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Old 11-03-2012, 01:16 PM   #1
JeffoC6
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Default Frustrated. Need some encouragement...

Hey guys. I've been brewing (1-gallon AG batches) since January 2012. I started out like a house-a-fire and was brewing every weekend. It was exciting and I had dreams of making word class beer (or at least damn good beer) every weekend and wow'ing my friends and family. By about May, I realized that I was having inconsistent carbonation issues, which brought my aspirations down a bit until I was able to figure out where I was going wrong. After I moved from batch priming to bottle priming (using a syringe), I was confident that I could dream big again, and achieve my goal of making amazing beer. Then in/around August, I realized that I was having some tannin issues due to a thin mash (most likely) and my water. So with the help of Yooper, I started brewing with distilled water and some calcium chloride and adjusted my mash so it wasn't so thin. I was excited again that I had finally found the last problem keeping me from making great beer. With my new processes underway, I set out to brew an Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Ale, a Bells Two Hearted Clone, a Porter, and an India Brown Ale. I was incredibly excited (and nervous) when I cracked my first Oktoberfest. When I had my first taste, I sensed that malty goodness with perfect carbonation and no astringent/tannin off flavors. All of my processes had worked, right?...Then I cracked another a few days later...It had a sour, almost vegetabley taste. Then I opened my Pumpkin Ale, which had been conditioning for several weeks. The smell was amazing! Pumpkin Pie! The taste, not so much. It finished sweet and sour on the sides of my tongue and had that same veggie slick feel at the end. The Bells Two Hearted? No tannins and no astringent off flavors, and great carbonation...But slick mouthfeel and more veggie.

I'm really at my wits end. I've gone from being amped up to brew every weekend to having not brewed in about 4 weeks. I think to myself, what's the point? I want to make really good beer, but after brewing for 9 months, all I've made is beer that I can barely choke down. In the 20'some (1-gallon) batches I've made, I haven't had one where I've said to myself...DAMN, this is GOOD! What am I doing wrong? I'm about to give up and really could use some encouragement

I'm willing and able to answer any/all questions about my processes, as I'm quite meticulous in keeping crack of things.

Please help...I want to keep going with this hobby, but every time I try to make adjustments that I think will work (and then wait roughly 7 weeks to see if it worked), another issues pops up.

Frustrated.

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Old 11-03-2012, 01:24 PM   #2
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Can you explain your process? Mash setup, water additions, sanitation regime, fermentation temps and times, bottling steps, and bottle aging temps and times.

Unfortunately, your latest issue sounds like it could be an infection issue, but I can't be sure. If it is, it is a relatively simple fix - replace all your plastic parts used post boil and ramp up your use of star san.

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Old 11-03-2012, 01:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by JLem View Post
Can you explain your process? Mash setup, water additions, sanitation regime, fermentation temps and times, bottling steps, and bottle aging temps and times.

Unfortunately, your latest issue sounds like it could be an infection issue, but I can't be sure. If it is, it is a relatively simple fix - replace all your plastic parts used post boil and ramp up your use of star san.
In addition to this information I would like to know what testing samples taste like.
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Botteled: All Columbus IPA, Chocolate Peppermint Baltic Porter, Ewalds Altbier, Hopslam Clone, Scottish Strong Ale, Fine Creek Saison, Not so Pale Pale Ale, Double Chocolate Oatmeal Imperial Stout
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Old 11-03-2012, 01:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JLem View Post
Can you explain your process? Mash setup, water additions, sanitation regime, fermentation temps and times, bottling steps, and bottle aging temps and times.

Unfortunately, your latest issue sounds like it could be an infection issue, but I can't be sure. If it is, it is a relatively simple fix - replace all your plastic parts used post boil and ramp up your use of star san.
My mash setup is a 3 gallon stainless steel stock pot and another regular non-stick smaller stock pot (I'd say 1 1/2 gallons). I calculate how much distilled water I'll need (compensating the water lost to the boil off and grains) and then put it all in my 3 gallon pot and add the calculated amount of calcium chloride. I stir to make sure the calcium chloride dissolves in the distilled water, and then I take out about 1/4 gallon of that water and put it in the other pot, cover, and set it aside. I heat the remaining water in my 3 gallon stock pot to my strike temp, add my bag (I do BIAB) and my grains, and stir like a madman until I reach my mash temp. I cover and wrap in a sleeping bag for 1 hour. After 1 hour, I bring the mash temp up to 165 while stirring constantly. Once I hit 165, I cut the heat and cover again and let sit 10 minutes. In the meantime, I heat the remaining water in my other pot to 165. After 10 minutes, I pull my bag, and dunk sparge in the remaining water, rinsing the grains completely. Then I put my bag in a colander and rest it over the 3 gallon stock pot and pour the (dunk sparged) water back through the grains, into my 3 gallon kettle. Then I squeeze the bag dry. I then achieve my boil and move forward with my recipe.

My sanitation is as follows: I buy a gallon of distilled water. I've noticed that 1 gallon plastic cartons are sometimes MORE than a gallon, so I actually measure it out in a measuring cup, so I'm assured that I'm using exactly 1 gallon of distilled water. To that, I add just under 1 1/2 teaspoons of StarSan (most of the time I'll just use exactly 1 1/2 teaspoons). I'll shake it up and it gets nice and foamy. While I'm boiling, I take all of my equipment that I'll be using and put it in a glass casserole dish that can fit everything. I pour the StarSan mixture into the casserole dish and cover my equipment in it, letting it soak for approx 20 minutes prior to using it. I also fill up a little spray bottle with some of the StarSan mixture so I can spray things down that haven't been completely submerged in StarSan.

My fermentation temps and times: I have a fermentation chamber that I set for the middle range of the yeast that I'm using. If the yeast strain says it works best from 60-70, I'll set it at 64, and it remains constant for approx 2 weeks or so, and then I'll normally have a new batch I have to put in the chamber, so I'll take the prior batch out and let it sit at room temp for the final week or so. Oftentimes, this final week at room temperature has also been when I dry hop. As I said in my initial post, when I was brewing once a week, I wouldn't have enough room for 3 batches in my fermentation chamber, so the 1st batch would be moved out (after having 2 full weeks at constant temps) and then left to sit the 3rd week at room temp. I let all of my beers sit on the yeast for 3 weeks minimum. Depending on my OG, I'll let the beer sit in bottles at a minimum of 3 weeks. If it's an average OG, I'll take one and put it in the fridge for 2 days before I try it. If it's a high OG (like my Pumpkin Ale was), I'll let it condition for 4 1/2-5 weeks before trying one. I made a Belgian Christmas Ale back in July that I still haven't touched because I know it needs a LOT of time.

My bottling steps are as follows: As soon as I drink a beer with a bottle that I could use, I rinse the bottle out several times with hot water, then I fill the bottle with hot water and just let it hang out overnight. The next day, I'll rinse it out again and store it upside down in a box that has designated slots for bottles. When it comes time to bottle, I'll take my bottles and put them in my sink, that has been filled up with about 3 gallons of hot water and 3 tablespoons of B-Brite, which I stir into the water until dissolved. I let the bottles soak in this water for about 1 hour, and then I'll rinse them thoroughly with cold water, and put them upside down in a 6 pack holder that has paper towels lined on the bottom, so they can drain/dry. I then boil my measured amount of priming sugar (I use tastybrew's calculated) in a tiny amount of water. I boil for about 45 seconds or so. I then pour that sugar water into a measuring cup that I have a pre-measured line drawn onto because that's how much priming sugar solution I need to bottle prime 9 bottles with a consistent amount of priming sugar water in each. After using a sanitized funnel to put a little StarSan water in each bottle, I'll shake the bottle up and then dump it out. I then add the cooled priming sugar water to each bottle, adding the same amount to each. I have my caps sitting in StarSan and after I add the priming sugar water, I rest the caps on the bottles.

I then rack from my primary to another sanitized 1-gallon jug. I then rack from that jug to my bottles. I'm always sure to check to see how much actual beer I have, and then adjust my priming sugar measurements to that (1-gallon to start is not 1-gallon after a 3 week primary and racking).

I then put the bottles in a 70 degree room for 3 weeks minimum, and proceed as I outlined above.
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Planned:
Prim #1: Ed Wort's Bavarian Hefe
Prim #2:
Prim #3:
Prim #4:
Prim #5:
Prim #6:
Bottled: Saddle-Up IPA, Leaf House IPA
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Old 11-03-2012, 01:53 PM   #5
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In addition to this information I would like to know what testing samples taste like.
When I take my hydrometer readings, my samples taste pretty awesome, albeit, sometimes a little hot (alcohol). I do, very slowly and steadily against the side of the glass, pour my samples back.

When I bottle, I always have a bit of beer leftover. The sample usually tastes really awesome as well. However, I've noticed that in a few of my Bells Two Hearted clones, and a Dogfish Head 60 minute clone, that the sample almost tasted salty. Please note that I didn't start using calcium chloride until a few brewdays after these batches. So it wouldn't have been accounted for in these.

Most of the time though, my samples taste really really good, and then by the time I pour them into a glass some 5 weeks later, they change for the worse.
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Planned:
Prim #1: Ed Wort's Bavarian Hefe
Prim #2:
Prim #3:
Prim #4:
Prim #5:
Prim #6:
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:05 PM   #6
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Primary: 12-12-12 Wee Heavy, Stone Ruination Clone, Bell's Better brow Ale Clone and Saison d'Hiver
Secondary:
Botteled: All Columbus IPA, Chocolate Peppermint Baltic Porter, Ewalds Altbier, Hopslam Clone, Scottish Strong Ale, Fine Creek Saison, Not so Pale Pale Ale, Double Chocolate Oatmeal Imperial Stout
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:07 PM   #7
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How are you washing and sanitizing your bottles? You said you had 1 octoberfest that was great, but another that was bad. I doubt that some "good beer" got into just that bottle.

If using a dishwasher, make sure there is no jetdry or the like in the machine. If your not sure, don't use it.

If using oxy or onestep...you need to rinse the HELL out of the bottles (at least 3 times with hot water) then use Star-san pre-bottling. The same is true for any of your transfer equipment.

Are you soaking the caps in star-san or vodka while you fill the bottles? Some people overlook this, and it's just as important as sanitizing your bottles.

I had some bottles soaking in oxy to give them a good cleaning, and my wife decided "help me" one day. I came home from work and she had them on my bottle tree. She had seen me do this a hundred times, so "great" I thought, I can get right to it and proceeded to bottle my Belgian. After a couple weeks I tried one and it was horrible. I asked my wife how long she rinsed the bottles, and she said " I thought you used no rinse sanitizer". Lesson learned..........

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Old 11-03-2012, 02:12 PM   #8
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lol....nevermind...you posted your bottling info before I finished typing my response

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Primary 1- BM's Cream of three crops.
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Kegged - Honey Badger, Heady topper clone 1, Indian Paleface Scalper
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:18 PM   #9
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But slick mouthfeel and more veggie. Frustrated.
If I remember correctly, you posted about this same problem about two or three weeks ago, saying that your beer had a 'buttery - cabbage-like' flavor?

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/butt...19/index2.html Those posts were made on Oct 21, 2012.

I had suggested that based on your information you have over pitched your yeast. BUT YOU NEVER CAME BACK TO YOUR OWN THREAD. I was actually going to PM you in a few weeks to see if adjusting your pitching rates were the solution to your problem.

So here it is again based on the information you provided for your pumpkin ale....

When I plug in: 1.078 OG; 1.0 Volume U.S. Gallon; 97% viability; into Mr. Malty, I get 53 Billion Yeast cells, or .6 of a vial or package needed without starter.

You said that you pitched 1 pack of wyeast 1968 London ESB yeast that contained 100 billion yeast cells. Therefore you overpitched by 2x the amount of yeast cells.

That is why you have a buttery, cabbage-like off flavor.

(Sorry for using caps, not yelling, I just haven't figured out how to bold on this forum)
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:22 PM   #10
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If I remember correctly, you posted about this same problem about two or three weeks ago, saying that your beer had a 'buttery - cabbage-like' flavor?

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/butt...19/index2.html Those posts were made on Oct 21, 2012.

I had suggested that based on your information you have over pitched your yeast. But you never came back to your own thread. I was actually going to PM you in a few weeks to see if adjusting your pitching rates were the solution to your problem.

So here it is again based on the information you provided for your pumpkin ale....

When I plug in: 1.078 OG; 1.0 Volume U.S. Gallon; 97% viability; into Mr. Malty, I get 53 Billion Yeast cells, or .6 of a vial or package needed without starter.

You said that you pitched 1 pack of wyeast 1968 London ESB yeast that contained 100 billion yeast cells. Therefore you overpitched by 2x the amount of yeast cells.

That is why you have a buttery, cabbage-like off flavor.
So you're saying that regardless of how many packs/smack packs that Mr. Malty tells me to pitch, I shouldn't pay attention to it, rather, I should simply pay attention to the actual number of cells?

Why do 99% of the threads on here say that's it's virtually impossible to overpitch yeast on our smaller (homebrew) scales then? See below...

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/poss...h-yeast-79391/

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/can-...-yeast-333338/
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Planned:
Prim #1: Ed Wort's Bavarian Hefe
Prim #2:
Prim #3:
Prim #4:
Prim #5:
Prim #6:
Bottled: Saddle-Up IPA, Leaf House IPA
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