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Old 11-23-2010, 07:55 AM   #1
mickjc75
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Default Beginner bad batch, kinda stuck for ideas.

Hi my first two batches of beer have been terrible. I have read around a bit and I'm not sure what to try next, I'll go over my procedure.

I disassemble my fermenter completely (ring seal, tap, grommet, air lock), and clean all parts very thoroughly using Brewcraft Brewclean. I rinse very well using tap water, re-assemble, then rinse inside it with copper tun brewshield sanitizer (hydrogen peroxide/silver ions/distilled water). I run this through the tap, and tip it all out and keep a bit in the airlock. I do NOT re-rinse with tap water.
I dissolve my kit which is "Cascade Imperial voyage pale ale", in roughly 5lt of filtered tap water, along with Brewcraft Brewbooster #15 which I think is 1kg mixture of glucose and dried corn syrup. I do not boil this, but bring it close to the boil for maybe 10min and ensure everything is fully dissolved. I do this in an aluminum pot, my water filter is a single stage canister. I mix this in the fermenter with enough filtered water to make up 23lt total. I close the lid and fit the airlock, and when it has cooled to 25deg I sprinkle the yeast from the kit labeled "Cascade Bohemian" on to the top and put the lid back on. Temperature was averaging low 20's, but a couple of times it got down to 16deg. SG went from 1.036 to 1.012 over 7 days, I let it sit another 4 days after bubbling stopped. My empty bottles were stored upside down in boxes for about 3 weeks after being sterilized for me, by the guy I bought them from. I know this sounds dodgee but this guys entire house was full of bottles and he looked like a pro, he told me what he sterilized them with would break down into water. I washed and rinsed the filler tube with tap water, my first bottle was very cloudy so I threw it away, every bottle after that filled very clear with not much fizzing. I added 2 carbonation drops to each bottle using a sterile pair of tongs, and capped them. I did not sterilize the crown caps, but I was careful not to touch the inside of them. I left a small gap at the top of the bottle, the volume of the filler stick (~3-4cm). I did not shake or swish the bottles to distribute the priming sugar. This beer was primed at 20-24deg and is now 3 weeks old. It has plenty of fizz, but it tastes TERRIBLE. I'm not great at describing tastes but it has no body, very watery and thin, and almost like a dash of Worcestershire sauce is in it. I have choked down a few long necks now, it did not make me feel sick.

I don't know what I did wrong, and I don't want to wreck several more batches of beer trying to find out. Can anybody tell me where I went wrong?


Thanks,
Mick.

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Old 11-23-2010, 09:04 AM   #2
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Could be a number of things. The first thing I'd focus on is the yeast and fermentation. I would avoid using the yeast which comes with the extract cans. It tends to be old and of lower quality. There are a number of good dry yeasts (Safale US-05 or Danstar Nottingham for example) which are very reliable. You can also go the liquid yeast route, but that typically requires making a starter. There are more options for liquid yeast, but it isn't necessarily better. Either way, make sure to check the expiration date to be sure the yeast is healthy.

You want to pitch enough yeast, as well. This is a good reference: http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

Fermentation temperature is another big one. It needs to be within the yeast's recommended range and it needs to be consistent, or you risk all kinds of off-flavors. One thing that a lot of new brewers aren't aware of is that, since fermentation produces heat, the temperature of the fermenting beer can be several degrees warmer than the ambient temperature. I like to try to stay on the low end of the recommended range.

Also, time is a huge factor. I let every one of my batches sit in primary for at least three weeks before bottling/kegging. After that it's at least another three before it's ready to drink. "Green" beer often has funky tastes which mellow out and disappear over time.

I'm not sure I follow your process, but it sounds like you only boiled for 10 minutes? Standard procedure is to boil for an hour. This will have a MAJOR effect on the way the hops taste in the brew.

Overall, I would highly recommend that you take a look at this site: http://howtobrew.com/intro.html

It's a resource that many of us have gotten a lot of great information from. Some of it is outdated (there are print versions of the book which are more up to date), but almost all of the information is good.

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Old 11-23-2010, 10:15 AM   #3
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Hey thanks heaps, the instructions only said to dissolve the ingredients, but I will try boiling for 1 hour, get some better yeast, and rig up some kind of temperature control. Cheers! :-)

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Old 11-23-2010, 10:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mickjc75 View Post
Hey thanks heaps, the instructions only said to dissolve the ingredients, but I will try boiling for 1 hour, get some better yeast, and rig up some kind of temperature control. Cheers! :-)
Did you add any hops or was the kit pre-hopped malt extract? I don't know if boiling those longer will harm what hop flavor "should" already be in the malt extract.

Dig around this forum for the top couple sticky posts in each thread. Was a major help to me.
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Old 11-23-2010, 02:12 PM   #5
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+1 for actually boiling your wort. If its pre-hopped malt extract that you're using, then you don't need to boil for a full 60 minutes. But at least boil for 10-15 minutes.

+1 for getting some quality yeast.

At the end of the day, maybe your top off water is bacteria laden?
Maybe its just a sh*tty extract kit, that always tastes like sh*t. How old is it?

You should also sanitize your bottles yourself.

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Old 11-23-2010, 02:49 PM   #6
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I'm still very new to this myself and am having my own bad tasting beer problems... However, one thing that stuck out to me was your bottles.

Unless you watched him 'sterilize' these bottles, you don't really know how well, if at all, they were sanitized. Also, I wouldn't trust anything that has been sitting around for three weeks unless it was in a sterile vacuum pack. If the mouths of the bottles were in contact with the dirty cardboard of the beer case for three weeks, and you poured beer in without re-sanitizing, I'd imagine that could be a very easy way to get contamination.

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Old 11-23-2010, 03:22 PM   #7
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The two times I used a Coopers kit - which I think is prehopped - and used tap water I also had bad tasting beer. I've stopped using those kits and started buying 5 gallons of filtered tap water from the grocery store.
I'm a beginner, but I think the problem was that the kits got old (especially the yeast) and any high concentrations of chemicals in the tap water could have hindered the fermentation. Out of my experience, I would recommend finding a similar recipe to the ones in a kit and just make it from scratch.

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Old 11-23-2010, 03:40 PM   #8
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Not necessarily why your beer isn't good, but you should change your bottle sanitization procedure. After three weeks in a box, those bottles won't hold the sanitation. Plus, doing this yourself is the best way, if you don't know or trust the procedure of the person doing this for you.

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Old 11-23-2010, 04:24 PM   #9
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I do agree that better quality yeast and sanitizing immediately prior to bottling would help.

It's possible that kit was old and the ingredients degraded over time. I suspect the quality of the ingredients weren't very good to begin with. I'd go with a more reputable kit provider or have your local shop put something fresh together.

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Old 11-23-2010, 11:14 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the suggestions, all noted.
One thing I am curious about, is water hardness. I know that in an aquarium, filtered water can turn acidic very easily because the filter strips out the minerals. I don't know if this is a problem for beer brewing or not. I guess if people can get away with using boiled rain water, then probably not.
In the aquarium I add minerals with shell grit, if the shell grit does not affect water flavor (Iv'e never tasted it), then maybe this might be something worth considering for beer brewing?

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