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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Barleywine tastes like rubbing alcohol - can it be infected but look fine?
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Old 11-03-2008, 02:51 AM   #1
ezatnova
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Default Barleywine tastes like rubbing alcohol - can it be infected but look fine?

Well, some of you may remember my thread from 3+ weeks ago, asking questions about my barleywine. Well, it's had time int he secondary and tonight was bottling night. I always steal a spoonfull after mixing in the sugar, before putting it in the bottles and, well, I saved myself some bottling time. SOMETHING went horribly horribly wrong.
About three and a half weeks ago, I transferred it to a secondary (after two weeks in a primary) and added the last hops to the batch. I tasted a bit, and it was spot on. I was really excited for this to mature and be done in a few more weeks/months! Well, tonight, despite the color being beautiful and the whole batch looking fine (and not smelling gross or anything), the beer tastes AWFUL. It closely resembles what I imagine rubbing alcohol would taste like, and BURNS going down. Needless to say, I didn't bottle it, and all but dumped it down the drain. I did put the lid back on the bucket (good Lord, I better run down and take that damn lid off...I did add the primin sugar....BOOM ) to see if you guys had any advice before I just trashed it. I know this is a kind of beer that needs to mature, mellow, and age, but, this can't be right. It tasted 100 x better a few weeks ago. Again, it's a beautiful dark amber. Very clear. No crap floating on the top of the batch...I don't get it.
Any thoughts? Very depressing as I've never had a batch go "bad" and I put a lot of time into this guy!

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- Austin Home Brew Anchor Steam Special Holiday Ale Clone - B
- Hoptech/Blue Whale Barley Wine - in the sewer, because I'm an ass and dumped it.

Currently brewing:
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- Austin Home Brew American Barleywine (aging)
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Old 11-03-2008, 03:00 AM   #2
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Could be infected, I would say let it keep aging. A barleywine is going to have a pretty strong alcohol flavor and is going to need a long time to mellow properly. If you've primed it, go ahead and bottle it. Let it mellow for a while and try it again.

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Old 11-03-2008, 03:07 AM   #3
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I would bet it's fine. Sometimes you won't notice a hot alcohol flavor until the yeast is done it's business and drops out. I would let it age in the carboy for a while longer before bottling it.

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Old 11-03-2008, 03:09 AM   #4
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Please do not dump!!

First of all..the fact that it tasted not bad after fermentation..for a barley wine to get infected you would have to try to infect it...the ABV is so high.

Also what was your fermentation temp? This can give you the rubbing alcohal taste if it fermented too high..above 75.

I would imagine with most barley wines..it is most likely 9% ABV or higher so one word ...age..

My barley wine is a very intense IIPA at 3 moths but does not begin to smooth until 6 months and has reached it's prime at 12 months..so bottle and leave it for minimum 2 to 3 months before you taste..minimum!!!!

J

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Old 11-03-2008, 02:16 PM   #5
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Oh man. Well, I'll just say it...I dumped it. I know, I know. Just the fact that I had primed it, I didn't think I should let it sit any longer without bottling it, and I didn't want to go to the trouble of bottling, then likely dumping and cleaning all of those bottles when it turned out like crap. I did dump it before reading these responses...it's not like I just ignored your advice. Argh...now I feel even worse.
I just don't understand why it would taste really great (like the beginings of a nice sweet, thick BW) three weeks ago, and now it tasted like ass, I mean, like grain alcohol with no other flavors. No hop flavor, no malt flavor, just bitter and burn. If I had to place any other flavor, it might have been a tiny bit of iodine flavor/smell too. That may be a stretch though.

Also, I took another hydrometer reading, and it was the same reading as I got when I transferred it to the secondary three weeks ago, so nothing whacky there happened, if that's telling at all.

As far as the fermentation temp question, it is a constant 65 or so in my basement, so it wasn't too warm.

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Batches completed:
- Hoptech Summer Ale - C
- Hoptech Imperial Stout - A
- Hoptech Pumpkin - B-
- Hoptech Double IPA (Bourbon Oaked) - B
- Hoptech Cream Stout - B+
- Austin Home Brew Anchor Steam Special Holiday Ale Clone - B
- Hoptech/Blue Whale Barley Wine - in the sewer, because I'm an ass and dumped it.

Currently brewing:
- Austin Home Brew Abt. 12 Belgian (Primary)
- Austin Home Brew American Barleywine (aging)
- Austin Home Brew Cannon Ball Stout (aging)

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Old 11-03-2008, 02:27 PM   #6
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Big beer needs time to mellow.

Really big beer needs a lot of time to mellow. Like 6 - 12 months.

As punishment for a beer foul, you must begin self-flagellation by informing SWMBO about how much money in extract you just drained away.

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Old 11-03-2008, 02:45 PM   #7
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I have had a similar thing happen. Two of my beers tasted great going in secondary and not so great at bottleing time. They both turned out fine. With that much alcohol there is not much of a chance of infection.

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Old 11-03-2008, 02:50 PM   #8
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Just needed to let it mellow, man. Barleywines takes about a year to condition.

You had fusels, which could be caused by high fermentation temps. Just because your basement is at 65 degrees doesn't mean that's the temperature inside the fermentor. Yeast activity will drive temperature up by a good 5-10 degrees during fermentation.

EDIT: But thanks for taking the time to craft a thread asking for advice even though you're not going to listen to any of it.

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Old 11-03-2008, 03:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PseudoChef View Post
Just needed to let it mellow, man. Barleywines takes about a year to condition.

You had fusels, which could be caused by high fermentation temps. Just because your basement is at 65 degrees doesn't mean that's the temperature inside the fermentor. Yeast activity will drive temperature up by a good 5-10 degrees during fermentation.

EDIT: But thanks for taking the time to craft a thread asking for advice even though you're not going to listen to any of it.
As I mentioned, I wrote the thread asking for advice, then realized I had a bomb waiting in the basement since I just closed up the primed bucket. So, I made a hasty decision of dumping it since it had zero redeeming flavor. At the time that outweighed the thought of wasting time bottling, and likely time dumping and scrubbing all of the bottles again when it still tasted like crap a few months later. Obviously I made the wrong choice, and I feel stupid about it, but I can't change it now. I was hoping this thread could still help me learn for the future, despite my fail.
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Batches completed:
- Hoptech Summer Ale - C
- Hoptech Imperial Stout - A
- Hoptech Pumpkin - B-
- Hoptech Double IPA (Bourbon Oaked) - B
- Hoptech Cream Stout - B+
- Austin Home Brew Anchor Steam Special Holiday Ale Clone - B
- Hoptech/Blue Whale Barley Wine - in the sewer, because I'm an ass and dumped it.

Currently brewing:
- Austin Home Brew Abt. 12 Belgian (Primary)
- Austin Home Brew American Barleywine (aging)
- Austin Home Brew Cannon Ball Stout (aging)

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Old 11-03-2008, 03:24 PM   #10
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I did the 999 barleywine a couple months ago and let it sit in the primary for about a month or so before even tasting it. I controlled the fermentation temps at around 62 ambient (Had a couple batches going so didn't want to attach the temp probe to just one). It also had really harsh alcohol flavors, but I think that is due to it being about 12% alcohol and really will need to age out for a long time.

Also you could have just put your airlock back on your primary bucket to let the priming sugar ferment, then leave it in a carboy for a few months, then bottle it.

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Kegged: Crappy infected mild
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