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Thread: Did I ruin my cyser?

  1. #1

    Default Did I ruin my cyser?

    Hi all. I think that I am pretty screwed here, but I’m hoping that maybe, *maybe*, just maybe I can salvage this batch. The problem is, I believe that the apple juice that I used contains potassium sorbate- normally I am careful to not let this happen, but oddly enough the half gallon containers don’t contain any, but the gallons did- and they are the same brand. I must have only looked at the half gallon jug and thought that I was good to go and didn’t check the gallons. After reading the “Cyser Issue” thread below I determined that I should make a large starter and repitch. So here is my full recipe and the additional pitch:

    Start Friday 02/17 at 6:00 pm. Everything cleaned/ sanitized as per usual.
    2 gallons of unfiltered apple juice (with the $@*%* potassium sorbate )
    6LB Orange Blossom honey
    Aerated the must for a good 5 min. SG was 1.119 must temp was 71.5F when yeast was pitched.

    Yeast- 5g Lavin K1V-1116- boiled 100ml spring water. Covered with plastic wrap and let cool to 110F then added 6g GoFerm. Added yeast at 105F (did not stir). Recovered and let stand for 15 min. Afert 15 min stirred and let stand for another 15 min. Then pitched and gently swirled. Yeast starter temp was 73.5 when pitched.

    At 9:00 AM on Saturday there was no air lock activity, no bubbling, or no foaming. 12:00 same story so I started another yeast starter... Just incase. So I started the yeast starter same as above then added 100ml unfiltered apple juice (WITHOUT potassium sorbate). I then doubled the amount of juice every 8 hours until I had about 1.75 liters then pitched Monday at about 2:00pm. Within about two hours, activity picked up and bubbled nicely and formed about a one inch thick head of foam on top. This morning at about 7:00 AM it was bubbling very slowly in the carboy, but nothing in the air lock (I know- never trust the airlock). Temp in the fermentation chamber is pretty steady 68-72F.

    So, did I just waste 6Lb of honey and 2 gallons of juice and a weekend? Or is there any hope to salvage this batch?

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited by Robusto; 02-21-2012 at 12:29 PM.

  2. #2
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    This thread? Yeah, that's about all the advice we have, make a really big starter (with un-sorbated apple juice and not your must, as you did) so you have lots of yeast cells because the sorbate will keep them from breeding (which is why your initial pitch failed), and you may have to repeat this starter several times to get it to go all the way.

    Time will tell if it's ruined, personally, I wouldn't give up on it till a starter repitch fails. And then you can decide if it's still too sweet, and if it is, make another gallon or two and ferment it completely dry then combine the batches.

    And I bet you'll never forget to check the label again, huh? (I can tease you because I've been there, done that too )
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks Chevette,
    I read and re-read that thread and googled my brains out before asking, but I thought that maybe someone who didn’t post in the other thread may stumble upon this one. But I took all the advise that you and the others gave the other poor chap- so as no to be too redundant.

    And then you can decide if it's still too sweet, and if it is, make another gallon or two and ferment it completely dry then combine the batches
    That was/ is my back-up plan. If all else fails, I guess that I could always use it to back sweeten a bone dry batch to a nice medium sweet.

    And I bet you'll never forget to check the label again, huh? (I can tease you because I've been there, done that too )
    I will forever check the labels from hence forth- twice! It is so crazy- Only the gallons jugs have the sorbate- the half gallons are clean! I don’t know why the same company would make one without sorbate and the other with… Live and learn I guess…

  4. #4
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    They probably assume the gallon jugs will be open longer during consumption, and thus more susceptible to a noticeable infection. Half gallons are probably gone before anything would spoil the juice. Or that's what I'd think anyway.

    It sounds like you are on the right track. You'll just have to check the gravity and see where it winds up. If nothing works, sweet cyser heated with a little cinnamon is a nice cold weather drink.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  5. #5

    Default Update

    OK, so I though that I would give you guys an update. So last night when I got home the must temperature was an ominous 66.6 degrees F with very little bubbling and the nice krausen had fallen and was dissipating. So, thinking that the temp was at the low end so I put the carboy on a heating pad and set it on the lowest setting. About 3 hours later it was at almost 72 deg F and was bubbling away like mad. I left the heating pad under it all night on low with the alarm set on the thermometer just in case. This morning it was at 73 deg F and while the bubbling had slowed some it was still going strong and the krausen was thick and healthy looking and climbing up into the neck of the carboy. I think that it’s too early to tell but it looks like (hopefully) that the nice large starter I pitched the second time may be doing the trick, but I guess only time will tell.

    thanks

  6. #6

    Default Update 02/23

    Ok, so I though that I would give updates so that anyone who does this can have a reference. Last night gravity was at 1.097 at 74.5 deg F. I put into the calculator and the liter and a half (ish) that I added that was the yeast starter and juice would have lowered my OG to about 1.114. So, if there is a direct relationship- i.e. I can use simple math (which I’m sure is not the case but will wait for someone with more experience to correct me) then the gravity has actually dropped 0.017. I know that the SG’ need to be adjusted for temperature differences, but I will have to do that math problem later. I tasted the sample after taking the gravity reading and it is still supper sweet – as I expected, but it seams to be coming long.

    I also added the pound of organic dried tart cherries that I had. I had been saving them to rack onto, but thought that the yeasties might be able to use the “untainted” food, and to my happy surprise, fermentation activity amongst and on top of the cherry layer is strong.
    Overall, the fermentation has slowed since the little heating pad experiment on Feb 21, but it is stronger than it was in the beginning, and has been very consistent. The one thing that I have noticed is that the bubbles rising through the must are about 4 times the size of the bubbles from earlier. So for now, I’m just going to keep a close eye on it and hope for the best.

  7. #7
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    I am so glad to hear that this is working out for you.

    A cyser is a terrible thing to waste.
    “Give a man a beer, waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, and waste a lifetime!”

    slàinte mhath

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robusto View Post
    I put into the calculator and the liter and a half (ish) that I added that was the yeast starter and juice would have lowered my OG to about 1.114.
    I think if there was no fermentation prior to that, just count 1.114 as your OG, it will be close enough, the amount a litre and a half would change the temp in a 2-3 gal batch is probably negligible as far as its effect on the SG.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014

  9. #9

    Default

    Hi guys. So it’s time for another update for 02/23 through 02/27.

    02/23-
    Well, when I got home from work, I had a little surprise waiting for me. Apparently the dried cherries rehydrated a little more enthusiastically than normal. This combined with the yeast really liking them caused enough pressure to pop the air lock and spew a handful of cherries onto the floor. So I cleaned them up, drained a little must and took an SG. To my surprise the SG was at 1.101. I’m pretty sure that the variance was due to a temperature fluctuation, but cannot confirm as I forgot to take a temp reading, but wonder if a little of the sugars in the cherries could have leached out into the must. Any thoughts?

    02/04-
    I only aerated. No SG taken.

    02/25-
    Aerated vigorously. When the must had calmed down, I took tem and GS readings. Temp was 68 deg F and SG was 1.096. It seemed that fermentation had slowed significantly, so I added 1/8 teaspoon of DAP, a ¼ teaspoon of Go-Ferm, and ¼ teaspoon of yeast hulls and gently shook to mix.

    02/26-
    Fermentation picked back up and the must is starting to clear. When I shine a flashlight (that’s a torch for you folks across the pond) into it I can now see at least half way in. There is a large amount of sediment on the bottom of the car boy. The cherries are floating on top and there is a nice active yeast colony (I don’t know what else to call it) clinging to the cherries. There is a nice steady stream of CO2 bubbles rising from the bottom layer, although the must looks very viscous- the bubbles rise very slowly.

    02/27-
    No aeration. No SG or Temp readings today. The yeasties look happy and are working steadily so I figured that I should leave well enough alone. Must still looks very viscous with slow bubbles.

    So today is 02/28 and this morning when I shined the flashlight into the carboy I could see most of the way through it. It seems to be clearing nicely and the must looks much less viscous than it did the previous few days

  10. #10
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    I'm glad it's going somewhere for you!

    Although I would continue with aeration until you're 1/3 of the way through your fermentation at least (SG around 1.076. Plus, clearing at this point is NOT what you want, you want the yeasties to be up and suspended in the must, not falling inactive to the bottom.

    Especially for this must since your yeast won't be up to breeding, I would highly recommend stirring or swirling it every day even after you decide to stop aerating it.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014

  11. #11

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    Although I would continue with aeration until you're 1/3 of the way through your fermentation at least (SG around 1.076. Plus, clearing at this point is NOT what you want, you want the yeasties to be up and suspended in the must, not falling inactive to the bottom.
    OH…. OK. Thanks for the heads up! I will continue with the aeration. I usually only aerate for the first week, but I guess in this case I should continue using the Hydrometer. I must still be harboring a fear of oxygenation because I started brewing beer.

    See, this is why I come here and share what I do- so that when I mess up someone can correct me 

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robusto View Post
    I must still be harboring a fear of oxygenation because I started brewing beer.
    Riiight... You know, we really need an entry on the FAQ for "I brew beer already, what procedural differences are key to making meads?" and while we're at it, we should add one for "I brew wine already..."
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014

  13. #13

    Default Update 02/28

    Ok, so I aerated and stirred the must. Yeasties were back in suspension (along with all that apple pulp). I then took temp and SG readings. SG was 1.095 at 73 deg F. So I guess that the yeast are still chomping away on the sugars. This morning the must was starting to clear again with a lot of CO2 bubbles coming from the bottom layer and the air lock was bubbling away. I will aerate and swirl again when I get home tonight.

    Question:

    Is the decrease in SG that I am experiencing normal, or is it on the slow side. It just seems like it should be faster, but given the false start and the potasium sorbate, maybe I should consider myself lucky and just be happy with the way its going.

    thanks

  14. #14
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    Yeah, it's on the slow side, and it will probably get slower, since the yeasties won't be replacing any fallen soldiers thanks to the sorbate... When you get impatient it's time to repitch with another apple juice starter
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014

  15. #15

    Default

    update 03/06:

    so I have been swirling- not aerating- once a day and this morning I took a gravity reading- we are at 1.088.
    Slow going so far but fermentation seems to be pretty steady. It smells good and tastes good- very sweet, but no off flavors of smells. I may re-pitch again to try to speed things up a little, but have a few questions for those of you still following (that’s you Chevette).

    There is a lot of what I guess is apple pulp that settles out every night on the bottom; should I rack the mead/must to another carboy before re-pitching and get it off of that stuff?

    I’m worried that adding more yeast may adversely affect the favor (cause those yeasty off notes) as I have already pitched twice- Should I be concerned about that?

    Thanks again

  16. #16
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    Heh, am I getting a reputation around here ??

    Since the yeast you used is K1V-1116 which is not known for early breakdown like 71B, I wouldn't worry about getting it off the lees yet. And I'd also give it a couple days of no swirling before racking when you do choose to, to let stuff settle, and don't worry too much about that apple pulp if you suck some of it up, it's not the end of the world, it will eventually settle out and compact somewhat once your fermentation is done and you can leave it alone.

    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014

  17. #17

    Default

    If the yeast can't compete with the sorbated cider I would not pitch any more, I would follow Chevette Girl's earlier suggestion of making a batch with unsorbated cider, fermenting it dry and blending the two to achieve the desired sweetness.

  18. #18

    Default

    Ok- so time for another update.

    So on Friday I was a little bored and impatient so I repitched with a nice healthy starter. I didn’t want to throw off the gravity too much so I kept it small, but well fed and it was bubbling and foaming like mad- it looked and sounded like a just opened soda. Yesterday, 03/11/2012 I took a gravity and temp reading. SG was 1.0805 and temp was 67.1 deg F. The must looks a lot less viscous- the bubbles are rising to the top very rapidly. The sediment on the bottom barely moves when I swirl it and it is starting to clear a little more- but not by too much. It is producing a lot of CO2 which I do not think is simple de-gassing because every time I swirl the must, a lot of CO2 comes out, then the air lock is dead quiet for a few hours and then bubbles away again. I tasted the sample and it is still super sweet and most of the taste is apple, but am finally starting to taste some alcohol… so I think we are getting somewhere, but slowly.

  19. #19
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    It's interesting to see how this is working, and yes, I'd agree that you've got fermentation going on, not just degassing. Now I'm kind of tempted to try again with the sorbated Welch's Raspberry which I failed with twice and see if I can't get it to complete, or at least get somewhere sensible
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014

  20. #20

    Default

    Time for another update- As of Friday, 03/16 the SG was 1.071. The mead is about half way done, and is starting to clear a little more. It looks good and smells great, but is still, as you would imagine, very sweet. The honey is actually starting to come through slightly now and has a nice appley after taste and the ciderish, almost green notes are fading fast.

    The question that I have is when should I rack? I know that ideally, you should wait until fermentation is complete before racking, but it’s coming up on 5 weeks now and there has been a large amount of lees and pulp at the bottom for a while now. I guess I’m just afraid that is will pick up some off flavors. So, should I rack and re-pitch?

    Also, should I keep swirling it? Not aerating mind you, as no fresh air would be let back in.

    Thanks again.

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