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Old 01-04-2012, 04:13 AM   #1
alexipa
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Default First brew not going as expected.

I've been lurking, reading, digesting this forum for a while. This is my first post however, as I finally attempted my first beer. I decided to use extract but wanted to make up my own recipe as opposed to copying someone else's work (instead just using other's as a starting point). Anyways here it is (Irish Red, 5 gal batch):

5 lbs. Amber Malt Extract
1 lb. Crystal Malt (40L)
1/4 lb. CaraRed Malt
1/4 lb. Roasted Malt
1 oz. Northern Brewer Hops (60 min)
1 oz. Tettnang Hops (1 min)
American Ale Yeast

I really didn't know what to expect for OG but it seemed extremely low at 1.031. I'm guessing this is because I didn't use enough extract? Should have went with 6 lbs I think. It's been 8 days fermenting (with lots of activity) and the gravity is now 1.011 which seems good, the yeast is doing its job! The color is a beautiful dark red and still somewhat clear. It smells like a good beer should.

My concern is that I've tasted it after taking the gravity, expecting some off flavors and no carbonation since it's still so young. To my surprise it was nearly undrinkable! Very solvent-like aftertaste.

Will this mellow out? Can I expect it to be drastically better after bottling and storing for two weeks?

Thank you for any input!



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Old 01-04-2012, 04:16 AM   #2
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that's an awful lot of specialty grains, namely crystal (the amber LME/DME has crystal malt too), i'm surprised it fermented down that far.
as far as 'solventy', what temps did you ferment this ale at?



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Old 01-04-2012, 04:36 AM   #3
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maybe fusel alcohol if you let the fermentation temp get too high, like the high 70s and up.

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Old 01-04-2012, 04:46 AM   #4
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It's been fermenting at a pretty consistent 66 degrees Fahrenheit.

So my specialty grains/extract ratio was probably pretty off?

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Old 01-04-2012, 05:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexipa
It's been fermenting at a pretty consistent 66 degrees Fahrenheit.

So my specialty grains/extract ratio was probably pretty off?
It's prolly just green beer. Give it another week or 10 days at least in primary and bottle it. I bet you'll be surprised.
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:10 AM   #6
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I'm hoping that's the case. Either way I think I'll bottle it and hope for the best.

I did sanitize with bleach, could this be the culprit? I rinsed afterward with boiled water but easily could have missed some.

EDIT: After reading up on flavor profiles of different brew-issues, I believe it is Phenols. Looks like this can indeed be caused by bleach. Any chance this might subside, or will I need to call it an IBA (Irish Bleach Ale)?

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Old 01-04-2012, 10:56 AM   #7
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After looking at the "I wish someone had told me when I first started brewing" thread, this makes me think of:

1) Go to StarSan from the start to sanitize everything
2) Have patience and be prepared to give your brew some time to itself before being judged to closely.
3) Try not to live and die by each batch in the beginning. I've caused myself a lot of unnecessary stress worrying about the outcome of each batch of beer when I first started. I've since learned that there will be more beer and if this one turns out bad, that's ok

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Old 01-04-2012, 01:16 PM   #8
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A couple thoughts:
1) With that amount malt extract (LME?) that is exactly where you should expect the OG to be I think.
2) I assume you steeped the specialty grains, which adds some flavor and color but does very little for the gravity and adds almost nothing to fermentables, which is fine, just don't expect it to increase those things
3) 66 ambient temp MAY be a bit warm, although I doubt the temp in there got up above 70, it could have been close. Probably not high enough to cause real problems though. It may or may not be the issue.
4) On a whole, it is very little hops and/or grain for a 5 g batch, and while you did not specify which yeast you used, most of the american ale yeasts are super clean and don't change your flavors a lot, so it may just be that you do not have a lot of flavor in there to mask any imperfections.

5) MOST IMPORTANT- you made beer. Give it time and I would bet the flavor improves a lot and it will end up a very drinkable session beer. It will probably end up kind of like a 60 schilling except a bit less flavorful because of the american ale yeast (which a lot of people use for scottish ale anyway).

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Old 01-04-2012, 02:51 PM   #9
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I really appreciate all the advice guys, great stuff. So for next time I will definitely use starsan, I will add more LME, possibly some more flavoring hops, and possibly a different yeast. I look at this first batch as a learning experience, I was just hoping I could drink my learning experience.

HopDr: I'm not sure I understand your question about steeping. I let the specialty grains sit in 150 degree water for 30 mins, then strained them out and brought the LME to a boil. Is this considered steeping?

Thanks all.

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Old 01-04-2012, 03:26 PM   #10
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Yes, that is steeping. By the way, if you haven't already, you may want to invest a few bucks in some brewing software like Beersmith or use another recipe calculator, it will help you figure out what all of these ingredients will end up making. You can also use a free online one like Hopville but it is a little less easy to mess around with things to see how they will effect your brew.



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