Help! My Red Ale is Giving Everyone a Bad Headache

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JoefromPhilly

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Not sure what happened here. I brewed an Irish Red Ale extract/grain kit from NB, using the Wyeast smack pack. Pitching temp was around 72, fermentation temp was controlled in the mid to upper 60's. OG was 1.045. FG was 1.015. Beer has no off flavors and has a very nice taste to it. However, you don't get a buzz, even after three pints, but in the morning, you do have one hell of a headache!

This has happened to me and two others who have had this batch. I first thout "fusel" alcohol issues, but after doing a lot of reading, there is nothing that points to this as being the cause.

Any advice?

Thanks,
 

BeerLoverHere

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Being your OG was 1.045 and FG was 1.015, there is not much alcohol in there to get a buzz off 3 each. I probably wouldn't especially if I were eating/had other stuff for calories that day. Coincidental headache perhaps? Is this your first batch?
 

unionrdr

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I'd get the pitch temp lower. I chill in an ice bath down to 75F or so,then strain into fermenter. I top off with local spring water that's chilled in the fridge a day or two before brew day. This gets the wort temp down to 64-65F or so,which is better for the average ale yeast to start out. With an OG of 1.045,the FG should've been more like 1.010-1.012. Sounds like it might not've been at a stable FG yet? Fusel alcohols can cause headaches. But too many adjuncts used to cause me headaches in commercial beers that used too much corn &/or rice. Did you use any adjuncts?
 

MarcusKillion

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perhaps you left some cleaners in your equipment ? A small amount of detergent of some kind maybe would not leave a taste but still give a headache .
A local quicky mart used to leave cleaner in their equipment . It did not make the ice tea taste bad but Only a couple swallows while I was walking across the street made me quite sick.
 
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JoefromPhilly

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No adjuncts. 5th overall batch. First one kegged. Sat in the primary for close to 2 weeks. Moved to a secondary for a week, then cold crashed for 2 days, then force carbbed in the keg.

Mu understanding of fusel's is that it is from high fermenting temps, which was not the case here.

Should I go lower in pitching temp, and leave in the primary longer? Any hope for this batch? And yes, it happened to three people, including me. My drinking pattern was no different than on a normal night :)

Thanks again.
 

MotorcycleMatt

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Lower your pitching temp a bit. Also try fermenting in the lower 60's as fermentation temps can rise by 5-10 degrees than ambient

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unionrdr

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In view of current facts,maybe you had some temp spikes during initial fermentation? And racking at less than 2 weeks could cause them,since getting to a stable FG can take that long,maybe a nother few days. not giving it time in primary to clean up any by products of fermentation can cause it as well. It cleans up after FG is reached,& the yeasties are still hungry. So they eat up normal by products of fermentation that,in higher PPM's,cause the usual off flavors. At least giving the beer time to clean up & settle out clear or slightly misty may help.
 

BeerLoverHere

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Always at least 2 weeks in primary. Always. Ferment in low 60s for any style of ale yeast for "cleaner" beers. Earliest to drink any beer I make: at least one month.
 
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JoefromPhilly

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For controlling temps, I have an Auber Instruments dual stage controller, with the probe in a thermowell that is about an inch and a half from the side of the lid. I have a space heater inside a fridge, with the heater being on the top shelf, to make for a more even distribution of heat around the bucket.
 
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JoefromPhilly

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Regarding cleaners, I only used some oxywash and StarSan. Although, come to think of it, I did an initial cleaning of the keg with regular detergent. But, before kegging, I did a test where I filled it with 5 gallons of water, and force carbed it, to check out the process and make sure I had no issues with leaks or such. After draining it, I added some Star San water back in and pumped some of it through the liquid tube to sanitize. Since the secondary carboy was new, I only did an Oxy clean and then sanitized.

On my current batch, I will leave it in the primary for more than two weeks, and then dry hop in the secondary. It is an Alaskan Amber. The current fermentation temp is around 66 degrees. It has been in the primary for about 5 days now.

Thanks for the input.
 

MarcusKillion

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I do not know much about using starsan as I only used it once yesterday on some bottles but I did notice that it said to make sure you flushed away any other detergents or sanatizers first . I do not know why . maybe they might just hinder the starsan from doing it's job or maybe they make too much of it stick to the equipment .
 

unionrdr

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Cleaners need to be rinsed or they leave a residue. Said residue could mix with the Starsan that coats whatever you put in it as a wet-contact sanitizer.
 

Disintegr8or

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No adjuncts. 5th overall batch. First one kegged. Sat in the primary for close to 2 weeks. Moved to a secondary for a week, then cold crashed for 2 days, then force carbbed in the keg.

Mu understanding of fusel's is that it is from high fermenting temps, which was not the case here.

Should I go lower in pitching temp, and leave in the primary longer? Any hope for this batch? And yes, it happened to three people, including me. My drinking pattern was no different than on a normal night :)

Thanks again.
Where did you get your gas? The last bottle of CO2 I got from my welding supplier was contaminated.

Can you carb some water to see if you get a weird taste/smell?
 

flugelizor

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All this talk of high temps?
I have been brewing my Belgian ales at or about 80 F with no problems.
And I think most Belgian abbeys do the same.
Maybe it's dependent on the yeast strain?
 

unionrdr

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Yes it is. Not many yeasts like high initial ferment temps. always read the PDF on the yeast to learn it's sweet spot,among other useful tips from the manufacturer.
 

D-MOTITAN

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Where did you get your gas? The last bottle of CO2 I got from my welding supplier was contaminated.

Can you carb some water to see if you get a weird taste/smell?
I also have had a bad refill at a shop. I dont know if it will be responsible for headaches , but it did cause off flavors in my brew.
 

jangelj

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dump the keg in a pot and put in the oven at 170F to boil off fusels (if present). I have no idea how long it takes. When I did it, I left if for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Then rekeg/recarb/recool and try it again.
Obviously the flavor of your beer will be changed (a lot), but if you don't get a headache that would point to fusels.

Of course, you could just try it with part of the batch first.
this happened to me and the "boil" fixed it. I, also, didn't know why that batch had fusels. I fermented it the same way as I had every other batch. Now I have a fermentation chamber and have not had the issue since.
 

Disintegr8or

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MarcusKillion

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Doesn't boiling beer boil off most of the alcohol?
getting it to the boiling point of ethanol 173.1 F would indeed do that . Now to your problem . fusel alcohols will give you a head ache for sure . Most of these alcohols have lower boiling points than ethanol . If you raise the temp of your beer up slowly to just under 173 degrees , maybe 165 or so since the thermometer is going to have an error rate of a degree or two you should be able to boil off most any bad alcohol . the ones that boil off at higher temps than ethanol are not so bad as the others and should not cause a headache .
Perhaps put back on boil pot and heat very slowly with a good thermometer in it and keep stirring so it heats evenly .
I did not come up with this off the top of my head . These are distillation facts from places I can not name on this forum.
 

BeerLoverHere

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As far as controlling fermentation temps: I put fermenter in bath tub with or without water; sometimes I can up/lower temps with vent open/closed to help a few degrees; in summer I add ice blocks or keep in basement in a tub with or without ice; I can pretty much get any temps I want with ales in the 60-70degree rage. I don't make many lagers but have a fridge when I do and don't make saisons. After awhile of doing this, it's pretty easy to get the temps I need regardless of season.
 

ubnserved

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I noticed that you made a partial grain.... How well did you control your temp during mash? If you got too hot your beer will contain a lot of tannins in it. Some people are sensitive to tannins and will give them headaches. Some people are so sensitive to tannins that it will cause migraines. You can add 2 tsp of PVP to 5 gallons of beer to remove the tannins. Should take a couple of hours to settle out. PVP is available at most home brew stores.
 

chuckp

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What yeast strain did you use? Different yeast strains like different temps and if out of their comfort zone they might produce things you head does not like.

Chuck
 
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