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diacetyl or paranoia? or both?

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AndytheBeave

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I am hoping maybe one of you gurus can put some fears to rest for me.
Last week I brewed up my 5th all grain brew (2nd in my new converted cooler). I did up an English style ale:
10 lbs Canadian 2 row
2 Lbs Munich
1 lb crystal 20l
1 lb biscuit malt
Northern Brewer hops for bittering (1 oz at 60 min)
1 oz cascade @ 30 min
1 oz cascade @ 5 min
2 packets of Safale S-04 (pitch temperature was 20 Deg C)
OG = 1.053, FG = 1.013
It fermented for 6 days in the primary and has now been transfered to the carboy for conditioning.
When testing the FG yesterday, I drank the the sample rather than return it to the carboy. I noticed a subtle "slick" mouth feel and a slight creamy after taste - which tasted good and seemed to fit with the beer style. Since I have never encountered these flavours before, I decided to research these attributes and the term diacetyl keeps coming up. Now it seems this is undesirable in a lager but maybe desirable in ale. But what I want to know is, exactly how much is desirable? Will the diacetyl get stronger during the last 2 weeks in the carboy (secondary)? The beer is sitting in the basement at around 64-66 Deg F which was its primary fermentation temperature. I am planning on leaving it for 2 more weeks before force carbonating it in my keg. Is there something I should have done differently with this brew? Or is this just par for the course with this particular yeast. This is the first time I have used S-04. I usually use Windsor, but since we are heading into summer I wanted something a little more forgiving with higher temps. There does not seem to be any sign of infection and I am pretty thorough with sanitation (I use the pink powder and Iodophor).
Anyway, thanks for reading my small novel here. Any comments are totally appreciated. Cheers. :mug:
 

hophop

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I've had the same issue with lighter beers. Turned out I either under pitched or fermented too low. Also 6 days is way too short for a primary, especially at 64 degrees. You have to give the yeast time to clean up the junk after active fermentation is complete.


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AndytheBeave

AndytheBeave

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thanks for taking the time to respond hophop.
Yeah, I think I am done with the primary/secondary thing. From now on I am going to go straight from the kettle to the carboy and leave it.
I only transferred the beer over to the secondary because the FG was stable so I figured it was done. Alas. Hopefully there is enough yeast left in suspension to finish cleaning it up. It is getting a bit warmer now so hopefully that'll help too.
I washed the S-04 from this batch so for the next batch I will use a starter as well.
 

MaxStout

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Bump up the temp a couple degrees and give it a couple more weeks in the fermenter. Diacetyl is a common by-product of fermentation (particularly with some of the English ale strains), but the yeasties should clean that up.
 

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I don't see anything "English" about this beer. It's got US/Canadian malt and US hops, so I'd call it an American pale ale. The S04 can have an English-y flavor, especially when fermented warm but the cascade hops are overwhelmingly non-English and citrusy US hops, so it's definitely not anything like an English pale ale.

Anyway, I don't know the reason for the slickness- S04 is not much of a diacetyl producer, and none of those ingredients should give that. S04 is usually not forgiving at all of higher fermentation temperatures, though. I'd check to make sure that the fermentation temperature never gets above 68 degrees (preferably lower) with that strain.
 
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The 1.013 is the issue. While that's not a high FG, you're getting residual sugars left by the S-04. That's normal for that yeast.

After carbonation, you'll find that the slickness will go away and you'll have a nice beer. Reserve judgment until it's well carbonated.

I agree with yooper, the cascade is really out of place in an english beer since it will add citrus notes to the beer. Next time stick with fuggles, east kent goldings, willamette, etc. Earthy, not citrusy. Cheers.

Never return any sample to the carboy. It's not worth it.
 

Poobah58

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Why did you rack to secondary after 6 days? Keep it on the yeast 2-3 weeks. Don't need to rack unless you are dry hopping. Give the yeast a chance to clean up after them selves then you won't have to worry about diacetyl. When you rack that early you get rid of the most active yeast. Be patient grasshopper!!!
 
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AndytheBeave

AndytheBeave

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thanks for the advice everyone. there is some great stuff here.
As for the S-04, the cut sheet on it recommends 12-25°C (53.6-77°F) ideally 15-20°C (59-68°F) - which is wider temp range than say Nottingham or Windsor (which is what I usually use). But so far, the beer has been between 64-66 Deg F. I will try to keep it at just under 68 to see if it helps.
I figured that since the beer is sitting in an air conditioned room I have some control over the ambient temp but I figured a little wiggle room may be beneficial until I get real fermentation temp control.

So to summarize -
Regardless of whether it's an English pale ale or American pale ale (although Northern Brewer hops are English and S-04 is "English-style" - let's call it a mongrel ;) )
I need it longer in primary, make sure I'm not under pitching, bump up final temp to 68. In other words, stick to the tried, tested and true basics. Derp.
 
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AndytheBeave

AndytheBeave

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Why did you rack to secondary after 6 days? Keep it on the yeast 2-3 weeks. Don't need to rack unless you are dry hopping. Give the yeast a chance to clean up after them selves then you won't have to worry about diacetyl. When you rack that early you get rid of the most active yeast. Be patient grasshopper!!!
Patience??? Ok we'll call this one a lesson learned.
 

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thanks for the advice everyone. there is some great stuff here.
As for the S-04, the cut sheet on it recommends 12-25°C (53.6-77°F) ideally 15-20°C (59-68°F) - which is wider temp range than say Nottingham or Windsor (which is what I usually use). But so far, the beer has been between 64-66 Deg F. I will try to keep it at just under 68 to see if it helps.
I figured that since the beer is sitting in an air conditioned room I have some control over the ambient temp but I figured a little wiggle room may be beneficial until I get real fermentation temp control.

So to summarize -
Regardless of whether it's an English pale ale or American pale ale (although Northern Brewer hops are English and S-04 is "English-style" - let's call it a mongrel ;) )
I need it longer in primary, make sure I'm not under pitching, bump up final temp to 68. In other words, stick to the tried, tested and true basics. Derp.
Not to nitpick- northern brewer hops are US hops from an original German cultivar. There is nothing English about them, except being originally bred there in the 30s. They don't have any English flavors, and are not grown in the UK at all, at least commercially.

Anyway, S04 is a great yeast strain in many cases, but I never use it if my fermentation temperature is possibly going to be over 66 degrees. It gets weirdly fruitly (not in a good English yeast character way), but I've never noticed it producing any diacetyl in a finished beer.

I'm not sure that S04 actually has a wider fermentation temperature range than nottingham, although it's been years since I've used nottingham or windsor. S04, while the manufacturer says is ok up to 77 degrees, really has a very narrow range where the beer tastes fairly clean, like 62-66 degrees, while nottingham has a range of like 55-68 degrees for the same results.
 

progmac

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personally, i've usually found some diacetyl in high flocculation yeasts when i taste anywhere before 10 days after fermentation. whether s-04, wlp007, nottingham, or even wyeast 1272. i think you said you tasted on day six. it rarely hangs around past the two week mark. i don't really mind a bit of diacetyl in some beer styles, but i do think it seriously clashes with american flavor hops. so if it is diacetyl, i'd imagine it was pretty unpleasant to drink.

you might need someone who is familiar with the taste to confirm. though by the time you find them, it will probably be cleaned up (if it was diacetyl).
 
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AndytheBeave

AndytheBeave

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Hey - nitpick away! I totally appreciate the advice. No worries there. I wouldn't be asking for advice if I didn't want some sort of a critique.
My main concern here was that I just wasn't sure if it was diacetyl or not and if it was what to do with it.
I based the decision to go with S-04 strictly off of the data from the PDF from the fermentis website and other people's reviews. Since this was the first time using this yeast, I wasn't sure if this was just a property of this yeast or if it was something dumb that I did.

Juding from the responses here, it doesn't look like my temperature is the issue - especially since I have kept it in the mid 60s. I think the whole issue is related to racking too early (or racking it at all) and taking it off of the yeast.
But hey, this is why I got into homebrewing. I wanted to learn how to brew. Can't learn without mistakes. At the end of the day, all I care about is have a great tasting beer on tap.
Once again these forums have come through. Cheers!
 

LLBrewer

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Why did you rack to secondary after 6 days? Keep it on the yeast 2-3 weeks. Don't need to rack unless you are dry hopping. Give the yeast a chance to clean up after them selves then you won't have to worry about diacetyl. When you rack that early you get rid of the most active yeast. Be patient grasshopper!!!
S04 is a very fast yeast. 6 days is plenty of time for primary fermentation to complete for a regular gravity beer. If I had brewed that beer I would leave it in the low/mid 60's for 5 or 6 days then cold crash it for 24-48 hours then transfer to keg, force carb and drink. If I was worried about diactyl, I would let it sit at room temp for a couple of days before crashing. I would not transfer to a secondary. Absolutely NO need to let the beer sit on the yeast for 2-3 weeks although it won't hurt if you do.
 

Poobah58

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S04 is a very fast yeast. 6 days is plenty of time for primary fermentation to complete for a regular gravity beer. If I had brewed that beer I would leave it in the low/mid 60's for 5 or 6 days then cold crash it for 24-48 hours then transfer to keg, force carb and drink. If I was worried about diactyl, I would let it sit at room temp for a couple of days before crashing. I would not transfer to a secondary. Absolutely NO need to let the beer sit on the yeast for 2-3 weeks although it won't hurt if you do.
I realize S-04 is a fast yeast. I've used it a few times. Just because a yeast has reached final gravity, doesn't necessarily mean it's done. Give them a few extra days to clean up is my motto. I'm one of those guys that think every beer is a 2 week minimum. Another week might do wonders. To each his own...
 

progmac

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I realize S-04 is a fast yeast. I've used it a few times. Just because a yeast has reached final gravity, doesn't necessarily mean it's done. Give them a few extra days to clean up is my motto. I'm one of those guys that think every beer is a 2 week minimum. Another week might do wonders. To each his own...
i haven't found that being on the original yeast cake makes much of a difference for diacetyl reduction. so long as you don't filter or keep it cold. the presence of even a small amount of yeast seems to clean it up.
 

progmac

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S04 is a very fast yeast. 6 days is plenty of time for primary fermentation to complete for a regular gravity beer. If I had brewed that beer I would leave it in the low/mid 60's for 5 or 6 days then cold crash it for 24-48 hours then transfer to keg, force carb and drink. If I was worried about diactyl, I would let it sit at room temp for a couple of days before crashing. I would not transfer to a secondary. Absolutely NO need to let the beer sit on the yeast for 2-3 weeks although it won't hurt if you do.
i agree, IME temperature is more important than whether or not the beer is still on the original cake.
 
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AndytheBeave

AndytheBeave

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ok, so it's already in the secondary, sitting at 66ish. I think I'll leave it there for another 12 days then cold crash it for 24 hours before force carbonating. Thanks again folks.
 

Pie_Man

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Just a thought, but many people mistakenly mix up caramel and sometimtes sweeter malt flavors, like biscuit, with diacetyl. This article may help clarify things: http://www.professorbeer.com/articles/diacetyl.html. You might be worrying about nothing. Also, have some people sample your beer if you have not already. I am often overly critical of my own beers when other people may enjoy it and the beer scores well at competitions.
 
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AndytheBeave

AndytheBeave

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Just a thought, but many people mistakenly mix up caramel and sometimtes sweeter malt flavors, like biscuit, with diacetyl. This article may help clarify things: http://www.professorbeer.com/articles/diacetyl.html. You might be worrying about nothing. Also, have some people sample your beer if you have not already. I am often overly critical of my own beers when other people may enjoy it and the beer scores well at competitions.
That is a great article. Thanks for posting the link. I am using biscuit malt in this beer (for the first time). So it may be that I was just over analyzing.....
 
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