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Old 06-25-2013, 09:30 PM   #21
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What are you doing with your water?? Sorry if I missed it..

Tap water? RO water? Cut with something? Water additions?

Sounds like your temps are off, IMO.

Also.. starters... Are you letting these get hotter than hell, or controlling the temp somewhat on those? Crashing them, or adding all of the starter?

Using RO water, usually no additions but on the best bitter I added a little bit of salts calculated to bring out the bitterness. The starters are done on my kitchen counter, usually mid 70's in the house at the hottest. I crash them, decant, let warm up to room temp and pitch.

So are we fairly certain that this isn't from an infection? I just find it really strange that it's the same dang flavor each and every time. I know that there are a ton of variables, but I try to do a fairly good job of controlling as many as I can.

If my temps are off, that means that the temp probe is dead wrong on the ebay aquarium temp controller... and there isn't any way to change that, as far as I know. I don't recall anyone really having any issues with that, though.

Let's assume that the temperatures are OK... is there still something I'm missing, or is the temperature the ONLY thing that it could be?
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:40 PM   #22
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Your ale temps are too high. Some ale yeasts might "tolerate" 70F, but none of them (that I've used) put off clean beer when fermented that warm. Just try to lower your fermentation temperatures to 64 on your ales and see if that fixes it. Don't reinvent the wheel even if you think my idea is way wrong. Just try it. Phenolic/Rocket Fuel always tastes the same, and all those yeasts are capable of putting off those same chemicals.

I sense you wanting to believe it's something else, but in my 50+ batches of beer, the reason for those off flavors have always been the same. Too warm fermentation temps.

There's collective wisdom here, your other responses almost all ask about temperature. If you have to tweak something, tweak that.

PS, you never mentioned pitch temp (that I saw, I didn't read all the posts closely). Pitching too warm will give you this effect as well. I always ferment my ales at 64ish through high krausen then ramp up to 69f (1 degree at a time) by the time the krausen has completely dropped. When I'm fermenting at 64, I'm trying to pitch LOWER then that so the yeast can warm up to the job slowly.

Think of it as a yeast party. If you start them off doing shots (warm temps) they're going to get sloppy drunk very quickly and perhaps trash your house before the night is up. If you start slowly, you may have some happy drunks at the end, but the collateral damage will be lessened.

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Old 06-25-2013, 10:01 PM   #23
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Your ale temps are too high. Some ale yeasts might "tolerate" 70F, but none of them (that I've used) put off clean beer when fermented that warm. Just try to lower your fermentation temperatures to 64 on your ales and see if that fixes it. Don't reinvent the wheel even if you think my idea is way wrong. Just try it. Phenolic/Rocket Fuel always tastes the same, and all those yeasts are capable of putting off those same chemicals.

I sense you wanting to believe it's something else, but in my 50+ batches of beer, the reason for those off flavors have always been the same. Too warm fermentation temps.

There's collective wisdom here, your other responses almost all ask about temperature. If you have to tweak something, tweak that.

PS, you never mentioned pitch temp (that I saw, I didn't read all the posts closely). Pitching too warm will give you this effect as well. I always ferment my ales at 64ish through high krausen then ramp up to 69f (1 degree at a time) by the time the krausen has completely dropped. When I'm fermenting at 64, I'm trying to pitch LOWER then that so the yeast can warm up to the job slowly.

Think of it as a yeast party. If you start them off doing shots (warm temps) they're going to get sloppy drunk very quickly and perhaps trash your house before the night is up. If you start slowly, you may have some happy drunks at the end, but the collateral damage will be lessened.
You're right, I do want to believe it's something else, because I didn't ever have this issue before with temp... I did mention pitching colder and letting it warm up.

I will definitely adjust the temperature to the lowest end of acceptable and see what happens. I'm just really surprised that I got the same off flavor in the saison, which is supposed to ferment warm. How do guys get away with fermenting at 90F without problems, and I start mine below the recommended temp range and still end up with problems? I used to ferment in the closet where the best in temperature control I got was slightly lower than ambient temp (around 68 external) with no issues, then when I move to a highly controlled environment, fully insulated and controlled within .3 degrees, it gives me these problems...
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:07 PM   #24
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How are you measuring the temp of the wort? Thermowell? Probe taped to the side of the fermentor? Probe hanging inside chamber?

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Old 06-25-2013, 10:16 PM   #25
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Just to reiterate,
Just because the thermometer and controller is digital doesn't mean it is accurate. Could be the probe/sensor, could be the unit and the way it activates.

Find another thermometer and place it in the chamber and see what it reads and be sure to be using a calibrated instrument to make sure it is not off also. You might be surprised.

For example: I have two hydrometers and they were purchased at the same time and calibrated to read 1.000 in distilled water. I have had them for many years and always verify their calibration once per month. Last week I went to verify and one of them is now off by .004 with no changes in it's usage and care

For Example: I have two calibrated thermometers, 1 digital thermapen, one laboratory grade, they are within 1 degree of each other and I use them to verify my Johnson Digital Temperature controller for each batch I ferment. It reads temperatures that are higher by two degrees so When I set the temperature I adjust for this 2 degree difference.

You purchased a unit on ebay and are assuming it is correct and it very well could be off. There is a big difference between fermenting at 67 or 70 and that little difference with the yeast can throw off many off flavors that otherwise wouldn't be there.

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Old 06-25-2013, 10:23 PM   #26
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So if you are assuming it's the temp controlling unit/thermometer....

When did you start using that.. About the time you notice a change in the flavor and quality of your beers?

Work backwards.. When did you first notice it, and see what you added, subtracted, or did different in the process from there.

If you are using RO water, you might want to look into adding stuff back. Yeast need some nutrients in the water, and it'll help with flavor as well.

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Old 06-25-2013, 10:27 PM   #27
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You're right, I do want to believe it's something else, because I didn't ever have this issue before with temp... I did mention pitching colder and letting it warm up.

I will definitely adjust the temperature to the lowest end of acceptable and see what happens. I'm just really surprised that I got the same off flavor in the saison, which is supposed to ferment warm. How do guys get away with fermenting at 90F without problems, and I start mine below the recommended temp range and still end up with problems? I used to ferment in the closet where the best in temperature control I got was slightly lower than ambient temp (around 68 external) with no issues, then when I move to a highly controlled environment, fully insulated and controlled within .3 degrees, it gives me these problems...
FWIW, I'm personally skeptical of anyone claiming they can ferment any yeast at 90F "without problems".

I have fermented ales in the low 60s dozens of times without a problem, but I've fermented them above 68 a couple times and had a problem every time (Problem for me with an American Ale is too many esters/phenolics). Sorry I didn't see where you said you pitch low and let it warm up, I was just trying to throw every idea I had at you in effort to help out.

I'll bet you dollars to donuts decreasing the temp will fix your issues. Please follow up after your next batch.

Edit, your last sentence is a clear cut case for calibration isn't it?
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:37 PM   #28
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FWIW, I'm personally skeptical of anyone claiming they can ferment any yeast at 90F "without problems".

I have fermented ales in the low 60s dozens of times without a problem, but I've fermented them above 68 a couple times and had a problem every time (Problem for me with an American Ale is too many esters/phenolics). Sorry I didn't see where you said you pitch low and let it warm up, I was just trying to throw every idea I had at you in effort to help out.

I'll bet you dollars to donuts decreasing the temp will fix your issues. Please follow up after your next batch.

Edit, your last sentence is a clear cut case for calibration isn't it?
I completely agree but thought I would jump in on the 90 thing....
I just brewed a Saison with WY3724 and had the typical issues with it sticking at 1.030.

I followed up with the folks at Wyeast and they have recommended that this particular strain actually get pitched at 80 and ramped up to 90-95 as it slows to prevent the sticking-this is directly from the folks at Wyeast so yes, there are a few strains that actually like it hot and produce the desirable flavor profiles at those temps but definitely not the norm...........
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:42 PM   #29
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I completely agree but thought I would jump in on the 90 thing....
I just brewed a Saison with WY3724 and had the typical issues with it sticking at 1.030.

I followed up with the folks at Wyeast and they have recommended that this particular strain actually get pitched at 80 and ramped up to 90-95 as it slows to prevent the sticking-this is directly from the folks at Wyeast so yes, there are a few strains that actually like it hot and produce the desirable flavor profiles at those temps but definitely not the norm...........
Fair enough ^

Even this one exception still doesn't pitch and ferment during the early hours of fermentation at those temps. I actually do a similar thing with my ale yeasts, but I try to pitch at 64 or lower (as low as 61-62) and leave it at 64 for the bulk of active fermentation. When it starts to slow down I'll ramp it up 1F per day until I'm just below 70, and I don't mind letting it sit in the low 70s for up to a week if I'm dryhopping and active fermentation is totally over.

Also, I want to edit and say I'm much more experienced with Ales then Saisons...thanks for chiming in to round things out
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:50 PM   #30
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Fair enough ^

Even this one exception still doesn't pitch and ferment during the early hours of fermentation at those temps. I actually do a similar thing with my ale yeasts, but I try to pitch at 64 or lower (as low as 61-62) and leave it at 64 for the bulk of active fermentation. When it starts to slow down I'll ramp it up 1F per day until I'm just below 70, and I don't mind letting it sit in the low 70s for up to a week if I'm dryhopping and active fermentation is totally over.

Also, I want to edit and say I'm much more experienced with Ales then Saisons...thanks for chiming in to round things out
We are totally on the same page
I make starters, pitch cold and ferment no higher than the 65 for just about every ale I make, as they slow I will raise and swirl until they finish but I'm still really no higher than 68 by the time they are done.
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