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Old 02-17-2010, 05:19 AM   #1
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Default A few questions for someone new to brewing

Hi, my name is JD and I bottled my first batch of beer about a week ago. Me and my roomate got into it and fumbled our way through the process by reading through forums like this one.

The recipe we used calls for three weeks in the bottle before we drink, but we went ahead and drank one each at the one-week mark. I've got a few questions that I can't figure an answer to.

The first is the smell of the beer. The beer actually tastes great, but it just smells terrible. This isn't normal bad smelling beer either- you can smell it across the room. Now, we think this is because the messed up the recipe a bit. For the recipe we were supposed to first add an ounce of Northern Brewer (bittering) hops for 60 minutes, and then two stages of Willamette (flavoring) hops for a shorter amount of time. We mixed our hops up and put the flavoring in for 60 minutes, and the bittering hops in second. Is this what causes the smell? Or is it just that it has only been bottled for a week?

Also, the beer feels extremely alcoholic, but it tastes normal. Drinking one of our beers feels like two or two and a half of store-beer. Tragically, we don't know the alcoholic content because my roommate dropped and shattered the Hydrometer right before we were about to take our initial reading. The beer we brewed spent about five or six days in the primary fermenter and five or six more in the secondary fermenter before we bottled it (we waited until about a day after the bubbles stopped in both cases). Is the alcoholic level that we're feeling a result of brewing for too short? Too long? Or is brewing at home just more amazing?

These questions aside, the beer is fantastic and I can't wait until it finishes carbonating. It tastes great but just needs a bit of tuning.

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Old 02-17-2010, 08:24 AM   #2
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1) I'd suggest getting those bottles somewhere safe (i.e. away from kids, pets, and anything stain-able). 10 days is a TINY amount of time from primary to bottle in my opinion, and if the yeast are still active, you could have 5 gallons worth of bottle bombs on your hands. Also could you post the recipe/methods you used?

2) Can you describe the smell you encountered? Is it a rancid/foul/spoiled kind of odor or just something off-centered? Like Revvy is sure to tell you (), 1 week in-bottle is not long enough to mature, but if a smell is potent enough, it could indicate possible contamination. Check your sanitizing schedule.

2) The alcohol warmth (like the smell) should reduce with aging.

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Old 02-17-2010, 09:50 AM   #3
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Hydrometer readings of OG and FG is the only information that will answer your questions on alcohol. Also if you added enough water. In kit brewing the amount of water and amounts of sugar added would be a factor in a strong or weak brew. You have to factor that you lose water during the hops boil to evaporation. And should top off the wort with water to the volume specified by the OG.

As far as the smell, I don't think the hop mix up would be the cause. Probably more due to wort transfer and sterilization practices.

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Old 02-17-2010, 02:43 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by scrambledegg81 View Post
1) I'd suggest getting those bottles somewhere safe (i.e. away from kids, pets, and anything stain-able). 10 days is a TINY amount of time from primary to bottle in my opinion, and if the yeast are still active, you could have 5 gallons worth of bottle bombs on your hands. Also could you post the recipe/methods you used?

2) Can you describe the smell you encountered? Is it a rancid/foul/spoiled kind of odor or just something off-centered? Like Revvy is sure to tell you (), 1 week in-bottle is not long enough to mature, but if a smell is potent enough, it could indicate possible contamination. Check your sanitizing schedule.

2) The alcohol warmth (like the smell) should reduce with aging.
I thought that the time spent in the fermenter was pretty short, too. But in both cases the bubbling stopped for over a day before we moved anything.

I'd post the recipe, but I don't think I'm allowed to. It's the Austin Homebrew 'cracked' version of Fat Tire. In terms of our methods, we were definitely sure to sanitize everything before it was used (I know that usually ends up being the problem, we definitely scrubbed everything down).

As for the smell, for lack of a better term it smells like a fart.
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:52 PM   #5
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If it smells like a "fart" then your beer probably wasn't done fermenting when you bottled it. Put them in a trash bag, inside of a safe "bomb shelter" like location like a sturdy cardboard box or rubbermaid container to condition. Typically you want to leave your beer in the primary fermenter for 3-4 weeks so the yeast can clean up after themselves, that usually clears up that "farty" smell. Let the beer sit for AT LEAST 3 weeks in the bottle at 70F, if the temp is lower then leave them longer. The smell will eventually go away, but will take longer because there are less yeasties left to clean up the mess.

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And I'd like to see my 1.080 beers ready from grain to glass in a week, and served to me by red-headed twin penthouse pets wearing garter belts and fishnet stockings, with Irish accents, calling me "master luv gun," but we can't always get what we want can we? :)
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -JD View Post
For the recipe we were supposed to first add an ounce of Northern Brewer (bittering) hops for 60 minutes, and then two stages of Willamette (flavoring) hops for a shorter amount of time. We mixed our hops up and put the flavoring in for 60 minutes, and the bittering hops in second. Is this what causes the smell? Or is it just that it has only been bottled for a week?
As for the mixing up of the hops I don't think that I would say that this is the cause of the smell. Bittering hops and flavoring hops are exactly the same thing. The only difference is the length of the boil of the hops. The switch may cause a difference in the amount of bitterness given to the batch as well as a slightly different aroma, but I don't think that this would cause a "fart" smell.

The flavor/smell will definitely get better with additional time in the bottles. I also agree with scrambledegg81 that short time may cause a few bottle bombs so beware. As a general rule of thumb I am leaving my batch in the primary for at least two weeks, preferrably the Revvy rule of at least three weeks if I am not in a hurry.
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:59 PM   #7
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The smell sounds like Sulfur. Check out this link for off flavors or aromas:

http://www.homebrewzone.com/sulfur.htm

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Old 02-17-2010, 03:08 PM   #8
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As a resident of Texas I'm familiar with the smell of sulfur and that definitely isn't it. My roommate thinks I may be exaggerating the strength of the smell, but it definitely isn't a normal beer smell. I can report back in two weeks when the bottling process is done and let you guys know if the smell goes away any.

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Old 02-17-2010, 03:09 PM   #9
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Do a search for "rhino farts" on this forum. It's just the yeast farting out CO2.

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And I'd like to see my 1.080 beers ready from grain to glass in a week, and served to me by red-headed twin penthouse pets wearing garter belts and fishnet stockings, with Irish accents, calling me "master luv gun," but we can't always get what we want can we? :)
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Old 02-17-2010, 04:01 PM   #10
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I had the same experience with ABV on my first beer, drinking one felt like I drank 3! I had no hydrometer reading, nor reason to believe that it was such a high ABV, but that stuff was potent! Anyways, I havent had it happen since and it faded as the beer aged.

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