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We want to made sweet low ABV cider. How to do that?

I understand that yeasts are dying somewhere between 10 and 15% ABV but we want our cider to be between 2 and 5% ABV. We can interrupt fermentation and bottle it when the desired ABV is achieved but how to convince yeasts to produce just right amount of bubbles and die afterwards?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"We want to made sweet low ABV cider" - Then you don't REALLY want to ferment straight apple juice. I would recommend making a "Graff", which is a low-ABV "malted cider". Basically its a cider that uses ale yeast and a small portion of malt extract to add some unfermentable sugars and to round out the flavor.

Here's a great read on it: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f81/graff-malty-slightly-hopped-cider-117117/

I've done it before and it was one of the most popular batches I've made. It does NOT taste like beer at all. It tastes like a sweet, rich cider. Furthermore, its ready within 6-7 weeks, (as opposed to 6-7 months for normal cider) and can be as low ABV as you want really (although I'd stick to about 5% to keep it from being 'thin').

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I like this recipe. But what stops ale yeast from eating sugar from apples? I is still same Saccharomyces cerevisiae is it? –  Jakub Šturc Sep 6 '12 at 14:29
    
It's the maltriose in the malt - it's only partly fermentable (up to 1/3 depending upon yeast strain.) –  mdma Sep 6 '12 at 14:36
    
Yep the sugar from the apples is nearly completed fermented, but the malt extract adds some non-fermentables. One the batch I made, the whole thing clocked in at about 6% ABV by my estimatation. You use less juice than normal for strong cider, but the malt extract keeps it from tasting 'thin'. –  Graham Sep 6 '12 at 15:05
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I made a graff, based on Graham's recommendation on this board, and it did turn out very good. Not too dry, plenty of appley goodness, and not a bit beer-like. I only wish it was as easy as cider to make. I did a stovetop DME batch of wort (2 gal) and 5 gallons of Motts from megalamart. Pitched on a Belgian wit yeast cake (accidental event that turned out fine). –  Dale Sep 19 '12 at 23:47
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Pasteurize your bottle product after you've added the sugar for sweetening. Place bottles in a 165F water bath for 20 minutes. That will inactivate any yeast in the bottle. This will produce a still cider obviously.

If you want carbonation, you can experiment with opening a bottle every day until the carbonation is good. Then pasteurize as described above.

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Other options include:

For these techniques, you'll need to carbonate mechanically from a CO2 task, as the yeast have been disabled.

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Since the question specifically mentions bottling the cider, I'd recommend that you remove your reference to cold crashing in a keg. It could confuse someone into thinking you can cold crash to remove yeast, then bottle at room temp, which will most certainly lead to bottle bombs in about a week. –  Graham Sep 6 '12 at 12:20
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I use lactose, and I think it is one of the easiest solution. All natural sugar will be convert into alcool. And you will have sparkling cider by adding a little more sugar before bottling. Lactose will give a good taste (not like splenda). You can put 1kg of lactose for around 23L of cider.

The only problem is that lactose is not cheap (around 10$ for 1kg) and is hard to find (even in homebrew shops).

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Nice tip but I don't like idea of putting warning sing for lactose intolerant people on our cider. –  Jakub Šturc Sep 12 '12 at 21:18
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To get the bubbles you want, you'll probably have to rely on yeast attenuation. Get a low attenuating yeast so that it stops fermenting when there's still a decent amount of sugar left. When bottling, add some more sugar to wake them up and carbonate the bottles.

If you want more sweetness, use a non fermenting sugar like lactose or splenda. I use lactose in my hard lemonade which works out fine.

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