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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Frustrated. Need some encouragement...
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Old 11-03-2012, 05:14 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by corkybstewart View Post
You also said you pour the hydrometer sample back into the beer? Do you sanitize the sample container before you use it? That seems like a perfect source for infection. I realize that in a 1 gallon batch of beer that sample is a lot, but I would never,ever consider tasting it and pouring the remainder back.
I sanitize everything, yea. I take my reading, then gently (against the side of the fermenter) pour the sample back. I leave about a tablespoon or so left, and I drink that right from the hydrometer tube. So no, there would be no way it could be infected based on that process.
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Old 11-03-2012, 06:51 PM   #22
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I second the suggestion of trying a very plain recipe. Specifically, a SMaSH. If your SMaSH is clean and drinkable, your process is fine.

Here is an example of what I mean:

X lbs of a quality 2-row base malt to yield OG = 1.045-1.055
X grams of a noble hop to = 0.35 - 0.4 IBU/OG ratio (17-22 total IBUs)
a neutral yeast strain (e.g. WLP005 or similar)

Try hallertaur or similar as the hop, all in at 50 to 60 minutes of boil time. Two weeks in primary, two weeks in bottle. Final product should be a light clean blonde ale with nowhere for off flavors to hide. It shouldn't change much with age either.

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Old 11-03-2012, 07:00 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by YeastHerder View Post
I second the suggestion of trying a very plain recipe. Specifically, a SMaSH. If your SMaSH is clean and drinkable, your process is fine.

Here is an example of what I mean:

X lbs of a quality 2-row base malt to yield OG = 1.045-1.055
X grams of a noble hop to = 0.35 - 0.4 IBU/OG ratio (17-22 total IBUs)
a neutral yeast strain (e.g. WLP005 or similar)

Try hallertaur or similar as the hop, all in at 50 to 60 minutes of boil time. Two weeks in primary, two weeks in bottle. Final product should be a light clean blonde ale with nowhere for off flavors to hide. It shouldn't change much with age either.
Sounds like a plan. I like this idea. I will be brewing that maybe next week and will then keep revisit this thread with the results (in 5 weeks or so).
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Old 11-03-2012, 07:28 PM   #24
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Also I heard you shouldn't squeeze your grain bag after mash because it can release tannins. Not sure if this is attributing anything to your off flavored but thought I'd mention it.

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Old 11-03-2012, 08:14 PM   #25
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On a side note, it sounds like you enjoy sharing. I like to give beer to my friends too. I'd consider doing larger batches.

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Old 11-03-2012, 09:23 PM   #26
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try not pouring your hydrometer samples back in... simply eliminates one variable that has a high probability of introducing problems

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Old 11-04-2012, 12:28 AM   #27
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For the most part your process actually sound pretty good. Infections are a strange beast and if you indeed have one then I suggest again that you replace all plastic equipment, particularly hoses, nozzles and racking canes.

The only thing that jumps out to me as an issue is your use of distilled water and only calcium carbonate. Are you testing the pH o the mash? If you brew light-colored beers, it is likely that your mash pH is too high. Too high a mash pH will extract tannins from the grain. Also, your water/wort/beer is lacking other minerals necessary for healthy fermentation - like magnesium and zinc - and flavor compounds like sulfates.

I would suggest you try using some spring water (not distilled) and adding some calcium chloride AND some gypsum (calcium sulfate) or Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate).

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Old 11-04-2012, 01:25 AM   #28
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For the most part your process actually sound pretty good. Infections are a strange beast and if you indeed have one then I suggest again that you replace all plastic equipment, particularly hoses, nozzles and racking canes.

The only thing that jumps out to me as an issue is your use of distilled water and only calcium carbonate. Are you testing the pH o the mash? If you brew light-colored beers, it is likely that your mash pH is too high. Too high a mash pH will extract tannins from the grain. Also, your water/wort/beer is lacking other minerals necessary for healthy fermentation - like magnesium and zinc - and flavor compounds like sulfates.

I would suggest you try using some spring water (not distilled) and adding some calcium chloride AND some gypsum (calcium sulfate) or Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate).
We've talked quite a bit about his water, and the distilled water with calcium chloride is something we discussed. It comes directly from the water primer, and should be adequate for this type of brewing. The bru'n water spreadsheet can better help predict the mash pH, but I would definitely NOT change to spring water (what's in it?) and never use epsom salt. Ever. Malt has plenty of magnesium, and it's never needed. It has a laxative effect in large amounts, and it simply doesn't taste good in beer.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:17 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elayman View Post
Also I heard you shouldn't squeeze your grain bag after mash because it can release tannins. Not sure if this is attributing anything to your off flavored but thought I'd mention it.
Just FYI, appears to be a myth:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/sque...ml#post2029310

I squeeze the grain bag and nothing bad seems to happen, just get a little extra wort.

Looking forward to hearing how the SMaSH turns out. Those are the main reason I do 1-gallon batches - screening different hops to see which ones I like best.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:44 PM   #30
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I'm a beginner too. I originally tried a variety of different small batches, had lots of fun trying out mead, various sorts of beer and ale, cider and hard lemonade. But recently I have felt like going "back to basics".

Many guys at my homebrew club were using Maris Otter with great results, so I joined a local group buy and bought a 50 lb bag of Maris Otter. I am planning on trying SMaSH's with various hops and mash temps., etc. I'm also excited about trying a Graham Cracker Ale and Gingerbread Ale recipes from HBT for the holidays, but am simplifying them significantly so that I can still learn more about the Maris. IMHO, a simple well-executed recipe with the MO will provide a delicious beer that I can use for holiday presents and my own drinking. By simplifying things, I am hoping to slow myself down and understand better what I am doing.

I typically start my fermentations with about 3 gallons (I've been using both glass carboys and used water cooler jugs) and they end up at about 2.5 gallons once I rack from 1st to 2nd. I find that using an Igloo cooler (I have a 5 gallon one) makes things very simple, and have rigged up a little screen mesh thingie to serve as a false bottom until I decide to buy one.

Anyway, good luck and hope that my random thoughts provide encouragement rather than confusion etc.

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