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Old 10-22-2009, 04:09 AM   #1
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Default Bitter with 1968 tastes...Belgian?

I just had my first taste of an ordinary bitter I brewed recently. It was 1.052 SG and I made an appropriate starter, aerated by shaking the carboy, and fermented around 68 degrees for two weeks, ramping up to 70 for the third week to make sure all diacetyl was taken care of by the yeast. Temperature was maintained with a water bath with an aquarium heater.

First taste is amazingly fruity. I guess I really haven't had too many true British beers to know for sure, but this beer is so estery that it makes me think of Belgians. Anyone else have this experiece with Wyeast 1968? I was going for a nice malty (it was my first AG) flavor highlighted by the MO malt, but I'm not getting any of that.

Now it's only been in the bottle just over two weeks, but a low gravity beer shouldn't be too green at this point should it? Will these esters mellow out in a week, a month?

And a sub-question for maybe a different category, but this is not the first time that a finished beer has tasted completely different from hydrometer samples along the way, even at bottling. Does the addition of carbonation to the beer really change it that much? At week two, hydro sample was deliciously malty and biscuity, with a firm bitterness and a nice amount of hop flavor. Now it's a fruit bomb with some bitterness felt more than tasted.

Still drinkable, just not at all what I was going for...

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Old 10-22-2009, 12:32 PM   #2
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Carbonation does change the flavor a little bit, but it's mainly going to change the mouthfeel in my opinion. The only flavor change I see is when it goes from green beer to carbonated. It's usually pretty subtle as the priming sugar has no actual effect on the taste of the beer.

It sounds like the 1968 did it's job. ESB yeast should leave your hops a bit more pronounced and the beer should be a bit fruity (not alot). This will mellow a little bit as your beer isn't full done yet. Two weeks isn't really long enough to make a good judgement. Wait until a full month has passed, then try it again.

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Old 10-22-2009, 01:13 PM   #3
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with that yeast at those temps, i wouldn't personally expect what your describing. not trying to make you paranoid, but you could potentially have a wild yeast issue. any chance you took a gravity reading when it was finished? if it drops in the bottle, that would support wild yeast (as would ensuing overcarbonation and bottle bombs!).

to clarify, the temps you listed are fermenter temps, not water bath temps, right??

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Old 10-22-2009, 02:50 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. The FG was 1.016 at day 6 of fermentation, and was still there at bottling. I may wait for a while to open another one, but I will check the gravity to see if some wild yeast action is to blame. Carbonation of this first one wasn't too high, but was at the level expected.

As far as the temperature, I've played around with it a bit and the water bath temperature is a good indication of the beer temperature. A 10 gallon water bath absorbs heat caused by fermentation a lot better than if the carboy was surround by air. Still, though I think I will lower the temp at the beginning a bit more to try to offset whatever happened with this one.

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Old 10-22-2009, 07:45 PM   #5
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1.016 for a FG is pretty high. Especially concidering you're doing AG. It's no wonder you have a fruity tasting beer. I don't think you let it fully finish.

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Old 12-07-2009, 08:17 AM   #6
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I've been experimenting with this strain. I was very happy with my first attempt at an ESB using the Wyeast 1968. However, it's a difficult yeast to work with and I'm not sure I would go with it again later. Of all the yeasts I've tried, this is the fruitiest by far. The problem is that if you ferment a bit cooler to try to reduce a bit of the fruity esters, the yeast flocs out very quickly leaving your beer unfinished. And if you ferment a bit warmer to prevent the yeast dropping out, it produces a ton of fruity esters that don't fit too well with an session beer. As mentioned above, the low attenuation leaves a sweet beer and combined with the fruity character makes for desert beer more than a tasty pint you'd have at a pub.

As this yeast has a lot of character, it will completely bury gentle english hop flavor so formulate and adjust your hop profile accordingly. After I brewed the ESB, I brewed a premium bitter with a calculated IBU rating of 35. For a 4% ABV beer, 35 IBU is pretty respectable yet I couldn't notice the hops at all. Compensate with higher bitterness and that should help cut the fruitiness and the sweetness.

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Old 12-07-2009, 02:45 PM   #7
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I too have noticed a lot of fruitiness with this yeast (and similar fruitiness with S-04). The good news is that a lot of it will age out if you give it a few weeks. The first taste of my Moose Drool clone was so fruity it was almost undrinkable. But after aging in the keg for a few weeks, it's pretty darned close to what I was expecting.

I think it'd be OK if you can keep the fermentation temps consistently lower, say 67 or so. But you have to keep an eye on fermentation and be ready to start ramping it back up as fermentation slows down. Otherwise the yeast will drop out too soon.

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Old 12-08-2009, 02:55 AM   #8
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I agree that the 1968 is very fruity, and this is accentuated when fermenting at higher temperatures. I like it for very low carbed draft beers, but (because of the fruitiness) I don't particularly like it for bottled beers. The 1275 makes a very good bitter, and is much less fruity.

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Old 12-09-2009, 05:33 PM   #9
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I would guess that your temperatures fluctuated at one point during the ferment and the yeast quit on you. I had an American Pale Ale recipe come out like a Belgian pale, and I'm certain it's because I was fermenting in the basement near the heater furnace when it kicked on for the first time all year. It was only next to the warmth for a few hours but when I moved it back to a proper environment it quit after a day.

If you want to ferment cooler to avoid the esters and are worried about flocculation, just give the carboy a gentle rousing a few days into primary. Another important thing is to not call the beer done after you meet a time target, but until you meet a gravity target.

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Old 12-09-2009, 06:33 PM   #10
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I love this yeast. I love the high flocculation and the consequent higher FG. I find it leaves a beer with such an awesome maltiness. It's like the flavor of every malt you put in has been intensified and accentuated.

I made the Moose Drool clone as well and it's one of the best beers I've brewed. Unfortunately Big Sky doesn't distribute in NC so I can only compare to the memory of when I tasted it in Montana. Whether or not my batch is a direct clone isn't as important to me as the fact that this beer rocks.

A friend brewed one of John Palmer's american brown ales using 1056 and while it wasn't the same recipe, it was interesting to compare the two and see how clean 1056 is. It almost tasted bland (malt-wise) when compared to the Moose Drool clone.

I haven't done a lot of yeast comparisons but I'm planning on brewing 6 gal of pale ale and splitting into three to compare 1056, 1272, and 1968. If this test results in 1968 being the winner, it may become my house yeast that I continually maintain.

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