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Old 12-31-2012, 02:28 AM   #1
wlssox524
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Default Help with diagnosing 2nd AG brew

Hey all,

I'm 3 batches into AG brewing with the 3rd currently conditioning. I've been drinking my 2nd batch over the last few weeks and have found it to be pretty lackluster. I know of a number of potential issues with the batch and am hoping to get some advice from the experts on which are most likely culprits.

The recipe was for a cream ale (brewed it for a friend who likes lighter beers). Obviously can't expect a full bodied and complex beer given the style but I still found it to be pretty boring: no strong off flavors but very thin and very little flavor. I would compare it to a pale ale stripped of interesting hop flavor. The grain bill was for 7 lbs 2-row, 2 lbs flaked corn, 8 oz carapils. 1 oz of cascade at 60M and 1 oz at 5 M. I pitched 11 g of rehydrated US-05 at 80 degrees (using an immersion chiller).

SG was 1.040 and FG was 1.008 (I missed the target SG by about 8 points). Target mash temp was 152 for 60M and I did a single batch sparge at 170F. I hit my volumes correctly using an online calculator. Fermentation was around the mid 60's over about 2 weeks before I bottled.

The biggest 2 problem areas I can think of:
1) Mash temp. I think I've fixed this problem by now but the temp on this mash probably went down by about 10 degrees.

2) Water: my tap water is no good for brewing so I tried to build up from distilled. I added 2% sauermalz to the grain bill and added 2 tsp of calcium carbonate to the ~10g of water I used.

Any thoughts from the veterans out there?

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Last edited by wlssox524; 12-31-2012 at 02:41 AM. Reason: hit button early
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Old 12-31-2012, 03:19 AM   #2
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Actually not too surprised that this one is not exciting, if you would of used a Saison yeast then you would of had at least an interesting ester profile.

The lack of flavor is not due to the water or the mash temps.. this should basically taste similar to a generic light beer.

The recipe would make a decent session beer to drink really cold after mowing the lawn.. or something like that.. in Boston you wouldn't be mowing much grass.

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Old 12-31-2012, 04:49 AM   #3
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If you keg you could try doing some dry hopping with some nice aromatic hops. I agree about cream ales not being exciting, so by adding something might make it a little more exciting like vanilla or some spices.

If you bottle then just give them out to your friends who enjoy lighter beers, you could also cook with some.

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Old 12-31-2012, 05:01 AM   #4
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I would have mashed higher to make it more sweet with that grain bill, if you are worried about water try filtering it before doing any other modifications that will make a huge difference, and finally all you added was a bittering addition for hops I would have added a 15 min hop addition to get it some sort of hop flavor and maybe a 5-0 min addition for aroma as well

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Old 12-31-2012, 05:10 AM   #5
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I'm no pro, but I've brewed enough to throw out some knowledge. Your process sounds pretty solid. I actually brewed a cream ale not too long ago. Drink one and read the BJCP guidelines along with it. I though the cream ale I brewed was way off, but after reading the actual guidelines it wasn't too far off. Definitely not my kind of beer. A little too light on the flavoring, but that's what a cream ale is........I brewed it for the same reason you did(for my buddies).

Anyhow, if you are still have trouble with your heat loss....check out this video. I found a cheap but very useful way to seal all the heat in my mash tun. I can lift my cooler lid to check my mash temps and not loose a degree. It worked out better then I hoped. Good luck.

Cheers

Check out this video

http://youtu.be/a0Xl9vnrX9Q
Bjcp guidelines

Aroma: Faint malt notes. A sweet, corn-like aroma and low levels of DMS are commonly found. Hop aroma low to none. Any variety of hops may be used, but neither hops nor malt dominate. Faint esters may be present in some examples, but are not required. No diacetyl.

Appearance: Pale straw to moderate gold color, although usually on the pale side. Low to medium head with medium to high carbonation. Head retention may be no better than fair due to adjunct use. Brilliant, sparkling clarity.

Flavor: Low to medium-low hop bitterness. Low to moderate maltiness and sweetness, varying with gravity and attenuation. Usually well attenuated. Neither malt nor hops prevail in the taste. A low to moderate corny flavor from corn adjuncts is commonly found, as is some DMS. Finish can vary from somewhat dry to faintly sweet from the corn, malt, and sugar. Faint fruity esters are optional. No diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: Generally light and crisp, although body can reach medium. Smooth mouthfeel with medium to high attenuation; higher attenuation levels can lend a “thirst quenching” finish. High carbonation. Higher gravity examples may exhibit a slight alcohol warmth.

Overall Impression: A clean, well-attenuated, flavorful American lawnmower beer.

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