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Old 08-31-2010, 02:07 PM   #1
chicagobrew's Avatar
Mar 2010
Chicago, IL
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So, I'm fermenting a roggenbier right now and my temp control has been poor. I'm using wyeast 3068 and the temp in the ferm room is about 72-75F. The fermenter is certainly above that. I may be able to get the ferm temp down a little bit, but I don't have a chamber set up yet. The smell coming out of the airlock is all bananas. While I would expect some of this due to the yeast strain, I'm worried that it's going to be too strong. The batch has been fermenting for just less than 48 hours.

My questions are:

1. If I continue to ferment at 72-75F, will the beer clean itself up if I give it enough time (i.e. long primary/secondary followed by long bottle conditioning)?

2. If I were to lower the ferm temp into the high 60s now, would the beer clean itself up?

3. Besides building a temp controlled chamber (which is going to happen in the near future) or using the swamp cooler method, is there anything else I can do or need to know?

I'd appreciate some help.



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Old 08-31-2010, 02:16 PM   #2
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Dec 2007
"Detroitish" Michigan
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It's really hard to judge a beer at this stage, just because you are smelling something out the airlock, doesn't mean it is actually IN your beer, it may simply be going out the airlock, like Rhino farts or sulphur smells given off by lager yeasts or the making of apfelwein. They don't actually stick around.

Get your temps down, yes, but don't worry about anything else. Your beer has a long journey to go through before it's ready to drink, and a lot of changes will happen between now and then. And there's plenty of points along the way where the yeast will have the opportunity to correct itself. They are very fastidious creatures, they like to clean up their messes if given enough time.

Many of us leave our beers in primary for a month I find that goes a long way in improving the overall flavor of beer by allowing the yeast to clean up any byproducts of fermentation.

Also, it really is hard to judge a beer until it's been about 6 weeks in the bottle. Just because you taste (or smell) something in primary or secondary DOESN'T mean it will be there when the beer is fully conditioned (that's also the case with kegging too.)

The thing to remember though is that if you are smelling or tasting this during fermentation not to worry. During fermentation all manner of stinky stuff is given off (ask lager brewers about rotten egg/sulphur smells, or Apfelwein makers about "rhino farts,") like we often say, fermentation is often ugly AND stinky and PERFECTLY NORMAL.

It's really only down the line, AFTER the beer has been fermented (and often after it has bottle conditioned even,) that you concern yourself with any flavor issues if they are still there.

I think too many new brewers focus to much on this stuff too early in the beer's journey. And they panic unnecessarily.

A lot of the stuff you smell/taste initially more than likely ends up disappearing either during a long primary/primary & secondary combo, Diacetyl rests and even during bottle conditioning.

If I find a flavor/smell, I usually wait til it's been in the bottle 6 weeks before I try to "diagnose" what went wrong, that way I am sure the beer has passed any window of greenness.

Fementation is often ugly, smelly and crappy tasting in the beginning and perfectly normal. The various conditioning phases, be it long primary, secondarying, D-rests, bottle conditioning, AND LAGERING, are all part of the process where the yeast, and co2 correct a lot of the normal production of the byproducts of fermentation.

Lagering is a prime example of this. Lager yeast are prone to the production of a lot of byproducts, the most familiar one is sulphur compounds (rhino farts) but in the dark cold of the lagering process, which is at the minimum of a month (I think many homebrewers don't lager long enough) the yeast slowly consumes all those compounds which results in extremely clean tasting beers if done skillfully.

Ales have their own version of this, but it's all the same.

If you are sampling your beer before you have passed a 'window of greeness" which my experience is about 3-6 weeks in the bottle, then you are more than likely just experiencing an "off flavor" due to the presence of those byproducts (that's what we mean when we say the beer is "green" it's still young and unconditioned.) but once the process is done, over 90% of the time the flavors/smells are gone.

Of the remaining 10%, half of those may still be salvageable through the long time storage that I mention in the Never dump your beer!!! Patience IS a virtue!!! Time heals all things, even beer:

And the remaining 50% of the last 10% are where these tables and lists come into play. To understand what you did wrong, so you can avoid it in the future.

Long story short....I betcha that smell/flavor will be long gone when the beer is carbed and conditioned.

In other words, relax, your beer will be just fine, like 99.5%.

You can find more info on that in here;

Of Patience and Bottle Conditioning.

Just remember it will not be the same beer it is now, and you shouldn't stress what you are tasting right now.

Our beer is more resilient then most new brewers realize, and time can be a big healer. Just read the stories in this thread of mine, and see how many times a beer that someone thought was bad, turned out to be fine weeks later.
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Old 08-31-2010, 02:17 PM   #3
Aug 2008
Portland OR
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I'd go with a long primary (month +/-) and see what happens. From Wyeast "Dominated by banana ester production" I've brewed beers that gave off large amounts of sulphur at the beginning but a long primary and some conditioning will take care of it usually.

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Old 08-31-2010, 02:26 PM   #4
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Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
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In my experience, esters formed from a too-high fermentation temperature don't improve much. They may fade a bit, but never go away. Some yeast strains are worse than others- nottingham turns foul over 72 degrees, but WLP001 isn't as bad.

Wyeast 3068 will be banana and clove like even at cooler temperatures, so at the warmer temps it should be very strong. You'll probably get a strong phenolic flavor.
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Old 09-01-2010, 04:23 AM   #5
chicagobrew's Avatar
Mar 2010
Chicago, IL
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Thanks for the replies, everyone. I'm not panicking, I'm just curious if you can correct this type of problem later on. I never dump beer and I'm a patient person, so I'll just wait it out and see. I primary for 2-6 weeks and bottle condition for several weeks. This beer is for Nov/Dec, so I've got some time to let it sit.

Also, I checked the airlock tonight and the smell has completely changed. I don't detect any banana smell now. It's currently going through the sulfur/egg smell at the moment, so my worries may have been premature.

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Old 09-01-2010, 09:04 AM   #6
Feb 2010
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Old 09-01-2010, 04:06 PM   #7
Oct 2009
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It can take a LONG time for certain compounds to clean up (6+ months), depending exactly how hot the fermentation actually is. Some of them (such as the fire-y/spicy fusels) will never clean up.

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