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Old 11-01-2006, 11:20 PM   #1
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Default Smelly fermentation

So this is our first brew. It was atrociously planned, and I'm sure we made about 100 mistakes.

We didn't have enough good water, so I had to run to the store to get a few gallons of spring water. Second, we didn't prep the yeast, we just chucked dry yeast from the packet into the beer and stirred it on in (had a DVD that did that, so we didn't think twice about it).

First and foremost, my beer only bubbled for about a day. And that was day 2 in the fermentation bucket with airlock.

It's stopped since Monday, and I opened it up to take a peek. Sadly, I'm thinking we botched the whole batch.

First, there's no 'yeast cake' at all. There is a 1/2" ring around where there might have been one, but it's all pretty much fell into the beer.

That, and it smells. Horribly. My best guess is wet sweatsock left in a gym bag for too long. I can smell the beer in there, but there's just an overwhelming nasty smell that just seems bad.

It's now day 4. Do I toss it out and sanitze, or do I wait it out till the weekend and see if it's cleared up?

Help!

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Old 11-01-2006, 11:32 PM   #2
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First of all, what type of beer is it and what yeast did you use? Some smell really funky.

Next, in order:
- You probably would have been fine with tapwater if you're on city water. Using the bottled water certainly doesn't hurt.

- It is possible for fermentation to take place in 24-48 hrs, particularly if the fermentor is in a warm location. Best to take a gravity reading to see.

- The "yeast cake" is on the bottom of the fermenter. The kraeusen is the foam on top and it will in fact fall into the beer when fermentation is done (or nearabouts). From what you describe, you had a pretty good kraeusen and it has now fallen into the beer indicating that fermentation is complete.

- Really can't help with the smell. I wouldn't toss the batch unless it tastes horrible.

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Old 11-02-2006, 12:48 AM   #3
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Ahh, forgot the specifics.

I used Brewer's Best Red Ale box kit. It came with a little package of yeast in the box, and is already at the dump, so I couldn't imagine what it was. It was a little foil type package, looked almost like a condom with dry yeast inside (it was yellow if that helps).

We had serious problems cooling the wort. We put the kettle into some icewater, but when that water got warm and the wort didn't seem to move, we moved it into the fermenter (plastic 'Ale Pale' from the kit) which we put in a bigger tub of ice. We thought we needed to boil water, so we put a few gallons of fairly hot water into the mix, then realized we were short and thought the tap water would contaminate it, so I went and purchased 2 gal of spring water at the grocery store.

The bottom of the bucket (lowest in the icewater bath) seemed cold, but the top seemed warm, so we stirred it around a bit and the temp on the el cheapo bucket (stick on thermometer) said 70-72, so we poured the powder in and stirred it up pretty good.

Then we locked it away in the closet. The temp on the bucket reads from 66-72, depending on time of day, usually about 68-70. It didn't bubble until the next morning (we capped off the fermenter at about 3pm, Sunday) and was bubbling like crazy into Monday night. By tuesday morning it all stopped. It was still stopped this evening, which is why I peeked in.

If the krausen fell into the bottom, then should it be just beer on the top? I see a lot of little yellow dots that look like the yeast we put in, but in much higher quantities than the little pouch we had. It stinks quite a bit, so I'm reluctant to put my head in deep to see what it is.

If it is 'done' should I go and bottle it asap, or can I leave it until Friday? I was planning on taking a hydrometer reading Friday anyways, but since it seems done, maybe it's time to bottle and hope for the best?

As for the smell, it's fairly raunchy. I've searched the forums and some say to expect some smell, others say it smells like beer. This smells pretty rough...rough enough that I'd have a tough time bottling it tonight and would probably stink the house for 2 days. At least inside the bucket the smell stays inside.

Thanks for the response. Hopefully my beer isn't really wasted. I am just way unprepared for this kind of smell in brewing. If it's fairly normal, I can deal with that. I just dont' want to open a bottle 2 weeks from now and they all stink to high heaven.

I know I couldn't drink a beer if it smelled like this in the bottle.

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Old 11-02-2006, 02:25 AM   #4
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If it's a sulphur smell it will go away.

I seem certain there's nothing wrong with your brew. Since the kreusen head fell it's probably time to rack to the secondary.

You're up on some people because they tossed it at the first sign on a possible problem. Most beers smell nasty in the process, some more than others. The proof is in the tasting.

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Old 11-02-2006, 03:15 AM   #5
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I really wasn't planning a secondary (most of the homebrew basics seemed to say it was unnecessary). I only have 2 buckets, the 2nd of which is the bottling bucket, which means if I rack to it, I have to do some magic to bottle (or just not use the nice little spigot on it).

Any chance the smell isn't the beer, so much as the stuff lying in the bucket WITH the beer? And if I rack to the 2nd the beer willl smell fine in that bucket?

I'm hesitant, but I'm not going to throw it until I'm sure it's bad...I'm just trying to not wait 3 weeks of bottling to figure out if it was bad or not.

I'll rack to 2nd tomorrow night maybe and see how that does.

Thanks for the insight.

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Old 11-02-2006, 03:18 AM   #6
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Sounds like a typical newbie freakout session and we've all been there. People don't expect something as delicious as beer to look and smell so nasty as part of the process.

Don't be in such a hurry to bottle it. Leave it in the fermenter for a few more days. If you're really anxious, take a hydrometer reading. You're gonna want to give it a couple days to let particulates settle out of the beer before you move it anyway. Are you planning to use a bottling bucket or carbonation tabs?

Bottle too early, you can have bottles exploding at worst. Bottle too late... well, there really is no too late.

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Old 11-02-2006, 01:53 PM   #7
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everyone freaks out on the first batch but it sounds like everything is going lovely. I'm also going to second bobbys opinion... I'd say give it 2 weeks total in the primary and then bottle it so most everything settles out nicely and doesnt end up in your beer.

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Old 11-02-2006, 02:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jezter6
I really wasn't planning a secondary (most of the homebrew basics seemed to say it was unnecessary). I only have 2 buckets, the 2nd of which is the bottling bucket, which means if I rack to it, I have to do some magic to bottle (or just not use the nice little spigot on it).
The procedure you want to use in this case is to primary in your bottling bucket, then use the tap and some hose to rack to your other bucket for secondary, then rack back to the bottling bucket for bottling. I've done this many times myself. And while I'm perfectly happy with plastic buckets and use them frequently, you'll probably want to get a 5g glass carboy as a secondary at some point so you can see the clarification process.
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:51 PM   #9
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brewing is definite it will ferment
i was the same with my first few brews but every1 fermented not all tasted great but u learn from ur mistakes as i did and sooner u spend more and more money not a bad thing though better ingredients I went from spending $10 to $25 now on my latest brews........oh and that bad smell comes with all brews but its good in a way u can just tell ya mates now its the brew that stinks.....the stinkyer the better the taste but when the brew is ready to drink ther is only the sweet smell of beer

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Old 11-02-2006, 11:38 PM   #10
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Everything you describe sounds perfectly normal. I'll often sample my brew along the way. The easiest thing to do is sanitize a turkey baster, dip it below the surface where the yeast is collecting, and draw some out. Take a gravity reading if you have a hydrometer. Drink the sample. Takes guts the first time you do it, but I usually find that it tastes pretty good. Temper your sampling with the fact that every time you open your fermenter, you might be introducing contaminants.

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