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Old 07-16-2008, 04:31 AM   #1
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Default Discouraged and scared to brew again...

So, after discovering a cardboardy off-flavor in my first AG (which was also in my last extract batch), I am left feeling very discouraged. I have been coming to this site less often, as the "SUCCESS ON FIRST AG!" threads leave me feeling depressed. Part of me really regrets turning over the cash to go AG, as my beer has not benefitted from the switch right away.

I know I'm overreacting, but I really wanted my first AG to be a success. I now have 50 bottles of beer that are drinkable, but are not as enjoyable as a Boston Lager would be, for example. I'm thinking of dumping this batch and just starting over... except I know now what I have to do. I MUST control my fermentation temperature next time. I MUST find a way to get my immersion chiller to get the wort below 80 degrees, instead of the 85-87 which is the lowest temp the wort drops to with my IC + tap water combo.

My plans for the future include building a "Son of a fermentation chiller," and buying a 25 foot copper prechiller, even though I'm not sure how these work. Next time I'll buy some 5.2 (not sure if I need it or not, however). I also am worried about my bottling strategy. Quite a few bottles get oxidized when the flow comes out too fast, or when the beer gets an air bubble in the bottling wand tube...

The worst part of it all is that this batch proved to me that something about my procedure is wrong. I thought my last batch had a bit of a "bite" simply because of the extract recipe, but this AG had the same thing.... It's me, not the recipe.

Sorry to sound so fatalistic, I guess I'm just venting. Thanks for listening

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Old 07-16-2008, 04:38 AM   #2
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BD - everybody's beer has a flaw. Your's sounds like oxidization this time. You say its drinkable and many people are very forgiving on an apparent success. They will overlook small problems after succeeding at a new process.

You are being too hard on yourself, but that is part of becoming a better brewer all of the time. It sounds like you have a good beer and are poised to make an even better one next time.

I would look at your bottling and racking procudures 1st. Bubbles in the line are common and difficult to stop - but I be that you do better with every batch and every problem diagnosed is a problem that is one step closer to being solved.

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Old 07-16-2008, 04:45 AM   #3
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I've got 6 cases of Phenols....TOO HOT FERMENTATION.

SUCKS, but what am I going to do....Quit Brewing? Not even an option.

Pull your slumping ego out of the trub, spritz it with a little starsan and go get a new recipe and some grains.

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Old 07-16-2008, 04:46 AM   #4
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Bummer to hear that! The cardboardy taste is generally oxidation. Are you splashing the beer around at all, post fermentation? Maybe while racking, bubbles in your autosiphon? Getting any O2 in the beer during bottling? You might try the oxygen absorbing caps.

Hot side aeration is possible but most consider it unlikely. This might occur if you're splashing the wort from the MLT into the boil kettle.

For the cooler method, you can try a pre-chiller. You can search around for it, but it's basically an extra hose that sits between the water source and the immersion chiller. The extra hose sits in an ice bath(cooler or whatever) and pre chills the water into the IC so you can attain those extra crucial degrees of cooling.

I hope things improve for you! Maybe try brewing a 'bigger' beer that will hide some of the 'growing pains' in your process while you work it out.

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Old 07-16-2008, 06:24 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies.

I did use oxygen absorbing caps that *should* have gotten rid of the oxygen that I introduced when bottling. I keep trying to bottle without introducing oxygen, but if I run the flow too slow, the tube fills up with oxygen and the beer gets tossed around on the way to the bottle filler, or if I run it too fast, it ends up creating head in the bottles. Either way I get aeration. I think the biggest error was not getting the wort cold enough. I got it to about 85 and I thought it was fine. I guess it has to be about ten degrees lower than this. I will need to prechill to get it any colder, since my tap water is a bit on the warm side.

I need to find a way to control the temperature. If I can build it correctly, the son of a fermentation chiller seems like the way to go. I will also need to find some way of getting rid of that last 10 degrees. It will be some time before I get around to these projects, and I don't anticipate brewing again until I get these things figured out. No sense in making the same mistakes all over again.

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Old 07-16-2008, 06:30 AM   #6
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Not going to sound like a broken record...but keep at it...took me a few AG batches to get it right. Hell my first extract was 'ok' just like my first AG. Hang in there, you'll be fine soon

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Old 07-16-2008, 06:37 AM   #7
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Brew-dude, I understand you frustration, but cut yourself just a little slack. Rome was not built in a day, and great beer is not brewed overnight, so don't expect to be a master brewer after a few batches.
I really think that with controlling the fermentation temperature you will a dramatic improvement. Just realize that a ice bath etc, will lower the temp, a Son of Sam chamber or otherwise controls it. I use an old fridge with a "somewhat" cheap Johnson control unit. A few years ago I had a small fridge that I used, when that broke I just did not enjoy my homebrew as much. Since I moved back to using temperature control I just have a hard time drinking "expensive beer" at bars.
From all your post it seems like you do have a very good control over all of your processes, except giving the yeast the perfect environment to do their work during fermentation.
Keep the faith, and best of luck.

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Old 07-16-2008, 06:38 AM   #8
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Cheer up man!! I did my first AG last Saturday. I missed OG by .011, .011!!!!! My IC is a piece of sh***. It took at least 30m to cool down the wort to 85F (Florida tab water). I asked my wife for help during the mashing, while I was running with hot water from my kitchen to the patio, she was yelling “it’s not warm enough, it’s not warm enough!!”. But I took a hydrometer reading yesterday and I tasted just a little bit from the hyd. jar, man, I’m sure is a crapy beer but since is my first AG, It couldn’t be better.
Your next batch will be better, and the next after that one, will be even better.
Don’t stop reading this forum, go get more grain and have fun.

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Old 07-16-2008, 06:40 AM   #9
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Get back on the horse dude!!!




or how about


I think I can .....I think I can ..... I think can


Point being...........keep trying.

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Old 07-16-2008, 06:49 AM   #10
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do you use a bottling bucket and siphon out? if ya do try it this way instead, cut a short 3-4in piece of tubing and stick it on the end of the bottling spigot and then stick the wand into it, this will cut the amount of tubing that can hold an air bubble and reduce the contact time with beer. leave the spigot on all the time and use the gravity tip in the wand to shut off the beer flow.

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