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Old 03-25-2011, 06:20 PM   #1
madbird1977
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Default HELP...Honey Ale is sour tasting after 1.5 weeks in Primary...

This is my 2nd homebrew so I'm new to this great hobby. I brewed up a Honey Ale extract kit from my LHBS on 3/13. I just checked (3/23) the levels and its at 1.002 and I will be checking again tonight. However I tasted the ale and its pretty bitter/sour tasting....that same night I moved from Primary to 2ndary glass carboy, swirled the hell out of it and its been sitting since.

Okay so is this just young beer that needs more time? Its in my basement with limit light, only when we do laundry.... I didn't cover it...The recipe calls for fermenting it 1 week primary, 1 week 2ndary, then bottle. I keg so this weekend I'm suppose to keg...not gonna do that...

I used saniclean to do my santizing and I'm confident its note "infected/dirty"...but again, I'm a novice...

I'm thinking my options are:

1. Let it sit in the 2ndary fermenter for a few extra weeks....or until I keep getting the same gravity readings...
2. Add some more honey? Recipe had 2 lbs for the 5 gallon batch... how much or use something else?
3. add more yeast or aerate the hell out of it again?
4. Throw it out....just kidding...never waste

Thanks in advance for your assistance...brew on...

1st go around was Amber Ale
2nd is a Honey Ale
3rd is a Brown Ale

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Old 03-25-2011, 06:22 PM   #2
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You're fine. Let it sit for another couple of weeks.

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Old 03-25-2011, 06:31 PM   #3
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Out of curiousity, at what stage did you add the honey? Honey can have lactobacillus in it which creates a sour taste. If you didn't kill it, this could be your problem. Again...could be...not saying it is.

Either way, I'd still wait to see what happens for another couple of weeks.

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Old 03-25-2011, 06:33 PM   #4
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Let it go another few weeks... Would have been much better to have left it in the primary though. For anything I brew with ale yeast (which is everything so far) I've been leaving the brew on the yeast for at least 3-4 weeks. Going 5-6 weeks is becoming more common with me... Lower OG brews are usually going ~4 weeks, with higher OG brews going closer to 6 weeks. I have a wee heavy that's been on the yeast for almost 6 weeks now... I'm going to age it on some oak chips for 3-4 weeks, and I want to clean the primary it's been in, so I'll be moving it over to a sanitized Sanke keg today. I'll probably give it a taste after 3 weeks to see where it's at...

Moral of the story, don't move your brew on a printed schedule. Let the brew tell you IF it's ready to move. Don't just assume that when it hits a certain SG reading that it's "ready"... Taste it first. If it doesn't taste right, give it more time on the yeast. Just 10 days on the yeast really isn't enough... Unless you have it within a fermentation chamber, where you controlled the temp within 1F of where it would need to be in order to be great in 10 days... Chances are, since this is just your second brew, you don't have such as setup. Taste it again in 2-3 weeks...

Next time you use ale yeast, don't even look at it until it's been in primary for 3 weeks... Then take another sample/reading (taste it too) after another week...

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Old 03-25-2011, 06:58 PM   #5
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Thanks for the quick responses all. BTW on thing I forgot to mention is that the ale is at 66-68 degrees if that matters and liquid wYeast

As for the ? on: at what stage did you add the honey
I added it after the wort boil...killed the burner mixed in the honey....per the directions. I believe it all went as noted...unless it was still way to hot??? Not sure on that...

Okay another question...so when do you really know its done fermenting? I've heard after 2-3 gravity reading at the same level. Is that true? I've also heard, when then foam falls? Also heard when the airlock stops bubbling...

I will just leave it for a few weeks and keep sampling it until I "seems" about right.

I will definitely start to leave them in the primary for a bit longer...3-4 weeks...is it worth then transfer to a 2ndary for another week or two? or straight to keg..??

Again thanks much...great friendly help!

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Old 03-25-2011, 07:06 PM   #6
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Okay, adding the honey at that point definitely would have killed any microbes in it.

The only way to truly know it's done fermenting is if gravity readings on different days stay the same. The airlock is not a fail-safe indicator.

I would just keep it in the primary for 4 weeks total. Unless you needed to rack on top of oak chips or fruit or do a dry-hop, there is emerging evidence that a secondary can be detrimental. That's a hotly debated statement and counter opinions are sure to chime in soon, but at least I got Revvy on my side .

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Old 03-25-2011, 07:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madbird1977 View Post
This is my 2nd homebrew so I'm new to this great hobby. I brewed up a Honey Ale extract kit from my LHBS on 3/13. I just checked (3/23) the levels and its at 1.002 :

Did you mean to say 1.02? 1.002 would be extremely dry and would cause concern for a wild yeast as this would be quite an attenuation.
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Old 03-25-2011, 07:22 PM   #8
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Done fermenting and ready are two different things... It can be done fermenting after 3-14 days (depending on the brew, could take more time)... But for it actually being READY, that's a completely different story. Some brews aren't actually ready for bottling for a few more weeks, or even months after you pitch the yeast.

I hate the instructions that come with kits that tell people to rack to secondary after X days. Or to bottle it after Y days... Even in a perfect world, it should be a range of days/weeks...

I would keep it on the yeast until it tastes right, unless you're adding more flavor elements and NEED to rack from one to another (to stop the contribution of the previous one). OR you have a valid reason to get it out of where it currently sits. I COULD just put the oak cubes into primary, on the yeast, for 3-4 weeks. But, since it's already been there for almost 6 weeks, I figure it's done all it's going to do for me... Plus, I really need to clean that carboy (it's got gunk above the brew, that I want to clean out before it becomes impossible to clean.

Temperatures are important for the yeast strain. What temperature was it fermenting at?? Not the air/ambient temp, the wort temp. That will typically determine the flavors you get. If you used a yeast strain that ferments better at cooler temps, then you would have been better off leaving it on the yeast for more time so that it could clean up after itself. Now you just need to wait for what little yeast is left in the brew to do the job.

Personally, I would only add hone during the cool-down, once the wort is under 110-100F... That way you don't blow off the more delicate flavors you could get from it. Of course, if you used something like clover honey, or something equally mild, chances are you'll barely be able to tell you got any in there.

Give it another couple of weeks. You could add more honey at that point. IF you do, I would simply mix it with some warm water, to get it to flow easier and pitch it right into the carboy/vessel... I've done that before without any issues.

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Old 03-26-2011, 02:31 PM   #9
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I'm about ready to bottle a batch of Rocky Raccoon Honey Lager and my airlock was bubbling for seventeen days. I took a gravity reading at was at 1.004 when I racked it into my carboy so I could free up my primary for my next batch.

The best way to know when your brew is done is when you take a gravity reading a couple of days apart and you don't see any change. Just because the airlock isn't bubbling doesn't mean the yeast has completed its fermentation cycle. Also, keep in mind that nearing the end of fermentation the bubbling trails off and may be minutes apart which could be why you don't see any bubbles. In your case, though, if you are at 1.002 you are just about done.

Let it sit for a few more days and let things run their course. In the meantime, RDWHAHB.

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Old 03-28-2011, 04:13 PM   #10
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Update 3/28: Thanks for you insight. I've decided to let it sit right now for another week before kegging it.

I think I made a mistake tho...on Saturday I decided to swirl it up a bit more to see if the ferementation would pick up....from what I've been told I shouldn't have aerated/swirled it up again since it is now in the secondary and pretty much done fermenting. I guess this can increase off flavors...dang.

Anyways, its bubbled up a little bit but has again settled back to hardly bubbling thru the airlock and is pretty static, but since I swirled it up again I'm going to allow another week before moving it to the keg then carbonating it and well...give it a try

Any advice? I haven't lost hope but I guess we'll see what its like once carbonated and pouring out the keg.

Thanks again for your assistance. Lessons learned are priceless.

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