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Old 06-01-2008, 02:33 PM   #1
Jun 2007
Arlington, VA
Posts: 266
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So, my last few beers have had a strong alcohol finish and in reading up I found that could be the result of not using a starter (liquid yeast) or not aerating the wort enough. I read people saying that a starter would improve the flavor of the beer but I never understood why. I guess I'll try making a starter next time.

Does this sound like a normal side effect. Anyone else solved the same problem by making yeast starters. Regardless I guess I'll give it a shot. Hopefully tasting is believing.

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Old 06-01-2008, 02:40 PM   #2
EdWort's Avatar
Jul 2006
Bee Cave, Texas
Posts: 11,912
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That only applies if you are using liquid yeast. Dry yeasts like Nottingham or Safale-05 do not need starters.

How long has your beer aged? What is the ABV? Post a recipe for more feedback.

Here's the word from John Palmer on Off Flavors.

A sharp flavor that can be mild and pleasant or hot and bothersome. When an alcohol taste detracts from a beer's flavor it can usually be traced to one of two causes. The first problem is often too high a fermentation temperature. At temperatures above 80°F, yeast can produce too much of the higher weight fusel alcohols which have lower taste thresholds than ethanol. These alcohols taste harsh to the tongue, not as bad as cheap tequila, but bad nonetheless.

Fusel alcohols can be produced by excessive amounts of yeast, or when the yeast sits too long on the trub. This is one reason to move the beer off of the hot and cold break when the beer is going to be spending a lot of time in the fermentor.

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Old 06-01-2008, 02:58 PM   #3
mrkristofo's Avatar
Sep 2007
Behind the zion curtain
Posts: 922
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If you want to figure out how much yeast you should be pitching, you can use a pitching rate calculator like this one:
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Old 06-01-2008, 03:29 PM   #4
Evan!'s Avatar
Aug 2006
Charlottesville, VA
Posts: 11,863
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I'm of the mindset that pitching adequate cell counts is as important as fermentation temps and sanitation in the quest for great beer. Underpitching can give you all sorts of problems...I always make a starter for liquid yeast---always. If I don't have a nice colony ready to pitch, then I'll postpone my brewday until I do.
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Old 06-01-2008, 05:04 PM   #5
Jun 2007
Arlington, VA
Posts: 266
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Thanks for the responses.....
I have always used liquid yeast and never done a starter.

Temperature shouldn't be an issue as I'm fermenting between 64 to 66 degrees. I ferment in my basement tub (in a pale of course).

3 of my last 4 brews have had this problem....
One, a terrible Corsendonk abbey brown clone (7.5% ABV). I figured it was mainly b/c of the high alcohol content. I haven't done a Belgian since and picked up Brew like a monk.

I did a pumpkin ale that had a slight alcohol finish, but I had a decent amount of spices and the warm finish was actually kind of nice... it was winter.

Nut Brown (recipe below): been bottled for at least 6 weeks (ABV 5.2%)
48.00 oz Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM) Dry Extract 40.00 %
36.00 oz Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 30.00 %
14.00 oz Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 11.67 %
10.00 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 8.33 %
8.00 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 6.67 %
4.00 oz Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM) Grain 3.33 %
0.70 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 20.1 IBU
0.35 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (10 min) Hops 1.3 IBU
0.15 oz Williamette [5.50 %] (10 min) Hops 0.7 IBU

The latest a Hoegaarden clone (5.3%). It definitely needs more time in the bottle, however, from week 3 to week 4 the alcohol flavor became stronger. Also, I used tons of wheat and have no head on the poor and never put beer glasses in the dishwasher, but that is a separate issue, I think.

I usually keep the beer in primary for about 2 weeks. The Nut brown sat for 4 and went straight to bottles.

I'll check out the yeast pitch calculator. Seems like a great source to add to my homebrew bookmarks.

Sorry for the really long message....

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