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Old 01-07-2010, 03:46 AM   #1
jpzep4
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Default Need experienced brewer to taste my beer

First off, you have to be able to handle really bad tasting beer to agree to this job! I'll ship a couple to you.

My batting average with homebrewing is really starting to SUCK. All extract kits from Midwest. Muntons Dry Yeast on all but the wheat. started sanitizing with bleach, now use StarSan. 5 gallon bucket fermenter. Have Better Bottles with the racking adapters, etc. which i have used for secondary. have used RO water, tap water (Macon, GA was voted the nations' best drinking water in 2008 or 2009), spring water. Use a copper wort chiller, no aerator, just shake fermenter. have always rehydrated my dry yeast. do not keg, just use bottles. use a bottling bucket. Of 5 batches:

1. first batch was good, bit band-aidy (plastic burps) but good. Sierra Nevada Clone. knew nothing about what i was doing but all the beer was quickly polished off. used bleach so probably didn't rinse good.

2. Tried a Lemon Coriander Wheat- still hasn't carbonated after approx. 4 months. What i've tasted is drinkable but not great. my fermenter still smells like this batch which used Danstar

3. Newcastle Clone. Dumped. Absolutely undrinkable, not going to get better. I know that's a cardinal sin but you couldn't even smell this stuff much less drink it. tasted really bad out of the fermenter. I thought it would get better. It got worse.

4. Pumpkin Ale- does not taste like beer. Tastes like a toned down version of the Newcastle that was dumped. Hint of spice but overall: bad. any pumpkin drowned out by the horrible first impression and aftertaste. Tasted like that out of the fermenter.

5. Irish Red Ale- tastes just like the pumpkin. Bad. Close to saying undrinkable but still bottle conditioning after 1.5 months. I really went all out on this one. Followed the advice I read here that quoted Chris Colby (one time editor of BYO magazine or something) of how to brew a great extract beer. Same bad smell and taste out of the fermenter. Has gotten worse in bottles not better.

I need someone who knows what the heck they're doing to taste a pumpkin and irish red and see what in the world i'm doing wrong. I've poured tons of money into this hobby (way more than i should have), I've studied this forum, books, websites, etc, bought all the right stuff. I love beer. I want to brew good beer and from what i read here, it's very possible. I can only type so much here and i know there are so many variables but man, if someone would take me under their wing, I would be SO grateful. I feel like my technique is solid but something's breaking down somewhere. I need help finding that. There's not a huge brewing community in small town Georgia so I'm kind of on my own for now. No LHBS.

I've got a $50 Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Clone recipe with my first liquid yeast in the fridge waiting to be brewed (even bought a stir plate for starters) but I'm scared to ruin another batch until i get some feedback from someone. Any advice and help appreciated.

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Old 01-07-2010, 04:29 AM   #2
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You are welcome to send me beer but I thought I'd make some suggestions based on what you wrote.

1. You might try a new primary fermenting bucket or go to a glass carboy. I noticed that the first batch was drinkable and apparently you cleaned the bucket with bleach afterward. You may still have traces of bleach in the plastic. It's also interesting that you say a newly fermented batch tastes like the one you brewed before. Sounds like something must be hanging around in the bucket, probably in the plastic. Are you using a food grade plastic bucket?

2. Try using liquid yeast. Homebrew supply houses can ship it to you. The yeast should match the type of beer you are brewing. For instance, your Newcastle clone should have used British Ale Yeast.

3. You mention a bad smell. Rotten egg sulphur? That could indicate a bacterial infection and you should review your procedures to see where you are letting the critters get started.

4. Be sure to leave the wort in the fermenter long enough. Forget whether or not the airlock is bubbling. Leave it in there until a hydrometer tells you that the beer has reached its final gravity. Then rack it to secondary and let it sit a couple more weeks. (Or just leave it in the primary.)

Just a few things to think about.

John

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Old 01-07-2010, 05:01 AM   #3
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Also what are your fermentation temperatures? Make sure they fermenting at the right temperature range for the style of yeast. Join a local brewclub or find some brewers to brew with so they can critique your process. And be patient you will brew good beer.

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Old 01-07-2010, 05:04 AM   #4
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That sucks. My first batches with Mr. Beer I sanitized with bleach but I then moved to iodophor when I started doing five gallon batches.

See if you can hang out with other homebrewers while they brew, or latch on to a homebrewing club in the vicinity.

Don't lose hope, you can make great tasting beer. Keep it simple, use dry yeast and stick to ambers, stouts or porters for the next couple of batches. Keep it simple with dry yeast until you make good beer then try the stir plate when you get the process figured out.

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Old 01-07-2010, 04:59 PM   #5
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none of these clubs within driving distance? They may be able to lend some assistance

http://www.beerinfo.com/index.php/pa...rewclubGA.html

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Old 01-07-2010, 05:41 PM   #6
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Thanks to all.

I've found a local homebrew club that meets rarely but at least they meet. bdaddy, thanks for that info too. I can also drive 1 hour north to another club AND there is a homebrew store there. Will do that soon.

Stormrider, I'm going to get a new primary. Mine is a food-grade but I confidently believe that my bucket is like you said, a main culprit. All beer smells the same when it comes out of primary in that bucket and only seems to get worse the more it ages. Was going to get a 6 gallon Better Bottle as they're quite easy to manage.
On the smell,it seems to be (from what I've read) much more chlorophenol (i think) i.e., plastic, artificial, etc than infected. have made sure to allow proper time for fermentation primary and secondary.
thought i would also note that i made a batch of Edwort's Apfelwein which did not age in my primary but instead in a Better Bottle and it is a hit. No off flavors. Very enjoyable. Another confirmation of the "bucket theory" i think.

ElShauno, didn't really watch fermentation temps in first batch and it turned out miraculously to be the best one. (brewed in July in Georgia!) I know that's not the norm but since i've been very diligent about keeping temps in right ranges. Will continue to do so.

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Old 01-07-2010, 05:53 PM   #7
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You likely have some nasty little bug that you won't get rid of from a plastic bucket with any amount of sanitising. Chlorine shouldn't linger in a plastic bucket that has been washed and used as much as yours has. Definitely time for a new fermentor.

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Old 01-07-2010, 05:53 PM   #8
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There is something horribly wrong with your brew procedure or equipment, the odds that 5 brews will come out undrinkable or with off flavors are very slim.

Replace what you think might be bad equipment, and if that doesnt work, go to www.howtobrew.com and just read read read, take notes, envision yourself going through every step, then brew your next batch.

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Old 01-07-2010, 06:16 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by gtpro View Post
Replace what you think might be bad equipment, and if that doesnt work, go to www.howtobrew.com and just read read read, take notes, envision yourself going through every step, then brew your next batch.

That's one thing I have done A LOT of. Reading. Palmer, papazian, this forum, hours at Barnes and Noble. I feel like I've got a great handle on the education side of it. That's what makes it so frigging frustrating. I'm doing things right and things are turning out wrong. I understand that having knowledge is WAY different than applying knowledge.

I'll start with a new fermenter and see what happens
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:40 PM   #10
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How did you clean the plastic bucket? Did you use anything abrasive in it, as scratches in the plastic can harbor bacteria? Did you take apart the O-ring and grommet from the lid and clean under and around them too?

Bleach is great at disinfecting stuff if (a) you get the concentration correct (b) the bleach can actually get to the bacteria (organic debris like dried on hops or scratches in the plastic can hide the bacteria) and (c) you rinse it out really well. Soak it overnight in oxyclean before bleaching, and gently rub with a paper towel or soft sponge. Don't use a scouring pad! I don't recommend bleach regularly though, just if you get an infection.

When I had a suspected infection, I soaked all of my equipment for at least 1 hour in a 1 cup per gallon bleach solution. Then rinsed and rinsed and rinsed. Haven't had a problem since. Some people just go and and replace all their plastic.

I also switched from iodophore to Star san, and get everything covered in wonderful foam.

I'd suggest a well cleaned and bleached (or new) fermenter, and just a cheap simple batch of something to see if it comes out. Say the Winter Warmer for when (and it will happen) you figure this out.

Good luck

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