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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > First batch... starting to taste "off"
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Old 09-05-2012, 03:42 PM   #1
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Default First batch... starting to taste "off"

Hello all!

I am a newbie to brewing. My first batch was an all-extract American Cream Ale kit from Brewers Best. It was put in primary Aug 8th, and bottled Aug 24th with no secondary. Before bottling, I took a sample and tasted it and it tasted great! I have been drinking it since the 27th, and while the carbonation and clarity are improving, it seems to be developing an off flavor.

I have looked over the "off-flavours" in many books, but can't directly relate the taste to one of those. The best way I can describe it is a bitter, astringent note in the aftertaste. It's almost a bit like the bitterness that comes from the hops, but moreso.

I was very diligent with all my cleaning and sanitation. As I said, it tasted great immediately before bottling. This off note has only appeared since bottling. I have stored the bottles at room temp (72f) in my basement. No exposure to light except for the occasions when the light is on in the room, which isn't too frequent.

My question is, what do you think could have caused this? Is it possible that this off-note will disappear with time, or is it likely that it's only going to get worse? Given my lack of experience, any info you guys can provide would be very helpful. I have another batch in primary right now and want to avoid any pitfalls I may have had with the first one.

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Old 09-05-2012, 03:52 PM   #2
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Give it time. It hasn't even been in the bottle for two weeks yet. It should continue to develop and within a few weeks should settle down.

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Old 09-05-2012, 03:54 PM   #3
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Any bottle bombs or gushers? I had an extremely similar case with an IPA I brewed last year. I've concluded now that the problem was heavy overcarbonation. That was in a keg, though. I've never bottled, and I'm not even sure a bottle can withstand the pressure it takes for overcarbonation to cause astringency.

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Old 09-05-2012, 04:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksbrain View Post
Give it time. It hasn't even been in the bottle for two weeks yet. It should continue to develop and within a few weeks should settle down.
I will definitely monitor the brew over the next 2-3 weeks and see if it improves. It just seemed odd to be that its actually developing a strange flavor. Normally, I would expect any off flavors to be present at bottling and dissipate later. However, given that I am very new at this, that may not be the case.

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Any bottle bombs or gushers? I had an extremely similar case with an IPA I brewed last year. I've concluded now that the problem was heavy overcarbonation. That was in a keg, though. I've never bottled, and I'm not even sure a bottle can withstand the pressure it takes for overcarbonation to cause astringency.
No bottle bombs or gushers. Carbonation levels seem good.
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:08 PM   #5
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It could be a carbonic derived off flavor, from too much carbonation. That can cause a harsh minerally kind of flavor that could be perceived as bitterness.

For what its worth, a cream ale is a challenging beer for anyone to brew, let alone a first time brewer. Its light and modestly flavored, meaning that flaws are more easily detectable (or not covered up by big hops or roasted grain)

Welcome to the hobby!

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Old 09-05-2012, 08:06 PM   #6
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If your beer is about the color of Bud Light or Coors Light, but not much darker than Miller Lite, and you used liquid extract at the end of the boil, I would say that the extract was fresh. If your beer isn't this color, some of the off flavors could be coming from liquid extract that has staled. Another indicator of old extract could be an OG higher than 1.012 for this very fermentable style.

As a beer ages the hop character will change. Some essential oils may improve, but generally they fade. Some esters may fade as well, particularly in styles with prominent esters such as weizen styles. Malt character comes from the same kinds of reactions that give bread, toast and caramel their characteristic flavor. Bread can stale and so can beer. While it may seem a bit early to worry about staling, a cream ale doesn't have the melanoidins that slow oxidation (they are antioxidants) that darker color beers have. Introducing oxygen after innoculating the beer with yeast will speed up the rate at which beer will go stale. Furthermore, storing the beer at room temperature will stale the beer much faster than storing it at 40 degrees. I store my beers at room temperature and I haven't had any problems, but I'm aware of this risk.

Given that your beer tastes like it is degrading, I'm inclined to believe that you may have oxigenated your beer during bottling. However, given how young the beer is, I have some reservations about suggesting your beer is stale.

Also, as Pappers has said, carbonation affects the percieved bitterness of a beer. With this in mind, you may want to wait until it has fully carbonated. When you decide to drink it, try tasting it at different temperatures and see if your beer was too cold. In the meantime, get yourself some Genesee Cream Ale. This is the commercial example of the style. Compare it to what you made.

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Old 09-05-2012, 08:10 PM   #7
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Water (tap?) (presence of chlorine or chloramines)
fermentation temperature (low end of yeast recommendations, to allow for exothermic increase)
yeast pitching rates (volume of yeast)

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Old 09-05-2012, 08:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashella View Post
I will definitely monitor the brew over the next 2-3 weeks and see if it improves. It just seemed odd to be that its actually developing a strange flavor. Normally, I would expect any off flavors to be present at bottling and dissipate later. However, given that I am very new at this, that may not be the case.
During bottle conditioning, beer absolutely CAN develop strange flavors that are completely, 100% normal. Put the beer back away and come back to it again once it's had a full 3 weeks to condition!

When you add that priming sugar to the beer, you're inducing another small scale fermentation. Yeast, when fermenting, make alcohol and co2, but they also tend to throw off byproducts that sometimes create strange flavors, depending on the yeast strain. Given a little more time, the yeast will go and clean up those byproducts before they go dormant again, so by the end of the 3 weeks' conditioning time, the beer should taste almost exactly like it did at bottling, except now with carbonation.

Be patient, put the beer away, and don't worry about off flavors that occur while the beer is still developing!
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Water (tap?) (presence of chlorine or chloramines)
fermentation temperature (low end of yeast recommendations, to allow for exothermic increase)
yeast pitching rates (volume of yeast)
Water is city water, but good quality:
Alkalinity 89.7 mg/L
Ammonia Nitrogen 0.1 mg/L
Calcium 35.7 mg/L
Chloride 30.5 mg/L
Magnesium 8.88 mg/L
Organic Nitrogen 0.2 mg/L
Potassium 1.55 mg/L
pH 7.72
Total Dissolved Solids 189 mg/L
Sodium 16.3 mg/L
Sulphate 27.3 mg/L
Total Hardness 127 mg/L
My fermentation took place at room temperature (72F), and was stable there the entire time.

The yeast used was Nottingham Dry Yeast, standard packet size, re-hydrated.
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Old 09-05-2012, 10:44 PM   #10
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You will notice a big (and positive) change in your beer if you are able to ferment it about 10 degrees cooler. At 72, Nottingham will throw off some esters which may not be what you are looking for in a particular style, like cream ale.

A plastic bin or tub with water and frozen ice bottles are one low tech way.

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