Help! Repeated failed brews

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beerkench

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Here are some of my things learned that could be of help:
Bad cleaning practices turned some of my IPA's into thin bitter tonic, wine like beers. I've learned now that it's important to CLEAN as well as sanitize.
Oxidation is also an IPA killer. Even the headspace left in a bottle is enough to make the hops fade after a week or so. Purge everything.
60f is very low for ale yeasts. Are you letting the temps rise? At this temp you would likely need a bigger pitch.
If you are pitching at 60 it's best to let the yeast take itself up to 68-70 to ensure a good diacyetyl rest.
 

obtuce

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I read all the posts and nobody mentionned fermentation temperature or sunlight. are your bottles exposed to sun when carbing up ? was your primary in an overly-hot location ?
 

beerkench

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I read all the posts and nobody mentionned fermentation temperature or sunlight. are your bottles exposed to sun when carbing up ? was your primary in an overly-hot location ?
How did you read all the posts? The OP states that he has temp control.
 

Smellyglove

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OP said that he doesnt weigh down the dryhops. I've had hops sitting around in ambient temp (forgot to seal and toss the bag back into the freezer), some stray pellets here and there, and I'd definitely say that it can smell kind of buttery.

So if OP opens the fermentor, introduces oxygen into it, and an unknown amount of hops is just floating about in the muslin bag the entire time at fermentation temps.. maybe this can have something to do with it too?
 

beskone

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Are you boiling or bringing the kettle to a boil with the lid on your kettle?

I did an IPA brew day where I had like 10 friends over for beers and brewing and as such was totally distracted and left the lid on my kettle, up to the boil and into a boil over.

The finished bottled beer smelled and tasted oh so much of creamed corn, the entire batch was a dumper.

DMS evaporates out during the boil, so having left the lid on it concentrated then it fell back into the kettle and into solution...oops!
 

Hillsbrew79

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Sanitation is absolutely key in producing a good quality beer. I've tried bleach, star-san, and idophor, and idophor works the best. As an added bonus, you don't even need to rinse it. I just use an once per 5 gallons of tap water and let all equipment marinate in the solution for about 20-30 min, drain it and go to work. Even in light beers with little hop bitterness, I can't detect idophor at all.

Healthy yeast is another must. I've had the best results with dry yeast, and I always hydrate it prior to pitching (use boiled distilled or dechlorinated tap water cooled to about 95-100F, add yeast and stir for a few minutes before pitching). I find that hydrating starts things up quicker and tends to attenuate a little better as well.

I typically don't use muslin or anything for hops - I just toss them in to my secondary vessel and rack the beer on top (pellets work best). Gently roll the fermenter around to get the pellets into suspension every other day and they should sink to the bottom by bottling time. I've never had an issue with off-flavors, or any hop sediment getting into the bottle, and always get nice assertive hop flavor and aroma that way.

Give these things a try, and I'm sure your next batch will be way better.

- David
 

TheMadKing

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OP said that he doesnt weigh down the dryhops. I've had hops sitting around in ambient temp (forgot to seal and toss the bag back into the freezer), some stray pellets here and there, and I'd definitely say that it can smell kind of buttery.

So if OP opens the fermentor, introduces oxygen into it, and an unknown amount of hops is just floating about in the muslin bag the entire time at fermentation temps.. maybe this can have something to do with it too?
I don't think that would cause any issues.

@Yooper didn't you say you never weigh down hops in another thread recently?
 
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I don't think that would cause any issues.

@Yooper didn't you say you never weigh down hops in another thread recently?
I doubt many experienced homebrewers do anything other than toss pellet hops into the fermentor when dryhopping. What you DONT want is anything in your wort floating. I've seen many infections from floating hop bags.

Also, old hops tend to smell cheesy, like blue cheese, not buttery. At least that's my experience. I've used them anyway, but I can't recall if it had an effect on the beer. I doubt it.
 

Smellyglove

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I doubt many experienced homebrewers do anything other than toss pellet hops into the fermentor when dryhopping. What you DONT want is anything in your wort floating. I've seen many infections from floating hop bags.

Also, old hops tend to smell cheesy, like blue cheese, not buttery. At least that's my experience. I've used them anyway, but I can't recall if it had an effect on the beer. I doubt it.
My thought was the muslin bag trapping air so it stayed afloat
 
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derek8307

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Ok guys, wow, you all really are out to help people, it;s good having such support to help resolve my issue.

I'll try to address as much as I can:

This taste and smell has been pretty common in all of my brews to date. Some not as bad as others, and mostly in any hoppy beers I have made.

The last couple of brews were single hop extract brews. Trying to test hops for flavor and aroma to find what I really like. Using a dark malt extract to make my version of a DIPA on both. Using US 05, but have used others as well with similar taste, like I said this flavor and aroma has become FAMILIAR since I started brewing a year ago.

Sanitation I have only used a cleanser, and with your help I have opted to get some Star san today to correct that problem. Bottling procedure I believe I explained in earlier post. Rack to bottling bucket, bottle as gently as possible, after mixing in my priming sugar solution. Some batches I know I aerated too much as this point, but some hardly any, but taste has always been common after few days in bottle.

Water, I use tap water. I live in Florida. This is something I am eliminating going forward, only distilled from here forward.

I also stopped at my LHBS and discussed the issue with a brewmaster there, he also let me sample a recent infected batch a customer of his brought in, Lactobacillus is NOT my issue lol, that crap was like cat piss!

So I am left with 3 possible issues causing it I believe: Sanitation, which I bought star san and PBW today so going forward should be eliminated, Oxidation, I have some better tools to avoid this going forward, and my tap water, which I wont be using any longer.

Anything else I could be missing or overlooking?

SORRY about the merge threads, I thought the first had not posted, so I posted another. Just realized that.
 
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derek8307

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Not yet but I am tomorrow :)

I was a little embarassed to suggest it, let alone let them try it, but after tasting that lacto, I feel like my beers are "pleasant" lol
 
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derek8307

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Funny thing is that there was a guy in there from another brewery that tried that lacto batch with me and he actually liked that cat piss, man that's gotta be some acquired taste.....
 

beskone

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One more question, how are you conditioning your bottles?

I have another questionable batch that's 3 weeks in.

Almost no carbonation and a caramel taste and smell, I'm attributing it to the priming sugar still being in the bottles as the yeast hasn't done it's thing yet.

I was conditioning in my garage and I think the temperature is swinging too hot in the daytime and too low at night.

This batch is also getting darker in the bottles.

I've moved them inside and have made room in a closet to condition my next IPA I'm bottling on Thursday, and a blonde ale I'm bottling on Friday.

I'm hoping this helps. Before moving (was in an apartment and conditioning in my closet) and starting to condition in my garage I'd never had a brew not mostly carbonated by week 2. This is the second batch in a row that's not carbed one bit at week 3 and I think the extra time in the bottles are causing some of the off flavors.
 
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derek8307

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I condition them by leaving in a room temp closet for up to a week or 2, depending on how well they carbonate as I impatiently begin popping them a few days after bottling. Once I realize they're about where I need them, I move to the fridge.

Sounds like you may have an issue with your yeast, only time I couldn't get carbonation is when I tried to do a barleywine with basic ale yeast that couldn't take it the distance. Still have those bottled hoping in a few months there might be a little fizz when I open em.
 

Hillsbrew79

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It is possible the garage environment could have killed your yeast - especially if the garage reached triple digits. Although it can be tough to do during the summertime, it's best to keep active fermenters and bottles at a stable temp below 80 degrees if at all possible (reduces off-flavors and gives you a better beer overall)

If the beer is a higher gravity beer (1.070 O.G. or higher), you may have under-pitched yeast as well. It's always a good policy to pitch 2 packets of yeast in these beers or a 2 liter starter. This will ensure you will have more than enough viable yeast. I learned the hard way when I used a single yeast packet to ferment a 1.085 beer - took nearly 3 months to get fully carbonated.
 

beskone

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I would hope it's not the yeast, it was 3 vials of san diego super warmed to room temp and tossed in a 5.5 gallon batch (no stirplate to make a starter when I made this batch)

It was a nice aggressive fermentation, I think there's plenty of beasties still there. I just think the mid 80's to possibly mid 60's temp swings weren't allowing them to fully wake up and do work before it got cold and they went back to sleep...


I condition them by leaving in a room temp closet for up to a week or 2, depending on how well they carbonate as I impatiently begin popping them a few days after bottling. Once I realize they're about where I need them, I move to the fridge.

Sounds like you may have an issue with your yeast, only time I couldn't get carbonation is when I tried to do a barleywine with basic ale yeast that couldn't take it the distance. Still have those bottled hoping in a few months there might be a little fizz when I open em.
 

joshesmusica

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Are you boiling or bringing the kettle to a boil with the lid on your kettle?



I did an IPA brew day where I had like 10 friends over for beers and brewing and as such was totally distracted and left the lid on my kettle, up to the boil and into a boil over.



The finished bottled beer smelled and tasted oh so much of creamed corn, the entire batch was a dumper.



DMS evaporates out during the boil, so having left the lid on it concentrated then it fell back into the kettle and into solution...oops!

Highly unlikely since he's brewing with extracts which have pretty much had all the precursors removed in the process.

OP:

You're using dark extract for a dipa?
I would think that you should be going for a lighter malt if you're really wanting to accentuate the hops. There's no telling what percentage of specialty malts are in the dark one. This could be one of your problems.
I don't remember did you post a recipe that you've used? Combine dark extract with an underwhelming hop schedule, and you could get diminished hops and more of the malt extract flavor coming through while it conditions in the bottle.
Also it could just be that you don't like that extract flavor. Especially if it's not fresh or has been handled poorly.

To the guy who posted about the beer darkening after bottling, this is usually a sure sign of oxidation. Look up the best practices for bottling your beer on here, or just start a thread and ask how people do it (though I'm sure there's 100s of threads on that subject already), and start trying your best to keep oxygen out of the process.
 

NatureOfTheYeast

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I'm just gonna go ahead and echo what a few others have said here and advise you to start sanitizing. I see that you got some PBW and StarSan, so you're already on your way to better beer. Here are a few things that I think will help you get to your goal of your dream IPA.

Since your beers are getting funky within days, I would guess that you have some serious buildup on parts of your equipment. It doesn't take long to get buildup, either. My first infection was on my third batch, and I realized that I needed to fully disassemble all of my bottling equipment to properly clean it. That means disassembling everything that touched beer and soaking them in warm Oxi-Clean Free or PBW. The threads on your bottle bucket spigot and nut are prime locations for nasties to breed. The bottling wand valve is another danger zone and absolutely must be disassembled and cleaned, all the way down to the rubber O-ring on the valve tip. Remember: If it touches beer, clean it.

One item that I find to be excellent at cleaning all these narrow round spaces is a baby bottle nipple brush. That little brush is a serious cleaning multitasker. You can find them paired with full size baby bottle brushes, usually at the grocery store or Wal-Mart in the baby section. I stick mine anywhere it'll fit (har har), and I find the nylon bristles to be tough enough to get the gunk out, but not so stiff that they scratch and gouge plastic. I'm sure you've heard this before, but I feel like I spend more time and energy cleaning than I do brewing, and as far as actual "working time" (not waiting for mash conversion, between hop additions, etc), I'd say that's accurate. I think this is critical for good sanitation though, since a dirty surface is impossible to sanitize, and clean gear looks better and lasts longer.

You said that you briefly soaked your bottles in one step. If they were new, then that's probably fine. If they were reused, then a quick soak might not be enough to fully rid the surface of contaminates. The inside of your bottles should be spotless, especially since that's where your beer is going to be spending the majority of its life. Also, if you reuse bottles, you should definitely rinse and swirl with HOT water immediately after they are emptied. By making sure that all residual beer and yeast in the bottle is gone before drying and storing, you'll spend far less time and effort scrubbing when it's time to clean.

As for cleaning and scrubbing, a bottle brush from your homebrew shop should really be all you need. I have one of those big rope handled tubs from Wal-Mart that I fill partway with some Oxi-Clean Free and hot water. I soak my load of previously rinsed bottles for ten minutes or so, hit them with the brush, rinse, dry, and store. I can also get any remnants of labels or glue off of the outside at the same time if I need to. The bottles come out completely spotless and ready for beer, and it usually takes an hour or so from start to finish.

On bottle day, also remember to sanitize every bottle. I pour some sanitizer into a bottle, swirl it around every surface, then pour into the next one. Splitting the workload between two or more people makes this a five minute or less procedure. Alone, I'm looking at ten to twenty minutes. A vinator and bottle tree will make a solo job a five minute one, but it's also more equipment to clean, so I stick with my procedure.

Bottle caps can be pretty dirty, too, so toss those in some sanitizer for a short period before bottling.

Hoses are cheap and should be replaced every few batches or so, or once they start getting cloudy, discolored, or smelly.

One last thing, you said that you are using muslin bags to dry hop. Cotton is extremely porous and takes a long time to dry, which is what makes it a fantastic breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. I know it's *possible* to sanitize it by boiling and soaking in starsan, but It would probably be better to err on the side of caution and use a nylon hop sack. These can be found at your LHBS and from online shops, and are reusable.

I don't know if any of these steps will clear up your contamination problem, but they helped me, so I figured I'd pass them along. I went from a horribly infected, bottle fermented from 1.012 to 1.004 gusher batch to free and clean beer without replacing any of my equipment, just by cleaning more thoroughly.

Here's to clean beer, and your ideal IPA,
Good luck.
 

mattdee1

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I condition them by leaving in a room temp closet for up to a week or 2, depending on how well they carbonate as I impatiently begin popping them a few days after bottling. Once I realize they're about where I need them, I move to the fridge.

Sounds like you may have an issue with your yeast, only time I couldn't get carbonation is when I tried to do a barleywine with basic ale yeast that couldn't take it the distance. Still have those bottled hoping in a few months there might be a little fizz when I open em.
When bottling, I've been partially filling one plastic bottle and capping it, to serve as a "carbonation indicator". Right after I fill it and cap it, the plastic bottle is kind of crinky and squishy. If after a few days it gets hard as a rock, I know that pressure is building up inside and the carbonation is proceeding.
 

Firewalker11

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Dont boil your hoses, I have read somewhere that this does cause the plastics to start cracking and/or leeching chemicals because the high temperatures start breaking down a few of the chemicals or something to that extent.
Silicone hoses can be boiled wirth no problems, vinyl hoses have temperature ratings well below silicone.
 

Gavin C

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I must be blind cause i just read it twice and didn't see any mention regarding temp control.. lol.. sorry, just trying to help :)
:off:
I thought your help was very.., well....helpful. No worries there. And you are absolutely correct. No mention of temperature control in the OP. It only appeared after the thread merge from the other thread OP.

Talk about nit-pickyness of some folks. They seriously need to lighten up. Very easy to miss things in a discussion, verbal or written. It doesn't disqualify the helpful advice.

The reason I'm posting this is because you have 8 posts and I wouldn't want you to get a bad early impression of HBT. Welcome. That is all, back to the thread.
 

beskone

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To the guy who posted about the beer darkening after bottling, this is usually a sure sign of oxidation. Look up the best practices for bottling your beer on here, or just start a thread and ask how people do it (though I'm sure there's 100s of threads on that subject already), and start trying your best to keep oxygen out of the process.
The first off batch, sure maybe. But I bottled a Saison the same day using the same technique and it came out fantastic.

This last batch I force transferred from primary to secondary using C02 after filling the secondary with C02 to dry hop.

When I went to bottle I purged the bottling bucket then force transferred to the bucket before bottling.

I'd be surprised if the cause was oxidation this time.
 

beerkench

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:off:
I thought your help was very.., well....helpful. No worries there. And you are absolutely correct. No mention of temperature control in the OP. It only appeared after the thread merge from the other thread OP.

Talk about nit-pickyness of some folks. They seriously need to lighten up. Very easy to miss things in a discussion, verbal or written. It doesn't disqualify the helpful advice.

The reason I'm posting this is because you have 8 posts and I wouldn't want you to get a bad early impression of HBT. Welcome. That is all, back to the thread.
I need to lighten up then.
 

beerkench

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Seriously though like I said in a reply, 60 is low for an ale yeast. You should be ramping it up from 60 to say 68-70 during fermentation to ensure the yeast will
finish their duty. This could explain the butter.
 
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