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Mazer828
03-04-2016, 08:49 PM
I recently made a cyser using entirely Honeycrisp apple juice, and about 3 pounds of orange blossom honey. I used cote de Blanc yeast. The problem is that now the fermentation is done, I find it way too tart. The pH doesn't seem to indicate that it should be as tart as it tastes, but there it is. So I'm appealing to the wine makers out there, as to what may be done at this point to lessen the impact of that tartness. I suspect that the tartness is coming from malic acid. So would there be a buffering agent I could mix in? Aside from blending with something else on the sweet side to balance it what recommendations might you have?

pwizard
03-04-2016, 09:03 PM
How tart are we talking about here? My last cyser (also honeycrisp-based, with the same kind of yeast) came out a bit tart but not more than most Rieslings I've had. I dumped in quite a bit of honey, so that probably helped.

Have you tried oak? Like I mentioned a few days ago, the oak I put in my cyser has cut the tartness a bit after 2 weeks.

You seem hesitant to backsweeten but it might be good since the tartness would keep honey additions from being cloying.

zpeckler
03-04-2016, 09:26 PM
If you've got the patience, you could always make a second less-tart cyser and blend the two.

Mazer828
03-04-2016, 09:49 PM
You're right I'm not a fan of back sweetening. And I should have mentioned that I did add a handful of oak chips, about an ounce. That should do something to round it out I agree. Maybe I'll wait a couple more weeks and see what effect that has before I do anything else. As for making another batch to blend it with, I'm not sure about that either. I'm already exercising a lot of patience with other batches, I'm not sure if I have very much to spare on this one. Lol.

pwizard
03-04-2016, 10:04 PM
How old is this batch? I'm not sure if acid is something that ages out, but time might improve the mead if the oak alone doesn't do it.

Also, are you sampling straight out of the carboy? I split my last cyser up into 1 gallon jugs after secondary; I've already bottled two of them and the other two are being oaked right now. In my case, the character of the mead changed considerably after bottling for some reason. It was pretty astringent (but acceptably drinkable) when I bottled the first two jugs. I had a bit left over but not enough for a full bottle, so I put the surplus in an extra bottle I cleaned (about 3/4 full) and stuck it in the fridge overnight. When I tried a glass the next day, it was much better for some reason and not as tart. I'm not sure what happened.

Mishram
03-04-2016, 10:21 PM
I made a peach wine a year and a half ago that was way too tart. I just opened a bottle of it a couple weeks ago and it had completely mellowed out. You said you have no patience for this batch so I know I'm really not helping here...but there is the option to tuck it away and forget about it. I remember listening to a podcast where Michael Fairbrother said he had the same experience with a pineapple mead that tasted amazing after 5 years.

Mazer828
03-04-2016, 10:43 PM
yeah I'm probably being a little overly dramatic. I suppose I can stand to wait a few months. Time does have a way of knocking off all the rough edges and really smoothing things out.

It's just easier to give that advice than to take it!

bmwr75
03-05-2016, 09:28 AM
I oaked a batch of too tart blackberry wine recently. 2-3 weeks on the oak reduced the tartness a substantial amount.

fuelish
03-05-2016, 10:51 AM
I like tart cyser.....I like "dry" mead .... for some odd reason, I want no sweetness in any of my meads, perhaps my tastebuds are off in some way ... a FG that many would describe as semi-sweet comes off as sickeningly sweet to me, for whatever reason. Only time a "sweet mead" works for me is if it's been dosed well with habaneros - the sweetness goes well with the heat, otherwise, I'll take mine dry, thankyouverymuch :)

Mazer828
03-05-2016, 11:13 AM
I like tart cyser.....I like "dry" mead .... for some odd reason, I want no sweetness in any of my meads, perhaps my tastebuds are off in some way ... a FG that many would describe as semi-sweet comes off as sickeningly sweet to me, for whatever reason. Only time a "sweet mead" works for me is if it's been dosed well with habaneros - the sweetness goes well with the heat, otherwise, I'll take mine dry, thankyouverymuch :)
That's me too. I love my wine, mead and cider nice and dry. Bone dry. Powdered zombie skull dry. And on the dryness scale I'd say this cyser came out just right. No complaints.

Started at 1.050, then toward the end of the ferment I added 3 lbs of honey, which raised the gravity 23 points. Finished out at 0.998, and a pH of 3.9. Dry, but not overly acidic. But it just must be the proportion of malic acid in Honeycrisp that stands out. It's not unenjoyable, but it is just on the other side of balanced, IMHO.

Oh something else I neglected to mention, this batch does have 1 oz of fresh shredded ginger added up front before the primary. But I really don't think that's it. I've used ginger many times before, and in higher proportions, and never got this result.

Sitting back, enjoying my many other successes, letting the oak do it's magical work.

pwizard
03-05-2016, 01:47 PM
I'd like you to try something, if you would. Pour or siphon a little bit off (not a whole lot, about 1/2 cup) into a juice glass, leaving lots of headroom. Cover it with saran wrap or something, swirl it a bit, and put it in the fridge overnight like I did. Try it the next day (sample it cold and at room temp) and see what you think. I'm curious to see if my experience will repeat itself.

Mazer828
03-05-2016, 03:43 PM
I'd like you to try something, if you would. Pour or siphon a little bit off (not a whole lot, about 1/2 cup) into a juice glass, leaving lots of headroom. Cover it with saran wrap or something, swirl it a bit, and put it in the fridge overnight like I did. Try it the next day (sample it cold and at room temp) and see what you think. I'm curious to see if my experience will repeat itself.
I'm game! I'll let you know. [emoji482]

Mazer828
03-06-2016, 01:46 AM
Now I have to ask, if your experiment yields the result you're expecting, what will we have learned?

pwizard
03-06-2016, 12:17 PM
Not sure what happened in my case. The only thing it might be that comes to mind is some of the tartness could have been caused by gas in solution (i.e. carbonic acid). Even though I degassed regularly during primary, that Cote Des Blanc made a very vigorous ferment with lots of bubbling. Pouring out a small sample and leaving it in a vessel with plenty of headspace for awhile allows the mead to thoroughly de-gas. My mead was still a bit tart after bottling, but pleasantly so (like a Sauvignon blanc or Riesling).

Mazer828
03-06-2016, 02:42 PM
Interesting. I suspected maybe you were picking up on some "breathing" that had gone on overnight, that had taken some harshness out, or allowed some more volatile aromatics to leave.

I took about 1/2 cup of my cyser, put it in a pint mason jar, swirled it around a bit like you suggested, and put it in the fridge overnight with a lid on. When I tasted it, contrary to our hopes, it came off more tart than before. The temperature didn't help. Cooler in this case equated to yet another layer of shock to the tongue.

But now you've got me wondering what a little open counter top time might do, like a bottle of wine being allowed to breathe before pouring. Room temp, too. And I think I'll wait another well or two to let the oak do some work before I try that.

Medsen Fey
03-08-2016, 09:52 AM
As you see (or taste) lower temp gives decreased perception of sweetness and increased pick-up of acid/tannin. This is why serving temperature for a mead can be important.

For a cyser that is too tart, a tiny bit of sweetening, just enough to offset the acidity, often works best. However, if you don't like that approach, aging will help, but that can take years. Some folks have put their cyser through a malolactic fermentation to reduce the malic acid. That can create some interesting flavors, but can also wreck your batch. Using some carbonates to reduce acidity works, but be careful not to raise the pH too much - spoilage organisms love a pH greater than 4. Whatever you choose, I'd error on the side of doing less - there's nothing worse than flabby cyser.

zpeckler
03-08-2016, 10:26 AM
Using some carbonates to reduce acidity works, but be careful not to raise the pH too much - spoilage organisms love a pH greater than 4.

Medsen, what do you think about the situation where the initial pH of your must is above 4? I've had musts in this range on occasion, especially with some of the hydromels I've experimented with. In these situations I've been leery about adding acid up front because I don't want to bottom out the pH once the yeast get going and stall the ferment. I worry about spoilage organisms with the hydromels because of the lower ABV.

Medsen Fey
03-08-2016, 11:33 AM
The initial pH of a honey must is usually irrelevant. No matter how high it is, the yeast will rapidly drop it into the comfort zone (if not actually pushing it too low).

Mazer828
03-08-2016, 07:41 PM
As you see (or taste) lower temp gives decreased perception of sweetness and increased pick-up of acid/tannin. This is why serving temperature for a mead can be important.

For a cyser that is too tart, a tiny bit of sweetening, just enough to offset the acidity, often works best. However, if you don't like that approach, aging will help, but that can take years. Some folks have put their cyser through a malolactic fermentation to reduce the malic acid. That can create some interesting flavors, but can also wreck your batch. Using some carbonates to reduce acidity works, but be careful not to raise the pH too much - spoilage organisms love a pH greater than 4. Whatever you choose, I'd error on the side of doing less - there's nothing worse than flabby cyser.

Thanks, Medsen. I definitely appreciate the advice. As you probably read, I'm going to wait and see what the oak can do to improve the situation. If that doesn't do the trick, I may consider backsweetening, even though I am rather disposed against the practice in general. One step at a time! What I can say for sure, though, is that I will not make another cider/cyser using only honeycrisp apple juice. It will definitely be one I use as a portion of a blend of apple juice varieties, though, because it has some admirable qualities. But I've heard experienced cider makers state adamantly that they never make single source ciders. Always blends. Sage advice, to be sure.

Additionally, as luck would have it, a friend of mine just finished a cyser as well, and it stopped dead at 1.070, which is exactly where the yeast's ABV tolerance should have told him it would stop. Although he and his wife love the stuff just like it is ("KACK!"), I'm trying to get him to donate a gallon or two of it to me to blend with mine in return for a few bottles of the well-balanced product. I really think that's my best option at the moment.

Medsen Fey
03-09-2016, 10:48 PM
A bit of lees aging or use of a product like biolees might also allow you to round out the flavor a bit and take some of the edge off the acidity.