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Old 02-15-2012, 05:26 PM   #1
drunkinmonkey
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Default Getting Frustrated

Being new to brewing I started out strictly with Extract Brews with the intention of moving up slowly to adding steeping and finally all grain. All were turning out tasty. Nothing amazing but very drinkable and enjoyable. I was very pleased with the results and knew that refining my process would make them very good. There was no flavor either.
So then I started extract with steeping grains. Since then ugh. Everything kept having a sharp/hard a alcohol smell when done fermenting. The aroma would hit your nose at first with a nice aroma of beer and then quickly turn into a harsh smell of alcohol.
At first i figured it was due to fermenting at to warm of a temp (avg 66-68 degree). So i tried everything to maintain a cooler temp and was successful (62-65degrees depending on recipe) But to no avail. Then I realized i was not steeping correctly. I was boiling the grains rather than getting the water to 160-165 degrees and cutting the heat and then adding the grains (after waiting a bit to insure the water temp didn't increase) to steep for 20-30 mins.
So today I opened up my fermentation bucket to bottle my Irish Red Ale. Had maintained a 64-65 degree ferment, and had tracked the temp of the steeping grains (temp never got above 165 from the time i added the grains). Same alcohol smell and not much flavor.
After my boil my gravity was 1.052 Gravity before bottling this morning was 1.012.
Not sure what i am doing wrong at this point. Any suggestions
thx

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Old 02-15-2012, 05:31 PM   #2
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If you boil the steeping grains you extract tannins that give your beer a harsh and undesirable taste. Never steep at 170 or above. I usually heat the water to 165, put in the grains, put on the lid and go do something else for an hour. The alcohol taste is a chemical called Fusal (SP?) that will subgside if you let the beer condition longer. I have a Raison D'Etre clone that has a strong fusal scent afther the initial conditioning of 4 weeks. Usually takes an additional 2 weeks to subside. If you don't want to wait, try reducing your OG. That will develop less alcohol and less of the odor you describe.

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Old 02-15-2012, 05:32 PM   #3
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If your brews were okay before with just extract then you can rule out a number of things, like most problems with the water. Ferment temp sounds great and that's not an over the top beer at 1.052. My best guess would be the steeping temp. If your thermometer is off a little it's possible you could have been steeping in the 170 range which might give some harsh flavor. I would make sure your thermometer is calibrated and then try steeping around 150-155.

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Old 02-15-2012, 05:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by william_shakes_beer
The alcohol taste is a chemical called Fusal (SP?) that will subgside if you let the beer condition longer. I have a Raison D'Etre clone that has a strong fusal scent afther the initial conditioning of 4 weeks. Usually takes an additional 2 weeks to subside. If you don't want to wait, try reducing your OG. That will develop less alcohol and less of the odor you describe.
This. My first extract/steeped brew had a boozy smell/taste that would dissipate as the beer sat and breathed in the glass. A couple weeks later it's less noticeable and fades faster. I imagine it will continue to subside.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:40 PM   #5
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Yeah,I agree. 150-160F is def a better steeping temp,ime. That seems to be the main difference here.
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:25 PM   #6
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All you guys are missing it here...he's not ruining the beer with his brewday process, he's smelling it (along with CO2) way before it's beer.

The OP is strickly talking about the smell of his fermented wort IN the fermenter at the end of fermentation. All beers, good and bad, smell like alcohol burn at that point in the process. It's not alcohol, it's the CO2 in the deadspace of the fermenter filling your nasal cavity, but it is very similar to an alcohol burn, which I know from experience!

A beer can't be judged by taste, smell, or sight until it has completed proper carbonation and conditioning. Both you descriptions above say you are smelling them after fermentation but before carb/conditioning.

TRUST ME....that smell you are describing after fermentation is completely normal for good beers...I hope you aren't tossing these guys out!!

Instead of taking a big whiff of the CO2 layer, get yourself a wine thief or turkey baster ($3 at Target) and take a small sample at that point in the process. I put mine into a shot glass and throw them into the freezer for about 10 minutes to chill. That'll give you a MUCH better picture of where you're at at that stage. Taste and smell away, the CO2 burn will be gone. Just still remember that the beer will STILL change a ton during carb/conditioning, typically for the better.

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Old 02-15-2012, 09:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TopherM View Post
All The OP is strickly talking about the smell of his fermented wort IN the fermenter at the end of fermentation.
oops, um yeah. missed that part.
no worries then!
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:50 PM   #8
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I am not dumping them, I believe its not a bad batch until it takes bad after conditioning in the bottle. I would rather know for sure its bad than wonder if it still would have turned out ok.
I was not aware it was supposed to smell that way in the fermenter at the end of the fermentation process.
Thanks TopherM, I will check back in a month or so and see how it turns out. Going to go your shot glass route as well.

Bottled: Blonde Ale (14 days into bottle conditioning)
Bottled : Irish Red (started conditioning 3 hrs ago)

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Old 02-15-2012, 10:17 PM   #9
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Fermentation stinks! Wait till you make Cider or Apfelwein.......Now those smell baddddd. Congrats and welcome to HBT. Cheers

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Old 02-15-2012, 11:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickypad View Post
If your brews were okay before with just extract then you can rule out a number of things, like most problems with the water. Ferment temp sounds great and that's not an over the top beer at 1.052. My best guess would be the steeping temp. If your thermometer is off a little it's possible you could have been steeping in the 170 range which might give some harsh flavor. I would make sure your thermometer is calibrated and then try steeping around 150-155.
I have a question about this. In one of the stickies in the forum about general techniques, there is a step by step process for all grain biab methods. In that process, the poster wrote that after mashing for the alotted time, he then brings the water up to 170, cuts the heat, and covers the pot, letting the grains sit for 10 more minutes. Finally, he pulls the grain bag out, drains, and brings to a boil. Per the post above, would this technique not be wise to practice, since steeping at the 170 range could impart harsh flavors? Thanks!
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