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Yeast strain preference for Apple Brandy


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What yeast strains are folks using for Apple Brandy?  I make hard cider and use VR-44 by fermentis.  I'm wondering if there isn't a better yeast for making cider to be used as apple brandy (using just the juice/no solids).

Anyone tried using an ale yeast?  We throw out gallons of a standard American Ale yeast at our brewery - was thinking of pitching a batch into the cider to be used for distilling, but I only make about 1 barrel of Brandy per year and don't really want to risk it...

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Thx Tom - interesting read.  I assume that like whiskey, high ester production by yeast when fermenting cider used for distillation would be encouraged?  I would also assume that full attenuation and low sulpher production would be a prerequisite...  Therefore, lager yeasts would probably not be ideal due to sulpher production - but I would assume that most  ale yeasts would attenuate apple cider just as well as a wine yeast in any natural sugar concentration - unless they were prone to pre-flocculation before fermentation is achieved.  I assume that is the reason that the English Ale yeast had trouble with attenuation was due to it settling out before fermentation is complete.  I would also assume that the phenols in the belgian strains (banana/clove) would carry through and interfere with the fruitiness of the distillate.

Again, I have always used champagne style yeasts to ferment cider, but I'm just wondering if I'm missing out on complex ester production by doing this...  Also, I once read a different study in which the natural yeasts made a more complex cider, yet, I certainly wouldn't count on that in a production setting.  Perhaps start with a natural spontaneous fermentation and then pitch some champagne yeast to finish it off.



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Start a few spontaneous fermentations from separate small crushes. Ferment the juice completely with each one. Measure the S.G. and use good old "olfactory sciences" to measure the aromatic quality.

In my opinion, and in the opinion of most Calvados producers, a good brandy is made through carefully controlled spontaneous fermentation. Just keep oxygen out and the pH reasonably low and you should be fine to do it that way.

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