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Old 07-06-2006, 01:45 AM   #1
jaymack
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Default Throw Me a Frickin' Bone here, would 'ya?

Ok, I looove brewing (extract only so far) but I'm tired of dumping bad brews.
I can admit that just because I like doing something, doesn't mean I'm any good at it.

My problems is ethal (sp?) alcohol. I believe this is the term for the oil-slick- like topping on top of the fermented beer. There are also minor flake-like crusties that form on the top of the beer (anywhere from 2 to 4" in size)as well. Then there's the aroma and taste

I use bleach as my santitizer, which I know can be a hot button topic, but regardless, I'm quite confident in my sanitation and cleanliness department.

Could Temps be effecting my brews this bad? Is there just something in my basement that could be killing it? My last 3 brews, an Oatmeal Stout, a Dark Ale and an Amber all went South.

Oh, I'll make beer again, trust me. It'd sure be nice to drink it though. My two best drinkables were a Brown Ale (mmmm) and a Pale Ale that i just sort of threw some ingredients together for.

Anyone have any thoughts I could use? I buy all ingredients in bulk (including teh extract) and all containers, hoses, buckets et al, all get cleaned thoroughly.

Thanks in advance,
J



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Old 07-06-2006, 02:05 AM   #2
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If you really want to isolate your problem, you should only change one thing per batch to determine what practice was causing your off flavors. My first suggestion was to look at sanitation, however, the off flavor you describe does not sound like a sanitation issue to me.

It does, however, seem like a stressed yeast issue. I suspect that your fermentation temps are too high and you may be underpitching.

At what temperature are you fermenting?
Do you make starters? If so, how?

On your next batch, pitch enough yeast to do the job and make sure you keep your fermentation temps at as close to the recommended temp for the yeast you are using. This may make a difference.



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Old 07-06-2006, 03:28 AM   #3
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Why dont you give us the recipes you used... might help us.

For your next batch, what you need to do is take away anything that could be a problem. Not that I'm saying it is a problem. But yes bleach COULD be a problem. Take away that variable and you will know its not. Next thing you might want to do is get a kit. I'm not saying that your "thrown together" recipe has a problem. But your just starting.... it COULD be a problem. Again, if you go by somthing that you know will work, that variable will be gone. For yeast you can do a ccouple of things that will take that unknown variable out of the equation. You could buy a good liquid yeast and make a starter. Or if you want to be real simple on yourself you can buy two packages of dry yeast, rehydrate them and pitch them together. With pitching two packages you will most certainly take away any thought that your yeast could be the problem. Sanitize everything carefully so you know it's not your problem. The fact that your have had this problem more then once with completly different beers could point to sanitation.

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Old 07-06-2006, 10:01 AM   #4
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Oil slicks and flakey crusties are fairly normal IMO. How long are you maturing the beer for? I don't think it's your bleach unless your finished brew is smelling and tasting like TCP.

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Old 07-06-2006, 01:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymack
My problems is ethal (sp?) alcohol.
I'm confused???? Ethanol, also called Ethyl Alcohol, is what we want in our beer. Well, at least I like to get drunk from time to time.
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Old 07-06-2006, 01:27 PM   #6
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Yes, ethanol is the "good stuff". The oil-slick could be FUSEL alcohol (also called fusel oil).

Fusel alcohol is caused by having fermentation temps that are too high, under-pitching yeast, or insufficient wort aeration prior to pitching the yeast.

If you have this in large enough quantities to really be noticable, you will have a very harsh and "hot" alcohol tasting/smelling beverage. Is this the flavor and aroma you mention?

Maybe if you could described the aroma and taste, we could offer more help.

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Old 07-06-2006, 01:28 PM   #7
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Sounds like you are dumping beer that is fine. I suggest you read Is my beer ruined? from Palmer's book. And maybe re-think the bleach. More than one bad batch in 20 is excessive, I've had three in seven years.

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Old 07-06-2006, 03:45 PM   #8
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How long did you leave the beer to condition before sampling it and deciding it was bad? Green (unconditioned) beer can tast pretty awful, but just fine after a month or so of conditioning. Stronger beers may take several months or even years to mature.

-a.

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Old 07-07-2006, 01:20 AM   #9
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-you will have a very harsh and "hot" alcohol tasting/smelling beverage. Is this the flavor and aroma you mention?

Yes! That's the ticket. I meant Fusel.. thanks.

Trust me, david_42, if this is considered "fine" beer, I'd hate to taste "off" beer.

I always prepare a starter with 30 grams of dry Yeast for 5 gallons of beer, as my homebrew supply store does not carry liquid yeast.

I use bulk extract, steep grains, and I also do everything loose (both steaping grains and hops)

Thanks for the help. That's what I love about this site!

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Old 07-07-2006, 01:29 AM   #10
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I was just wondering... you said your last three brews. Does this mean that you had brewed a beer that did not have this problem or that so far all the beers you have brewed have this problem?



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