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Old 01-18-2010, 05:56 PM   #1
Sol
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Default First batch (high esters) worth keeping?

Hey guys,

I tried my first batch last week (a nut brown ale) after a month in primary (no secondary) and 2 1/2 weeks conditioning in the bottles (I figured that was close enough to 3 weeks ).

Long story short, it's horrible. I got about 1/3 of the way through the bottle but couldn't finish it and poured the rest out. I'm planning on waiting a month and trying again as I've read that a lot of issues will settle with time.

I think know what I did wrong. Noob mistake, I thought the recommended fermenting temp was ambient air temp, not temp of the beer itself. The room it was fermenting in occasionally got up to 73 or 74 degrees which, in my experience with brews I've done since could mean the beer was over 80. All of my subsequent batches have been fermented downstairs with an ambient air temp of about 63-64, so I think I've addressed the problem going forward, it's just a matter now of whether I bother waiting this one out.

Will a lot of intense ester flavor settle out of the beer with time or should I chalk this one up to not reading "How to Brew" enough before jumping in and ditch it?

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On tap (finally!): Stone Ruination knockoff
Bottled: Irish Red Ale
Keg priming: Raspberry Hefeweizen
Keg priming: Modified Ed Wort's apfelwein (half apple cider)
Primary: Modified Ed Wort's apfelwein (1/3 pomegranate)
On deck: Pliny the Elder clone
On deck: Bad Monkey Super Charged IPA

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Old 01-18-2010, 08:06 PM   #2
moonbrew
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If you don't need your bottles for something else just box it all up, tuck it away somewhere, and forget about it. I've done that with a few of mine that were less than ideal, some darn right bad, that after forgetting about were quite good 4-6 months later.

Fermenting in the upper ranges can certainly lend a fair amount of off flavors, but if left on some yeast, even the small amount in the bottle, it can mellow out quite well. There is a threshold though, some bad beer is never going to come around... but you don't know that until you wait.

You're right about your beer fermenting warmer than ambient temperature. That is caused by the heat generated by the fermentation process. These last few batches that I have done, because it is winter, have begun in my basement at around 60 degrees ambient temp. After fermentation gets under way I'm well into the mid 60s on the inside of the carboy. As the whole thing begins to peter out 72-96 hours later, I move the carboy to a basement closet with a small heater to boost that temp up to the high 60s. I have found that if I leave the carboy in the basement floor at 60 degrees the temp will drop back down to ambient temp as fermentation slows and I risk having the yeast begin to floc out before they have had a chance to clean up the off flavors, and at worst, under attenuate the beer.

I need to get a brew belt and another temp controller and go ahead and automate this procedure, but for now my low rent manual temp control is getting the job done...

Just make sure to start cool and finish warm, rather than starting warm and finishing cool.

My 2 cents... Finish reading "How to Brew" and give the first batch another month or two. Hey, that rhymes...

Good luck!

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Kegged: BCS American Pale Ale, Blonde Ale
Primary: BCS American Pale Ale
Secondary: Air
Bottled: Janet's Brown Ale, Dry Stout, Irish Red Ale, Apfelwein
Gone:American Pale Ale, Irish Red Ale, Dry Stout, West Coast Red
Long Gone: Too much

Last edited by moonbrew; 01-18-2010 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 01-18-2010, 08:12 PM   #3
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One of my first batches was also a nut brown ale that didn't turn out very well. In my case, the problem was likely old extract from the LHBS. I also fermented a little too cold. Anyway, the off flavors were bad enough that after the first bottle I didn't touch one for 8 months. After that time, the off flavors were almost gone in many of the bottkles and only slightly noticeable in the others. I still didn't like it much, but my friends were more than happy to drink it with me. I say store it away for a while.

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