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Old 12-09-2009, 07:36 PM   #1
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Default I Know, RDWHAHB, but...

Hi,
This is my 6th batch of beer, and the first time I'm going completely off recipe. I decided to try some seemingly random ingredients and see how they came out. This was what I did:

6.6 Lbs Thomas Cooper’s light malt extract syrup
1 Lb toasted Dingemans Belgian Aromatic Malt
1 oz Cascade Pellet Hops (4.5%)
1 oz Tettnang Pellet Hops (4.7%)
1 Vial White Labs American Lager Yeast
4 oz Peach Fruit flavoring

I realize I did this all wrong, but I wanted to know for sure if it was completely a waste. Here's the story:

Firstly, I didn't make a starter. I pitched the yeast completely by itself. I also read somewhere that lager yeast can start working at Ale temperatures; therefore, for the first ~48 hours the bucket was sitting on the floor of my apartment. I then remembered that we have a perfectly good patio and put the bucket out there for the next 5 days. I checked the beer somewhere in between there, and it smelled terrible (sour milk). I read on HBT that that may just be a smell of the brewing process so I ignored it. I tasted a sample and I actually thought it was pretty good.

Today, I opened the bucket again and again, it smells terrible. I tasted a sample and it doesn't taste anywhere as I remembered it. I have no reason not to move it to my secondary, but I was wondering if there was any point? Will the smell clear up? Will the taste clear up a bit?

Thanks everyone. I love this place!

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Old 12-09-2009, 07:44 PM   #2
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Lots of lager yeasts produce a ton of sulphery smells. They go away with age. Of course, it would be best for this purpose if you could ferment at lager temps. Fermenting even partially at ale temps will produce some extra esters & phenols that aren't usually desirable in lagers. But overall, age can fix or at least decrease a lot of flaws in a beer. Give it time & I'm betting it'll come out drinkable.

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Old 12-09-2009, 07:46 PM   #3
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Haha, I appreciate the confidence.

I actually forgot to say that my porch is probably close to lager temperatures (I'd say the beer has been steady in the 40s outside). I also noticed that the gravity has decreased, so it's obviously doing something.

I'll rack it to secondary tomorrow and hope for the best.

Thank you!

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Old 12-09-2009, 07:58 PM   #4
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The only thing I would worry about is how many times you have opened your fermenter and stuck your face in there. It will most likely be fine but by doing this you have drastically increased the possibility of contamination. I don't really see anything wrong with your recipe. The flavors will most likely clear up with time. If you like to closely observe the process of your fermentations as I do, I would recommend switching to glass carboys for primary and secondary fermentation. Just let the fermenting wort / beer do its thing, give it some time, be patient, and then be critical enough to make changes for next time. Don't be afraid to experiment like that, I do it all the time. Sometimes experimental brews come out awesome and sometimes not so good. If you are careful with your sanitation, it is hard to make something that is totally undrinkable. Also, if you don't like making starters (I don't either), try using Fermentis yeast (saflager, safale, etc.) the cell counts are much higher so a starter isn't necessary for normal gravity beers. I always pitch two packets, which combined are less expensive than one vial of WL and my fermentations start and end very fast.

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Old 12-09-2009, 08:04 PM   #5
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Jon, thanks for the information. I actually haven't opened it more than twice, but I can really smell it from the airlock hole.
I'm awaiting delivery of 2 glass carboys and 2 better bottles so I should be set once those arrive.
I'm pretty careful with sanitation, which is why this would surprise me if that was the case.
Lastly, I don't mind making starters, I was just 1) uneducated enough to not know they were still necessary with liquid yeast and 2), not smart enough to take the time and make one.

I thought I'd have this one in bottles in 8 days, but I think I'll leave it in secondary for a month when I go on break.

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Old 12-09-2009, 08:16 PM   #6
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Nice! I bet it will be great. Keep experimenting. THose of us who are not afraid to experiment and don't always follow recipes end up as better brewers. Proper technique is only half the equation, recipe formulation is the other. SUre, you might get some off batches but the learning experience is certainly worth it. I have a brewer buddy who only makes recipes. He makes good beer but without the recipes he can't make ****. That's downright embarrassing if you ask me. Cheers and happy brewing!

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Old 12-09-2009, 08:17 PM   #7
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IIRC, lagers are known to smell really bad while fermenting. So don't worry about the smell. What matters is taste. Smell will clean up over time.

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Old 12-09-2009, 08:31 PM   #8
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Recipe wise this is a pretty interesting beer. Can't say I've ever heard of anyone combining Tettnanger and Cascade hops and living to tell the tale. What was the schedule for them? I'd guess the cascades for 60min and the tett for maybe 10? That would put you at around 22 IBU which is probably good for your recipe. That seems to be balanced by the addition of the aromatic malt. With these ingredients, you'd have a pretty interesting beer with lots of subtle characteristics. I think the addition of the peach flavoring is going to change that quite a bit. Did you use extract for the peach or is it a puree? 4 oz. is quite a bit for a 5 gallon batch and I think it is going to overpower the flavor of the Tett. Good news is it will probably overpower any off flavors that might have come in while you had the yeast a little warm.

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Old 12-09-2009, 08:53 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the comments!

I read The Complete Joy of Homebrewing front to back in about 2 days and just ran with it. After doing 4 kits, I decided to give it a shot (Actually, I decided that after 2, but wasn't yet up on my ingredients). I cook a lot and mix drinks, and have been complemented on both on more than a few occasions. I figured it might carry into brewing.

As for the actual schedule, I toasted the malt for about 10 minutes at 350. Steeped for 30 minutes, added extract and cascade for 60. At minute 59 added Tettnang.

The peach was extract. As I had never used anything like it, I just poured the entire thing in. I really hope it does mask the off flavors because when I initially tasted, I was amazed by how good it tasted (and how terrible it smelled); however, I'm really disappointed with it now. I'm going to let it sit for a month and hope for the best.

Do you think I should keep it inside or let it sit outside? I'd be afraid of temperature fluctuations with glass outside.

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Old 12-09-2009, 09:19 PM   #10
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I assume you have a glass carboy that you are using for a secondary? If so, I'd probably keep it inside in the coolest place you can find. At the very least, find something to block the light from getting to your beer. A zip up hoodie works very well for me. Letting it sit for a long time will mellow out the peach flavor if that's what has you disappointed. If there are other off flavors, time will heal those wounds as well.

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