Fresh Cider and Ale Yeast

Fresh Cider and Ale Yeast

With Cider Season upon us, the first experiment I will undertake will be to create a delicious, quick and cloudy cider. My goal is to end up with something equal in flavor and profile to the fresh pressed juice that I will be using for a base, with as little fuss as possible. With a mild sweetness as the target and a quick ferment I hope to have this cider ready in two weeks or less, by fermenting in the keg I will serve from. With the image of the long gone, rustic innkeep, pulling a mug from a barrel of cider he made from apples in the yard, I will allow this to self carbonate and retain its, living, fresh-yeast characters just like the innkeep would.

Update: Success! This cloudy brew is so quaffable and "right-off-the-press" taste that you'll have trouble not brewing another batch the moment the keg is empty! Follow the discussion over at the forum.

Style & Targets
Rustic Semi-sweet Cider
4% abv

4.5 gallons fresh pressed cider
Safale 04 Yeast

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Clean and sanitize a 5 gallon keg, fill with 4.5 gallons of fresh pressed cider (no preservatives of course!) and pitch a packet of yeast. For this batch I chose Safale 04, however, other yeasts may be used. I've heard good things about Nottingham as well.

For this first experiment I've decided to rig a blow-off tube onto the gas-in post. To do this I removed the poppet entirely and (luckily) had a tube that fit snugly (after being made flexible in hot water) over the post. I don't expect too much krausen from the juice but between not filling the keg to the top and this blow-off I think it will work out fine. (Update: There was little to no krausen even at 75 F ambient temperature - next time I will be filling to about one inch from the gas-in dip tube.)

In order to allow for some CO2 release during fermentation I will use the blow-off for the first few days, however, after I am sure it will not create a mess I will replace the poppet and allow the cider to self carbonate during the remainder of the ferment. I will be closely tracking the progress with daily gravity samples and once the cider is at the desired sweetness I will put it in the fridge to stop fermentation and then consume it - fresh!

I will be aiming for a final gravity of 1.008 (4% abv) and will seal the keg at 1.012. Based on the math found in this wiki, this will give the cider approximately 2 volumes of CO2.

Day 1
Ambient Temperature: 74 F
Initial Gravity: 1.038

Day 2
Ambient Temperature: 72 F
Gravity: 1.031

Day 3 
Ambient Temperature: 69 F
Gravity: 1.023

Day 4 
Ambient Temperature: 68 F
Gravity: 1.018

Day 5 
Ambient Temperature: 68 F
Gravity: 1.014

Day 6
Ambient Temperature: 68 F
Gravity: 1.012
* Now that the target gravity (plus 4 points) has been reached I have sealed the keg. Ideally the cider will continue to ferment down to 1.008, at which point I will cold crash it to stop fermentation and have about 2 volumes of naturally created CO2 in suspension

Day 7 
Ambient Temperature: 68 F
Gravity: 1.008
* Desired gravity achieved, the keg has been cold crashed in the fridge. Carbonation will be tested in 2 days time.

Success! This fermentation process has turned out to be one of the easiest I've done and for its ease, by far, the most delicious! The only thing I would change would be to shoot for a final gravity of 1.010 if the cider (like this one) is more tart to begin with.

The resulting cloudy brew is so quaffable and so right-off-the-press apple cider tasting that you'll have trouble not brewing another batch the moment the keg is empty!

If you want a simple cider, fast and scrumptious - this is the one for you!