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Old 09-11-2007, 05:57 PM   #1
SixFoFalcon
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Default Hot Side Aeration?

I have a problem with my beer, and I believe it may be related to hot side aeration.

I brewed my first batch a couple months ago... an IPA. Before I got started, I read (and re-read) the 1st part of TCJOHB and I read several brief articles on the 'net about "brewing your first batch". Unfortunately, I was never really forewarned about HSA (Hot Side Aeration). Once the beer was fermenting away in the basement, I had a chance to do some more in-depth reading and surfing of the 'net, and I came to realize that HSA is a pretty big no-no. At that point, I started to worry a bit, since I remembered stirring the wort furiously for the final hop additions (I thought the bits of the hops were supposed to be in suspension, and they kept floating to the top, so I just kept whipping up the wort like a mad-man trying to get them into suspension!)

Well, by the time I learned the error of my ways, it was too late to really do anything about it, so I decided to relax and wait it out and see if it would be noticable in the final product. Along the way, I tried to ignore the bitter, rubbery taste I noticed in my gravity samples. I convinced myself it would probably go away by the time my beer was ready to drink. Well, it's been about 10 weeks now and the keg has been tapped. I have to say it's barely palatable! I can almost sense a good beer trying to come out, but there is a strong bite of something very harsh and rubbery overpowering it... that taste just grabs my tongue and hangs there. I know IPAs need time to mature, but this is really bad.

Fortunately, my hefeweizen came out much better (so I've had good homebrew to drink in the mean time!) and I learned a lot during those first few weeks of brewing, so I think the rest of my beers are going to be just fine. I'm just stuck wondering what I can do with this IPA. It's hogging up a whole keg and quite frankly I don't know if I can stomach too much of it. Maybe it will improve over time... any ideas on how long that might take? If we're talking several months I'll just dump it down the drain.

(And just for the record, I'm very familiar with highly-hopped beers-- I'm not just confusing this flaw with a strong hop bitterness. This particular bitterness doesn't seem to have the complexity that a hop bitterness usually has. It's very offensive and one-dimensional, almost like rubbing alcohol.)

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Old 09-11-2007, 06:10 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixFoFalcon
there is a strong bite of something very harsh and rubbery overpowering it... that taste just grabs my tongue and hangs there. I know IPAs need time to mature, but this is really bad.

This particular bitterness doesn't seem to have the complexity that a hop bitterness usually has. It's very offensive and one-dimensional, almost like rubbing alcohol.)
Curious why you suspect HSA... your description doesn't really match the descriptions of HSA oxidation effects that most report (wet paper/cardboard stale) and it is typically cited that the effects of HSA take several months to develop.
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Old 09-11-2007, 06:44 PM   #3
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Probably because it's been on my mind all this time.

Really I just can't think of anything else to attribute this to... there were never any signs of infection or contamination. All the various charts I've looked at for possible beer faults don't seem to cover this taste, perhaps because it's so strong and offensive that you can't really place the taste. I was really beating the crap out of the wort while it was on the boil, and it seems that many experienced brewers think that's a horrible thing to do. I figure the notes you see associated with oxidation/HSA are indicative of what happens in typical "accidental" case of oxidation. What I did was probably just about a worst-case scenario, so it's possible the results could be quite extreme and not what you'd expect from those charts.

I've looked over my notes a few times on this one since tasting the beer, and the only other possibility that comes to mind is heat-damaged ingredients (the stuff was in transit for 3-4 days in the middle of June). Fermentation did lag for a couple days but after that it seemed fine, and it did finish out at a pretty normal FG. Fermentation temps were 68-70 degrees F the entire time during fermentation.

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Old 09-11-2007, 06:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixFoFalcon
Probably because it's been on my mind all this time.

Really I just can't think of anything else to attribute this to... there were never any signs of infection or contamination. All the various charts I've looked at for possible beer faults don't seem to cover this taste, perhaps because it's so strong and offensive that you can't really place the taste. I was really beating the crap out of the wort while it was on the boil, and it seems that many experienced brewers think that's a horrible thing to do. I figure the notes you see associated with oxidation/HSA are indicative of what happens in typical "accidental" case of oxidation. What I did was probably just about a worst-case scenario, so it's possible the results could be quite extreme and not what you'd expect from those charts.

Podcasts with info &experiments on HSA:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicb...br06-22-06.mp3
http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicb...br11-02-06.mp3

http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=60


What was your IPA recipe?
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Old 09-11-2007, 07:13 PM   #5
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Thanks for the links. I'll try checking out those first 2 you listed when I get on a network that doesn't block me from accessing them.

I've listened to a couple of the BBR podcasts on HSA (the original one, and there were a couple follow-ups since then). I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed with the scientific content, although they were entertaining.

As for the ingredients:
Specialty Grains
0.5 lbs. Briess Organic Caramel 60

Fermentables
6.3 lbs. Organic Light Malt Syrup
2 lbs. Organic Light Dry Malt Extract

Boil Additions
1 oz. Organic Admiral Hops (60 min)
1 oz. Organic Admiral Hops (30 min)
1 oz. Organic Goldings Hops (5 min)

Special Ingredients
1 oz. Organic Goldings Hops (dry hop)

Yeast
Wyeast #1968 London ESB Yeast. Highly flocculant top-fermenting strain with rich, malty character and balanced fruitiness. This strain is so flocculant that additional aeration and agitation is needed. An excellent strain for cask-conditioned ales. Flocculation: high. Apparent attenuation: 67-71%. Optimum temperature: 64-72.

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Old 09-11-2007, 07:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixFoFalcon
I've listened to a couple of the BBR podcasts on HSA (the original one, and there were a couple follow-ups since then). I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed with the scientific content, although they were entertaining.
Scientifically lacking perhaps but they do specifically address this topic (including excessive aeration pre/post boil) and conducted experiments with the intent to introduce HSA. Palmer comments on the lack of substantial effect under "normal" conditions and then suggests lipoxygenase & dough in temps as a more likely cause of off-flavors from HSA from his research in the most recent edition of his book. They also comment on the taste & aroma notes of the beers in question.
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:02 PM   #7
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I think it's unlikely that HSA is the culprit. If you can avoid it good, but it's really a bigger concern for those that brew in very large quantities.

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Old 09-11-2007, 09:29 PM   #8
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Rubbery sounds more like a chlorophenol problem. What was your water source?

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Old 09-11-2007, 09:44 PM   #9
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Yep. Or it might also be a fermentation problem. Did you aerate the cooled wort really well and pitch plenty of viable yeast, then ferment within that yeast's temperature range?

From what you have described, I don't think you promoted HSA by stirring the boiling wort. Once it is boiling, the O2 is getting driven out by the heat and it is pretty hard to get it back in (until you stop boiling again). The mash period and the time between flame-out and when the wort is cooled are the more susceptible times. Even then, HSA effects often go unnoticed in homebrew because we leave yeast in our beer (great oxygen scavengers) and we tend to store it very well.

Keep your mind open to other potential problems, and if possible, take one of your beers to an experienced homebrewer for a second diagnosis.

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Old 09-11-2007, 09:52 PM   #10
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HSA is a little like the supernatural, it's only the people who believe in that experience it.

A bitter rubbery taste sounds like yeast bite to me.

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