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Since yeast will generally eat any sugar you add to your must/cider, adding sugar for sweetness in home-brewing isn't really an option unless you get more elaborate and pasteurise, etc. So artificial sweeteners are the obvious option to allow bottle-conditioned sparkling cider with sensible ABV and a nice level of sweetness... especially the modern trend of sweet "fruit ciders".

But what artificial sweeteners are commonly used and easily purchased? There are so many used commercially and some have noticeable flavour (in a bad way) to different people... for instance my wife loves Sprite Zero and Coke Zero but finds other diet sodas have a nasty after-taste from sweeteners.

What sweeteners make sense for home-brewing, and what are their pros/cons? How should I choose which one to use?

They need to be non-fermentable

  • "commonly used" depends on people or group, and "easily purchased" depends on territory. – Mołot Oct 14 '15 at 12:51
  • Hmm. I suppose I meant "The West" or UK/US to be more specific, or UK to be most specific! But also, specifically in cider, not generally in food. – Mr. Boy Oct 14 '15 at 12:59
  • If you are making any kind of herbal brew, stevia is a good (and natural) choice. For fruity ones, I have no idea. – Mołot Oct 14 '15 at 13:18
  • Are you also going to try and naturally carbonate the cider too? Meaning you'll be adding sugar and sweetner? – brewchez Oct 14 '15 at 15:16
  • @brewchez yes I will make the cider as normal and prime with a little sugar to bottle-carbonate... but also add non-fermentable sweetener at the same time to add sweetness to the desired level. – Mr. Boy Oct 14 '15 at 15:18
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I would recommend experimenting on your own on a per-bottle basis. Maybe swipe the yellow, pink, and blue packets from the local diner and sacrifice some bottles of your next batch to science? That way you don't have to rely on the anonymous people of the internet to determine your fate. Choose your own path :)

-OR-

Here are some sweeteners you can get on the line in the UK:

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    A lot of stevia makers add other things into it, the stevia that my wife uses adds Dextrose to it. for more information truthinadvertising.org/extra-ingredients-natural-stevia-product i would look carefully at the ingredients list to be sure on what you are adding. – jsolarski Oct 16 '15 at 1:07
  • Thanks - can you confirm these are non-fermentable? Aspartame seems to be common in UK products but for some reason, isn't sold on Amazon unlike Xylitol/Stevia – Mr. Boy Oct 20 '15 at 12:27
  • I know for fact that Xylitol does not ferment or kill your yeast if used sparingly. Not entirely sure about the others. – BoilerBrad Oct 20 '15 at 13:02
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Personally I find alternative sweeteners to be rather nasty, and they all leave some sort of unfamiliar and distasteful after taste.

Is there a reason you don't want to use sorbitol? I can understand if you don't, but what makes artificial sweeteners more desirable Than sorbates?

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  • I assumed anything that didn't ferment would be a sweetener.... I'm not familiar with sorbitol. Perhaps you can flesh out your answer? – Mr. Boy Oct 29 '15 at 17:00
  • Sorbitol is to sorbates as Kleenex is to tissues – Escoce Oct 29 '15 at 17:01
  • Oh I see you suggest to kill the yeast and leave unfermented sugar. The reason is this seems more difficult especially if I want it carbonated (which is important) – Mr. Boy Oct 29 '15 at 17:03
  • Ah, yeast carbonated? Yeah that would be a little more difficult. I make my ciders wine like, not sparkly save for any residual sparkle that by chance may still be left in the cider at bottling. – Escoce Oct 29 '15 at 17:21
  • However just for pedantic reasons; sorbates don't kill yeast, it interferes with reproduction. You still want to filter out/settle/ clarify your wine/cider to get the population down first. – Escoce Oct 29 '15 at 17:23

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