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Old 02-25-2007, 08:24 PM   #1
Zymurgrafi
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Default Help me make good beer again!?

Yeesh, I do not even know where to begin. I will try and keep this brief. I used to make good beer once upon a time. At least I enjoyed it. Lately I have not. I got out of brewing for a brief time when my son first came along but now I am back into it. ONly I have had a bunch of bad beer. One of the batches I know what was wrong. The others I do not, or I thought I did but I am not sure now.

Three of the beers now have had the same flavor issue. I do not know how to describe it other than to say it is a yeasty bite. So much so, that it makes them all taste the same. The first time was last August. I brewed a Marzen, extract brew with specialty grains steeped. I lost my notes on that one so I do not have details. I do remember it was sulfury fermenting (no big deal for a lager yeast) and I had some problems with cooling it down too fast after primary. It had this yeasty flavor pretty powerfully.

The next was a Irish red ale last month. This one was my first attempt at pm, very small amount of grains. I thought I figured out the problem with this one. I had some initial temperature problems (first too cold, 57 F then to warm 76 F) and obviously the large fluctuations in temp were not too good either. It also was sulfury (okay this time I panicked as that has never happened to me with an ale yeast) I racked it to secondary too soon (5 days primary). It had the same yeasty flavor. I devised a means for controlling temp that seems to work well so I thought I had that corrected. I let it sit for about 3 weeks after that and bottled it today. It was absolutley done fermenting. I tried getting the yeast to settle out more by cooling it down for the last 3 days. The yeasty flavor was less but still prominent. I also learned about yeast starters after making this one so I thought that was part of the problem too. Which brings me to my latest.

I brewed a California common also a partial mash (still small about 1 lb. pale malt) and I made a starter this time which seemed succesful. It went much better. A nice even controlled temp starting at 72 F first few hours. Lowered to 68 F after fermentation kicked in (about 5 hours after pitching) then gradually lowered to 60 F over a few days and then maintained that. I let it sit for 16 days. Yes sulfur again this time, but it was a california lager yeast. I racked it to a clean carboy today and...

YEASTY FLAVOR!!!! ARRRRRRGGHHHH!!! only thing different this time is some nice hop bitterness fighting through the yeast flavor

WTF is happening? I am about to brew an oatmeal stout this week with my newly made mash tun (thanks to all you folks) but I DO NOT want to make another bad batch. What is the problem???

Sorry, so much for brief. If any other details will help diagnose let me know. Oh, and the yeast I am using is easYeast made in NH fwiw.

HELP!!!

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Old 02-25-2007, 08:33 PM   #2
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How long are they sitting in primary and secondary? Was everything sanitized properly? Was there a lot of sediment in the bottles?

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Old 02-25-2007, 08:35 PM   #3
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I'm not sure exactly what the problem is but how are you formulating your recipe's? Are you not using enough hops? I haven't done an extract brew in a long time, but maybe if you post your recipes some more people will be along to critique.....

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Old 02-25-2007, 08:41 PM   #4
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Is your brew clear when you rack?

Never heard of that NH yeast, but it could be the culprit.

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Old 02-25-2007, 08:54 PM   #5
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Not sure how to truly solve the problem, but here are a few thoughts on your predicament:

  • Sulfury fermentation odors typically disappear by the time you drink it. I've never had a sulfury finished beer, even when they smelled like a bushel of rotten eggs got shoved in the airlock during primary.
  • I don't know anything about easYeast. Try a more internationally-recognized manufacturer like Wyeast, White Labs, Lallemand, DCL, etc.
  • Let it age longer at colder temps. See if that makes a difference. If not, use a clarifier such as KC SuperKleer finings.
  • Let the bottles/kegs age longer before cracking them open. Bottle/keg conditioning can be very important. If bottling, after they've aged, make sure you're very careful while pouring it into a glass---don't disturb the yeast in the bottle, and leave the last 1/4-1/2 inch of beer in there, because it will contain most of the yeast.
  • Find a yeast strain that is described as having "good flocculation". This refers to yeast that, once finished fermenting, falls down to the bottom quickly and thoroughly. For a great example, see Wyeast's London ESB strain. 3 days after pitching it, I had a finished, crystal-clear brew. Amazing stuff!
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Old 02-25-2007, 09:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mew
How long are they sitting in primary and secondary? Was everything sanitized properly? Was there a lot of sediment in the bottles?
Well, I do not have the notes on the marzen so I do not remember. Irish was too short primary at 5 days then about 3 weeks secondary. The Cali common has been 16 days primary and I will let it sit another 2 weeks at about 58 F. It has pretty much finished gravity wise but I will let it sit to condition. I believe my sanitiation is good, but who knows. No, not alot of sediment in the marzen. Just bottled the red so do not know yet.
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Old 02-25-2007, 09:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99
Is your brew clear when you rack?

Never heard of that NH yeast, but it could be the culprit.
Usually. The red did not seem to want to settle out that is why I chilled it. I seemed clear though at bottling. The common still had alot of yeast in suspension, but I am going to let it sit for a couple more weeks.

I have wondered if it is this brand of yeast. It is made by a microbiologist at U of NH. Unfortunately it is the only liquid yeast carried by my local homebrew shop. Although I have had good succes other times with this yeast in between the bad batches. I will use dry yeast for this stout.

The marzen was aged a pretty good long time, again I do not remember details but I know I kept waiting hoping it would improve. Just drank the last one a week or so ago. Still bad. I am careful pouring so I do not think that is it.

I have been using beer recipe software for my recipes. In the past I winged it based on looking at other recipes and general guidelines. Think hop amounts are fine.

Thanks folks. Any more thoughts?
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Old 02-25-2007, 09:58 PM   #8
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All very good advice (better than I could give), so I would do what they suggest. One thought I had, though, was to try using Nottingham dry yeast in your next batch. It is more forgiving of temperature extremes, and has high flocculation. It's also neutral tasting, so you could rule that out as a flavor problem.

I'd also suggest doing an extremely simple recipe so that you can figure out what the problem is. A simple extract with maybe only crystal as steeping grains. Make sure your hops are fresh. Plan on a 10 day primary, and then a 14 day secondary in the optimal temperature range for your yeast.

I'm not sure what's going on, but I do know that you can make good beer, so don't be discouraged!

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Old 02-25-2007, 10:29 PM   #9
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I'll add one more thought to the big pile of good advice -- any chance you contracted a wild yeast infection (in the beer, I mean!)?

I had one once. I suspect it came from a bad 'no-boil' wort kit from a local micro-brew (I also supsect it must have happened to more people than just me because they don't make those kits anymore!).

Anyways, I could completely be off the mark here, but your symptoms sounds surprisingly similar to what happened to me. I couldn't brew a decent batch of beer until I tossed my plastic fermenter (now I will only use glass), and all my plastic hoses, racking canes. etc. I was a costly and awful experience I won't repeat again. (All my gear soaks in sanitizer now between brews.)

Chances are, this isn't what has happened to your beer, but you might keep it in the back of your mind.

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Old 02-25-2007, 10:33 PM   #10
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I had a very similar problem. All of my beers were great in the primary all the way to bottling, but then after they conditioned, they all turned out tasting the same. It was almost like a yeasty/bitter flavor that I can't quite describe. IPA's, Stouts, Belgians, after bottle conditioning all started to taste.... well, kinda bitter and no other flavors.

I tried making PMs, an all grain batch, buying new yeast, switching LHBS thinking they had a bad batch of malt, tried using DME instead of corn sugar to prime, but nothing fixed it! I was seriously considering giving this up since it all tasted the same.

It came to me one day as I was starting another bottling day. It was my bathtub. I had been sanitizing my brewing equipment in buckets and the kitchen sink, but the bottles I sanitized in the bathtub. The soap residue in the tub was enough to leave a residue that would show up after a few weeks. It also explains why I'd never get any head on the brewpours.

So now, I scrub, wash, and rinse rinse rinse the bathtub before I sanitize bottles and my beer tastes great again. It's worth looking into how you sanitize your equipment.

I hope this helps!

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