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Old 03-30-2012, 07:01 AM   #1
wherestheyeast
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Default Talk me down!

Over the past seven days I've brew three batches of beer (my third, fourth and fifth batch to be precise), and I think I need to pause for a bit. Or at least
until I know I can make drinkable beer.

You see, my first batch isn't quite drinkable despite ~6 weeks in the bottle (it's pretty flat and tasteless). My second batch seems to be getting worse as it conditions - its only been conditioning for two weeks, but I cracked a bottle at week one to check on carbonation level and found it to be pretty decent; I opened another to tonight and found it to have a strong soapy flavor.

So, as of now I have 5gals o Wheat (the flat one) in bottles; 5 gals of IPA (the soapy one) in bottles; 5 gals of a saison 1 week into fermentation; 1 gallon of Belgian Wit 5 days in, and 2.5 gals of ESB just brewed.

I've been a bit concerned about fermentation temps - the fermometer has gotten close to 76• F on occasion...
O
So, should I stop until I know I can make a good beer? I have the ESB fermentor sitting in a bucket of cool (~64•F) water.

Any advice would be welcome.

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Old 03-30-2012, 07:23 AM   #2
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Don't do it man it's not worth it!

I was going to recommend a swamp cooler until I read the 2nd to last sentence.

Maybe you could slow down since you have a pipeline going and start working on planning a BIG beer. A big Belgian could ferment in the summer time temps and be ready for Spanksgiving/X-mas.

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Old 03-30-2012, 07:34 AM   #3
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maybe do half batches? 2.5gals at a time you can practice twice as much.

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Old 03-30-2012, 07:41 AM   #4
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Get yourself a used chest freezer and a Temp controller. After Sanitation Temp controll is the most important thing. You wont be sorry you make the investment.

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Old 03-30-2012, 07:43 AM   #5
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Do a flip!

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Old 03-30-2012, 09:26 AM   #6
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My first two batches were drinkable, but nothing special. Then I got a chest freezer and temp controller. Huge difference. Then I did a full boil extract on a whim, best beer I had done up to that time. My first all grain with a yeast starter in my fermentaion chamber made me a believer. Fermentation temp control + full boil = great beer. A chamber and a decent 11 gallon boil pot are one time investments that will pay for themselves time and time again when you knock a batch out of the park. And don't be intimidated by starters. They seriously take 20 min to make, and 10 minutes of that is the boil... I use a 1 gallon carboy that doubles as my cider experiment fermenter. No fancy glassware or stir plate necissary.

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Old 03-30-2012, 02:07 PM   #7
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Check your water. It may have Chlorine or Chloramine. What sanitizer are you using? Some of them need to be rinsed well.

You definitely should try to keep the temps at around mid 60's for Ales, except for that Saison, of course, which you could let run up into the 90's.

But it sounds like your temperature it not excessive in general. The main time to be concerned is during the initial hard and fast fermentation. After that it wont' hurt to let it get up into the 70s for a short time.

I can't in good conscience suggest you slow down. What I would advise is careful consideration of each step of your process and investigate the common accepted best practices. There is no shortage of information online on how to make good beer. There are certainly things that are debated, but in almost all cases there is a solid reasoning behind them, and the differences between them are usually so minute as to being a simple matter of preference.

I'd find out about your water first. You can ask your local water commission, or just send a sample of your water to Ward Labs. You are mostly concerned with any treatment chemicals, but if you are sending to Ward Labs, a mineral analysis is very handy to give you an idea if you need to do any treatment for certain styles.

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Old 03-30-2012, 02:56 PM   #8
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soapy flavors... flat beer .... 76&bull temps ..... not to discourage your enthusiasm which is great but I think you need too look at your process a bit more as those are biggies you mentioned that need to be addressed. a few things make sure your sanitization is great not ok or good but great. second invest the money you would spend on a batch on software like beersmith as it will help you with your brewday / calcs so you know your making a proper recipe. Third invest in temp control or a wort chiller or something cause the only beer above you mentioned that should get up to 76 degrees is that saison. also your off flavors can be from underpitching your yeast so maybe a flask and a stirplate shoul.d be considered as well as looking at a pitching rate calculator such as mr.malty. I know your excited to brew but do it correctly and you will love the beer that you make.

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Old 03-30-2012, 03:13 PM   #9
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Is this extract or grain batches?

1. Tell us your sanitation method
2. Tell us your water source and any treatment you do

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Old 03-30-2012, 04:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wherestheyeast View Post
Over the past seven days I've brew three batches of beer (my third, fourth and fifth batch to be precise), and I think I need to pause for a bit. Or at least
until I know I can make drinkable beer.

You see, my first batch isn't quite drinkable despite ~6 weeks in the bottle (it's pretty flat and tasteless). My second batch seems to be getting worse as it conditions - its only been conditioning for two weeks, but I cracked a bottle at week one to check on carbonation level and found it to be pretty decent; I opened another to tonight and found it to have a strong soapy flavor.

So, as of now I have 5gals o Wheat (the flat one) in bottles; 5 gals of IPA (the soapy one) in bottles; 5 gals of a saison 1 week into fermentation; 1 gallon of Belgian Wit 5 days in, and 2.5 gals of ESB just brewed.

I've been a bit concerned about fermentation temps - the fermometer has gotten close to 76• F on occasion...
O
So, should I stop until I know I can make a good beer? I have the ESB fermentor sitting in a bucket of cool (~64•F) water.

Any advice would be welcome.
don't stop, reflect.
some batches do get the "two week nasty " and get stellar after a month.

Make a batch of something simple and well known, a boring pale/amber ale.
baby it, bang out every step as best you can. You're worried about temps so concentrate on those steps.
treat this one as your "1st batch"
Put your currently bottled stuff away and focus on the new 1st.
when its done and ready to drink compare it to your questionable batches. They at least will have one know factor, aging.

Glass/buckets/secondary/no secondary. none of it matters it's all style.
focus on your technique, what works best in your kitchen, your time, your storage space.
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