Is my first BIAB, a long-awaited ESB clone, ruined?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

PajasOtter

Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2021
Messages
6
Reaction score
5
Hi,

I recently brewed my first BIAB (no sparge) beer, after having brewed three batches of 4 litre partial mash kits before. The result is, well, quite disappointing and I would like to ask for troubleshooting advice.
Here's the recipe and data:

Fuller's ESB clone
Batch size: 20 L
OG: 1,060
FG: 1,013
ABV: 6,2 %
IBU: 43

Malt
90 % (5 kg) Crisp Maris Otter
10 % (555 g) Crisp Crystal 150

Hops
60 g EKG at 0 min
30 g EKG at 60 min (heat off)

Yeast
2 packages of WLP002, no starter


Here's the brewing steps:

- Heated 26,5 L tap water to 71 degrees C, pH 8,21. See water data below.
- Added 5 kg Maris Otter and 555 g Crystal 150.
- After 30 min, the temp hade dropped to 65 degrees. Heated to 67.
- Took a pH sample: 5,88. Added 1 ml lactic acid (80 %).
- New pH sample: 5,5.
- After 60 min mashing, I let the bag drop for ten minutes over a grate.
- New pH sample: 5,47.
- Heated to 100 degrees (took 40 min).
- Pre-boil volume was 23,5 L.
- Added 60 g EKG.
- Boiled for 60 minutes.
- Shut off heat and added 30 g EKG.
- After about 5 minutes, I started cooling with home-made immersion chiller.
- When at 21 degrees, I transferred the wort to the fermentation bucket. (This was a bit tricky and I lost a bit on the way).
- Volume: 18 L. OG: 1,060.
- Added two packages of WLP002 and shook the bucket by hand to add oxygen.

I kept the fermentation bucket in room temperature for 14 days and attached a tape thermometer to the bucket's outside wall. The temperature fluctuated between 19 and 21 degrees C (66-70 F).

When bottling, the FG was 1,013 and pH was 4,33.

I added 2,5 volumes of table sugar for priming. This equalled to 17 L (removed 1 L of trub) * 5,9 g = 100 g sugar.
The stored the bottles in room temperature under a blanket and now about three weeks have gone.

Result and questions
I tested a bottle about 1,5 weeks in and it was very low carbonation. So I turned all bottles over once and back, to set the yeast in suspension.
Next test was 2 weeks in, and now the carbonation was good. However, the taste.... well, it's very alcoholic at first. Although I've read a lot about acetaldehyde, diacethyl, esthers and so on, I have no experience in tasting them... so, all I can say is that it doesn't taste so good. :) I don't think it's infected though, just, well, not so pleasant to drink. It's boozy and the body is thin. There's no sourness or moldness to the taste. I hope it's just higher alcohols and that storing it a while will tune it down, but I wanted to ask if you can see anything wrong with the recipe or the procedure.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to make sure I didn't skip anything essential. Oh, speaking of which, here's the water analysis (I did not adjust anything except pH; there was so much new to learn that I wanted to keep it a bit simple):

Calcium: 20 ppm
Magnesium: 5,2 ppm
Sodium: 22 ppm
Chloride: 15 ppm
Sulfate: 10 ppm
Bicarbonate: 94 ppm
Sulfate/Chloride ratio: 0,67
Hardness: 71
Alkalinity: 77
Residual Alkalinity: 60

Thank you very much!
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,991
Reaction score
6,002
Location
Solway
Mash pH is a moving target. You need the pH to be correct when the mash starts but the pH doesn't stabilize for at least 15 minutes into the mash. Take good notes and plan as to how much acid is needed for the next time you brew this recipe.

The alcoholic taste may be from fusel alcohol that the yeast might have produced by being too warm during peak fermentation. The other possibility is that the beer simply needs a little more time to mature. The body will probably improve with time too. I haven't brewed this beer but I had a robust porter that was really thin tasting but at about 3 months it magically gained perceived body.
 
OP
OP
P

PajasOtter

Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2021
Messages
6
Reaction score
5
Mash pH is a moving target. You need the pH to be correct when the mash starts but the pH doesn't stabilize for at least 15 minutes into the mash. Take good notes and plan as to how much acid is needed for the next time you brew this recipe.

I'm not sure that I understand. Do you think my pH was too high or too low? Do you also suggest that I should take more samples, say every five minutes the first 20 minutes, so learn how the pH develops over time, so that I can adjust more properly next times?

The alcoholic taste may be from fusel alcohol that the yeast might have produced by being too warm during peak fermentation. The other possibility is that the beer simply needs a little more time to mature. The body will probably improve with time too. I haven't brewed this beer but I had a robust porter that was really thin tasting but at about 3 months it magically gained perceived body.

This sounds promising. :) Even if your first statement is true (that fermentation temp was too high during peak fermentation), could this improve with time as well?
 

schmurf

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2018
Messages
476
Reaction score
268
Location
Vinnerstad
I think what @RM-MN say is you should do the water treatment (lactic acid) before you start the mashing. Adjusting pH during the mash is difficult. Make a test after the mash and do any corrections on the next batch instead.
 
OP
OP
P

PajasOtter

Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2021
Messages
6
Reaction score
5
I think what @RM-MN say is you should do the water treatment (lactic acid) before you start the mashing. Adjusting pH during the mash is difficult. Make a test after the mash and do any corrections on the next batch instead.

Ah, I see. Well, that makes sense. Thanks.
 

Gilbert Spinning Horse

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 28, 2018
Messages
68
Reaction score
63
You might consider investing in a fridge with a temperature controller such as an inkbird so that you can get total control over your fermentation temperatures. As far as I'm concerned this is an essential piece of kit.
 

Herky21

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
298
Reaction score
21
Location
Des Moines
You might consider investing in a fridge with a temperature controller such as an inkbird so that you can get total control over your fermentation temperatures. As far as I'm concerned this is an essential piece of kit.

100% agree. Most off flavors new brewers get are from a lack of temp control.

I wouldn't spend any more time dissecting it. Try brewing again with temp control. If you can't get a freezer/fridge with an inkbird, at least put the fermentation vessel into a big tub. Get several two liters or 1 gallon jugs and freeze then. Change them out and keep the temp closer to 60F for the first 5-7 days.
 

9Kegs

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2019
Messages
95
Reaction score
70
+1 on fermented too warm. Fusel alcohol can give you a nasty headache the following day so don't over indulge with this beer.
 

Miraculix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
5,815
Reaction score
4,356
Location
Bremen
002 is notorious for throwing higher alcohols and big headaches the next day if fermented too warm, which you did. Better would be a temperature of the liquid at max at 18c, but be sure to measure the liquid's temperature, not the room, the liquid is warmer due to exothermic yeast stuff.

What helps is putting the fermenter into the bath tub, submerged in water, this way the yeast cannot heat up the liquid that much due to the higher thermal mass. It's enough to keep it in there for two days, afterwards room temperature is fine.

Next time use Imperial yeast A09 pub, much better flavor, also behaving better at room temperature. I will never use 002 again as long as I have a09.
 
Last edited:

hotbeer

Opinionated Newb
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
1,051
Reaction score
735
I also think maybe you used the wrong yeast.

As well, I wonder if your mash temps might have been lower than they should have. What does the recipe say to maintain?

And was the FG actually the FG?

I like a little more carbonation than most, so I shoot for 3.0 vols. Maybe you also like more too. I haven't been happy with the carbonation of bottles when I specifically measured for 2.5. Not that I'm certain why I can see that little bit of difference. Maybe it's something else going on.
 

DBhomebrew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2020
Messages
1,757
Reaction score
3,328
Location
St Louis, MO
QUOTE="hotbeer, post: 9206007, member: 297108"]
I like a little more carbonation than most, so I shoot for 3.0 vols. Maybe you also like more too. I haven't been happy with the carbonation of bottles when I specifically measured for 2.5. Not that I'm certain why I can see that little bit of difference. Maybe it's something else going on.
[/QUOTE]

What temp do you input into the carb calculator?
 

hotbeer

Opinionated Newb
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
1,051
Reaction score
735
I like a little more carbonation than most, so I shoot for 3.0 vols. Maybe you also like more too. I haven't been happy with the carbonation of bottles when I specifically measured for 2.5. Not that I'm certain why I can see that little bit of difference. Maybe it's something else going on.

What temp do you input into the carb calculator?
I use the average ambient air temp that the beer was fermented at which is also within a few degrees of what it is when I bottle. I don't cold crash or do anything that would wildly change the temps from fermentation start to bottling.

I did play around with cold crashing and one of those was one that I figured for 2.5 vols and also used the beer temp at bottling time which was about 40°F. I wont do that again.... the cold crash. It does nothing for my beers. They've been cleaner and clearer without cold crashing.

However, I don't actually have a question about vols. So really the conversation needs to stay on the OP.
 

DBhomebrew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2020
Messages
1,757
Reaction score
3,328
Location
St Louis, MO
I use the average ambient air temp that the beer was fermented at which is also within a few degrees of what it is when I bottle. I don't cold crash or do anything that would wildly change the temps from fermentation start to bottling.

I did play around with cold crashing and one of those was one that I figured for 2.5 vols and also used the beer temp at bottling time which was about 40°F. I wont do that again.... the cold crash. It does nothing for my beers. They've been cleaner and clearer without cold crashing.

However, I don't actually have a question about vols. So really the conversation needs to stay on the OP.

I didn't think you had a question about vols. But you did suggest a carb level 50-100% over typical style levels. Requesting info that may illuminate that preference is helpful, I think.

Ok, back to the OP. OP states that carbonation level is ok.

I tested a bottle about 1,5 weeks in and it was very low carbonation. So I turned all bottles over once and back, to set the yeast in suspension.
Next test was 2 weeks in, and now the carbonation was good.

+1 for fermentation temp control.
+1 for Pub, good stuff.
 
OP
OP
P

PajasOtter

Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2021
Messages
6
Reaction score
5
Thanks all for the comments. I really appreciate it.

You might consider investing in a fridge with a temperature controller such as an inkbird so that you can get total control over your fermentation temperatures. As far as I'm concerned this is an essential piece of kit.

Actually, this is an ongoing project already. I have bought a used combined fridge/freezer where the fridge part will be used as a fermentation chamber. The freezer will probably be unusable and prone to condensation, but I needed something small enough to fit in my root cellar, and this had a perfect height. As a bonus, the bucket will be elevated so that I can easily take samples.

As a controller, I will use an ESP32 microcontroller with BrewPiLess. To switch on/off the compressor and heating element (a couple of meters of heating cable that I acquired for free), a MOSFET will drive a 24V relay (since I had lots of those lying around). Two DS18B20's will measure temperature, in the liquid and the fridge's ambient temperature. I still need to acquire a stainless thermowell and I haven't find one of enough length. I use 30 L plastic buckets and would like to attach the termowell to the lid. So it needs to be about 30 cm I guess, and I have only found short ones intended for being inserted horizontally through a wall. I guess a piece of copper pipe with a clamped end could do as a starter.

I also think maybe you used the wrong yeast.

As well, I wonder if your mash temps might have been lower than they should have. What does the recipe say to maintain?

And was the FG actually the FG?

I like a little more carbonation than most, so I shoot for 3.0 vols. Maybe you also like more too. I haven't been happy with the carbonation of bottles when I specifically measured for 2.5. Not that I'm certain why I can see that little bit of difference. Maybe it's something else going on.

I didn't follow one single recipe strictly, which was a pretty stupid decision I admit. I looked at several ESB recipes and made a compromise using a single hop and only two malts. The yeast was selected after reading a swedish homebrewing forum where ESB's where discussed. A guy on the forum, who seems experienced with english bitters, recommended WLP002. He also recommended mashing at 69-71 degrees (C). But in another recipe with the same yeast, the mash temp was 65 degrees.

Regarding if FG==FG, yes, I took samples over several days and the gravity had stabilized.

I believe you are all right about the fermentation temperature being too high. Now the big question: is my beer ruined, or can the fusel alcohols disappear if I give it some time?
 

Beermeister32

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2013
Messages
1,149
Reaction score
1,836
Location
Southern California
Agree on the fermentation temp control. The carboy internal temperature will drift higher that the ambient room temperature by many degrees. You need to make sure the yeast does not ferment too warm. The biggest jump in beer improvement I ever had was controlling the fermentation temperature downward to the low end of its fermentation temperature range.

Also - don’t shake, invert, swirl or agitate your bottles. Let the yeast slowly uptake the residual oxygen on their own pace. You don’t want to oxidize the beer in the bottle, just let it do its own thing and leave them alone.
 
Last edited:

rmr9

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2012
Messages
230
Reaction score
177
Location
Germantown
It could be many of the things mentioned in the replies, but I’ve experienced this with wyeast1968 and wlp002 - good going into bottle thin and off tasting once they’ve carbed. I switched to A09 pub after reading up on it and problem solved.

I would do a combination of what everyone mentioned, switch to A09 and keep it cooler this time around.
 

hotbeer

Opinionated Newb
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
1,051
Reaction score
735
Getting back to the FG thing. I know you said you got two samples and it was stable. So good. However, IMO... hitting FG does not mean bottle now.

I tend to wait a few more days for the beer to clean up and get clearer on it's own. Maybe a week longer sometimes. During that time, if a lot of funny tastes that we might all describe differently are getting dealt with by the yeast that are no longer making alcohol.

I don't think all beers have that funny taste right after fermentation finishes. Whether your beer recipe and yeast choice does or doesn't, I have no clue.

Some might have experienced it and some haven't. Perhaps I should start tasting my beers when they finish fermentation instead of waiting till bottling day. Then I'll have some idea if there is any basis for my imagination. :)
 
OP
OP
P

PajasOtter

Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2021
Messages
6
Reaction score
5
A quick update four weeks later:

Well, something has happened. Either my preference has changed for the favor of ruined beer, or the beer is no longer as ruined as I thought. Anyway, it tastes good. The fusels are not anymore to be found. The body has grown - it's actually rather full than thin. And instead of barely being able to drink half a bottle, and sink the other, I'd now rather have two bottles straight. My fiancee no longer is no longer wincing on the first sip, but actually seems to like the drink. I've even had praises from other people (thanks mom, dad and brother for believing in me :cool:).

So, I guess what I'd like to conclude is that the beer was probably indeed fermented in wrong conditions, and the result was pretty bad in the beginning. However, some weeks of just letting go has obviously tidied some **** up. Not all ****, of course; I can taste some sourness that might be acetaldehyde, or maybe even the lactic acid I added intentionally. In any case, the **** is definitely drinkable.

Next time, I will hopefully have my fermenting chamber ready, and then I'll try with the A09 pub yeast instead.
 

DBhomebrew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2020
Messages
1,757
Reaction score
3,328
Location
St Louis, MO
While a little extra time in the fermenter and/or the bottle can help *fix* a beer's faults, it can also do great things for a well fermented beer. It might take a bad beer to ok beer. It'll likely take a good beer to great beer.

You're on your way to really great beer.
 

Latest posts

Top