a cry for help and potentially free "beer"...
Ok, so here's the deal...I have been "homebrewing" for maybe a year and I have only made one batch that's been satisfactory.
I can't really classify it as homebrewing because I've poured out like 3 of the 6 batches I have made.
Currently I have in the bottle two northernbrewer.com recipes
their cream ale http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/cream-ale-extract-kit-2.html
and their petite saison http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/petite-saison-d-ete-extract-kit-2.html
I'd be willing to ship a six pack (although you won't drink an entire one anyway) to anyone who can tell me what I'm doing wrong.
I realize that what I brew isn't going to taste like something I buy at the store, but it should be drinkable.
I had someone tell me that the temperature is too high where they are fermenting, but that wouldn't explain the saison as that yeast wanted higher temperatures. They all have the same general blech taste that is not easy to explain. Initially I sanitized the bottles in the dishwasher, figured that might be the problem so I changed and used star san. Same thing. I'm getting full carbonation and there is yeast on the bottom of the bottle. So I guess technically I'm making beer....but I wouldn't serve this to anyone.
You know you spend so long with every batch, and every single one tastes worse than the one before. It's very taxing on my ego, since "anyone can homebrew". This is my last ditch effort before I give up on this hobby.
If anyone would like a bottle, send me a PM probably with some shipping advice as not to break the bottles.
How long are you waiting to drink the beers after bottling? 3 weeks is a minimum.... bigger beers = longer waits.
What's your process? List out your steps, temps, water source, etc.
Describe the flavors you taste and it should be pretty easy to figure out what went wrong.
Were the flavors like rubber, or a band-aid, sour, sweet, hot, burning, cloves, banana?
Both of the ones currently in the bottle have been in there almost 3 months. I usually try one after a couple of weeks and hope that it gets a lot better after it gets fully carbed....it never does.
I guess the taste could best be described as alcoholy hot. But honestly I haven't had that many different bad beers to try to be able to get the taste between bad batches down.
If it helps, I tasted both of these before bottling (out of the gravity tube) and they weren't bad, obviously flat but not pour down the sink bad.
edit: I followed NB's directions, but I'll summarize.
heat 2.5 gal water
crush and steep grain (was already crushed) steeped for 20 min.
removed grain bag and let drain for a minute or so
bring to a boil
remove from heat and added extract (I initially thought I was scorching the extract)
bring back to a boil and boil for 60 min.
added hops according to schedule
removed from heat, put entire pot in icewater bath with lid on.
stirred around the outside of the pot and added ice as neccessary to cool down...took about 20 minutes.
poured into primary with 2 gallons of cold H20 leaving the majority of funk at the bottom of the pot
topped to 5 gallons
shaked like mad for 5 min. (aeration)
added yeast and put in closet...had visable fermentation within 4 - 6 hours.
It looks like your method is fine so I will guess one of three things
1. water - Are you using tap or bottled?
2. temperature - VERY IMPORTANT. Try using the swamp cooler method if you can keep your temperature down.
3. time in primary/secondary - I keep mine in primary for at least 4 weeks to let the yeast do its job fermenting, cleaning up off flavors, and clearing.
First thing I wondered about was water also. What did you use and does it have a high level of chlorine?
2. - is it the fluctuation in temperature or just a maximum temperature that it shouldn't get that hot ? Both of my current batches were fermented around 68 - 70
3. - they didn't stay 4 weeks, but would the directions they give that say two weeks really produce that terrible beer ?
is that 68-70F ambient temperature? if so, it's hotter than that inside the fermenter.
also, try using straight RO or distilled water. You can get away with this with extract brewing (the ions you need are in the extract). My beers made a huge improvement when I changed my water.
+1 on the water. First, as Chef said, the extract contains the minerals that the yeast need, and if you add tap water you are adding MORE minerals, and you have no idea what and how much. Also, there could be something in the tap water that gives a bad taste after boiling and fermentation.
Also, as Chef said, the ambient temp might be 68-70, but inside the fermenter the yeast will be making more heat, sometimes 5-8 degrees hotter, depending on a few factors. I don't suspect that to be a cause of any serious taste problems though. I would try to drop that a few degrees for the first part of the fermentation.
You also state, "I realize that what I brew isn't going to taste like something I buy at the store, but it should be drinkable." and I think you are absolutely incorrect about this. You certainly can brew extract beer, or any beer you wish, that is as good as, or better than almost any beer you can buy. You can certainly make beer that is very drinkable, even if it won't compete with some commercial beers in a blind taste test by a professional BJCP judge right now.
Some things I would encourage you to look into:
1. Water. Go with RO or distilled for extract brewing.
2. Fermentation Temps. Although yours aren't bad, this is one area where many beginners underestimate it's importance. I know I did.
3. Look into full boils, and late extract additions. You may need a larger kettle to do full boils, and your stove may not handle the weight, or put out enough BTUs to do them anyway.
4. Increase chill speed. With full boils, you will want to invest in an Immersion Chiller. You can build one pretty easily for under $50. I would consider this even if not doing full boils. People are doing "No-Chill" beers and are having good success. I've actually garnered 42 points on a beer that we through together spur of the moment and chilled by placing out in a snowbank overnight.
You will figure this problem out and will be brewing, not just drinkable, but world-class beer before long.
Ok, one last thing. I have in a secondary a dry irish stout. (NB) It's been in secondary for close to 3 months. I'm going to take a reading and sample it. If it tastes decent but flat, should I go ahead and bottle it or just pour it out and start over with the recommendations in this thread ?
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