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Old 01-13-2008, 12:59 PM   #1
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Default Fusel Alcohols? Normal Taste Prior to Bottling?

I bottled my first batch last night and had a little taste. It had a VERY strong overpowering alcoholic taste, perhaps even acidic. Simply, it was off and did not resemble what I hope is the final product. It did not taste very good at all and I could not even think about drinking more than a few sips. It burned my chest actually. However, it did not have a bad or off smell and there were no visual signs of infection or anything wrong. When I opened the fermenter, there were some small floating white islands of foam on top, nothing thick though. I just took this at first as natural afteraffects of fermentation, but I'm not sure now if that was normal.

It is a wheat beer that sat in the primary for two weeks at room temperature between 57 and 71 F (mostly around 64 - 67). Fermentation appeared to be complete. The brewing process and fermentation appear to have gone as proper procedure would dictate. I did everything by the book.

Is this overpowering alcoholic/acidic taste normal? How should it taste at this stage? Drinkable or like mine tasted? Is it simply green and will get better as it conditions in the bottle? I have read others post about how good theirs was at this stage and I could barely sip mine.

I have been reading everything that I can get my hands on and have been looking forward to this day for weeks. I am a little discouraged by this and am hoping that this is not a sign of the final product. I am not sure what I could have done differently.


Many Thanks.

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Old 01-13-2008, 01:03 PM   #2
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You really can't judge it until its carbonated and conditioned. The burning to me sounds like fusel alcohols. They're caused by fluctuating and/or high fermentation temps, particularly in the early stages. Whether this batch is good or bad, I suggest you get brewing another one and pay close attention to your fermentation temps...

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Old 01-13-2008, 02:43 PM   #3
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If this taste is the result of fusel alcohols, will bottle conditioning help reduce the intensity of the taste? Is there any hope for this batch? What about the thin layer of white foam islands on the wort as I opened the fermenter prior to bottling?

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Old 01-13-2008, 02:46 PM   #4
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Your temperature range was excessive for good fermentation. Yeast, being what they are, would have done most of the fermentation at the higher temperatures. This can give the brew a 'hot' alcohol flavor. This will not go away.

It could also just need conditioning, so give it a month. Judging green beer is a skill.

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Old 01-13-2008, 02:49 PM   #5
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fusal alcohols will not diminish with aging. they are a different chemical structure than the type of alcohol you wanted to create.

but your temp range is too low for fusals. normally those appear at higher temps...upper 70's adn into the 80's.

please post your recipe. it sounds more like you made some kind of high ABV wheat beer which broke style and will taste funky for a while.
also if this used specialty steeping grains, tell us the exact temperature that was reached before the grains were removed. And is your thermometer for testing the steeping water calibrated?

i'm wondering if you went to hot and extracted tannins, which have an astringent off flavor which you might be perceiving as 'acidic'.

the only other thing i can think of for acidic is that you over-hop'd and its just too bitter. this will improve over time, to a degree.

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Old 01-13-2008, 03:01 PM   #6
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Here's my recipe:



Specialty Grains: 1 bag Specialty Grains (12 oz, steeped until right before boil, approx 20 minutes), Not sure of exact temperature, instructions said to remove immediately prior to water boil, so it would have been around 212 F, I suppose;
United Canadian Liquid Wheat Extract, 6lbs
Yeast: Danstar Nottingham (11g Dry)
Original Gravity: 1.044
Spalt (Bittering) Hops, Pellet 1.0 oz

Boiled in aluminum turkey fryer pot using turkey fryer thermometer for 60 minutes and then cooled in ice bath prior to adding yeast at 75 F in primary fermenter. Shook closed fermenter for 5 minutes to aerate.

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Old 01-13-2008, 05:30 PM   #7
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Also, would doing a full boil as opposed to a partial boil make any difference? The kit said to do an initial 2.5 gallon boil and then to add 2.5 gallons cold water later. I have also read that a full boil is better if you have the capability.

I did a 5 gallon boil using a 32 quart turkey fryer. I did not make any adjustments to the quantities of the repice. What would this mean and what difference does this make? There does not seem to be a consensus answer to this and whether anything has to be changed. Unfrotunately, the extract kit did not provide instructions for a full boil, only a partial boil.

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Old 01-13-2008, 06:18 PM   #8
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You MAY have pulled some bitter tannins by getting the specialty grain over 170F but it's probably not that bad. Full boils utilize hops more efficiency so you ended up more bitter than the recipe calls for. Finally, since you pitched at 75F, you may have fermented in the mid 70's for most of the active part which would produce fusels. If the room's temp is 68, you can be sure the wort is more like 75 when fermenting aggresively.

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Old 01-14-2008, 11:33 AM   #9
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After reading some of these posts and doing some addititional reading, I'm thinking that my problem may be oxidation (hot side aeration), as the result of stirring the wort during cooling before it reached 80 degrees F or below.

That may explain the strong alcohol flavor, kind of light sherry.

Will conditioning in bottles improve oxidation problems like this? Or is it doomed?

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Old 01-14-2008, 11:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by borders
After reading some of these posts and doing some addititional reading, I'm thinking that my problem may be oxidation (hot side aeration), as the result of stirring the wort during cooling before it reached 80 degrees F or below.

That may explain the strong alcohol flavor, kind of light sherry.

Will conditioning in bottles improve oxidation problems like this? Or is it doomed?
I wouldn't think that's the case considering the timing is so short for oxidation to really develop....and everything you have described up till now keeps pointing at fusel alcohols & astringency. Though, the acidic could have been an influence from the excessively harsh alcoholic flavor. Oxidation that I have tasted was very identifiable (granted it was post fermentation oxidation).

Bobby_M makes a very good point about your pitching temp and the possibility that your fermentation could have started high, producing the fusels....

You just bottled, how long ago was this brewed?
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