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Old 06-06-2010, 10:01 PM   #1
jeffdoubleyou
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Default My first AG beer smells / tastes a bit like vodka or liquor

Hello,

I just racked my 1st all grain batch from primary to secondary and when doing so, I noticed an aroma that reminded me of vodka.

It looks fine, but again, smells a bit like vodka.

I then tasted my sample that I used to check the gravity and it tastes a little like vodka as well.

Any ideas of what could have gone wrong? I don't think that the ABV is extremely high or anything like that.

My OG was 1.070 and it's currently at ~ 1.020 when racking into the secondary after 1 week.

Here was my recipe ( This ended up being about 4.25 gallons into the primary ):

Amount Item Type % or IBU

9.74 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (1.7 SRM) Grain 95.24 %
0.49 lb Simpsons Medium Crystal (55.0 SRM) Grain 4.76 %

1 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 22.0 IBU
1 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (15 min) Hops 0.0 IBU
1 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (0 min) Hops 0.0 IBU

1 Pkgs Northwest Ale (Wyeast Labs #1332) Yeast-Ale


Although this was above the 4 gallon mark in my primary ( bucket ), it appears to be only 2 inches above the half way mark in my secondary ( 5 gal glass carboy ).


Any ideas about what I can do? I dry hopped about 1 oz of chinook when I racked over to maybe help out the flavor.

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Old 06-06-2010, 10:03 PM   #2
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Also, I missed my mash out temp by several degrees - probably only got up to 162 or so, although from what I've read..as long as I am boiling almost immediately after it's not a terrible problem, but I'm new to this...so, what do I know

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Old 06-06-2010, 10:12 PM   #3
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My first guess is too high fermentation temperature. It sounds like you've got some fusel alcohols (that vodka taste).

I like that strain for some mild fruitiness, but I've never fermented it above 72 degrees. If the beer got above 75 degrees during fermentation, it'll probably be pretty fruity, and it could definitely get some fusels if it got even higher than that.

If you didn't make a starter, and only used one package of yeast, you could have also stressed the yeast quite a bit. That's a pretty high OG for only one package of yeast.

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Old 06-06-2010, 10:13 PM   #4
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Medicinal flavors can come from too much chlorine. It's either in your water or you're disinfecting with bleach and not cleaning it out thoroughly. That's my best guess, anyway.

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Old 06-06-2010, 10:16 PM   #5
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Thanks Yooper,

That probably explains it. I'm here in Los Angeles, and it has gotten pretty warm here in the last week.

I just pulled out the thermometer and it's about 74 in here right now. I'll bet that bucket got way above that with the crazy fermentation that was going on ( started about an hour after pitching ).

Looks like this might have been just a wasteful learning experience!

I might just have to take up my friend on a free fridge offer!

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Old 06-06-2010, 10:23 PM   #6
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Artyboy, thanks for the reply.

Actually, I used bottled spring water so I don't think it would be chlorinated, although I might be wrong.

I used iodophor for sanitizing, so I'm guessing poor rinsing wouldn't be a problem there right?

I just brewed a small batch of porter using my tap water and dry danstar windsor yeast ( which took off and made a mess ).

I guess I'll wait and see how that comes out.

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Old 06-06-2010, 10:34 PM   #7
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I just moved my porter that I brewed into a water bath, I hope it's not too late.

There are some pretty extreme temperature swings in LA, and I know that's not a good thing either.

My previous batches came out fine however, but this was before things started warming up around her. Luckily, my apartment is completely covered with shade and there is 0 direct sun light, so it doesn't get too hot here. I think 75 is about the MAX, but the temp drops 15 / 20 degrees at night.

I'm hoping the water bath will help even out the temps and prevent this.

I really don't want to put a fridge in my apartment, but I will if there's no other choice.

[sigh]

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Old 06-06-2010, 10:59 PM   #8
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A water bath can really help! I've seen people post pictures of their "swamp coolers" and I have an Icecube cooler with wheels that I've set up as my water bath cooler. Here is a picture:


I took off the original lid (it's hollow) and made a foam lid. It's nice because I can add a few frozen water bottles in there, and float a thermometer in the water bath to be able to check the temperature.

I like to ferment my ales at about 62-65 degrees (fermenting temp, not ambient air temperature). Since fermentation produces heat itself, the temperature inside a fermenter can easily be 5-10 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature. And, a hotter temperature makes fermentation go faster, which produces more heat, etc, so it can be an explosive fermentation if the temperature gets above 70-72 degrees. It's a challenge to be able to produce great ales in the summer, but once you figure out a way to maintain a decent fermentation temperature, it gets easier.

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Old 06-06-2010, 11:28 PM   #9
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Let it age a month or two. My impression of your description is that it is green. After it has aged that taste and smell will go away.

If it tastes like cough syrup, chunk it, it won't get better, I know.

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Old 06-06-2010, 11:36 PM   #10
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Yooper, that's an awesome cooler. I just saw one of those coolers the other day at the drug store, I might go pick one up.

On a brighter note, I've discovered that my downstairs storage closet is steady at about 62 degrees right now while it's 75 in the rest of the place, so I guess I'll be keeping everything in there with my ice / water bath.

Wellshooter, thanks for the reply. I'm going to let it hang out in the secondary for another week at least then bottle it up and stick it somewhere where I can forget about it. Maybe it will work out ok in the long run, I hope!

No cough syrup taste, just like I put a pint of vodka in it.

Thanks for your input guys, I really appreciate it.

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