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Old 01-10-2009, 02:09 PM   #1
Mogref
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Default How is the beer supposed to taste/smell right before bottling?

I'm pretty sure my first batch of beer (an American Cream Ale) is done fermenting and I'm thinking about bottling this weekend. I haven't gone to a secondary, the beer is still in the initial fermenter and I'm on day 15.

Here are my hydrometer readings:
Day 1 (before adding the yeast): 1.038
Day 9: 1.033
Day 12: 1.017
Day 15: (today) 1.015

From the hydrometer readings it looks like fermentation has slowed down considerably and it's ready to bottle. I smelled and tasted a sample this morning and it made me a little concerned. There's still a yeast smell to it and a bit of a sour smell, kind of like a beer that's been left out overnight. It tasted fine, like a beer tastes but there was a noticeable tart aftertaste to it.

Is this normal? Will those smells/flavors condition out of it after I bottle? Should I rack to a secondary?

I've been as careful as I know how to be with making sure everything that comes in contact with the beer has been sanitized and I was using brand new equipment.

Thanks,
-Brian

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Old 01-10-2009, 02:13 PM   #2
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Your beer sounds just fine to me. Those tart or warm flavors will mellow out considerably over time. 3 weeks in the bottle and you should have a well carbonated, perfect brew.

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Old 01-10-2009, 02:16 PM   #3
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It's probably fine, but without knowing your recipe, can't say for sure if it's done fermenting or the cause for any off flabors.. I've had the same issues before only to get a great final product in the end. You said Cream Ale? Did you put lactose in there? That may give you a off smell, but if it tasted fine it should mellow out in time.

About the secondary...it's not a necessity...leave it in the fermenter a few more days, it won't hurt. Or if you want, go ahead and bottle and let it condition a few weeks more. It will be fine I'm sure, like I said, been there done that!

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Old 01-10-2009, 02:25 PM   #4
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There is really no answer to this, firstly because taste is subjective- something that tastes god awful to one person could taste like heaven on earth to another.

Secondly since you are dealing with living micro organisms and so many variables including ingredients, time and temperature come into play, you beer could taste anywhere from tasting like tasty (but flat ) beer, to nasty, solventy and grainy, and all would STILL BE NORMAL at this stage fo the process, and will taste completely different after 3 or more weeks in the bottle after the mini fermentation that is carbonation, and then bottle conditioning occurs...you beer is going to go through so many normal chemical reacions in the next 3 or more weeks that you won't even recognize it.

Here, take a read of this while you are waiting for your beer to carb and condition...http://www.homebrewtalk.com/558191-post101.html

And brew another batch o beer!!!

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Old 01-10-2009, 02:34 PM   #5
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I didn't put any lactose in it, I used an ingredient kit and the recipe didn't call for it. I think I'll leave it in the fermenter today and take another hydrometer reading tomorrow. If it's stopped fermenting then I'll go ahead and bottle it, otherwise I'll have to wait to bottle it next weekend.

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Old 01-10-2009, 02:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mogref View Post
I didn't put any lactose in it, I used an ingredient kit and the recipe didn't call for it. I think I'll leave it in the fermenter today and take another hydrometer reading tomorrow. If it's stopped fermenting then I'll go ahead and bottle it, otherwise I'll have to wait to bottle it next weekend.
the longer in the fermenter the clearer it will be. I left a batch in the fermenter for 3 weeks once cause when I went to bottle it after 1.5 weeks it had a strong alcahol smell/flavor plus it fermented real fast and I pitched extra yeast...when I did bottle it...wow what a difference...super clear and tasted fine...turned out to be one of the best I did back then.
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Old 01-10-2009, 02:55 PM   #7
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Thanks for the quick and informative responses! Revvy, thanks for directing me to that post about bottle conditioning. I was curious as to how much is happening in the conditioning process and that answered all my questions. The video that's linked there was also really cool to see, it gave me a lot of insight as to when a beer is ready and done bottle conditioning.

I have the ingredients for my second batch and I'm going to make that today!

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Old 01-10-2009, 03:16 PM   #8
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You're welcome...

Every beer is different, and so is the timeframe, BUT the 3 weeks dealy is a pretty good "rule of thumb" for your average strength beers. Also tasting, but NOT JUDGING/worrying til at least 3 weeks is a good thiing to do...it saves a lot of needless worry....

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Old 01-10-2009, 04:55 PM   #9
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Interesting, and leads me to a question.
I would not bottle with those readings as it seems to still be working. Am I over cautious?
Is that slow decrease in readings indicating "done"?

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Old 01-10-2009, 05:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beersydoesit View Post
Interesting, and leads me to a question.
I would not bottle with those readings as it seems to still be working. Am I over cautious?
Is that slow decrease in readings indicating "done"?

I would say once you have the same reading 1 week between readings. You can bottle it.
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