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Old 10-12-2009, 02:54 AM   #1
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Default Taste prior to bottling

Okay i know I'm supposed to relax, not worry, and have a homebrew but...I'm a little worried and I don't have any homebrew yet

I moved a Newcastle Clone to secondary too early, I had to swirl the beer around to get it to kick up fermentation again. It did but not much. FG was supposed to be 1.012 mine is 1.018 but it's an extract kit (Midwest) with Munton's yeast so I wasn't too concerned about that. During primary I had a very active fermentation with no blowoff hose so it got all in my airlock. Cleaned that up no big deal. But I'm afraid my temps may have crept into the 72-74 degree range during that early fermentation (it's still 85+ in Georgia these days).

I've taken a few hydrometer readings over the last 8 days. They're all solid at 1.018 but the beer tastes absolutely terrible. I'm not supposed to judge the beer before it's been in the bottles for a minimum of three weeks right but I can't see a way this could turn out well. Tastes bad, bad horrible aftertastes and bitter as hell. It's hard to describe the aftertastes but the best comparison i can find is cigarette ashes and the aroma is very plastic smelling.

Should I bottle this and take my chances that 3-4 weeks in bottles can help or should I keep it where it is for another few weeks and see if it improves. I can't help but think of the old adage "garbage in garbage out" so I don't want to put terrible beer in bottles. This is my 3rd batch by the way.

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Old 10-12-2009, 03:16 AM   #2
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You will be surprised at what time can do to beer. As long as your gravity readings remain the same for a few days in a row you'll be good to bottle. Even if it tastes bad now, a lot of work is yet to be done while the beer is in the bottles conditioning. I know, it's hard to imagine that something that tastes bad now might taste wonderful in 3 weeks, but it does happen.

Sure, you may not have made the best beer in the world, but if you give it enough time and allow the yeast to do their thing you will end up with a reasonable final product. You can always tweak your recipes later if you need to. But let this beer sit and condition and I bet you'll be surprised at the final results if you give it enough time.

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Old 10-12-2009, 06:21 AM   #3
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After dumping two batches of "phenolic"-tasting (plastic band-aid) and smelling brews (two different ones), one was bottled in March. And did not improve. It went down the drain tonight. The other one was a re-used yeast directly after another batch of (differing style) beer.

If you have the patience to let your beer sit a few months, go for it. If you're going to dump right away, dump them ALL. You won't want to try one down the road and go "oh no!!! It improved over time!"

Time can mellow a beer's flavours, but marubozo I'm not sure about phenolic off-taste mellowing over time. I've never experienced it going away.

-Jfriah

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Old 10-12-2009, 07:05 AM   #4
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I've found that aging in bulk works faster than aging in bottles. So, if you're already resigned to leaving it be for a while, give it a couple more weeks before you bottle. In my experience, a couple weeks in secondary is roughly the same as a month in the bottles.

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Old 10-12-2009, 09:39 AM   #5
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Sounds like you did everything right. Even your temps were within reason for our part of the world.
Let it sit in secondary for a couple of weeks and see how well the yeast cleans it up. Even if it still taste a little harsh at bottling, it should mellow out after bottle conditioning.
Best of luck!

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Old 10-12-2009, 01:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jfriah View Post

Time can mellow a beer's flavours, but marubozo I'm not sure about phenolic off-taste mellowing over time. I've never experienced it going away.

-Jfriah
That's true if the OPs problem is in fact phenols. They did mention a plastic aroma so it could be, but it could also be something else or just not described accurately.

Being this is an extract brew we know the phenols couldn't have come from over crushing or over sparging which is a common cause. So the next thing to check would be sanitation methods. Was bleach used? If so, then you can probably chalk up the off flavor and aroma to that and it's probably safe to say the beer won't improve much even with time. The final culprit for phenols would be a contamination, and that also isn't very common if proper sanitation was followed.

So, unless you can nail it down to the use of bleach I'd say that it is probably worth bottling to see what happens over the course of another month. True, it might not improve any, but if the the aroma and flavors experienced just a week or so after fermentation aren't really a phenol problem it should clean up nicely.
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Old 10-12-2009, 02:01 PM   #7
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I am in almost the exact same situation. Im only 3 hours away from you (Savannah), and I brewed a brown ale this summer. I had some terrible off-flavors when I bottled.

The beer has been bottled for about 9 weeks now, and I sampled one a few days ago. The off-flavors are still there, but they are mellowing out. . . very slowly. I am not sure if they will every go away completely, but I am giving this brew a chance. I am not touching another bottle for another 2 months, then trying another.

I say bottle it and forget about it. The worst that can happen is you dump the bottles in a few months. If you dump it now, you may be dumping some amazing beer and not even know it.

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Old 10-12-2009, 03:14 PM   #8
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If it's three weeks old I'd bottle it. Generally my green beer tastes pretty good at three weeks. It's a relief to taste it and know all is well. Once it's to the green beer stage I've never messed one up. There was a stout that tasted whack when I bottled it (too young) but it did turn out well even with noticeable diacetyl. All the others that tasted bad stayed that way until I dumped them many months latter. Not to say yours is necessarily bad. The flavors you describe could be just because it's green. I recomend bottling it and tasting one every week to learn what the flavor changes will be, then you will become a much better judge of how good a green beer is.

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Old 10-12-2009, 03:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marubozo View Post
Being this is an extract brew we know the phenols couldn't have come from over crushing or over sparging which is a common cause.
I did steep some specialty grains (crushed at Midwest) but I was careful with temps and times.

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Originally Posted by marubozo View Post
Was bleach used? If so, then you can probably chalk up the off flavor and aroma to that and it's probably safe to say the beer won't improve much even with time.
Sad to say, yes. Primary and all equipment used on brewday. Before racking to secondary I got some StarSan and PBW so I used it for that step but if bleach is the culprit it was already bad by then I'm sure. I've read papazian's and palmer's books so i initially thought it was okay to use bleach as they both talk about it as an effective sanitizer. I've changed that method since but maybe too late for this batch.


Quote:
Originally Posted by marubozo View Post
The final culprit for phenols would be a contamination, and that also isn't very common if proper sanitation was followed.

Is there anyway to know if it's from the bleach or from contamination? I'll study more about phenols and will not use bleach anymore but I'm curious about why bleach is ever recommended if it ruins your beer.

I'll bottle anyway. Not holding out much hope but I'll see what I can learn from the experience. Totally bummed though! i was so looking forward to my own Newcastle. Live and learn I guess. Thanks for all the replies folks.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:50 PM   #10
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I still use bleach and so do many others. I use it more as a cleaner than a sanitizer because it does both well. It does need to be rinsed well or air dried even when used at 1 tbs per gallon. If you didn't rinse it it could be the problem but there could still be other possibilities. You need to rinse it until the smell is totally gone.

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