How to sweeten overattenuated brew?

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ipscman

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I know I can add corn sugar to the glass after pouring in my very dry 84% attenuated Ordinary Bitter. Any other suggestions, ideas? All bottled and conditioned already.
 

Pelikan

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I'd say just enjoy it for what it is. Get past the numbers, etc. If it's really an issue, adding a pre-determined (small) amount of sugar to each glass before pouring might be a solution, but in truth I've never heard anything like that before. I can't imagine a beer would be so bad/over-attenuated as to require such an action. Over-attenuation in and of itself, and especially in a bitter (1.007 FG), normally wouldn't be a cause for adulterants.

Out of curiosity, what was your recipe? What strain of yeast did you use? Extract, all grain?
 

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Seems like there is something wrong with sweetening a bitter. :p

Adding sugar to a carbonated beer is an explosive proposition, although it is great for making volcanoes.

Unless you want to blend beers, I think you might be stuck with what you have. How old is the beer? If you are drinking it green, aging should improve your beer a lot.
 
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ipscman

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I'd say just enjoy it for what it is. Get past the numbers, etc. If it's really an issue, adding a pre-determined (small) amount of sugar to each glass before pouring might be a solution, but in truth I've never heard anything like that before. I can't imagine a beer would be so bad/over-attenuated as to require such an action. Over-attenuation in and of itself, and especially in a bitter (1.007 FG), normally wouldn't be a cause for adulterants.

Out of curiosity, what was your recipe? What strain of yeast did you use? Extract, all grain?
All grain; Wyeast London ESB 1968 (ave. atten. 69% - I actually got 85%). Problems developed when it sat in primmary for 6 weeks. My bad.

Recipe:

7lb U.S. 2-row
.5lb Crystal 120
.5lb Melanoidan
.5lb Wheat Malt
.25lb Biscuit Malt
.25 Victory Malt
1.25 oz Fuggles (60 min)
.5 oz Goldings (30 min)
.5 oz Willamette (dry hop 7 days)

I think I also screwed-up by raising the temp for another brew in the same small room to 75% for a Diacetyl rest). Seems like combination of overlong primarry plus high temp caused overattenuation.

???
P.S. Very soft water here - like Pilzen. No additives.

I added a 1/2 teaspoon of turbinado to a bit of the beer in a glass, let it settle and added rest of bottle. Sweetened it right up.
 
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ipscman

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Seems like there is something wrong with sweetening a bitter. :p

Adding sugar to a carbonated beer is an explosive proposition, although it is great for making volcanoes.

Unless you want to blend beers, I think you might be stuck with what you have. How old is the beer? If you are drinking it green, aging should improve your beer a lot.[/QUOTE

I did try blending with a Chocolate/Vanilla Porter and that worked real well. Only problem is I'm out of that so trying another approach. Not that old but was in pprimary for 6 weeks or so. Also fermented at higher temps than recommended due to a diacetyl rest for another fermentation in same room.

Live and learn.
 

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What do they use to backsweeten wine? I think it's splenda or something like that. I know they use something unfermentable.
 

eschatz

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Like lactose?
No, I know that winemakers sometimes backsweeten a wine because it fermented too dry. There are lots of wine makers on here. Someone knows what I'm talking about, or at least what I think I'm talking about on here. :D
 

Pelikan

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All grain; Wyeast London ESB 1968 (ave. atten. 69% - I actually got 85%). Problems developed when it sat in primmary for 6 weeks. My bad.

Recipe:

7lb U.S. 2-row
.5lb Crystal 120
.5lb Melanoidan
.5lb Wheat Malt
.25lb Biscuit Malt
.25 Victory Malt
1.25 oz Fuggles (60 min)
.5 oz Goldings (30 min)
.5 oz Willamette (dry hop 7 days)

I think I also screwed-up by raising the temp for another brew in the same small room to 75% for a Diacetyl rest). Seems like combination of overlong primarry plus high temp caused overattenuation.

???
P.S. Very soft water here - like Pilzen. No additives.

I added a 1/2 teaspoon of turbinado to a bit of the beer in a glass, let it settle and added rest of bottle. Sweetened it right up.
What was your finishing gravity? What were your mash temps? A half teaspoon of sugar seems like an awful lot in one glass of beer. That'd be like sweetening a bitter to stout levels and beyond.

EDIT: Leaving it the primary/raising/lowering temps in and of itself won't take a 69% strain and push it to 84%. That would require a very high proportion of fermentables.

For the sake of argument, let's assume you mashed really low. That would be 71% attenuation, 1.014 SG, and 4.4% ABV (ie: out of style/too high for an ordinary bitter, but appropriate for an ESB to my knoweldge). Indeed, your grain bill is too heavy to keep this brew within the ordinary bitter style, particularly when using the London ESB strain.

That aside, let's entertain the claimed 84% attenuation. That'd be 1.008 FG, and 5.4% ABV. The FG isn't inappropriate for an ordinary bitter, but the ABV is way out of range. From the start, this looks more like an ESB than an ordinary bitter, especially with the dry hop. As such, I'd say 1.008 isn't terribly over attenuated, and will require no sugar additions to the glass (which really borders on blasphemy). As someone else has asked, how long has it been aging in bottles? The length of the primary doesn't have much impact on bottle/fridge conditioning. If these beers are only two or so weeks old and you're crash cooling them, they need more time.

What's your water profile looking like? Do you have the breakdown? If you're not adding anything to really soft water and are trying to mash with it, you might be getting poor conversion. Bear in mind that when you mash, it isn't as simple as making barley tea. There are fairly complex chemical reactions taking place, which require a certain pH, and ample calcium ions to work properly.

Perhaps the most important numbers in this case are OG and FG, measured going into and coming out of the primary. What were they?
 
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ipscman

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What was your finishing gravity? A half teaspoon of sugar seems like an awful lot in one glass of beer. That'd be like sweetening a bitter to stout levels and beyond.

EDIT: Leaving it the primary/raising/lowering temps in and of itself won't take a 69% strain and push it to 84%. That would require a very high proportion of fermentables.
Finishing was 06 , starting 42 Beersmith indicated a FG of 13 with my grain bill

I got the information on overattenuation from too high temps from WhiteLabs site: "Over attenuation can occur from wild yeast contamination, or from a warm fermentation. Also, the mash profile creates different types of sugars, which the yeast consume differently."

Another option is bacteria:
Goldammer, The Brewer's Handbook (p. 336) suggests that a Lactobacillus from grinding grain can cause superattenuation due to its ability to ferment dextrins and starch. Another possibility I suppose but I crush two rooms away from where I brew or ferment...

Briggs and Young, Brewing - 2004 edition (p. 644) "L. diastaticus, now not considered to be a separate species and placed within L. brevis, is capable of utilizing dextrins. As its name suggests it has the potential to produce superattenuation of worts during fermentation." and,
"The effects of contamination range from comparatively minor changes in beer
flavour and fermentation performance through to gross flavour defects and super-attenuation of worts." (P. 626)

Korzonas, Homebrewing, vol. 1 (p. 179) identifies another possible source as "Some wild yeast are known as 'super attenuators.' These yeasts make super dry, unpleasant beers."

I have these results but don't know how to identify which of any of these are really the cause.

I'm going to use chlorine dioxide to clean any yeast slurries I reuse in the future as one approach to eliminating this possibility. I do the typical PBW / Star San approach for sanitation already but...

All a fun learning process.
 

Pelikan

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Hmm...the temps thing is somewhat overblown. Yeast will not and cannot attenuate higher than a certain point, regardless of temps. What's the story with your water profile and mash temps? These are the basic factors that need to be addressed before considering contamination, etc.

With the numbers stated, you're hitting closer to 86% attenuation, which is effectively impossible, and leads me to one of two conclusions: you misread the sample (likely), or you have contamination (unlikely, you'd taste it).
 
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ipscman

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Can't get a water profile here (small town under 1,000) without paying an external lab quite a bit for it. But it is Oregon and it is very soft water for sure. No residue after boiling, and easy lathering with soap. I've never adjusted any water profile other than adding 5.2 in the mash consistently.

I could have misread the sample but after 23 brews with predictable results that seems unlikely. I usually take two readings and the OG was what was predicted in BeerSmith. Also, I used a refractometer for the OG - 10.2 Brix at end of boil; but 42 with a hydrometer into fermenter after chilling (the 42 reading was after mixing in priming sugar which accounts for the slightly higher reading).

Fermentation Temp: I don't have good enough notes but I had three brews going simultaneously in a small room. I raised the temps (could have been to high 70s) for a diacetyl rest on one of them and figured I would just get more esters in the Bitter. It does seem possible that the fermentation at that temp would be roused and, just like the purpose of a diacetyl rest, would increase the attenuation. I think that is what White Labs was getting at.

Mash temps: Single infusion, 75 minutes at 152F. Batch sparge at around 170.

Brewed 1/31/09
 

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If you're using buffer 5.2, water is moot as far as pH, but the calcium content can still be of issue. My recommendation? Get a TDS meter on ebay for $11, and take a reading of the water yourself. Best not to guess it. I thought we had soft water here until I took a reading and got 142 ppm dissolved solids (decidedly hard water). If you're lower than 100 or so, you should look into mineral additions, if nothing else for the sake of flavor.

After a point, the yeast will not be able to attenuate any further, regardless of temperatures. There will be unfermentables, starch, etc in there. 86% attenuation with a strain that normally tops out at 71% just seems impossible to me, although I suppose it's not out of the realm of possibility.

If you're confident in your readings and everything else, I'd start to consider the possibility of contamination.

FYI: No need to raise temps for the diacetyl rest. Just leave it in the primary for 3 weeks.
 
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ipscman

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Interesting idea about the TDS meter. I'm looking into it now. Never thought of that approach. Thanks.

However:

1. Local homebrew shop owner who teaches brewing at community college says we have very soft water here.

2. Local water guy says he can't give specifics but hardness is under 50 for sure.

Diacetyl rest. I'm perplexed by your comments re diacetyl rests. This is some of what I've read elsewhere:

1. Zainasheff, Brewing Classic Styles, p. 43, suggests 10 degree diacetyl rest increase for lagers, specifically.

2. Wyeast Brochure on their yeasts:
a) re London 1968 ESB: ""Diacetyl production is noticeable and a through rest is necessary."

b) re Bavarian lager 2206: "Benefits from a diacetyl rest..."
c) website Q&A: "Some beers will benefit from a diacetyl rest (allow yeast to absorb diacetyl) post fermentation. This typically involves allowing the beer to rest at 60-70F for 24-48 hours after reaching terminal gravity. Following diacetyl reduction (assuming there was some to start with) the temperature can be reduced to 35F and the beer can be racked into another vessel."

3. Korzonas, Homebrewing, vol. 1, pp. 97, 382 suggests disacetyl rest for 2-10 days, especially lagers.

4. Goldammer, The Brewer's handbook, pp. 241ff, suggests diacetyl rest to reduce VDKs (which include diacetyl).

5. Palmer, How to Brew, p. 102 suggests a DR for lagers

6. Mosher, Radical Brewing, p. 20 says a DR is "needed" for lagers

7. Miller, Brewing the World's Greatest Beers, p. 46 says DR necessary for certain lagers

8. Miller, Homebrewing Guide, pp. 190ff explains why a DR is necessary and used by large breweries with certain lager yeasts

9. Briggs, Brewing Science and Practice, p. 657 discusses its use

10. JACKSON, A. P. (1988) . Tech Quart. Master Brewers Assoc. Americas, 25, 104. discusses its use in major breweries

11. Bamforth, Beer: Tap Into the Art and Science of Brewing, pp. 170, 177 discusses how this is used to reduce diacetyl

12. White Labs website: "It is important to provide sufficient maturation time for diacetyl reduction, commonly known as a "diacetyl rest". Diacetyl reduction is slower at colder temperatures, so it is essential to incorporate the diacetyl restwhen making cold fermented lagers. The process is simply to raise the fermentation temperature fromlager temperatures (50-55F) to 65-68F for a two day period near the close of the fermentation. Usually the diacetyl rest is begun when the beer is 2 to 5 specific gravity points away from the target terminal gravity."

13. Lewis, Young, Brewing, pp. 172-4, 306, 339, 341, etc. go into great length on how this is done and the importance of it.

14. Baxter, Beer: Quality, Safety and Nutritional Aspects, p. 12 explains why this is important and how to do it raising the temperature

I could go on but it seems pretty clear the textbook literature, the most successful homebrewer in history, the two yeast companies, many typical homebrewing guides, etc. support this idea. What am I missing that you're seeing?
 

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Some yeast strains are notorious for producing diacetyl, and for brewers in a hurry, a diacetyl rest is recommended. I've never heard of one at 75 degrees, because usually it's lager yeast that need the diacetyl rest. Several ale strains produce diacetyl, too, of course, but usually it doesn't require a diacetyl rest.

"Cleaning up" diacetyl is a function of the yeast, and raising the temperature for the diacetyl rest is the quickest way to get them to clean up the diacetyl. However, it's not the only way. Given enough time at fermentation temperatures, the yeast will still clean up the diacetyl. When they've eaten all the "easy" stuff (maltose, simple sugars), they well then digest the other not-so-desirable stuff.

Even a lager, at 50 degrees in primary, will usually have no diacetyl flavor if given enough time to clean it up. That's one of the reasons I always pitch a big starter at optimum fermentation temperature in a lager (or even most ales)- because the yeast will produce less diacetyl to begin with, and then clean it up when done with fermentation.
 

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Some yeast strains are notorious for producing diacetyl, and for brewers in a hurry, a diacetyl rest is recommended. I've never heard of one at 75 degrees, because usually it's lager yeast that need the diacetyl rest. Several ale strains produce diacetyl, too, of course, but usually it doesn't require a diacetyl rest.

"Cleaning up" diacetyl is a function of the yeast, and raising the temperature for the diacetyl rest is the quickest way to get them to clean up the diacetyl. However, it's not the only way. Given enough time at fermentation temperatures, the yeast will still clean up the diacetyl. When they've eaten all the "easy" stuff (maltose, simple sugars), they well then digest the other not-so-desirable stuff.

Even a lager, at 50 degrees in primary, will usually have no diacetyl flavor if given enough time to clean it up. That's one of the reasons I always pitch a big starter at optimum fermentation temperature in a lager (or even most ales)- because the yeast will produce less diacetyl to begin with, and then clean it up when done with fermentation.
+1 Avoid the hot temps. Do an extended primary at normal ferm temps and pull your nose out of the books. ;)

For starters, though, you're not brewing a lager; an English ESB/bitter is about the polar opposite of a lager.

Regardless, diacetyl rest and high temps don't have to intersect. As Yooper mentioned, leaving the brew in the primary for an extended time at normal temps will get you the clean up you desire. 3 weeks total time (including fermentation itself) is fine. 6 weeks is also fine. This is considered a diacetyl rest (ie: you don't have to heat it up; indeed, I would never heat it up, and know of no one who goes about it as such). One of your own quotes backs this up:

Wyeast Q&A said:
Some beers will benefit from a diacetyl rest (allow yeast to absorb diacetyl) post fermentation. This typically involves allowing the beer to rest at 60-70F for 24-48 hours after reaching terminal gravity.
I never said at any point to avoid a rest; indeed, I'm fairly certain I recommended it somewhere earlier in this thread.

EDIT: Yup, I did, a few posts up:

Pelikan said:
FYI: No need to raise temps for the diacetyl rest. Just leave it in the primary for 3 weeks.
Now then, regarding the water, a number of things could impact your level of dissolved solids. My town reports 78 ppm, and as I mentioned I'm getting 146 on a calibrated meter. This could be from any number of things: leeched nutrients from local farms, in-ground septic tank, pipes in the house, etc etc. $11 is very cheap insurance, and if your water is as soft as you say it is, you'll need to add minerals. But -- I can't stress this enough -- you need to know exactly what level of dissolved solids you're starting with before you begin adding anything.

If you want to go all out, get an RO/DI machine, and/or brew with distilled water and add minerals. This is what I've been doing, with fantastic results.

What's one of the most important things I've learned while on Homebrew? Most of the books out there contain outdated, pedantic, and/or misleading information. You should cross-check on here, as Homebrew is a treasure trove for the latest, up to date, tried and true info.

Either way, I'm just trying to help. No need to get defensive.
 
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ipscman

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Not defensive at all. Just discussing. I've seen lots of nonsense in any forum based on ignorance, albeit wellmeaning.


+1 Avoid the hot temps. Do an extended primary at normal ferm temps and pull your nose out of the books. ;)

For starters, though, you're not brewing a lager.

MY BAD: I was doing a diacetyl rest on a lager in the same room and because I was using one room for too many things I ended-up high. Poorly explained on my part for sure.

I never said at any point to avoid a rest; indeed, I'm fairly certain I recommended it somewhere earlier in this thread.

Here is what I was responding to:

FYI: No need to raise temps for the diacetyl rest. Just leave it in the primary for 3 weeks.


EDIT: Yup, I did, a few posts up:



Now then, regarding the water, a number of things could impact your level of dissolved solids. My town reports 78 ppm, and as I mentioned I'm getting 146 on a calibrated meter. This could be from any number of things: leeched nutrients from local farms, in-ground septic tank, pipes in the house, etc etc. $11 is very cheap insurance.

Excellent points. makes total sense that many other issues come into play. I really appreciate that point. I simply don't know much about the water issue so TDS is something I have to learn more about.

If you want to go all out, get an RO/DI machine, and/or brew with distilled water and add minerals. This is what I've been doing, with fantastic results.

RO is probably beyond my means at this point but I'll consider it.

What's one of the most important things I've learned while on Homebrew? Most of the books out there contain outdated, pedantic, and/or misleading information. You should cross-check on here, as Homebrew is a treasure trove for the latest, up to date, tried and true info.

Either way, I'm just trying to help. No need to get defensive.
Like I said, I welcome feedback. We all learn together. Most of the texts quoted are by professionals and are pretty recent. The technology and understanding of brewing hasn't changed much. It's really pretty basic.

You have put a ton of time into trying to help a stranger. Thanks. That is what homebrewing is all about. ;-)
 

Pelikan

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Pelikan said:
FYI: No need to raise temps for the diacetyl rest. Just leave it in the primary for 3 weeks.
What I was trying to explain here is that a diacetyl rest does not require elevated temps. Again, one of your own quotes says 60-70*F. Just leave it in the primary for a total of 3 weeks and you're good.

ipscman said:
The technology and understanding of brewing hasn't changed much. It's really pretty basic.
Not to be a jerk or anything, but these notions simply aren't true. Brewing technique changes all the time as we understand the process better. The craft brew revolution is only 20 years old at this point.

The "recent texts by professionals" are the ones that lead you to a diacetyl rest at around 80*F (ie: most likely the source of your problems). I do agree there's a lot of BS on forums, but on this one in particular there's a much higher ratio of quality to crap. Just food for thought.
 
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ipscman

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I agree. This is a very good forum - my top choice by far. Apparently I overreacted to your comment re raising the temps.

Zainasheff suggests a diacetyl rest should be about 10 degrees above the final fermenting temps. That, coupled with Wyeast's comment on ESB 1968 yeast: temp 64 - 72 degrees, and their comment regarding that ESB yeast: "Diacetyl production is noticeable and a thorough rest is necessary."

So I think (if memory serves), I hit close to 80 on this "rest" going 10 degrees above the 72 I ended with. Whether that is what either Zainasheff or Wyeast intended, I'm not sure. maybe I'll give Wyeast a call about it. Maybe they can clarify whether or not that temp and a long fermentation may be the reason behind the superattenuation achieved.

RE craft brewing: They've added a lot of hops (use of Randle, e.g.), mixed and matched and made some new styles but the basics are still pretty similar.

I listen to the podcasts from the Brewing Network and hear lots of professional craft brewers (Russian River, Rogue, Magic Hat, Moon River, New Holland, Stone, New Clarus, North Coast, Pyramid, etc.) discuss their techniques. They all quote these books, and rely heavily on what has come before. Most all of them graduated from UC Davis's brewing program or Siebel Institute, or Weihenstephen in Germany (the site of the oldest brewery in the world). They have to experiment with cheaper equipment that forces more physical involvment - like brewing was a hundred years ago and back. They have to compensate and innovate but most don't vary much from the basics.

Obviously you want the practical and the theory together. Like I said, I've only got 23 all-grain brews under my belt in 6 months. I brew and read, brew and read. And imbibe along the way.

;-)
 

Pelikan

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Indeed. But don't hold the books/pod casts above all else. I know of at least one instance where Papazian has come out and said "Yeah, I was dead wrong." Palmer has done it more than once. The collective knowledge of this forum far outpaces/outweighs the professionals, who tend to get caught up in tradition, etc.

Basically all I'm saying is, if you have a question (re: what temp should I rest at), come on here and ask. No one has recommended, or will ever recommend, a diacetyl rest that high -- for any strain of yeast. The mantra here is 3-6 weeks in the primary (including fermentation time), in bottles for 4-8 weeks (longer for high gravs), then in the fridge for a few days (ideally about a week) before sampling. Tried and true, my man.

Case in point: You're on here asking questions about a failed batch, so some of that information had to have been false/misunderstood. And again, let me quote your own quote:

Wyeast Q&A said:
Some beers will benefit from a diacetyl rest (allow yeast to absorb diacetyl) post fermentation. This typically involves allowing the beer to rest at 60-70F for 24-48 hours after reaching terminal gravity.
 
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