View Full Version : cyser

Vance G
11-11-2011, 12:41 PM
I used most of a recipe from Schramm's the compleat meadmaker for a cyser.

8 pounds honey
4 gallons gala apple cider
1/2pound of chopped dates
1/2pound of raisins
1 tsp of yeast nutrient
2 tsp of yeast energizer
1 pound dark brown sugar
10 grams of lavlin D-47 yeast.
water to five gallons.
Due to my inattention I actually used a pound each of dates and raisins.
The only water I added was what I soaked/simmered the dates and raisins in in a 2 qt saucepan. with all the ingredients, it was actually a tad over 5 gallons.

Now here is what I worry about instead of the recommended yeast, I had read about Lavlin 71b-1122 finishing faster than the D-47 so I used it. Then reading more, I see the yeast I used converts malic acid into ethanol. Now I worry that the yeast will take the acid bite out of the mead and leave me with something not as good as if I had followed the recipe! Any thought or suggestions would be appreciated. This is my second batch of mead and the first one is in the secondary where I think it will be for a long long time. I just wanted a short mead that I could drink sooner.

11-11-2011, 02:26 PM
No worries! Just let it ferment out and clear, then taste the result. If it seems a little "flabby" to you (as in lacking in acidic bite), you can always add some commercial malic acid to it (which you can get at any LHBS). But the amount of malic acid that 71-B actually metabolizes is significantly less than what a true malolactic fermentation would do, and I suspect that you may be completely happy with the results without any modification.

My only caution about the 71-B is that you should rack the finished cyser off of the lees as soon as the mead has cleared... and certainly within about 6 weeks of fermentation finishing. 71-B lees will lend some pretty funky flavors to the mead if you allow the yeast to autolyse (i.e. break down chemically after they've died).

Oh, and Welcome to the "Gotmead" community, BTW!!

Vance G
11-11-2011, 03:09 PM
Thankyou very much info, and caution noted! One more question. What would be the best temp for this fermentation? It is a little cool were I do this, about 68, and I am going to bump up the heat and would like to know what would be best for a fast finish that will result in a good drinkable mead as soon as prudent.

11-11-2011, 03:19 PM
In general, the cooler the better, throughout the process. Every yeast strain has an ideal range of temperatures over which fermentation will progress. You can do a search on various websites to find those ranges. The Lallemand website (makers of the 71-B, D-47, EC and K1-V strains) is here: http://www.lallemandwine.us/products/yeast_chart.php

I usually try to keep my ferments at or just below the midpoint of the yeast's range, since that is the best compromise between "cleanest" and "fastest" ferment. You will get more off flavors from fusels and phenolic byproducts if the yeast are kept too warm for their comfort zone.

Vance G
11-28-2011, 03:45 PM
My cyser after two and a half weeks is still putting out a bubble every three to ten seconds. The temp is fairly steady at 68 degrees. It is still in the primary and I haven't opened it or moved it/shaken it for about ten days. When should I start worrying about the 71b yeast starting to decompose and put out bad compounds as someone cautioned? I have been itching to rack it off the raisins and dates and lees so I could taste it but I just don't know if it is time yet. Please! advice from the mountain humbly requested

Chevette Girl
11-28-2011, 04:15 PM
Wayneb says you're good up to about 6 weeks with 71B.

The best way to figure out if it's time to rack to secondary? Check the specific gravity :)

Vance G
11-28-2011, 07:04 PM
What would I see on the hydrometer that would make we want to rack it. Please assume all my posts are made by an ignorant idiot because they are:<}

11-28-2011, 07:30 PM
If the SG is around 1.010-1.015, I'd say rack it. What was the original gravity? That will help in determining when it should be racked.

Chevette Girl
11-28-2011, 07:31 PM
LOL, sorry. I do generally assume people have at least read and remember most of the newbie guide :)

The hydrometer tells you how much heavier than water your must is (measuring the specific gravity). Water reads at 1.000. When you first start out, you'll get a high reading, usually somewhere between 1.090 and 1.125. As the yeast eats the sugar and produces alcohol (which is lighter than water), the readings will go down, usually approaching 1.000 and sometimes below that.

The reason we say airlock bubbles aren't a reliable gauge of whether fermentation's happening is because it could be yeast producing CO2 OR it could be leftover CO2 that had been trapped in the must slowly coming out of solution even though the yeast are done.

When your specific gravity reading gets close to 1.000 * it's time to consider racking.

* - unless you've given it more sugar than it can reasonably eat: if you put a yeast that is only rated to 12% into a must at 1.125 (which is over 16%), you will only expect it to get down to 1.035), these numbers came straight from the mead calculator in the yellow panel to the left.

If it's stopped (you get consistent identical readings over a week or two) somewhere higher than that, you might have a stuck ferment, at which point you need to decide whether to try to jumpstart it or accept it where it is. Your airlock will never tell you this, which is why you will keep hearing, "Get a hydrometer!" from those of us who've been around a while.

Does that clear things up some?

Vance G
11-28-2011, 09:57 PM
Thanks. I am a little thick on putting things together I am afraid and need things spelled out. So I guess I wait another week and then adopt your methodology. I hear your admonition on the beginners guide. I must be guilty as I am here with inadequate knowledge. It gets old telling ham headed chooms the same things over and over. I know that to be true. Thanks again

Vance G
12-01-2011, 07:57 PM
I guess it is racking time. Specific gravity is 1.030 and original was 1.130 . I guess it may be sweeter than I wanted but time will tell. I was going to have a taste and left a swallow in my handy dandy hydrometer holding wine thief. My wife held the apparatus while I put the cover back on brewing bucket and decided it was going to drip if she didn't put her hand under it. She didn't know about the handy dandy little trigger.

Chevette Girl
12-01-2011, 08:20 PM
She didn't know about the handy dandy little trigger.

Dangit... at least it wasn't full, I hope? only a little taste?

Vance G
12-02-2011, 12:07 AM
No I had drained it down to just leave a taste thankfully. I will taste it tomorrow when i rack it.

Chevette Girl
12-02-2011, 12:15 AM
Hehe, so exciting! I always hold my hand under my theif because even if the valve doesn't leak, the must running down the outside usually does so I always put my hand under it, that way I do get to taste a few drips.

Vance G
12-07-2011, 02:10 AM
New fermtech self starting siphon lost flow after about 2 gallons of really pristine mead was transferred to carboy. My only explanation why is that possibly the CO2 from the must was collecting in the hose some way and stopping the siphon. Things got murkier as I had to repeatedly pump the thing to get flow back a number of times. I have about a gallon of mead in the lees and fruit and other muck after I quit. I topped off carboy with the pre made honeywater mix same SG as the mead 1.030 I hear talk about degassing, should this have been done before racking or did I imagine that was my problem with lost siphon? How does one best salvage the mead left on the lees and fruit debris without really oxygenating it---or is that a cost of doing business? The mead is really sweet yet. I hope it works out some of the residual sugar yet. Thanks in advance. Vance

Chevette Girl
12-07-2011, 12:19 PM
If it's still offgassing (or SG still dropping, even slowly) you're probably OK with respect to oxidation. What I'd do to try to save some of the mead from the muck is put it in a sanitized container (jar, jug, whatever it fits into, covered with plastic wrap and an elastic so it keeps out fridge smell and oxygen but will let any CO2 escape) and put it in the fridge for a week, I find that almost always compacts the lees and leaves a very clear layer on top.

Vance G
12-07-2011, 01:12 PM
Is the CO2 the reason i keep losing siphon? I never had this kind of trouble on the farm with a garden hose when i was 10! As long as the destination was downhill it kept running. it is still fermenting and SG is down to 1.025 this morning and other than over sweet it tastes pretty good. A little yeasty of course. I have the lees and remaining portion back in the brewing bucket all sealed up and it is producing a bubble or two yet also. I think I will let it continue that for a while and then set it out in the big refrigerator on the deck when it is in the thirties and see if that doesn't allow me to pour off the remaining liquid. Thanks for your advice. I just feel like the dumbest kid on the block!

Chevette Girl
12-07-2011, 02:37 PM
You weren't trying to use the auto-siphon to pump uphill, were you? What makes it work is the outlet being at a lower elevation (and therefore lower potential energy) than the inlet, even with no air in the system it will stop once the level at the inlet is equal to the level at the outlet (try it sometime with a filled section of tubing and a couple jars half-full, one end of the hose in each jar, the lower one will fill, if you raise the full one, it'll reverse flow, once they're even, it'll stop (presuming both ends of the hose are submerged) the greater the difference in height between the water levels, the faster the flow). This is why when you were ten, it only worked when the garden hose was going downhill. The water is seeking to lower its potential energy by moving to a lower elevation, without that, it won't go anywhere without you adding work to the system, ie, a pump, or continuous pumping of your auto-siphon.

If the flow's not strong enough to keep air from coming back up the outlet hose (either because of clogs, kinks or insufficient elevation difference) that can stop a siphon pretty quickly because the incompressible, non-expansive liquid that keeps pulling the flow through the tubing is interrupted by air which will expand to fill the space and stop the flow of liquid. I've racked some pretty fizzy things and as long as there's about 3' difference (ie, bucket on kitchen counter and carboy on the floor), CO2 doesn't cause excessive issues when racking.

If it's still producing bubbles in the bucket you're probably safe, and your plan to put it on the deck is sound. Even if it freezes solid, it'll be nice and clear when it thaws out (or at least that's how my anecdotal experience has happened!)

Hope I'm not talking to you like you're dumb, it's just a personal pet peeve when people don't understand something that I can explain, hope I helped. Make that stupid piece of paper on the wall useful for once :p

Vance G
12-07-2011, 02:58 PM
The recieving container's fluid level was at all times downhill from the donor containers fluid level. That is why I don't know the causitive factor in my losing siphon both times I have racked mead! The CO2 effervescense was the only possibility I could see, so I guess I am stll baffled. But that happens a lot to me.

Vance G
12-09-2011, 12:59 AM
Tested Gravity and it is still dropping and is now down to SG1.025 and I wonder if the 71b I used is going to do much more. After all my racking problems it is clarifying nicely and is about the color of a napa rose (if that is a color!) Still pretty sweet to my taste but the wife likes it and it has no real disagreeable tones. The OG was 1.150 which was higher than the recipe projected but I inadvertantly (alibi for not following directions again!) added twice the dates and raisins called for. I have decided also that I am never going to just dump honey by the pound to meet a recipe. I see the importance of working up to the target OG instead. I have drank a couple ounces each of my test samples and I am dealing with potent critters here! The cyser may be fit for guests by Christmas and New Years yet!

Vance G
12-16-2011, 01:48 AM
It has been 8 days since my cyser was racked and the ABV was a shade over 16% using 71b-1122. It had really clarified and is now the color of a bourbon I would say. I racked it and got a good four gallons that have good clarity. I set the rest I siphoned outside to chill and hopefully clarify too. The SG has not changed a hair in those 8 days but it is still putting up a bubble occaisionally. It is still sweeter than I desired, but tastes pretty good. No bite to speak of. It has good apple acid bit left. With that alcohol content it has to be about done working doesn't it? It has a pretty robust taste. If I just added water, might it not start working again and use up some of what I think is extra sweetness? I thought of topping off with more of the apple cider but I checked its SG and it is 1.120 and that would just make the mead/must sweeter. What should I do? any thoughts appreciated.

Chevette Girl
12-16-2011, 02:33 AM
If you used just cider and not must (usually around 1.050 in my experience) it'd thin it out and maybe go a little further in fermentation and thereby bring it down :)

Vance G
12-16-2011, 03:12 AM
That is a good idea. I will thin down the cider to the current SG and top it off. Thanks.

12-16-2011, 07:40 AM
The SG has not changed a hair in those 8 days but it is still putting up a bubble occaisionally... With that alcohol content it has to be about done working doesn't it?

If SG isn't moving then fermentation is complete. For now anyway :).

Those periodic bubbles are from degassing. The mead still has alot of C02 in its solution from fermenting. It will slowly release over time. The faster it is released the faster the mead will clear.

Chevette Girl
12-16-2011, 12:22 PM
However, if you do thin it down the yeasties might be able to take things a little farther. Maybe. If they feel like it.

Vance G
12-16-2011, 03:25 PM
The four gallons off the top still tastes good, if sweet, and is topped off with half cider/half water. The gallon I took off the lees settled probably 90% in it's just above freezing night outside. I siponed it off into a gallon jug and in turn, topped it off with cider/water. It tastes a little harsh and has an almost sour taste that I suppose derives from the apples acid bite. Someone told me that 71b-1122 lees would start to break down and make off flavors, I suppose that could be what is happening too. But at any rate, i am having a blast and am well pleased with the progress of my project. Somehow my carboy collection doubled yesterday too. Don't quite know how that happened! Strange, but I guess I will have to live with it.

Chevette Girl
12-16-2011, 03:31 PM
Those carboys... leave them alone for a week and they multiply...

According to Wayneb, 71B is fine for about 6 weeks and then you want to make sure you rack it, my conjecture is that anything that comes along should still be active and good for another 6 weeks after that.

You just have to pay attention and rack it a little more often, so keeping a bit of leftover must around for topping off isn't a bad idea although I've been known to just use plain apple juice...