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Old 07-11-2010, 05:28 PM   #1
repeteont
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Default What went wrong??

I am new to all this and have completed 2 batches using kits (true brew 1. amber and 2. oktoberfest)

Batch 1: This turned out to look and smell like a decent beer, and while drinking and holding in my mouth, it was pretty decent. However after swallowing, it had a bitter after taste that was quite strong. After about 8 months now in the bottle, the bitterness has come down, but it still present. I assumed that i had a hop problem, did some research and found that i maybe was supposed to strain the wort as it went into the fermentor (i saw this in a couple videos i watched where the hops were strained out). The instructions i read and book didnt mention this though. Other items of possible note: ran the water through the brita filter before boiling and the rest of the make up water, fermented in the basement (mid 60's), bottled after 1 week, brewed in early november, final gravity about 1-2 points higher than recipe said. So my question: was i supposed to strain and if not, are there any guesses as to the bitterness.

Batch 2: On this one, i followed the directions through to the end of the boil, where i strained the hops out at the end before going into the fermentor. For this batch, the differences from the above batch are that i put it in the closet upstairs to ferment (where it was likely in the high 60's low 70's) and was in the dark, brewed in may. I let it go for about 11 days (regular bubbling stopped after several days, but there were small amounts still coming out for a few days afterwards). Final gravity was again about 1-2 points higher than the recipe said. I started with boiled water this time around instead of running through the filter. I let it sit in the bottles and have tried 1 after 1 month and 2 months of sitting. The problem with this batch is while it looks and smells like beer, it sure doesnt taste like it. There is absolutely no head formation no matter how hard i try, it tastes almost like really fizzy juice (however there are very few small bubbles coming out of the beer). I stirred part of the last one vigorosly to get rid of some of the gas and it tasted decent for about 2-3 minutes, then tasted really flat and had no character. So, does anyone have any guesses as to what might be wrong with my second batch?

I am assured this should be easy, and I would like to understand what I should do for my next batch to get it right. I have read some of the introductory brewing information on extract brewing and seen a couple of videos (basic brewing radio), but feel like i am missing something.

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Old 07-11-2010, 06:23 PM   #2
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The first recipe could have been your water. While using a brita filter may seem like a good idea, it doesn't strip everything from the water. I'm no expert on water, but I had bitterness in almost all of my beers for a year straight. I got fed up with it and tried everything to fix it. Finally, I switched to using R.O. water only, and my problem went away.

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Old 07-11-2010, 07:49 PM   #3
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The main problem i'm seeing is that you aren't giving your yeasties enough time to do their job completely. When you bottle the beer off of the yeast cake, you're preventing the yeasts from cleaning up after themselves. Yes, fermentation may be done, but if you give the yeast a chance to clean up after themselves in the primary, you're beer will turn out much better. The usually suggestion is 3 weeks in the fermenter before bottling and 3 weeks in the bottle at 70+F to carb and condition.

What kind of yeast did you use for the Oktoberfest? Was it a lager or a ale yeast? If it was a lager yeast, you fermented way too high. Even if it was an ale yeast, in my opinion upper 60s lower 70s is still pushing the upper boundary. Remember that the temp of the fermenting beer on the inside can be 5-10 degrees higher than outside temp.

I'd look at your time schedule and fermentation temps before your water source. Also, not filtering out the hops isn't going to add much bitterness to your beer, if any at all.

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Old 07-11-2010, 09:10 PM   #4
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When were the hops added to the boil on #1? I never use anything but tap water here in SF. You shouldn't use a water that is too "clean" Some of the best water to use comes from the tap. Bottling after 1 week seems premature. The first beer I ever made stayed in a fermentation bucket for 1 month.
It sounds as if you didn't ferment long enough. I don't have experience with under fermenting, so I still can't figure out why it was so bitter.

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Old 07-11-2010, 10:03 PM   #5
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The problem with your Octoberfest kit is that you fermented it at the upper end of the ale temperature range. If they gave your lager yeast, then you would have need to ferment it much, much cooler, pitch a big starter, and lager it afterwards if you want to get a reasonable final product.

As for the first beer it sounds like a tannic astringency to me. What kind of grains came with the kit, and how did you add them to the beer? Steeping or boiling grains too warm will extract some pretty harsh flavors.

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Old 07-12-2010, 01:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keithbeats View Post
I never use anything but tap water here in SF. You shouldn't use a water that is too "clean" Some of the best water to use comes from the tap.
I don't agree with this. Water quality really depends on where you live. Tap water is only sometimes good for brewing. Mine is good drinking water, but it made horrible brewing water. I've brewed several beers with straight R.O. water and had excellent results. Being "too clean" isn't an issue in my opinion. While I do add salts to my RO water for most of my beers, I don't find it 100% neccessary.

While his issue may be fermentation times, water isn't something that should be immediately ruled out. I'd say 90% of people homebrewing could better their beer by using RO or distilled water.
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Old 07-12-2010, 02:05 AM   #7
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Nobody seems to want to weigh in on problem #2 - when you say "juice," do you mean it has a green apple flavor?

If so, there could be a number of causes. One could be a minor bacterial infection. Another could be that your bottle conditioning isn't complete yet, and you're still tasting sugar. A third is that, as everyone else is suggestion, you aren't giving your yeast enough time.

Most beginning brewers assume that fiddling with water and moving to all-grain is the easiest way to improve beer quality. What I've learned, though, is that learning how to properly handle yeast is the best possible thing to learn how to do. Pitch plenty of clean, healthy yeast, aerate well, and control your temps.

And be sanitary.

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Old 07-12-2010, 02:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peanasky View Post
The main problem i'm seeing is that you aren't giving your yeasties enough time to do their job completely. When you bottle the beer off of the yeast cake, you're preventing the yeasts from cleaning up after themselves.
IMHO, +++! I really think this is the root probelm of both batches. The times of one week for the amber, eleven days for the Oktoberfest are way too short. Even the most agressive kits state two weeks in the primary as a minimum; and if the O'fest is a true lager, two months. Two months and at temps from 35-50 degrees depending on stage. Both of these were hot and fast, creating many off flavors. OP, please post about how you carbed the O'fest, what type of bottles you used, etc. I am finding, just into my sixth batch, that a rigorous attention to sanitization, pitching and fermenting temps, and above all else, patience before bottling are absolutely essential.

Best of luck with number 3
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:57 PM   #9
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How did you carb your second batch?

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