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Old 10-26-2012, 09:13 AM   #1
Valis_2k
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Default First brew ever! Now how to improve?

Hi all,

I have just tried my first ever homebrew and I am absolutely elated by the awesome accomplisment of brewing my own beer
I would like to hear some opinions from the experts on how to improve it

The kit I have used was Cooopers' Canadian Blonde. I bottled it after 1 week of fermentation and I let it rest for 2 more weeks. What came out was, simply put, not very drinkable.

After one more week (so a total of three after bottling) I tried it again and I was rather pleased with the result.

However, the beer is more fruity than I had expected (but not overwhelmingly so), it has a bit of the taste I would associate with beers with a high alcohol content and it's still tasting yeasty.

After checking out forums and websites, I have found that I've done some less than ideal things

1. Right after pitching the yeast, I closed the carboy with its lid, I inserted an airlock and half-filled it with water.
2. The fermentation temperature of the room was always around 70-71 F (19-21 C), the wort was most of the time 2 degrees higher than that
3. In the brewing I only used glucose sugar (no spraymalt etc)

For point #1 and #3, I'll do it right next time. Point #2 is likely to stay :\

My question is:
Can you tell me, for which of the things I've done wrong, what is the consequence on the beer taste?
Also, is the beer going to improve if I let it rest more?


Thanks a lot in advance!

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Old 10-26-2012, 09:22 AM   #2
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Well keeping the temp down is the biggest thing you can do.
I don't know the coopers kits so I have no idea what you could expect from it.

I would suggest you check out a local brew shop if you have one around and see what they have to offer. Maybe a stout or porter since you wont have the sweet flavors ( and I love them!)

If you were to go out and buy a good beer at the store, what would you get? Brew that next. You can find a recipe on line if you want to just bring a shopping list to the store.

Pick something you want and have fun!

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Old 10-26-2012, 10:05 AM   #3
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1. Yeasts like to give you some weird flavors when you let them ferment too warm. You can control the temperature by placing the fermenter in a tub of water and add ice/cold water to keep it from getting too warm. Even wrapping the fermenter in a wet cloth will help as evaporation cools it some. You only need this cooling for the first 3 to 4 days when the fermentation is most vigorous.

2. You need enough yeast to do the job and most of the time there won't be enough in the package you pitch so aerate the wort as the yeast use the oxygen in the multiplying phase. If you don't get enough multiplication the yeast will be stressed which also can lead to weird flavors.

3. Your beer making yeast will eat many different sugars but some lead to weird flavors. You want to use malt extract as much as you can instead of table sugar.

4. Time in the fermenter is your next step. Yeast eat the sugars quickly but they don't directly convert it to alcohol (at least not all of it) and need time to break down intermediate compound that were formed during the fast part of the ferment. One week is seldom enough. I'd prefer you to give it at least 10 days for a lower alcohol/lighter color beer and as the alcohol content/darker malt goes up, so should your time in the fermenter.

5. The lighter the ale, the more difficult it is to hide mistakes. Unless you just hate a darker ale, try something with more color.

6. It's time to try something where the hops are not already in the malt. Use an unhopped dry or liquid malt extract (with steeping grains?) and fresher hops, learning to add the hops at different times to change what they do to your beer.

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Old 10-26-2012, 03:24 PM   #4
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I've been using the Cooper's Original Series (I refer to them as OS) with a 3lb bag of Munton's plain DME & a couple ounces of hops on average. I use half the bag of DME (1.5lb) in a 2.5-3 gallon boil to do hop additions. Then add the remaing DME & the LME/Cooper's can at flame out. Makes them way better. See my recipes for ideas. The Cooper's ale yeast produces fruity esters,the higher the temp,the more esters produced. Try keeping temps down around 66F. I also found Cooper's ale yeast in larger 15g packets at midwestsupplies.com & Northern brewer. Better than the small 7g packets that come with the cans.
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Old 10-26-2012, 06:58 PM   #5
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Why do you think #1 is a problem? After you pitch your yeast is exactly when you should be sealing the carboy/bucket with an airlock

I think your main problem is your fermentation temperature was way too warm. This can lead to fruity esters from the yeast (as you noted) and fusel alcohols that lead to the "hot alcohol" taste (as you also noted). Controlling fermentation temperatures is one of the best things you can do for your beer. You can try using a yeast strain that's a little more tolerant of high temperature, or maybe focus on something like a saison (those yeast strains like it warm!) but the easiest way to handle it is to make a swamp cooler.

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Old 10-26-2012, 07:09 PM   #6
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Not a big fan of the old style coopers kits. There are a LOT of better kits available today. Look for something with all of the ingredients you need - eg all the malt extract, maybe a steeping grain, and individual hop additions. Also, make sure you are getting a good quality yeast and not just an old packet taped to the box.

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Old 10-26-2012, 07:41 PM   #7
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Definitely your fermentation temperatures will have the biggest impact on the flavor of your beer.

Look into using a swamp cooler. I know it sounds like a pain but what are you willing to do for great beer? A few days of paying close attention to maintaining a 62-68 degree temp will payoff with a great fermentation.

Yes, you have to give your beer more time to ferment, condition, and carb. As a general rule, I give my beers at least 3 weeks in primary fermentation. Many times I will go longer depending on style. Then I would give it a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks in the bottle to carb and condition. If you do 3 weeks in primary and then 3 weeks in the bottle you should have a beer that is pretty close to ready to drink. Some are ready a little sooner and some take longer but 6 to 8 weeks total is a pretty reliable time frame. A beer that is 3 weeks old is must too green to drink.

If you cant do anything about fermentation temps then maybe look at using some of the Belgian yeast strains as they tend to tolerate temps in the 70's without any problem.

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Old 10-27-2012, 04:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zachattack View Post
Why do you think #1 is a problem? After you pitch your yeast is exactly when you should be sealing the carboy/bucket with an airlock
I have read in many places that it's better to put the lid on the carboy but not close it completely for the first 2-3 days of fermentation - although I am not sure why
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Old 10-27-2012, 04:15 PM   #9
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Thanks all for the tips!

A swamp cooler is not really an option for me, my apartment has serious mold issues and the last thing I need is something like that


Quote:
Originally Posted by phuff7129 View Post
If you cant do anything about fermentation temps then maybe look at using some of the Belgian yeast strains as they tend to tolerate temps in the 70's without any problem.
That sounds good.. my next brew (again from a kit) will be an Irish Stout, but I think -following billl's suggestion- to substitute the kit yeast with something better.

Do you-or anybody else- have any suggestion? I really wouldn't want to have a fruity stout
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Old 10-27-2012, 04:16 PM   #10
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Ah, gotcha. If you don't have a lot of headspace, or if you're using a particularly aggressive yeast, there's a chance the krausen will clog up the airlock and you'll get a messy blowout. You can leave the lid cracked to prevent that, or even better set up a blowoff tube.

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