I recently made some cider, but when the day finally came to try it there was no carbonation (evidently due to a slight hole at the top of the pressure barrel). I am planning on transferring the cider into a new barrel but not sure the best way to go about this. Do I need to add more sugar and allow time for secondary fermentation, or can I just inject CO2 and start drinking?. Any advice greatly appreciated.
Yes, you can add more sugar for carbonation, or inject CO2 and start drinking. However, for cider I would recommend leaving it in secondary for 1 year, (conditioning).
If you don't have time for that, try this:
- For sugar priming: I would use this calculator https://www.northernbrewer.com/pages/priming-sugar-calculator Ciders are typically quite high in carbonation, so when choosing style, you can choose around 3-4 vol in this calculator.
Also since you're sugar priming a keg, which probably has less headspace than bottles, then you should use less sugar than this calculator says. Maybe even half. It's volume math. The more headspace you have in your container, the more sugar you need. Let it stay for minimum 1 week in the closed container, preferably 2 weeks, and let it stay cold 3 days before you drink it, is recommended.
- CO2 is the fastest alternative, but I don't know too much about it. You can read this website for a tutorial: https://learn.kegerator.com/force-carbonating-beer/
I'm no cider guy, so can't comment on time in secondary etc., but yes, you can do either of those things. Rouse is spot on with his priming suggestion. As for force carbing, you can shake the keg while injecting high pressure CO2, which will get you there fast but is unpredictable.
http://brulosophy.com/2016/05/12/sparkle-fizz-methods-for-carbonation/ This link outlines better methods. Burst carbonating is faster, and with a little practice can be very reliable.
Also, to clarify, when you say barrel, what exactly do you mean?