A few beers recently turned out darker and maltier than usual

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julian81

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OK, so I can't brew an IPA worth a damn so far. I've brewed 2 that were keg dumps. The first one came out too malty, but just had an unusual sweetness that I couldn't pin point. The next time I brewed that recipe I amped up the IBUs, and lowered the amount of crystal malt (that was already not that high to begin with) and it came out EVEN DARKER and maltier than the last batch.

Both should have been around 6-7SRM. The last one came out to be more like 15-16SRM, which is WAY darker than it should have been. It was also malty, almost like a dopplebock.

I have a SMASH pale ale that was 100% Marris Otter and 100% falconer's flight that I'm drinking now and it's tasting OK, but again, it's looking more like 7-8SRM instead of 5-6SRM.

I'm at a loss to explain why they're looking darker than they should, when I know they weren't that dark in the fermentor...or at least going into the fermentor from the chiller.

Here's my process:

(Also FYI, I'm using Seattle water which is EXTREMELY SOFT. These batches have had no water treatment)

Boil -> pump -> plate chiller -> fermentor. I cooled to 68 for these batches and oxygenated with pure O2 for 1-2mins before pitching. I pitched a 1.2-1.3L starter and then swirled/shook it immediately after to mix it all in.

The IPA received no dry hopping, the SMASH did for 7 days and was done in secondary. They were both in primary for about a month. Both were racked off to the keg and then pressurized to 10PSI and left in my garage. The garage was probably around 65-75F at this time. The kegs were there for 2 weeks after that.

I had a 2nd regulator hooked up to the IPA to help it carb, and the co2 tank was showing empty when I checked it one day. I found out that the gas ball lock connector was leaking, so the co2 tank just drained. I believe it was due to a faulty o ring around the gas post, which I've since replaced. The keg containing the SMASH did not have such a problem.

They've been tapped and on constant co2 for about 2 weeks now.

Other than that, the only thing I can think of is I put a nylon mesh bag over the end of my racking cane, and sometimes it gets clogged/jammed up with hop/yeast debris and I notice bubbles in the line which then cause occasional bubbling in the keg during racking. I'm not sure if this is ENOUGH to cause oxidation, or if oxidation even causes beer color to get darker and taste maltier...

Anyway, would appreciate some assistance in determining the cause of this so I'm not doomed to repeat myself.

---

I brewed another IPA this past weekend and this time I tried a few new things and will be doing a few different things post fermentation.

1. I filtered my water through a carbon filter
2. I treated my water to bring up the calcium and sulphate levels as well as magnesium, and ensured I had a good calcium:sulphate ratio for pale/bitter beers like IPAs.
3. I purchased a new upright chest freezer that I will be using to crash cool and store all my kegs until I tap them in my kegerator.

Any feedback would be much appreciated. I've been pretty good at figuring this stuff out myself most of the time, but I'm drawing some blanks here. Thanks!
 

WHYB

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How are you determining SRM? (Do you have the spec sheet for the grain you have been using?) You can usually get this by contacting the maltster.

Are you positive of the malts type? (crystal 60 vs 120) could even be wrong @ LHBS
Maybe try switching up your grain sources.

To some degree, darkening during conditioning is normal. More so still when chilled.
 
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julian81

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Well, that's one of the issues with the LHBS I go to/used to go to. For these beers, it's unlabeled as to what the maltster is or what the lovibond is, but it's quite possible that the LHBS mixed up the grains in the bins. This could very well be the problem.

As for the Marris Otter SMASH brew though, I'm fairly certain that was MO...and this one isn't that much darker just enough to bother me.

I've started going to a new homebrew store that labels things with the actual maltster name and lovibond of the grains and has a much better selection.

As for calculating the SRM, I'm calculating it based on what Beer Tools Pro tells me the SRM is for my recipe(s).

Other than potentially getting the wrong grains from the LHBS, is there anything else from my initial post or otherwise that you can think of that would cause darkening and sweetening of a beer?
 

Phunhog

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I had an Irish Red where the same thing happened. I run a direct fired RIMS and this was my first beer on the new system. I think my MLT burner was running too hot and I was carmelizing my wort before it could be recirculated. It came out way too dark...almost brown/black and had that unusual sweetness to it. I think it might have something to do with Maillard reactions??
 

SailorTodd

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How long is your boil? Could be long enough to cause the wort to caramelize, or the wort could be scorching, also causing it to caramelize, which would help explain the off color and possibly the off flavor. Also could be something in the details of your mash. You left those details out for the most part. Mash temps, water to grain ratios, etc, might help identify the problem. Not speaking from experience, but higher mash temps can result in a less fermentable wort, which would help explain a maltier/sweeter flavor (but not necessarily the color).
 

WHYB

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+1 for the burner and boil length question...

Also,
What is your evaporation rate?
 

WHYB

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Also you could run the numbers on your own, and see what they say.

Lovibond X lbs, divided by volume (gallons) = SRM
 
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julian81

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I do not have a burner for my MLT. My MLT is currently a 10gal igloo cooler. I transfer strike water into it from my HLT and then dough in. For these 2 beers I mashed at (1.25qt/lb):

IPA = 152-153F - I mashed out at 164F for 5 mins (a little low)
SMASH = 153F - I mashed out at 168-170 for 5 mins

Mash out was achieved by infusing boiling (212F) water into the mash and re-stirring. Amount was based on calculations done in Beer Tools Pro (usually around 2 gallons or so for pale beers around 1.050-1.060)

Boil length for both was exactly 60 minutes.

For these beers I was doing 5 gallon batches and starting with 7 gallons pre-boil. After boil and cooling I end up with 5.5 gallons in the kettle, so with boil off and cooling combined I lose 1.5 gallons.
 

WHYB

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You made need to play around with a different color formula in beer tools. Check out the beer tools forum as they have recently added some options (updates) for using other SRM formulas.

http://www.beertools.com/forum/view...start=15&sid=58c7ce046c033db88f5ae40f101de527

Admin Quote:
Color models can be selected or edited by choosing "Color Model" from the "Recipe" menu. The model choice is saved with the recipe, however, older versions of BTP ignore the color model settings. To use the color model that previous versions use, choose "Classic".
 
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julian81

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Thanks WHYB, I'm going to definitely look into that. It looks like most people prefer the Morry color model, and I'm using just the default that Beer Tools comes pre-configured with. I'll check that out tonight when I get home!
 

ayoungrad

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With regard to maltiness... what were OGs and FGs? Did you get appropriate attenuation? Could the "malty" flavor be residual unfermented sugars from incomplete fermentation?
 
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julian81

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ayoungrad, All the OGs/FGs were within the norm. These were all fully complete fermentation and were in primary for about 4 weeks. This is not due to unfinished fermentation.

It can't be infection because it doesn't taste "off". And I don't think it's oxidized, because I'm very careful about that...and from what I've read it didn't taste like what oxidized beer is described as.

So what does that leave? The wrong grains from the home brew store? Possibly. I'm not altogether convinced that the place I buy my grains at is careful about refilling the right bins. I've started shopping elsewhere. This could explain the maltiness and color if I used more crystal than I thought I was using, for example...

My water profile is very soft as stated earlier...which, according to the EZ water calculator spreadsheet is a "very malty" profile by default...so this could be it, but does that doesn't explain the darker color...

My boil is a vigorous boil, but I don't think I'm scorching it. I do all grain.

What else could it be?
 
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