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Old 02-17-2012, 01:23 AM   #1
DukeCityBrewer
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Default Please give me some direction here...

First of all, let me say I'm happy to have found this community! I've been reading various posts voraciously and have learned so much already.

Now on to my problem. First some background...

I'm brewing my second batch. The first batch, a Munton's Nut Brown Ale Extract kit, went so well I thought I'd get a little more complex with my next batch. I decided on a Belgian Pale Ale. I decided on a simple recipe. I kept it extract, but used specialty grains and hop pellets.

Here's the recipe:

Category: Belgian and French Ale
Subcategory: Belgian Pale Ale
Recipe Type: Extract
Batch Size: 5.5 gal
Volume Boiled: 2.5 gal
Mash Efficiency: 72 %
Ttl Grain/Extract: 8.60 lbs
Total Hops: 3.0 oz

1 lbs Belgian Caravienne info
.25 lbs Belgian Biscuit info
6.6 lbs CBW® Pilsen Light Liquid (Malt Extract); Briess info
.75 lbs Dry Light Extract info
2 oz Czech Saaz (Pellets, 2.6 %AA) boiled 70 min. info
1 oz Czech Saaz (Pellets, 2.6 %AA) boiled 5 min. info
Yeast : White Labs WLP570 Belgian Golden Ale info

SG: 1.052
Other: I did not check the temp when boiling the wort, but I kept it at a steady boil for the 70 mins. The wort tasted fantastic!

I did not create a starter, but the morning after adding the yeast to the wort, the blow-off tube was bubbling like crazy.

Then as soon as it started, it slowed down quickly. After a week, I took gravity readings on day 7 and 9 and had hit the dreaded 1.020! After no change, I went to the homebrew store and asked about yeast nutrients. The guy there convinced me to try another vial of yeast. They were out of the WLP570 so I took home the WLP 550.

Fermentation started up again, especially days 1-3, and the airlock has been bubbling slowly but steadily for the past week, with gravity readings now at 1.016. The wort has developed a smell and taste, in addition to the banana and fruity smells, of what I can only describe as wet cardboard. The brew looks very cloudy, and has developed what look like white/clear bubbles on top. See pic attached.


Here are my questions:

1. Is the off-smell and flavor because of an infection, something to do with the yeast, or a combination of both?

2. Would oxygenating the wort and making a starter have spared me the 1.020 curse and had me bottling already?

3. WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE? Its approaching 3 weeks in the primary, but the yeast is still working, albeit slowly. How do I get rid of the extreme cloudiness? Will the bad cardboard/sulfer smells go away with aging or when the yeast flocculates?

4. How do I get the yeast to drop? I saw some suggestions in this thread: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/wlp...estion-198131/, but nothing definitive.


Again, thanks in advance for any insight!

albuquerque-20120216-00031.jpg  
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Old 02-17-2012, 05:57 PM   #2
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1. I have never used WLP 550, but it should not smell or taste like wet cardboard. From my experience prolonged exposure to air (oxidation) can cause the cardboardy taste.

2. Next time definitely aerate the wort. Making a starter would also be a good idea.

3. I would bottle the batch and keep an eye on it for bottle bombs. Keep it in a tub or something to where if one does explode, it wont make a huge mess, and wont get glass anywhere you cant get it out of. If it makes you feel better, take gravity readings over a few days and see if it changes. The airlock may still bubble when fermentation is complete. The cloudiness and off flavors may dissipate, but probably will not.

4. You can wait for the yeast to drop if you are worried about it, or bottle it now. I wouldnt worry about it.

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Old 02-17-2012, 06:12 PM   #3
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How was your fermentation temperature controls?

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Old 02-17-2012, 06:36 PM   #4
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I always aerate & mix really well before pitching re-hydrated dry yeast. Liquid yeast should have a starter. These two things will go a long way to helping the beer finish in the right range. I've gotten 1.050's down to 1.010 several times with re-hydrated Cooper's ale yeast. So the better yeasts should be even less of a problem if treated properly.
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Old 02-17-2012, 08:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DukeCityBrewer View Post
Here are my questions:

1. Is the off-smell and flavor because of an infection, something to do with the yeast, or a combination of both?

2. Would oxygenating the wort and making a starter have spared me the 1.020 curse and had me bottling already?

3. WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE? Its approaching 3 weeks in the primary, but the yeast is still working, albeit slowly. How do I get rid of the extreme cloudiness? Will the bad cardboard/sulfer smells go away with aging or when the yeast flocculates?

4. How do I get the yeast to drop? I saw some suggestions in this thread: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/wlp...estion-198131/, but nothing definitive.


Again, thanks in advance for any insight!
1. Smell in the primary is always going to be a little strange - fermentation just doesn't smell very good. I wouldn't even bother trying to analyze what it is, to be honest.

2. I don't know if it would have powered through 1.020 or not, but aerating your wort before pitching your yeast is something you should do every time. Yeast can only produce sterols and certain unsaturated fatty acids necessary for cell growth in the presence of oxygen. Creating a starter is generally a good idea too, as you'll likely need more yeast than are included in the vial they gave you in order to innoculate an entire 5 gallon batch.

3. Let the yeast do their job. Don't transfer until fermentation has completely stopped. Take gravity readings, and once you hit a consistent gravity over a period of a few days, you'll know it's time to bottle. Heaven only knows what will happen to the taste/smell between now and then. The cardboard you describe is a bit worrisome, as that's generally a sign of oxidation. However, it could just be a funky smell left over from fermentation.

4. Transfering to a secondary will help clear out the beer. Cold crashing will do the trick. So will gelatin. So will just waiting them out. There are a lot of ways to clear your beer, just try different ones to see which you like best.
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Old 02-17-2012, 09:21 PM   #6
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At days 7-9 you seriously shouldn't be worrying about the gravity. It will hit a point at which it slows down and continues to ferment very slowly over the period of a week or more. The picture you gave is a beautiful fermentation, and I wish that some of mine looked that clean. As far as the taste, a lot of times after the yeast have been eating up the wort, all that is left is a yeasty beasty flavor combined with whatever hop character you have. Earthy hops give off a lot of woody character anyway. Drinking it after the yeast have cleaned up, and it has been carbonated, will liven up the flavor. Even more so if you allow it to age a tad. My guess (and only a guess because that's all I can give about a beer I didn't make) is that it's fine and you just need to let it run its course. It sounds like you have a case of the jitters/cold feet/whatever...RDWHAHB...it sounds like normal fermentation.

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Old 02-17-2012, 10:32 PM   #7
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A wet cardboard taste is often caused by oxidation, but it's really too early to tell. Did you do something to try to aerate the wort when you added the second round of yeast? If not, and it didn't have that smell/taste before, most likely you just need to give it some time to let the yeast work. Either way, when the FG is right, I'd go ahead and bottle it and see how it tastes after a few weeks in the bottle.

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Old 02-18-2012, 12:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mase View Post
How was your fermentation temperature controls?
To be honest, it has swung probably between 65 (night) and 72 (day). Although, there was a day (around 6-10) when my roommate was sick and I came home to the apartment at a sweltering 78.
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Old 02-18-2012, 12:12 AM   #9
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Let me answer some of the other followup questions:

-After I got worried about the stuck fermentation, I swirled the sealed wort to wake up the yeast. Early on, I didn't want to mess around with it too much, and read some posts about "taking the wort for a walk". I am a bit worried now, with the talk of oxidation, that I might've aerated the wort when swirling after checking the grav.

-I'm glad to hear that the wort looks fine. I've been really obsessive about cleanliness and sanitization.

-Based on your responses, I'm going to transfer to a secondary and leave it alone for a while, then cold crash and bottle when the grav is consistent. No swirling, no obsessing. I don't want to risk anymore aeration.

Thanks for all the responses! If anyone else has any ideas, definitely let me know. I learned alot about what I can improve on. Next time I'm definitely going to aerate beforehand, make a great starter, and use some Irish moss. That should really help me avoid these problems in the future.

I'm really hoping that off-flavor will go away. Hopefully getting rid of the yeast and letting it age will go a long way towards improving the flavor. I bought some Duvel, which is the supposed to be the same yeast as the 570 in my batch. I am pleased to note that some of the unique flavors of the Duvel are there in my batch, but I just can't get over the cardboard/sulpher taste that is in my brew and not in the Duvel. Also, mine is still sweeter than the Duvel. Oh well, didn't I mention something about not obsessing? lol

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Old 02-18-2012, 02:52 AM   #10
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Don't transfer to secondary theres no need for it, just leave it alone.

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