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Extract brew off flavors

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EZFrag

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I have been brewing for a couple of years now, but still consider myself a noob. I have not found anyone in my area to talk to about brewing and ask questions. I usually buy my kits from Austin Homebrew. I like using them because I can call and ask them questions. They have always been nice and treated as a good customer. They have never been short or rude. With each kit, i have found that my kits turn out on a 50/50 ratio. Half the time, they turn out good. The other half, i have off flavors. All of my brews, the numbers turn out. I have good gravities. As I talked with Austin Homebrew, they said the off flavors may be more driven by the yeast that is used. I have been following the directions to the letter that they send with the kits. As I talked with them on my latest brew, Flat Tire Amber Ale clone, I am using a Nottingham dry yeast. The instructions have fermentation at 72-75. I have been fermenting between 65-68. Also, being the noob that I am, i thought maybe the off flavors come from the time the beer stay on the yeast cake. They say you can move the beer to secondary between 5 to 7 days. I have to move it while it's still fermenting. Today is the 6th day. I still have activity in my air lock. Still think I'm fermenting. But I'm going to move to secondary to get the beer off the yeast cake. Anyway, i look forward to some of you sages and what you guys think about preventing off flavors.

thanks for your advice.
 

el_horno

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As I have learned from reading this site and the posts, air lock activity is not a sign of fermentation, there will always be airlock activity, at least in my experience, it just slows down significantly. The only way to tell that fermentation has completed is by a leveled FG. As far as your off flavors, can you describe them more? Walk me through your sanitation process. I do think the lower temperature in fermentation could be a possible factor, but I am no where near an expert, but again from my reading, yeast can be finicky and may very well be suspect.

My two bits for what its worth!
 

KISS Brew

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Also, being the noob that I am, i thought maybe the off flavors come from the time the beer stay on the yeast cake. They say you can move the beer to secondary between 5 to 7 days. I have to move it while it's still fermenting. Today is the 6th day. I still have activity in my air lock. Still think I'm fermenting. But I'm going to move to secondary to get the beer off the yeast cake.
I don't use a secondary. I have often left beer on the yeast cake for over a month with no ill effects. I'm not unique in this regard.

If I did use a secondary, I would wait for fermentation to finish before racking. I would not pick an arbitrary number of days (5-7), but instead make sure the gravity has stabilized.

Regarding your off flavors, can you use this guide to try to identify them more specifically? We might have better advice if we knew what kind of off flavors you are experiencing.
 
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EZFrag

EZFrag

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I have a 10 gallon tub that I clean and put in star san. I use a homemade carboy cleaner with a sump pump and pvc to clean the carboys. I really don't think it's an infection. I believe that it is either a temperature problem or time on the yeast cake. That's what I hope anyway. I'm moving my brew to secondary today after 6 days. My original gravity was 1000th of a point off what target was.
 

DocScott

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This probably isn't the time spent on the cake. As has been thoroughly explored in the multiple secondary vs no threads, yeast auto lysis really isn't a factor in our small home brew setups. Some more description of your off flavors may help discern the cause and then, the solution.
 
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EZFrag

EZFrag

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Well, they have varied from batch to batch. That was why i was wondering if it was something wrong that I was doing. When talking with the Austin Homebrew guy, he was telling me to research the yeast used each kit I buy. Go by their brewing recommendation. Then I was wondering why they bothered putting in instructions if I wasn't going to follow them. I do know that the 1 lager I attempted, I had a sulfur taste. I also know that I fermented at too high a temperature. Although I followed Austin's directions to the letter.
 

tjwor

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Rather new here myself as well. From what I have gathered I would be concerned about moving to a secondary that soon, especially if you are planing to bottle your beer. If fermentation is not complete when moving to the secondary, you have a potential for bottle bombs. When you add your priming sugar you will have too much good yeast and it can create over pressurized bottles.

The yeast cake is likely not the cause of your off flavors, and while there are benefits to a secondary, the benefits are not as much about getting it off the yeast cake for flavors as it is for quicker clearing of the beer. Days are not a good measure when it comes to beer, so many different factors are involved that can change the number of days things take. Use a hydrometer to base your decisions, not an airlock or a timeframe when it comes to your primary.
 

unionrdr

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65-68F are good ale yeast ferment temps. If you're brewing with extracts,boiling LME can cause that extraxct twang. I use plain DME in the boil,adding remaining DME & all LME at flame out. This gets rid of tha twang off flavors.
 

beergolf

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Extract gets a lot a bad raps. Sure improperly stored or old extract may cause some off flavors, but the OP mentioned getting his kits from. Austin Homebrew, so I doubt it is old or improperly stored extract. I brewed a lot of extract beers when I started and still do some partial mash brews and have no problem making brews that taste great.

I would look at technique. Sanitize like crazy, pitch the proper amount of healty yeast, and watch fermentation temps and the brews most likely will improve. Give the brews time to ferment out fully and clean up and that will help too. The instructions on a lot of kits have you move to brew too soon. For most brews there really is no reason to transfer to a secondary. 2-4 weeks in the primary works just fine. I even leave big beers much longer.

The OP is in Louisana so the first thing I would look at is fermentation temps. If you can keep them in the low end of the recommended temp range the brews will be better. Of course there are certain Belgian and Sasion yeast that go against this, but for most brews it works well.

Uniondr had a good suggestion. Use DME instead of LME, add part at the beginning of the boil and then add the rest near the end.
 

unionrdr

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Yup! DMEis way better to use in the boil than LME,which I add at flame out. Def makes for cleaner,lighter colored beer.
 

Biere_Titan

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This probably isn't the problem since half your brews turn out okay, but what about your water? Are you using city tap water, softened well water or bottled spring water? If you're using tap water or well water you might want to have it analyzed by Ward Labs.
 
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EZFrag

EZFrag

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This probably isn't the problem since half your brews turn out okay, but what about your water? Are you using city tap water, softened well water or bottled spring water? If you're using tap water or well water you might want to have it analyzed by Ward Labs.
I do use my tap water. I had read that the bottled spring water, depending on the brands, are filtered where so much of the minerals have been taken out. So, I decided to go with the tap.
 

TheMerkle

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Water is definitely not the problem if the problem is intermittent, and your water source is not.
 

ectoplasmicfunk

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I've learned that fermentation temperature can play a huge role in off flavors even though you already mentioned that. Definitely try and get it to the recommended levels.
 
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I've learned that fermentation temperature can play a huge role in off flavors even though you already mentioned that. Definitely try and get it to the recommended levels.
I have to second this. I didn't see the OP mentioning temps and temp control other than to say they had fermented too warm.
The two most important things for a flaw free beer are to pitch enough healthy yeast and to control temperature during fermentation. OP, are you making starters or pitching enough yeast? Are you (or how are you) controlling temps and keeping them in the desired range for the yeast you're using? Doing those two things alone will make a big improvement in your homebrew.
 

ludomonster

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I have to second this. I didn't see the OP mentioning temps and temp control other than to say they had fermented too warm.
The two most important things for a flaw free beer are to pitch enough healthy yeast and to control temperature during fermentation. OP, are you making starters or pitching enough yeast? Are you (or how are you) controlling temps and keeping them in the desired range for the yeast you're using? Doing those two things alone will make a big improvement in your homebrew.
The OP fermented at 65-68. The 11g sachets should provide enough yeast for a 5 gallon ~1.050 OG Ale. Nottingham's fact sheet indicates that the wort does not need aeration and that it produces low esters and is mostly neutral.

However, a cusory search of the interwebs suggests rumors that Notty could be more sulphury than other ale yeasts. I couldn't find a definitive source to settle it.

This link discusses off flavors. It suggests lagering or conditioning beers to take care of the off-flavor.

You could also try brewing with other strains. US-05 is my go-to dry yeast.
 
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However, a cusory search of the interwebs suggests rumors that Notty could be more sulphury than other ale yeasts. I couldn't find a definitive source to settle it.

This link discusses off flavors. It suggests lagering or conditioning beers to take care of the off-flavor.

You could also try brewing with other strains. US-05 is my go-to dry yeast.
Yeah, Notty can get funky when fermented warm. Assuming the 65-68 F is ambient, that's probably a bit warm for that yeast. IME, at 68 F ambient (water in swamp cooler's temp), the fermenting wort could be as warm as ~73 F in the middle, which is way to warm for Notty. IME, that yeast is best below ~64 in the wort. I wouldn't want ambient temps over ~60 F during active fermentation if I were using that yeast.
I agree that us-05 is a much better choice for dry yeast, I use it a lot. Of the several times I've used Notty, I've only really been happy with it once, and that was a very hoppy IPA.
 
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