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Old 10-03-2012, 09:12 PM   #1
joe91620
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Default First Lager - Oxygen Issues?

Hello All,

First, some background! I just recently started homebrewing, and so far it's been great. I picked up a standard two bucket kit from my LHBS, as well as a Better Bottle and two beer kits (Brewer's Best brands). The first beer I brewed was an Irish Stout, which wildly exceeded my expectations. The second beer I brewed was an Oktoberfest lager, which had a fairly strong sherry-like aftertaste that I noticed while bottling it. Reading up on off-flavors tells me that the likely culprit is oxygenation. I did splash the wort when transferring it to the primary, as I've read you should, but I did my best to siphon it smoothly from the primary into the Better Bottle secondary (manual siphon). So what I'm looking for here would be some advice on how to avoid this in the future. Will such off flavors be a bit muted after a bit of bottle conditioning? Could there potentially be another culprit to this taste?

Thanks!
Joe

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Old 10-03-2012, 09:24 PM   #2
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A lot of things can cause off flavors, boiling with the lid on was my first big mistake. Pitching yeast and/or fermenting at the wrong temperatures is another big one.
One way to avoid oxygenating when transferring to a secondary fermenter is to not transfer at all. Secondary is really not needed for most beers unless you are adding something else to it or plan on storing it for a long time.

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Old 10-03-2012, 09:28 PM   #3
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Generally when you have oxidation flavors so early, it will get worse with time so drink them early.

Aeration before fermentation starts is great for the yeast. But after fermentation oxygen will ruin beer and wine.

It's possible that it was racking that caused this, but also having lots of headspace after racking would compound the problem.

One thing to consider in a "sherry like" after taste may not be oxidation. Generally, madierized flavors ARE oxidation, but if you're tasting alcohol and not so much "sherry", it could be related to a too-high fermentation temperature, underpitching, or a too high pitching temperature. That might be what we call "higher alcohols", or fusel alcohols.

Either way, that flavor will not age out and if it's oxidation, it will get worse with time unfortunately.

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Old 10-04-2012, 12:22 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick replies! I will definitely take that advice to practice, menerdari, but for lagers, isn't the secondary "lagering" stage required?

For a little more background information, at first I followed the kit directions and pitched the included yeast at 60 F (using an ice bath to cool the wort). I then slowly dropped the temperature to 50 F using an old fridge hooked up to an external temperature controller (verified with an analog thermometer as well as stick on thermometer on the 6.5 gallon primary bucket). However, fermentation did no start after 72 hours, so after a call and a trip to my LHBS, I picked up a packet of S-23 Saflager and repitched (this time at fermentation temperature, 50 F). Fermentation began within about 12 hours, and I then followed the kit directions directly from there on out. The batch was 5 gallons and the Better Bottle I used when lagering was also 5 gallons, so there wasn't a whole lot in the way of head space. However, when racking, there was a bit of splashing between the time I let my thumb off the end of my siphon (I just used a racking cane and tube) and the time I got the tube to the bottom of the carboy. That splashing is what I guessed caused my issues. Although, now that Yooper mentions that fermentation-related issues could also be the culprit, perhaps it was the fact that I pitched two strains of yeast with almost four days between brew day and the start of fermentation.

On another note, the OG and FG readings I took were within the expected ranges, if that helps at all.

Thanks again for such quick and informative replies!

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Old 10-04-2012, 03:00 PM   #5
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From what i've read, that amount of splashing would not likely cause such an off taste of oxidation.
It may be that you put two different breeds (?) of yeast in there, and that could have caused a little war, and everyone knows that war tastes bad :P

In all honesty, I do not know the biology behind two different yeast breeds being pitched into one wort, but I have heard that it can cause some serious off flavours.

I'd recommend rehydrating the dried yeast to reduce the chances of a slowed initial fermentation. It's an easy step, and also allows you to "proof" the yeast to test that it is working, then you can choose between it and a spare packet.

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Old 10-04-2012, 05:35 PM   #6
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Thanks, Kahless. I'll have to keep that advice in mind from here on out. I have my third batch in the fermenter now (an Irish Red) and I just pitched that one dry, too. In the future I'll make sure to rehydrate.

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