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First 2 brews taste awful...

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luckylindy345

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I've brewed 3 batches now. The first was a True Brew IPA extract kit. It sat in primary for 2 weeks and has now been bottled for 4 weeks. Still tastes gross like cider, which I was somewhat expecting because of way too high fermentation temps (80s). Now, maybe I'm just getting discouraged because of my first batch, but my second batch (LHBS designed winter warmer to which I added a small amount of cinnamon and ginger, OG 1.060) tastes somewhat cidery, but more like bananas and strong alcohol. It also sat in primary for 2 weeks and has been bottled for almost 2 weeks. This one might still be green, but I'm getting worried that I suck at making beer! I haven't been able to finish a bottle from either of these batches (so far) :(. My sanitation is great, and my method is good...I have read How to Brew, Complete Joy of Homebrewing, Homebrewing for Dummies...

I don't want to stop brewing because I love beer and the process of brewing, but if some of this stuff doesn't start tasting good, I might have to throw in the towel. This week I will be brewing AHS Holiday Chocolate Stout with store bought water (any advice when buying bottled water to brew with?) and with liquid yeast for the first time. I'm pulling out all the stops this time and praying for a good batch!

Any suggestions as to how to make my beer better? Should I do more than a 3 gal boil? Use different water? Is it possible I'm just brewing low quality kits (with the exception of AHS of course)?
 

smizak

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It is your fermentation temps. One of the biggest n00b mistakes. Control your temps, and you'll be amazed at the difference in the beer.
 

grace1760

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I'm no expert, but I would suggest that you take measures to ensure that your fementation takes place under better temp conditions (i.e. 68-70 degrees Farenheit). My understanding is that beer fermented at higher temps tends to get a "banana-y" flavor to it.

It sounds like you've done your research and you are comfortable with your sanitation practices. Are the Final Gravities consistent with what you were expecting?
 

Revvy

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The four week ones sound like your recipe perhaps...Did they call for adding table sugar perhaps?

I can't recall what true brew kits are like....I'd try a different kit/


The ones at Two weeks is too soon in the bottle, they taste crappy because they are more than likely simply green...

Read this....https://www.homebrewtalk.com/558191-post101.html

Then read the story here, and see the benefit of patience and time on your bottled beer...

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/ne...virtue-time-heals-all-things-even-beer-73254/
 

lx302

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Definetely use spring water from a decent source. From the grocery store is fine. My water in my municipality has chlorine and chlorimines in it and boiling won't get rid of the chlorimines. These can produce a medicinal taste.

I agree with smizak, the temps are too high. Most ale yeast is best between 60-70 degrees. I can't brew in the summer due to the temps in my basement. Oct- April is brew time for me here in PA. So wait till it gets cooler to try again and or find a cooler room. Keep the temps consistant, within 2-3 degrees and you'll get a good beer.

Liquid yeast is all I use, but probably is not your main problem.
 

Revvy

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The trouble is that if you change too many variables @ once you won't be able to nail down what the problem is...

One thing to do is to brew one of the SAME true Brew kits over, but this time with spring water...if they taste the same then it's not your water...

Then brew another brand kit (which you are with the AHS kit anyway)

But if you want to get to the bottom of this, then you have to systematically change one variable at a time.

Another thing, is there an LHBS or a brew club, or even an experienced brewer or BJCP certified judge in your area? SOmeone who has more experience and can taste for off flavors and give you ideas? It's really hard to self diagnose our beers, especially if we haven't tasted "off flavors" before...for bjcp IIRC they actually taste doctored versions of beers so they can identify the cause of an off flavor...
 
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luckylindy345

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Yeah, the temperature is definitely the culprit for my first batch, but since then I've kept temps down between 60 and 64. Revvy, I swear I've read those two links you supplied at least twice before, but it seems there are so many people that say 2 weeks is enough before bottling. For my next batch (Irish Red already in primary for 3 weeks), I will transfer to secondary for a couple more weeks, then bottle to see if that helps.
 

Grinder12000

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One thing to do before you get discouraged is brew a non-extreme beer like an amber or brown or something normal.

Any high alcohol brew will be a little trickier. Also do a dark beer (AHS Holiday Chocolate Stout - good choice) they are more forgiving and love high PH water.

As the others said - I think it's the high fermentation tamps causing a problem on the first one.

lx302 - buy a filter - costs about $30 at a local drugstore - works great!
 

Revvy

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Revvy, I swear I've read those two links you supplied at least twice before, but it seems there are so many people that say 2 weeks is enough before bottling..
Really, I've only seen ONE person who thinks that and he swears his beers are ready in one week....

Are you sure those "People who swear this" aren't talking about kegging? You can have beer kegged and drinkable in a week, but that doesn't take into consideration greeness at all either.

Most other people say 3 weeks at 70 degrees minimum, and longer for certain styles.....Don't forget it's not JUST carbonation we're dealing with...there's Bottle COnditioning as Well and that takes time AFTER carbonation occurs.....THere seems to be a hellova lot of people on the don't dump thread who back that up...

But hey, you can believe what ever the heck you want.....I don't care...If you want your beer not to be green, and eliminate any possiblilty that the off flavors do not stem from being young, then go ahead and do what you want. If you wait 6 weeks and rule that out then you can have an easier time figuring out what the problem is...but you gotta take the green factor out of it...
 

Grinder12000

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I had a guy at a local place tell me 2 weeks also. It was at that point I stopped asking him questions.
 
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luckylindy345

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The trouble is that if you change too many variables @ once you won't be able to nail down what the problem is...

One thing to do is to brew one of the SAME true Brew kits over, but this time with spring water...if they taste the same then it's not your water...

Then brew another brand kit (which you are with the AHS kit anyway)

But if you want to get to the bottom of this, then you have to systematically change one variable at a time.

Another thing, is there an LHBS or a brew club, or even an experienced brewer or BJCP certified judge in your area? SOmeone who has more experience and can taste for off flavors and give you ideas? It's really hard to self diagnose our beers, especially if we haven't tasted "off flavors" before...for bjcp IIRC they actually taste doctored versions of beers so they can identify the cause of an off flavor...
Okay, I'll definitely be going back and changing one variable at a time on the True Brew kit after I brew the AHS kit. Now that I think of it, I think my LHBS had me add a rather large amount of dextrose to the winter warmer which is probably adding off-flavor. Next time I'm there I'll see if someone at the LHBS is willing to taste my beer and diagnose it.
Thanks all!
 

climateboy

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I'll throw in with everyone else here and say your temperatures are the main cause, and if you wait for them to condition longer in the fermenter--Revvy likes it up to a month--and in the bottle, some of those problems can clear up.

I don't have access to great temperature control either, so I pick recipes and yeasts than can tolerate higher temperatures. Saisons are great, great high temperature beers, as are some Trappist beers (like Tripels). The yeast manufacturers have temperature guidelines for their individual strains...stay within those ranges and you'll be fine.

In general, I've found more time in the bottle can clear up a lot. And I've had success keeping temperatures down by putting the fermenter in a cooler filled with ice water. This is what I'm doing now for a Redhook ESB clone and a Bell's Two-Hearted Ale clone--I keep a couple of freezer packs rotating between the water and my freezer.

I've never considered bottling within two weeks. It just doesn't sound appetizing to me, there's usually enough observable activity to warn against it, and the science argues against it as well...the yeast want a little more time to work.
 

Jester369

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it seems there are so many people that say 2 weeks is enough before bottling.
Were they saying it was enough to be good or that it was enough to be safe? The only times I have seen discussions of such short bottling times seem to be in 'bottle-bomb' threads. Sure, it could be safe at two weeks, but that beer is still going to need conditioning time, be it in the bottle or in the fermenter.

Hope you pin down the problem :mug:
 
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luckylindy345

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Really, I've only seen ONE person who thinks that and he swears his beers are ready in one week....

Are you sure those "People who swear this" aren't talking about kegging? You can have beer kegged and drinkable in a week, but that doesn't take into consideration greeness at all either.

Most other people say 3 weeks at 70 degrees minimum, and longer for certain styles.....Don't forget it's not JUST carbonation we're dealing with...there's Bottle COnditioning as Well and that takes time AFTER carbonation occurs.....THere seems to be a hellova lot of people on the don't dump thread who back that up...

But hey, you can believe what ever the heck you want.....I don't care...If you want your beer not to be green, and eliminate any possiblilty that the off flavors do not stem from being young, then go ahead and do what you want. If you wait 6 weeks and rule that out then you can have an easier time figuring out what the problem is...but you gotta take the green factor out of it...
Right, I understand that bottle conditioning must take place. However, I know that plenty of people go by the 1-2-3 rule, which would suggest to me that 2 weeks in primary is fine, as long as the beer is spending ample time in bottles (as in, 2 weeks more than you would usually let them bottle condition). Am I wrong in thinking that it doesn't matter that much where the beer conditions (secondary or bottles) as long as it is conditioning and fermentation is already complete? I'm not saying that 2 weeks is long enough in the bottles, I said "two weeks BEFORE bottling".
 
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luckylindy345

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Of course, I'm not rejecting what you say. I'll definitely be leaving it in the fermenter longer from now on. Just wanted some clarification.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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2 weeks in primary is just fine. but makes no sense to me. Here is why....

Most people wildly misunderstand the whole secondary fermentation thing. They think, OK I fermented in my primary for two weeks then transferred for a secondary fermentation for a month. WRONG. If you actually want to use a secondary you need to transfer BEFORE primary fermentation has ceased in order to gain any benefit. Palmer suggests transferring when the krausen begins to fall. I have used this technique with great success.

Your second option is to ferment fully in your primary. Let it sit for up to 4+ weeks in there and allow it to under go its full ferment in one vessel. Then rack to a secondary fermenter that isn't really for fermentation but rather for clearing and bulk aging. Bulk aging has many benefits that I will not go through here, but they are well known. This is the technique I use now.

Your third option is what you have been describing. Two weeks in a bucket, then bottle and let the bottles figure themselves out. This seems to be the worst option IMHO. You are not allowing the large cake of yeast to clean up after itself, nor are you allowing any bulk aging to occur. I like the first option with a true secondary for lighter beers and the second for bigger ales.

To the OP's original question, I think allowing more time everywhere will help significantly. Also, you choose some tough ones for your first brews. IPAs and Winter warmers are both big beers that need considerably more yeast contact, should have higher pitching rates, and need a lot of conditioning time. However, you cannot go back in time so you will have to wait for the bottles to finish themselves. I would say both of these will take at least a month more before getting close to what they will be.

I think the chocolate stout will be the easiest not to screw up of the kits you have chosen thus far. It will still need more aging than you have given the first two. Beer needs time.
 

flyangler18

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As usual, I'm a little late to offer up my proverbial tuppence so bear with me as I type:

The 1-2-3 guideline can produce very quaffable beers that are brewed with attention to temperature, aeration rates, yeast cell counts, etc. In other words, success according to this proposed schedule is theoretical and contingent on brewing process and control of variables. Temperature control seems to be your biggest issue, hence the fruit notes and solventy aromas that you are detecting in your last two batches. If things go awry or slightly off course during the most active part of fermentation, then additional time must be spent in yeast contact to smooth out the rough edges and let the beer age properly.

3 weeks @ 70 is about as close to a rule as you can get when dealing with the unpredictabilities of living organisms (but again, assumes some what ideal conditions). Temperature will affect the rate of carbonation, but so will the health of yeast in the bottled beer. If the yeast are stressed from less than ideal working conditions during active fermentation, there will be, by extension, less viable cells to do the work of carbonation in the package. This can lead to sluggish carbonation.
 

Revvy

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Of course, I'm not rejecting what you say. I'll definitely be leaving it in the fermenter longer from now on. Just wanted some clarification.

Ah...I think we misread each other....I was saying 2 weeks in the bottle is not long enough to do the work of eliminating greenness.....:D

1-2-3 is a fine rule of thumb....When I secondaried that's what I went by...(well actually 10 days, 2 weeks, 3 weeks) checking the grav on the 7th and 10th day and racking if they haven't changed....

But the off taste issues wouldn't dissipate until they were in the bottle for a period of time...that's when the post fermentation bottle conditioning would happen, when the co2 would do it's share of scrubbing the beer of those esters that contribute to SOME of the off flavors....Not all of them will, like you can't fix oxydation if the bottle, for instance.....but in many issues there's a fine line between a true off flavor and green beer....
 

mjn12

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I have a true brew IPA kit in my fermenter, I'll let you know if I experience some of the same issues.

Revvy - true brew kit is all LME - the only sugar in the kit is priming sugar. Ingredients are 2x3.3 pounds of LME, dry packaged ale yeast, UK Pilgrim and UK Gold hops stored in nitrogen flushed foil packets and pre-milled crystal malt grains.

One of the True Brew IPA reviews I've read said that the beer needed 3-4 weeks in the bottle before it really tasted great.
 

Jokerbomb

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The four week ones sound like your recipe perhaps...Did they call for adding table sugar perhaps?

I can't recall what true brew kits are like....I'd try a different kit/


The ones at Two weeks is too soon in the bottle, they taste crappy because they are more than likely simply green...

Read this....https://www.homebrewtalk.com/558191-post101.html

Then read the story here, and see the benefit of patience and time on your bottled beer...

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/ne...virtue-time-heals-all-things-even-beer-73254/
This may be a little moot at this point, but I've finished the nut brown ale true brew kit and it tasted great, and I have 2 brewing now. So I don't think its the kit.
 
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luckylindy345

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Thanks for all the info guys! Looks like I'll be focusing on ferm temps and just waiting longer before I bottle. :)
 

Revvy

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Revvy - true brew kit is all LME - the only sugar in the kit is priming sugar. Ingredients are 2x3.3 pounds of LME, dry packaged ale yeast, UK Pilgrim and UK Gold hops stored in nitrogen flushed foil packets and pre-milled crystal malt grains.
Another variable...and you'll end up making a list of them. and trying to knock them off one at a time is the age of the ingredients...

If the trubrew kits have sat on the shelf for awhile, the canned lme is going to age and take on the taste of the can, plus it's just not going to be as fresh as the LME from a high turnover place like AHS....so that's another thing to add to the variable list...

Others include...

What's your sanitzier of choice? What dillution ratio are you using
What water do you use?
Are you using the late extract method?

There's a bunch more....I'm sure the others on here will add to the list...
 

BrewDey

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I'd agree with most of what's been said and will add that my beers that have been brewed in the winter have been my better ones-that is when the basement is 60-70. If you have a basement, and can identify the corner that's foundation gets the least sunlight-that will be your best bet for the warm months.

It's also tough starting out with such big, complex beers. Not only do these take a lot longer to mature, but it makes it hard to identify if you're tasting: greeness, legit off-flavors, hop bitterness, spices, residual sugars, etc. A three-piece power trio might not have as much variety as a full brass band-but they tend to be tighter, and you can appreciate each instrument more fully. Likewise, some of the best beers are the simple low-gravity ones-not as many flavors competing allows you to REALLY taste the ingredients.
 

monty3777

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FWIW, my I was at my LHBS yesterday and I brought a friend who bought all the stuff for his first beer. Since I'm a beginner (on my 5th partial mash) it would have been stupid for me to interject my opinion - but my friend was told the beer would be ready in less than a month - from start to finish. 1 week in primary 2 weeks in bottles. I'm not sure why this advice (as others have indicated) is given but is sounds like it is pretty common. I leave my beers for 3-4 weeks in fermenter then 3 weeks+ in bottles. Certainly I brew some smaller bottles in order to try the beer as it conditions.
 

dontman

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I started a thread a couple weeks back about the fact of Big or Complex Brew + Noobitus (impatience) = terrible combination. It seems that everyone who comes onto this site saying "I bought my first kit, it is a chocolate cherry covered oatmeal rye tripel dubbel iipa." also comes back saying "what is wrong with my beer, it has been in the bottle two weeks . . ."

I just wish more LHBS's would advise doing smaller simpler beers to start. I wish they would've with me anyway. It took me 7 weeks in bottle before my first stout was drinkable. It was my second batch and it was torture to wait for it to get drinkable. I got discouraged for the beer and the process.

Meanwhile the third and fourth beers I did were a simple 4% ABV Cream and Pale ale. Both were ready to drink in 5 weeks. 2 in primary, 3 in bottle. They weren't just ready. They were the best beers I had ever had in my life. Meanwhile that stout still sucked.

And my additional $.02. In my experience my beer is ALWAYS at its worst at 2 weeks in the bottle. So much so that I will never drink one that early again. At one week it is ok, green, falsely carbonated, but with potential. Three weeks, wow!, perfection on light grain bill up to medium hopped beers. But at 2 weeks, all of the off-flavors just seem to be there.
 

Revvy

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FWIW, my I was at my LHBS yesterday and I brought a friend who bought all the stuff for his first beer. Since I'm a beginner (on my 5th partial mash) it would have been stupid for me to interject my opinion - but my friend was told the beer would be ready in less than a month - from start to finish. 1 week in primary 2 weeks in bottles. I'm not sure why this advice (as others have indicated) is given but is sounds like it is pretty common. I leave my beers for 3-4 weeks in fermenter then 3 weeks+ in bottles. Certainly I brew some smaller bottles in order to try the beer as it conditions.
It's given with the idea of quantity over quality...and with the idea to sell as many kits as possible before the hobbyist discovers a book or a place like this, and gets better information and maybe even starts buying alacart ingredients, maybe even online....

Also, who wants to be told when you start a hobby, in this era of instant gratification, that it takes a whole month or more before you taste the fruits of your labor...

Thirdly, like Grinder pointed out, not every person working in a LHBS knows what they are doing...and just like any industry, or hobby, or anything, you get people who are stuck in old ways, in old mentalities...Maybe the old Blue ribbon malt extract pre-prohibition kits he started with were done that way...and whether or not they tasted good, that's how they were done, therefore ALL kits can be done that way...SOme people still believe you shouldn't use aluminum, or in HSA, or haven't read the latest info on the now MYTH of autolysis...

We here online have a large amount of active brewers who contribute through their experiences, and their experimentation to the body of knowledge of brewing....

AND because of things like podcasts, just even the internet itself, we get to access the most state of the art information around...hell, we get to know before it shows up in his latest book, when John Palmer, for instance changes his mind on what an IBU really is, because he attended a conference....He get's interviewed for a podcast, and an hour later one of us is posting the info and a link.

Also we're influencing the brewing community as well, regardless of whether or not a brewer is on this site, look at Biermuncher's rolling kegorator from a garbage can...they were talking about it on basic brewing last week because it appeared in BYO...

Some of us have been mentioned on Basic Brewing for other things as well. Not to mention how many of our members, like Bobby M, have fantastic how to videos on youtube...

So in a lot of ways, we're at least 6 months or more ahead of the typical brick and mortar brewshop in terms of info, unless of course the owner or employees are active in an online forum like this..and honestly some LHBS owners have been around since 78 and probably are stuck in their own ways.

Heck I know for a fact that we're ahead of the curve even of some brew clubs, who themselves are pretty insular, and don't necessarily participate online...I've had interactions with one Michigan Club, that in a lot of ways is still stuck in the 90's in terms of beliefs and such...

So me personally, I would much rather trust the info of Biermuncher or Yooper, or OllllO, or Orfy, or the rest of them, when I have a question than the guy at the shop, who maybe as much as he loves beer and brewing, ONLY brews kits, even if he sells AG stuff....

 

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