams Lalvin ICV-D47 Yeast rehydrated in Go Ferm

5 grams grape tannin or 1.0 grams oak tannin (Tannin Galalcool/White fluffy tannin)

1. Balance your must to between 1.125-1.130 Original Gravity

2. Reydrate your yeast in Go Ferm as per manufacturer's spec (Search the forums for the process for adding nutrient in staggered additions)

3. Pitch your yeast aerate well, and continue to aerate twice daily

4. At the end of the lag phase add 3 grams of Fermaid K

5. Continue to twice aerate daily through the 1/3 sugar break (do a search on sugar break and use Oskaar as the author)

6. Add additional nutrients at the 1/3 sugar break and

7. Be sure to measure your gravity daily during vigorous fermenation.

There's what I would do.



10-19-2007, 10:10 AM
Cool beans, thanks everybody for the advice. In what will probably be a regrettable move, I did go ahead and use the liquid Sweet Mead yeast, because I had already purchased it. We'll see how it goes, and go from there. I'm going to make a post in the brewlog section to keep everybody updated (not to mention keep a record for myself).

Thanks again!