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I've recently been experimenting with different cider recipes and all of the results have been quite dry with minimal sugars left after primary fermentation. I personally like dry ciders so it's not an issue for me, but I've been asked by family to brew some sweeter cider (closer to Somersby).

I've been trying store-bought cider as well as apples ground and pressed at home. O.G. measurements are sitting around 1.050 for most of the different starting ciders and I've been getting slightly less than 1.000 for my F.G.. From what I can tell, almost, if not all, of the sugars are getting used up in the primary and leaving a very dry cider. I've used champagne yeast and dry ale yeast (Safale S-04) with similar results.

What ingredients/process do I need to use to brew a sweet apple cider?

My initial thoughts were to shop around for a low attenuating yeast or to blend the dry cider with unfermented cider after the primary, but I'm not sure if this is off in left field. Would it be better to try and stop fermentation early?

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1 pack of Nottingham yeast without nutrients does a great job at giving up early ending around 1.005-1.010 with OG 1.050 5 gallon batch.

You can stop fermentation by cold crashing and keeping the cider cold until consumed. Taking care not to transfer yeast when racking.

Also filters can remove yeast to prevent further fermentation.

There's several preservatives you can use, and can be as simple as back sweetening a dry cider with an Apple juice that has preservatives like potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.

My preferred method for sweet ciders since I keg, is to backsweeten with a portion of the same Apple juice. Keeping it cold to prevent secondary fermentation. As I don't care for preservatives.

Also consider a malted cider using 50/50 blend Apple juice / wort. The wort allows you to control the fermentable sugars. A mash temp of 162° does a good job of giving a lot of unfermentable sugars for residual sweetness.

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    Malted cider is how I get that residual sweetness. But I don't mess around with a mash. Dry malt extract works great in this case. I just do a quick boil of a pound or two, depending on how strong I want the finished product, in half a gallon of water and add it to the pressed juice. – brewchez Sep 22 '16 at 10:50
  • @brewchez good idea. I basically just do a partygyle with a little fresh grain at 162° to insure some unfermentables and to have a similar gravity of the juice. I've never mashed specifically for a cider. Malted Cider is my "free" 5 gallon batch of beverage from a 12g beers second runnnings. – Evil Zymurgist Sep 22 '16 at 14:14
  • I appreciate the answer and the comments, I'll give it a try and see where that takes me. I'll try to come back and put my results here as well. – Luc Sep 22 '16 at 23:05
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Making any "sweet" fermented drink is always a problem. One can try to use a particular yeast to attenuate fermentation at some particular level but that is not always repeatable. One can pasteurise, chemically cosh (sorbate/bisulphite) or cold filter the brew to render the yeast inactive when the desired degree of sweetness or fermentation has been reached - the method favoured by many industrial brewers. But in that case subsequent carbonation of the cider must be considered. Or one can add sweeteners that do not ferment to the brew. The most obvious is lactose but an increasingly popular one is stevia extract. Cold cider will still bottle condition and usually becomes drier after a prolonged wait, so just bottling a sweet cider and leaving it in a cold place/fridge may not always yield a sweet product. I shy from using malt in a cider (its not cider, its apple beer) as IMHO it does not make it sweeter it just gives it more "body". It increases the carbohydrate load that would not be present in traditional apple cider - the malt sugar ferments out leaving the dextrins and starch which aren't all that sweet.

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You could always try keeving which is a process used by the French (and British) to produce a naturally sweet cider. It works by creating a gel in the must, that traps nutrients and rises to the top, to form what is called the chapeau brun or flying lees. You rack off the clear must from under the cap, either add yeast, or let wild yeast in and off you go. It adds a few extra days to the start of the process, but is relatively easy.

I did it a couple of years back with the Vigo Keeving Kit. I can't tell you what the resulting cider tastes like, as it's still in kegs in a friends outbuilding.

  • This method seems to be more focused on setting up the brew to be sweet as opposed to adjusting or mixing the cider as required after the fact. This method is quite interesting and I'd be curious as to what results you got in your brew. – Luc Sep 27 '16 at 17:16

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