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Old 01-16-2013, 06:52 PM   #1
ebsuarez
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Default Need some Advice

I'm a newbie at homebrewing. I've done 2 recipes so far. First was a Cooper's Dark Ale- all extract kit. This batch was fermented in the 76-80 degree range for the first few days, then finished up in the 70-72 range. Bottled and sat for about 3-4 weeks. I felt that there were some off flavors- very dry, bitter taste at the end. Not a hop bitterness though. My 2nd batch was a Northern Brewer Brickwarmer Red extract with specialty grains. Brewing process went well. Cooled wort to 72 degrees, then pitched the yeast. Fermented in the 68-70 degree range throughout the primary fermentation. Racked to a secondary after about 7 days. Sat in secondary for another 2 weeks, then bottled. Sat in bottles for 3-4 weeks before drinking. I feel like a taste the same dry, bitterness as I did with the first batch. 2 different recipes, IMO better brewing techniques with the 2nd one. Primed both batches with priming sugar following directions as stated. The IBU on the Brickwarmer was about 29, so I expected some bitterness, but again, it doesnt have a true hop bitterness. Really stuck on how to move forward with homebrewing. Any ideas, suggestions? Thanks

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Old 01-16-2013, 06:54 PM   #2
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Maybe it has something to do with the water you are using? Are you using regular tap water?

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Old 01-16-2013, 07:16 PM   #3
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A couple of things:

1) Temperature. Your first brew was fermented at way too high a temperature. You're bordering on too high for your second brew (though much better than the first). I'd try to get your temps down to around 65 - though, of course, this depends on the yeast you are using.

2) Water. Chavi, above, was correct when he said water can contribute to off flavors. Having never been to Charleston, I can't tell you what the water there tastes like . . . but there is a chance that the chemical makeup is affecting your beer. Get a copy of your water report from your local water district. They'll tell you what's in your water, and from there we can help determine if this caused the taste, and help you to fix it.

3) Racking. The general consensus on this forum is that you shouldn't rack unless you're bulk aging for a long time and adding adjuncts like oak, or dry hopping. If you DO rack, you should generally wait for your beer to reach FG - usually about 2 weeks - prior to racking, to be sure that you don't stress out your yeast and that you leave enough of them around to finish the fermentation.

4) Astringency. This is what the issue you're having sounds like. A dry, powdery taste. Common causes are steeping the grains in water that is too hot. Steeping the grains too long (most steeping is only for 20-30 minutes). It can also be caused by infections, though if your sanitation is proper, this is unlikely. Finally, it can be caused by mixing some of the unwanted trub back into your beer prior to bottling, and not letting it settle out.

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Old 01-16-2013, 07:24 PM   #4
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Sounds to me like it's mostly the high ferment temps. 65-66F would be a far better start temp when pitching. Water can be a concern,but mostly in regard to chlorine or chloromine. They can give that band-aid like flavor.
It also sounds like you didn't leave it on the yeast in primary long enough to hit FG & clean up off flavors as it settles out clear or slightly misty. No secondary needed.
And steeping at 170F or higher can cause the tannins in the grain hulls to leach out,causing that dry thing you're tasting. Keep steep temps within 150-165F range for 30 minutes & it should improve.
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:05 AM   #5
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thanks for the tips everyone. I used tap water to make the wort and then used natural spring water to bring it to 5 gallons for both batches. I didn't use any specialty grains for the first batch. I kept the specialty grains in for 20 min and took them out before temp reached 160 degrees the northern brewer recipe- 2nd batch was supposed to have a quick turnaround. Ready in 4 weeks. It said to transfer to secondary after 1-2 weeks. I agree that it should have stayed in the primary longer. FG was 1.002. I thought that both beers tasted different before mixing with priming sugar and bottling, so I was thinking that it was the priming sugar not completely fermenting in the bottles, but carbonation is great and there is a decent amount of sediment in the bottles(2nd batch). Whats the consensus on using sterile water?

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Old 01-17-2013, 04:15 AM   #6
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masterfool101- you mentioned some unwanted trub getting in it before bottling. I may have gotten some in the bottling bucket. I have been using fermenting buckets and cannot see the bottom. I may very well have gotten some trub in it. I do remember tipping the bucket to finish out the siphoning and seeing a decent amount at the bottom. I guess I didnt expect to see any in the secondary. It looked pretty clear going thru the tubing. Got a glass carboy for Christmas, so hopefully that helps

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Old 01-17-2013, 08:48 AM   #7
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First of all get your primary temps down. Try for the low 60's. Then go 3 weeks in the fermenter and another 3 weeks in bottles at 70*. Then 3 days chilled. Should taste a lot better.

Disreguard instructions as far as length in primary for most kits. They just want you to finish fast and buy another.

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Old 01-17-2013, 10:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebsuarez
masterfool101- you mentioned some unwanted trub getting in it before bottling. I may have gotten some in the bottling bucket. I have been using fermenting buckets and cannot see the bottom. I may very well have gotten some trub in it. I do remember tipping the bucket to finish out the siphoning and seeing a decent amount at the bottom. I guess I didnt expect to see any in the secondary. It looked pretty clear going thru the tubing. Got a glass carboy for Christmas, so hopefully that helps
A small amount shouldn't affect the flavor so much. Flavor is generally only affected by significant sloshing/mixing within 1 hour of bottling. If you moved your beer just prior to bottling and weren't gentle with it, you might have gotten this. I have friends who move their beer from the fermenting location to the bottling location the night before they bottle, as they have to go up 2 flights of stairs. They let it settle overnight. I move mine about 1 hour before I bottle, but I only have to walk across the room.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:44 AM   #9
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A couple of ideas...
Can come from plastic bucket if not food grade.
Can come from oxidation

This link has more ideas http://morebeer.com/content/homebrew-off-flavors
and so does Palmer's book.

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Old 01-17-2013, 02:16 PM   #10
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The buckets are from True Brew. I did have some difficulty when transferring the beer to the bottling bucket. My auto siphon took a minute to get flowing and in turn, some air did make it in the tubing. It took about 4-5 pumps to get a good flow. Could that have caused some of the unwanted oxidation?

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