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I made Hard Cider by essentially adding a packet of active dry yeast to a little less than a gallon of apple cider and some water with sugar that I boiled.

One week later (today) I boiled one cup of water and added 1.5 cups of brown sugar for a while until it was syrupy, then added that to the Cider I had going. Then I mixed and put it all in bottles.

How long before I should put the bottles in the fridge? I want maximum alcohol content. I also prefer minimum gunk at the bottom from dead yeast or at least if that sticks to the bottom and doesn't float around in beer that is fine with me too.

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That's a lot of priming sugar for one gallon, your bottles are in danger of popping if your yeast can handle it and it's left for too long.

You don't mention total sugar amounts added, gravity readings or yeast used, so a couple of things could happen here:

  1. Yeast alcohol tolerance is reached, and nothing more will happen. Your cider will be flat and sweet. Baking yeast will top out at ~5%, some ale yeasts might not get much higher either.

  2. You bottled before the yeasts alcohol tolerance was achieved, and you are now sitting on potential bottle bombs.

Generally, if you want to use refrigeration or pasteurization to stop fermentation it's a good idea to use PET bottles, so you can test the pressure by squeezing the bottle. Once they are firm, refrigerate or pasteurize. "Hippie-style" ginger ale- and hard lemonade recipes often go this route.

If you used glass bottles I would test one every day.

The cider will typically be cloudy for a few days, then gradually settle over a couple of weeks. Normally with my cider, it's settled solid enough in about 4 weeks that I can pour normally and get a clear product in the glass with the solids stuck in the bottle.

For ABV concerns, once it's in the bottle, it is too late for adjustment. There's only so much fermentation that can happen in the bottle before the carbonation pressure reaches unsafe levels, you need to stop it somehow before that.

  • So what do I do at this point? I don't want it to explode! Should I open it up every few days to let out pressure (they're grolsch bottles). – Tal C Apr 12 '16 at 15:43
  • I would test a new one every day and recap. Once there is a proper fizz move them to somewhere well below 60f/14c so the yeast goes to sleep. – Mumble Apr 12 '16 at 16:10
  • So Groslsch bottles won't handle pressure? I heard that they are good for this reason. Thanks in any case :D – Tal C Apr 12 '16 at 22:16
  • Not sure how much pressure it will be, someone might be able to calculate. But some time will wamt to open them and you may want some liquid left in the bottle, and not just all over the walls and ceiling... – Mumble Apr 13 '16 at 4:28
  • Can add to that, your amount of sugar (if 1.5 cups of brown sugar is about 300g as the internet tells me) is more than you'd normally use for a full 5 gallons batch. – Mumble Apr 13 '16 at 4:38
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Give the bottles a 7-10 days at room temperature to carb. Then chill one and open it. If its carbonated the way you want, put the rest in the fridge. If not let them go another three days and repeat the process.

As for junk in the bottom the fact that the cider is in the bottles now limits your expectations. If there was junk in the cider and you put it in the bottles its going to be in there. The small but of yeast activity during carbonation doesn't appreciably increase the amount of yeast sediment in any bottle conditioned beverages. The longer you let the bottles sit in the cold the more stuff will settle and the tighter the sediment will become.
The same goes for 'maximum alcohol' content too. That's something only controlled in the fermentor side, not in the bottle.

  • So what do I do at this point? I don't want it to explode! Should I open it up every few days to let out pressure (they're grolsch bottles). Also what does the difference between fermenter and bottle make for making alcohol content? Wouldn't it be same thing? – Tal C Apr 12 '16 at 15:44
  • The carbonation process really doesn't involve nearly as much fermentation as what happened in the fermentor. Not much alcohol is made during carbonation because the amount of sugar required for adequate fermentation is small. One cup of sugar in a gallon of cider is certainly too much and will likely cause bottle explosions. So yes it will need to get vented. – brewchez Apr 12 '16 at 15:52

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