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Old 08-15-2010, 02:34 AM   #1
jpzep4
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Default Help! Brewing Failures again and again

here's where I was 8 months ago after about 5-6 brews (only one was good):
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/need...y-beer-155611/

I know this is super long but read on if you can.

Got some good responses back then. Implemented many changes. Better Bottle, strict temperature control, new hoses, changed my supplier for ingredients, and the list goes on. I isolated as many variables as possible down to the using/not using the wort chiller just to make sure it wasn't a contributor. haven't been to a homebrew club either.

The first batch after the new fermenter was good, an extract porter with liquid yeast.

Fast forward today. Beer still sucks. I've brewed four times since. Porter was good though it did develop some bad burp problems over a month or so. Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Clone still conditioning in bottles. I've had a couple over the months. A bit of alchohol bite but actually tasted pretty good. ESB was terrible. Not drinkable (see taste below). Kolsch, just opened a bottle after three weeks conditioning. Crap. So my current batting average is now 2 for 9. SO FRUSTRATING!

The homebrewing mantra seems to be just wait it will get better. Believe me I've done that on these brews. I've come to know that when the flavor I'm tasting is present, it's just NOT going to go away. It gets worse. Other than the porter, just about EVERY beer I've brewed tastes the same (some horrid stale, plastic, spiced flavor that I can't describe) AND they all end up the same color.

I brewed and bottled this Kolsch with the utmost care and attention to detail. It was the right color going into the botttles, tasted good, and now three weeks later, bad. The ESB was bad out of the bottling bucket. Kolsch was good out of the secondary (7 primary approx 62-64 degrees with fluctuation due to swamp cooler, 4 weeks secondary at 42 degrees) It now has the aforementioned bad taste developing heavily now.

To the point now with a possible list of problems. Please help isolate:

1. I don't know how but I guess sanitation is suspect. Using OxyClean (with a good rinse) after a brew and sanitizing EVERYTHING with StarSan. I don't really know what else i can do in this area. Though I have not replaced my bottling wand. Many of my beers have had this taste and color before going into bottles so it's not there

2. Leaving too much sanitizer in fermenter when racking. i of course try to get all liquid out and just leave foam. Is it possible StarSan can contribute to off-flavors even if diluted properly? i don't think so

3. LME/DME argument. Brewing partial boils with LME (possibly too old at that) I've read the debate on that combo leading to "extract twang". I order supplies and it may be a month or longer before I can use them but I keep them cold and well preserved. I've read extensively on extract twang (reality or myth aside) but it's always described as a sweet flavor. this is not sweet, it's nasty. Just bad. Burps are bad too. The Sam Smith clone was brewed with DME not LME and doesn't seem to exhibit the same off flavors after months in bottles. Could this really all come down to an LME issue?

partial boil/full boil: I cannot justify buying a bigger stainless pot to do full boils (or anything else expensive) till I find out where I'm going wrong so I start with a 4 gallon brew, end up with 3 after boil. Add 2.25 gallons water.

I've used spring water, boiled tap water, regular tap water. Doesn't make a difference here. Our water is good. Selected as the best drinking water in the Southeast in 2008. I've looked at the limited amount of water profile data they have available. Nothing's off according to Palmer's book.

4. Thought it could be tannins from steeping grains. Did not use any with the Kolsch, straight extract brew, didn't help so I've eliminated that.

5. Starters. Switched from dry to liquid. have a stir plate and 2L flask for starters. Doesn't seem to be brain surgery. I've followed directions and they've gone well. Haven't checked OG on starters but I'm using the proper ratio of DME to H20. I used the Porter's washed yeast on the ESB and questioned my starter a bit http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/star...estion-180824/ but it ended up finishing well and I used it. Mistake maybe.

6. Only other thing I can think of is the old "house bug" thing. I thought that could be cured with new hoses, fermenter, etc. Don't know what you do about that other than brew and ferment somewhere else. Not really feasible.

I'm sure there are many details not posted here but the bottom line is I don't know where to turn folks. I'm wasting money and A LOT of time on these brews. I'm so close to posting all my stuff on craigslist and just going back to getting ripped off on commercial beer. At least I can drink the stuff!

Any and all help so much appreciated.

Damian

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Old 08-15-2010, 02:58 AM   #2
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Stop before you hurt yourself. I suggest you hook up with a local home brew club and let them taste it. Maybe someone will come over and observe what you are doing.

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Old 08-15-2010, 03:00 AM   #3
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Can I suggest something? Just brew some straight up pale ales or other no nonsense ales until you get it right. I'm AG but I'd say get some lme, a bit of medium me, some decent yeast, boil, put in hops and add a user friendly yeast like WLP 005, wait two weeks, bottle. It seems to me like you're just getting ahead of yourself. I'm a newbie, only started brewing this season, and I've done 3 pale ales, one stout and one american ale. They've all turned out awesome (well, the american ale kinda sucked but that was my fault, too small hop bags). Seriously, you can't f-up a basic pale ale.

BTW, with the same money you spent on that pump, wort chiller and stir plate, you could have bought a ghetto yet working AG system like what I have. Too late now, but might serve as a fyi for others.

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Old 08-15-2010, 03:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badmajon View Post
Can I suggest something? Just brew some straight up pale ales or other no nonsense ales until you get it right. I'm AG but I'd say get some lme, a bit of medium me, some decent yeast, boil, put in hops and add a user friendly yeast like WLP 005, wait two weeks, bottle. It seems to me like you're just getting ahead of yourself. I'm a newbie, only started brewing this season, and I've done 3 pale ales, one stout and one american ale. They've all turned out awesome (well, the american ale kinda sucked but that was my fault, too small hop bags). Seriously, you can't f-up a basic pale ale.

BTW, with the same money you spent on that pump, wort chiller and stir plate, you could have bought a ghetto yet working AG system like what I have. Too late now, but might serve as a fyi for others.
I agree with this. Sorry you are having hard time. It really should not be so frustrating. Go get some basic kits and I would not use oxy clean. I dont know about that stuff but I use c brite or another used for home brewing. I would just say get back to basics man. I have not even brewed as much as you but the brews I have done have come out fantastic! Try and keep things simple.
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Old 08-15-2010, 03:20 AM   #5
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The flavors sound like Phenol to me...

Does your tap water have any Chlorine in it? Have you been using bleach anywhere in your cleaning? I see regular tap water and boiled tap water but I am wondering if you have used a charcoal filter (like Britta) to remove any chlorine in the water...

And for a real stretch, what types of yeast have you used in your batches? Have they all been different or have you used a certain yeast in more than one batch?

I also agree with Brewham, get with a local homebrew club and have someone come over and brew with you. They may see something small that is making a huge difference. That additional set of eyes may be just what you need.

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Old 08-15-2010, 03:27 AM   #6
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What types of kits are you using? I'm a huge fan of the Brewer's Best kits - I did 4 or 5 of them, and after those I felt I was more than prepared to get into getting my own ingredients to brew other beers (or modifying their recipe so ti's cheaper

Another good option/resource is Charlie Papazian's book. I had that right next to me while doing my first brew, and I referred to it while going through my kit recipe and it helped answer the questions the Brewers Best kit didn't.

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Old 08-15-2010, 03:44 AM   #7
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Brewing good beer (for me) comes down to:

-fresh ingredients
-obsessive/compulsive cleaning and sanitization
-strict temperature control
-proper pitching rates
-good recipe formulation
-little bit of luck

I've only ever dumped out a couple batches, and I've brewed many more batches that were just 'OK.' In general, my beers DID greatly improve when I went to all-grain. But, I also made a lot of general process changes around that time, too, such as paying more attention to temperature and yeast starters, as well as doing full-wort boils.

I suggest you find a local brew club or a brew buddy to brew with - you could be overlooking something extremely simple. I would also highly recommend you move to full-wort boils. A large enough kettle needn't be expensive - certainly not the price of 7 out of 9 bad extract batches of beer! You ought to be able to find a 30-40qt aluminum pot from a restaurant supply shop or online for around 40 bucks.

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Old 08-15-2010, 07:50 AM   #8
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The flavors you're describing sound exactly like chlorophenols to me, which are created when the yeast react with chlorine or chloramine. They have a very low taste threshold, so it doesn't take much at all. When you did the batch with bottled spring water, did you use the spring water for rinsing and mixing sanitizer both on brew day and bottling day? If not, I'd guess your water is the culprit.

Edit-
I looked up the Macon water report for 09. It looks like the water is treated with both chlorine and chlorine dioxide. The spring water you bought was most likely just local water that had been filtered, and still may have had chlorine dioxide in it. If you're brewing extract, try a batch with distilled or RO water and see what happens.

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Old 08-15-2010, 09:20 AM   #9
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Also - and I admit to not having read your previous thread - you mentioned nothing about fermentation temperature. My first couple of beers, before I started strictly controlling the temperatures, all tasted pretty awful. Remember, the temp of the fermenting beer is often several degrees higher than the ambient temp.

Otherwise, check your water. Another idea is to try a small (2.5 gal) all-grain batch to rule out the extract thing. You could probably pull it off pretty easily with your current equipment using the brew in a bag method.

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Old 08-15-2010, 04:34 PM   #10
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Tell us more about your temp. control method. Also, my first three batches
were crap. On # 30 now and they have all been great. Two major changes
I made were submerging the fermenters in a 68* water bath and full wort
boils. No off flavors at all nothing.

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