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Old 11-15-2011, 02:55 PM   #1
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Default Embarrassing Results From First Brew Competition - What Went Wrong?

My favorite local bar decided to hold it's first home brew competition, so my friend and I were excited to enter.

A little background: we've been brewing for about 10 months and have brewed 5 batches (not anywhere near as much as I would like to have done). Overall, I've been pretty satisfied with our results but I'm well aware that we have a lot to learn and improve upon.

Our most successful brew to date was the Deception Stout recipe found on this site, so we decided to brew that again for this competition. Of course, because we really needed this one to go well, it didn't. We cracked open the fermenter after 4 weeks and found what people on this site said could be a Brett infection.

Since it was too late to brew another batch, we decided to make the best of it. We racked under the infection, bottled, and called it a day. Three weeks later, we tasted it and didn't detect any "infection flavors." It wasn't sour or anything and it still had that coffee taste that it was supposed to. So, we submitted it.

Well, the results came back last night and they were dreadful. There were 3 judged who rated based on aroma, appearance, mouthfeel, and taste. Here were our scores:

Judge 1: 20/50
Judge 2: 19/50
Judge 3: 14/50

Yikes. All three judges said it tasted "metallic" and that the aroma was "baby diaper." They also said it was a little "roasty."

So, what went wrong? Is the infection to blame? Something else? I know we're all a bit biased towards our own beer but this also has me wondering if my palate isn't developed enough yet to taste what the judges did

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Drinking: It's Wedding Saison, Mosaic Single Hop Pale, Crystal Ave Milk Stout, Cut Day Pale Ale, Yooper's Oatmeal Stout (with some extra roast)
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:03 PM   #2
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There's no way for anyone here to tell what you might have done... I think a good place to start would be your water. Are you on a municipal system? What is the water profile and how much chlorine is there? Do you filter it?

I would love it if we could have more contests around here, this kind of feedback is exactly what helps you make better beer.

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Old 11-15-2011, 03:09 PM   #3
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Sanitation is the first thing that comes to mind. Sanitation is the difference between a bad beer and a good beer.

Yeast could also be a factor, use a liquid yeast.

Water plays an important role but the first two are what I would focus on first.
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:12 PM   #4
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There are many nuances which could be making an impact. This is where keeping good notes during the process is critical, so that you can make changes to each variable one at a time. If there's a local homebrew club, join it and start taking samples to meetings to get feedback.
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:21 PM   #5
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What's your fermentation like? Are you making a appropriate starter or pitching a couple packs of liquid?
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:21 PM   #6
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Remember to look at this as a learning experience and keep brewing to learn more. I saw a hugeimprovement in my beers whe I started brewing 1/2 with tap water and 1/2 with bottled spring water. I think hard water and roasty malts can result in mineral/metallic tastes in beers when the hard water is not diluted enough. Don't quote me on that, it's just my own observation.
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:27 PM   #7
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You submitted an infected beer. Why would you do that? I mean, it's one thing to submit a beer just to get some feedback, but what kind of feedback are you going to get on an infected beer?
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:30 PM   #8
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The infection obviously didn't help but they are also judging your beer against others in the flight and to the standard. All beer might have been judged low in that flight or your beer might have had major problems. But always submit your best work.

Usually I submitted the same batch to more than one event to get some other judges opinions of the beer. Now I save the money and just drink it with friends. Win your first ribbon and then you can "retire" as a award winning brewer.

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Old 11-15-2011, 03:32 PM   #9
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Don't knock the dry, a properly rehydrated dry yeast is going to make a good beer as long as it is appropriate for the style. I doubt that's where metallic & diaper aromas are coming from, especially given that there were signs of infection already.

My suggestion is to throw out these results, because you already knew the batch was infected. That infection isn't going to just stay at the top, it's permeated your beer, and is probably detectable by a good nose, or at warmer temperatures. You might not smell it chilled, but upon warming, that aroma might be right out in front.

Instead, concentrate on cleaning and sanitizing that infection. Everything the wort touches from the brew kettle spigot onward are suspect. Replace hoses... scrub, sanitize, scrub, and sanitize more. Take apart spigots, joints, get in every nook. Look for scratches. If you're using any disposable tubing or fermenters, replace them before the next one. Brett is a tough infection to clean up.
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:36 PM   #10
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I've never read "baby diaper" as an aromatic attribute on Beer Advocate or Rate Beer.

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