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Old 08-30-2011, 02:34 AM   #1
jmarko579
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Default 2 batches 2 problems

So I've now got 4 batches under my belt, but my first 2 are the only ones ready for tasting.

The first was Octane IPA kit from Midwest. It took 8 weeks before I could classify it as "tasting good". I had some other home brewers taste it and they said it tasted pretty much on, but maybe a little sweet. The only thing I can think of I did wrong is drop my unsanitized wine thief into it at brew time. I assume if it were an infection, I'd have more problems than just being a little sweet. I also don't have gravity readings since I was flustered being that it was my first batch. Is this possibly due to a high fermentation temperature?

My second is pretty much useless. I brewed the Smooth Nut Brown kit from Midwest. I did make a mistake here - I added too much water to top it off. I tried to siphon some of it out, but I'm sure that caused issues. Instead of 5 gallons, it was closer to 6. It has been bottled for 7 weeks and honestly it tastes like a Miller Lite. Also, the head varies from bottle to bottle. Some have tons of good, thick head, and others have nothing.

Are my others destined for the same fate?

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Old 08-30-2011, 03:27 AM   #2
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I don't think you making any serious mistakes. Sounds alot like the kinds of things I used to do when getting flustered just getting started.

8 weeks total time is really not bad at all for time to get to beer that starts tasting good. The only exception to that I've ever had was a Hefeweizen. I know of no infections that could cause a beer to finish sweet. We'd really need know more about the fermentation time, and temperature. Actually high temps would likely lead to lower FG and drier beer. I assume the kit was an extract beer. It is not uncommon to have troubles getting an extract to finish below 1.020. Do you know what the FG is.

If you were sanitary about the siphoning process on your second beer the only thing I can think of is that you made a beer with lower OG than you intended and therefore any flaws have less taste to "hide behind". The problem with uneven carb is not uncommon. There are some tricks to making sure you get the priming sugar to mix evenly. Other than that, you really need to wait at least 3 weeks to get to a good carbonation on normal gravity beer.

There's a really good thread on here about time healing all beer. There a a few things you can do to optimize the time it take to make a good beer, but there really is a minimum time. More time spent at the right temp(s) in the primary fermenter can go a long way to minimizing the bottle conditioning time it takes to get to "good beer"

I think one of they keys to your other beers fate may be patience.

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Old 08-30-2011, 03:38 AM   #3
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You will get it down, just takes some practice.
Be sure you are pitching enough yeast, I have made that mistake when I first started and ended up with some high FG (sweet). Another new trick that I recently picked up is to add some amylase enzyme to the secondary if the FG is too high, that will dry it up quick.

As for the high volume, I did that on my last batch and am upset just like you are. But on the bright side, I made a decent lite beer.

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Old 08-30-2011, 03:55 AM   #4
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Be sure you are pitching enough yeast
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Originally Posted by Hex23 View Post
It is not uncommon to have troubles getting an extract to finish below 1.020.
Both points are possibly exacerbated by the high OG of the Octane kit you made. 1.064-1.068 definitely needs a starter (if you're not using dry yeast). And if the yeast you used is only a moderate attenuator, a beer that big is going to finish a little high (sweet). The hops should balance that out some, but it will still have a sweet taste.
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Old 08-30-2011, 07:37 PM   #5
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8 weeks total time is really not bad at all for time to get to beer that starts tasting good.
When I say 8 weeks, I mean 8 weeks in the bottle. Which I think is a little long. I don't have gravity readings on my first, but the second was:

OG - 1.046
FG - 1.009

They were both extract kits and I used liquid Wyeast for them both.
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Old 08-30-2011, 08:29 PM   #6
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From looking at the kit directions, you hit it on the head as close as you can get. Defiantly a complete fermentation.

Kit directions:
OG - 1.046-1.050
FG - 1.010-1.012

I would expect it to have a low body with a little sweetness (low hops). As the name implies, should be a Smooth low ABV beer.


As for as the IPA, what do you mean "tasting good".
That kit has 72 IBU so it should be very bitter.
When that beer is green it should kick you in the crotch, but hops loose their bitterness over time. (contrary to a wife who will gain bitterness over time)
As the bitterness dropped, you started liking the beer better.

I think you need to pick you kits a little better. What commercial beers do you like?

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Old 08-31-2011, 01:53 PM   #7
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When I say 8 weeks, I mean 8 weeks in the bottle. Which I think is a little long.
Thanks for the clarification. 8 weeks is relatively long, but considering the gravity of that beer, still not too bad. The first beer I made was a 1.068 Scottish Ale and it took about the same bottle time before tasting good. That was before I learned about doing a long (3-4 week) primary and no secondary. Since then, even my 1.060-1.070 gravity beers start to taste good within 3-5 weeks. It's because that extra time on the primary yeast cake speeds up the "clean up" process. Also, remember that higher gravity beers like that normally take longer to carbonate.

Give it some time. Even one of my early beers that was nearly undrinkable eventually started tasting good. Beer works on its own timescale. You can do some things to minimize the time, but there is a minimum timescale that depends on the beer style and process you use. Some kit manufacturers actually acknowledge this and write their instruction sheets accordingly. For example, check out the beers on Northern Brewer's website.
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Old 08-31-2011, 02:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Originally Posted by Hex23 View Post
It is not uncommon to have troubles getting an extract to finish below 1.020.
Both points are possibly exacerbated by the high OG of the Octane kit you made. 1.064-1.068 definitely needs a starter (if you're not using dry yeast). And if the yeast you used is only a moderate attenuator, a beer that big is going to finish a little high (sweet). The hops should balance that out some, but it will still have a sweet taste.
I don't understand the perpetuation of this myth. Not getting an extract to finish under 1.020 is another problem not the fault of the extract. It could be, not enough aeration, not the proper amount of yeast, fermentation temp or another problem. Constantly just saying that it is the extract fault does not help anyone figure out the real problem. The sweetness could come from the high fermentation temps, or it could be a recipe issue, such as not enough bittering hops to balance out the beer.

I have done almost 30 extract brews and have never had an issue with one not finishing where it should. Most of my brews fall in the 1.060-1.068 range ,and several were in the 1.085 range, and constantly finish much lower than 1.020. In fact I have done Saisons that usually finish in the 1.004 range.
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Old 08-31-2011, 02:25 PM   #9
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I don't understand the perpetuation of this myth. Not getting an extract to finish under 1.020 is another problem not the fault of the extract. It could be, not enough aeration, not the proper amount of yeast, fermentation temp or another problem.
I dunno about others, but personally, I had a hell of a time trying to get any of my extract brews below 1.02, and I did everything. I had temp control, yeast starters, and aeration. Hell, I even added champagne yeast on a couple occasions.
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Old 08-31-2011, 02:52 PM   #10
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From what the OP said about the first brew was that it seemed a little sweet. He did say that it was fermented hot so that could be an issue. It also could be a hop issue. Without knowing the OG/FG I am pretty sure it is one of those two problems. I seriously doubt that it is the extract because Midwest moves a lot of product.

His second brew was topped off with too much water. So that is the problem with the second one.

This forum is a great place to learn about brewing and we should try our best to help new brewers learn how to make good beer. Throwing the "extract stops at 1.020" out there does nothing to help these new brewers. I know that when I started I spent a ton of time here reading as much as I could about the process and my brews are all turning out great.

I just pulled my brew log out and here are the numbers from some recent brews. They are all extract brews.

Brew Yeast OG/FG

Belgian Blonde WY3463 1.052/1.008
Saison WY3711 1.061/1.003
Black IPA US-05 1.068/1.016
Tripel WY1214 & 3787 1.072/1.011
Dubbel Wy3522 1.063/1.004
Hoppy Wheat Us-05 1.052/1.013
Amber Ale US-05 1.057/1.012

None of these brews had any trouble finishing where they should have.

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