1st Post... 1st Failure!
As the title says, I just finished my first batch of beer, and it's suitable only for pouring down the drain.
I'll try to recount my brewing experience along with what I feel might be possibilities of where I went wrong. I'm hoping some of you seasoned professionals can help me determine what exactly caused the off flavors.
For starters, this was a Belgium Wit from williamsbrewing.com
After two weeks in the bottle, it has plenty of carbonation, but it also has some off flavors that make it undrinkable. I really can't pinpoint the flavor, but it does have a drying (tannic) finish on the tongue. The closest I can come to from reading all the online descriptions of off flavors is that it might be a medicinal flavor. Maybe a bit fruity too? I also tasted this flavor before bottling. So it was not introduced during bottling.
I used a four gallon aluminum pot found at a church rummage sale. I boiled 3.5 gallons of water initially. As I heated the water, the pot did produce some odors of what I believe is ghosts of soups past. The odor was light and I decided to ignore it.
After following the directions and boiling the wort for 60 minutes, I added it to the fermenter bucket (still boiling hot... I know that was a mistake!) I also added a bag of store bought ice and cold tap water to bring it to 5 gallons. I tried to keep as much trub out of the fermenter as I could.
The fermenter was cleaned/sanitized with the "brewer's edge" that came with the equipment kit. I believe it's a chlorine based product, so I rinsed everything before it came into contact with the wort while pouring.
I placed the fermenter in an ice bath, and it took quite some time for it to reach pitching temps. I think I had the lid partially on for most of this time.
I pitched at just under 80 degrees and stirred for a few minutes. Here I'm wondering if I didn't introduce enough oxygen?
Then it was covered, the airlock was filled with water, and it was moved to the basement which was around 68 degrees.
I didn't notice any airlock activity, but a krausen did form after a few days. A few times impatient and curious me took the airlock out to peer into the fermenter. Some of the water from the airlock made it into the beer from this.
The krausen had not dropped by the end of day 14, so I racked it into the priming bucking taking care to leave the krausen (some did fall while moving the bucket) and yeast cake in the fermenting bucket.
I checked the gravity and tasted the beer before racking it. I noticed some off flavors at this time.
A few days later I added the priming sugar and bottled. I was hoping those off flavors would condition out in the bottle, but no such luck.
So.... any clues in here as to where my big mistake(s) were? I hope to learn from them so I don't have to dump another 5 gallons of beer! I used up all the brewers edge cleaning up bottles and have since switched to using StarSan.
Sorry for the long first post....
Thanks in advance!
Before you discount those flavours aging out, let those bottles sit longer. Time cures nearly all wounds. The off-flavours don't sound like an infection since it's not sour, and the fermentation sounded normal. Maybe it's the pot, maybe it's the temperature, maybe the yeast just said, "Today is not your day, you did not pay us the perfect tribute". Though, I'll be honest, I'm not the master of off-flavours so someone else can probably help more.
If you can, get started on your next batch, and just forget about this batch for a few weeks. Come back and see if you like it. If not, dump it then.
Not knowing if it was a all grain batch or not that is all I can come up with. If it was a LME or DME I cannot see getting tannins in the wort but perhaps others here who do extract batches could chime in. That is assuming that is what you did.
I would say that all in all your overall process is somewhat hap-hazard but it appears you have a general idea of where you need improvement.
Since nothing sounds like an infection I think everything stems back to your pot and the ghosts.
I believe whatever you used is a cleaner and Not a sanitizer. Glad you got star San, I would give that kettle a good soakin with oxy and scrub the hell out it! Remember cleaning and sanitizing are two different things and both are important.
Once in the primary just leave it alone and if you do need to play with the airlock, don't!
Good luck on the next one and let this one mellow for several weeks, then try it
A couple of things stand out to me. First, as you mentioned, fermenting buckets are not rated for boiling temperatures, IIRC. I would imagine maybe something might have leached from the plastic, perhaps resulting in a phenolic taste especially if you used a chlorine-based sanitizer and didn't get a complete rinse. Secondly, when you boiled the water, you removed chlorine (that is if your water is treated with chlorine. Chloramines have to be removed with RO filtering or potassium metabisulfite - Campden tablets), but you added it back in by topping off with tap water and ice. And as an aside, put a starsan solution or cheap vodka in the airlock. Nasties can and will grow in plain water, even after boiling.
The pitching temperature of 80 degrees, particularly for a wit yeast, could account for much of the off-flavors.
Your pot is probably just fine, but you could boil some water in it to make sure it's got a nice oxide layer on it.
Next time, cool the wort in an ice/water bath to under 80 degrees, and THEN use cool or cold water to get to 60-65 degrees or so. Add your yeast when you are about 62-65 degrees, and no higher! Stir the wort well, or shake it or something to aerate it. Consider using two packages of yeast if using liquid and the wort is to be over 1.040, or make a starter.
I'd suggest getting rid of the chlorine sanitizer and try something like Iodophor (iodine) or Star-san (phosphoric acid based) which are no rinse.
Make sure your tap water or whatever brewing water you're using is chlorine free.
Otherwise, you should be pretty good!
Deleted by JerryTeague.
Perhaps it was it aluminum?? But iron?? And what you could be tasting is just that??
Thank you all for you prompt replies and tips to make my second brew a success!
I'll leave it sit in the bottle a few more weeks before I decide if I should dump it or not!
To answer a few questions brought up...
It was an extract kit. There were no steeping grains and it used LME.
The yeast was liquid (wyeast trappist I think) The instructions called for 64-78 degrees. I was getting very impatient by this time and remember thinking *just* under 80 was close enough to 78. Which I now kick myself for since 78 is on the high end of the recommended temps.
What are the effects of pitching at too high of a temp?
I used the rest of the chlorine sanitizer to clean/remove labels from bottles and have since got PBW and Star-San.
Thanks again! Looking forward to giving it another go soon!
A quick google search suggests your problem is chlorine or chloramine. Try using filtered spring water or reverse osmosis to rid the water of this. I personally use bottled because of this very issue. So it's either your water or you didn't rinse out your cleaner enough. Sadly time will not fix this one much.
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