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So I pitched a cider and the yeast blitzed through the batch in 48 hours (SG=1.050, FG=1.000). I noticed that the temperature went from 72F to over 76F during the fermentation (I really don't have a way to control the temperature of the carboy, the room temperature was 70F). So, my question is, how does the accelerated fermentation effect the taste of a brew? I sampled the final product and it seems to be ok, about what I would expect before bottle conditioning for at least a couple of weeks. Any expression of past experiences from the brewmeisters here would be appreciated.

edit:

A followup question to the two of you (JS and DC). I use premier cuvee or cote des blanc yeast for my ciders. Any suggestions for optimal temperature ranges specifically for ciders? I figured out that I could use a water bath to use the heat capacity to control the temperature better (I have VERY little space to work in) with cold packs tossed in, but wonder how low is too low?

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+1 good question. –  Poshpaws Sep 20 '11 at 13:59
    
Thanks Poshpaws –  drj Sep 20 '11 at 16:46
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Cider is a lot like white wine. The cooler and slower you can ferment it, the more of the delicate aromatics you will preserve for the final product. A warm, fast fermentation will result is the blowing off of CO2 at a rapid rate, and it will take aromatics with it.

Even still, I'm sure your cider will be quite good if the fermentation was healthy and the yeast didn't throw sulfur smells into it. If you have the room, you might want to let the cider bulk age for a while before you bottle it. Rack it into a smaller carboy with little-to-no headspace and leave it there for a few months. When you bottle it, you might need to pitch more yeast, but you can use a cheap champagne or clean ale yeast.

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No sulfur, but the cherry chocolate flavor from the original mix is definitely weaker than I'd hoped. I'll take your suggestion and rack it into a 3 gal carboy and let it sit. Do you think that clarifying it before this racking is a good idea, or would you wait? –  drj Sep 19 '11 at 1:09
    
I personally wouldn't add any fining agents at this point. I'd avoid it if the cider doesn't need it. If it doesn't fall clear on its own, then you can consider fining. –  JackSmith Sep 19 '11 at 17:43
    
Thanks, JS. Still refining my craft and you guys' input helps. :-) –  drj Sep 19 '11 at 18:48
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The accelerated fermentation won't affect the flavor, but the elevated temps that caused the fast fermentation might. Higher fermentation temps promote the formation of fusel alcohols, which can give nail polish remover or airplane glue flavors and aromas, as well as lead to headache inducing hangovers. You may get lucky and not get those flavors in this batch, but fermentation temp control is the single biggest thing you can to to ensure quality beer, wine, or cider. You can start with a great recipe and quality ingredients, but if you can't control the fermentation temp those advantages will be lost.

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Thanks, Denny. I always get good information from your posts. No low MW aromatic taste at this point. As I asked JS, would you wait to clarify the cider (using gelatin) until I let it sit for a few weeks or do it before I secondary it and then wait? –  drj Sep 19 '11 at 1:12
    
I'd never heard of fuser alcohols being a problem like this before. How high does the fermentation temperature have to be for this to be a real problem? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Sep 19 '11 at 14:52
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Last question first...all I can say is it depends on your wort/must composition and yeast strain. In beers, it's generally accepted that for most styles you want to keep it well under 70F. I try to ferment both my beers and ciders in the 62-65F area, raising them after a few weeks to ensure complete fermentation. –  Denny Conn Sep 19 '11 at 15:39
    
Thanks, DC. You guys are helping me prefect my cider making craft, and I appreciate the constructive comments. –  drj Sep 19 '11 at 18:52
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