Never dump your beer!!! Patience IS a virtue!!! Time heals all things, even beer!

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Revvy

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New brewers, and those who have ever dumped a beer, or contemplated dumping a beer come pull up some chairs, Uncle Revvy has a story he wants to tell you....It is a tale that teaches some important lessons...

1)Never give up on a beer.

2)Never dump a batch unless it has mold or other noticeable signs of infection confirmed by a brewer with more experience than you. Or if it tastes, as Evan says, "like Satan's anus."

3)Always see your bottled beer through the complete conditioning/carb process....And if it still taste "funny" give it a couple more months.

4)Never ever panic about making mistakes and ruining your beer.

5)Never ever believe that you beer is frail, weak or easily "damaged." It really is hard to ruin your beer, no matter what bonehead n00b mistake you may think you made...

6)Have patience....have Patience...have Patience....

7)Give the yeasties the props they deserve, never doubt them, and Never Ever Rush Them!!! Let them do the job they are made to do...and let them see that job through til the end...(That means leave them at least a week beyond fermentation to clean up...or like me, leave it for 3-4 weeks.)


So here's the story...

Once upon a time, on April 7th to be exact, I brewed a batch of my house amber ale, a simple extract with grains recipe that tastes dead on like Bell's Amber Ale.

I pitched it with a batch of Pacman Yeast that I harvested from a couple bottles of Shakespeare Stout.

On April the 8th we had a surprise heat snap during the day while I was at work. I hadn't yet set up any summer temp control. My loft faces West....When I left for work it was in the low 40's....But with the sudden heat snap, when I came home in the Evening it was 88 degrees in my loft....Think about this....I pitched my yeast the afternoon before, and when I came home the ambient temp of the loft, with the thermostat located right next to my brew closet read 88 degrees during the most crucial period of fermentation, the first 12 hours.

Remember fermentation is thermo elastic...it gives off heat during fermentation...so if the outside surface of the bucket was reading 88...consider that the fermentation temp was another 5-10 degrees higher inside the bucket...The mid to upper 90's are definitely not Ideal temps for ale yeasts...

Yeast at too high a temp produces all matter of off flavors.

Add to the fact that I was not necessarily using a "clean" strain of pacman like out of a smack pack....this was bottle harvested, and since I don't have a "clean room" lord knows what could have been growing along side the pacman.....But either way growing from a couple slugs of yeast, into a large starter...even slowly is going to mean that there is a greater potential to have greatly more stressed yeast, than from a tube or smack pack....

Stressed Yeast can also produce off flavors...

So 3 weeks later when I went to bottle it I noticed a taste that could best be described as "bubblegum." Definitely NOT the post fermentation taste of other versions of this beer.... I couldn't taste the delicious Cascade hops, I couldn't taste any caramelness of the malts....I only tasted bubblegum.....

OK kids....don't be shy...How many of you would have either dumped this batch....Or at least started an "is my beer ruined" thread? Uh huh...come on I know there's at least one of you....Ah, there....Thanks for being brave and acknowledging it...look at all the others who now stuck their hands up....

So what did I do? I went ahead a bottled it....Did I taste it after one week? NO....Two? Uh uh....Did I open one after the third week? You bet your sweet aunties panties I waited three weeks before even opening a single bottle....

What do you think I found? A perfect beer? Or more Bubblegum?

Yep...bubblegum it was....Both in taste and smell...After all that was a hot fermentation, or maybe the yeast WAS screwed up....I'll never know WHAT exactly went wrong....

But I didn't give up on this beer....back in the brew closet it went...A few weeks went by while it sat dark and forgotten in my closet...Until a few weeks back, maybe mid june, when my pipeline hit a crucial low...

I dug the bottles out of the closet and started drinking them....They were less bubblegummy...but still the taste was noticeable...It didn't make you want to hurl...but it just wasn't that great a beer...but I drank them all over the ensuing weeks, til my other, better beers came online...Soon the bad beer was long gone and forgotten...

Or so I thought....

Friday after bottling a batch of beer, I was shuffling my storage closet around, bring beers that will be ready soon to the front...And grabbing a few different bottles to chill up for the weekend...To my surprise there was one bottle with the code for the bubblegum beer on the cap.

It went into the fridge with the rest of them.

Tonight when I got home I reached in the fridge and grabbed the first bottle I could see without reading the caps, and cracked it open and had a long after work draw.....

It tasted dead on like my Amber Ale...So good I had to make sure it wasn't from the batch before the bubblegum batch. But no...it was indeed the bottle I had dug out of the back of the closet on Friday...

It tasted beautifully of Caramel malts and had the crisp bite of cascade hops...It tasted and smelled like it should have, maybe even better than all the other batches of it (perhaps because of the pacman yeast)....I could have submitted it for competition, I may not have placed but I wouldn't have had to hang my head in shame either...

It had amazingly transformed, thanks to our friends the yeasties into a crystal clear, and clean tasting beer, exhibiting no off flavors, no hint of any bubblegum...no hint of high fermentation/fusel alchohols...

It was simply delicious beer!!!!!:tank:

People I can't stress this enough...Do not dump a beer because it doesn't taste good right away...even after 3 weeks...just stick it aside, let the yeasts keep swimming around cleaning up their messes (both in the carboy and the bottle) let the Co2 in the beer do it's thing as well helping the "Volatile chemicals break down into more benign ones, and longer protein chains settle out."

Or like spaghetti sauce and chilli, let the flavors marry and balance out...

You will be surprise at the magic that happens when you get out of the way...

The sad ending of the story is that the old saying is true;

That "the best beer in any batch, is the last one...":(

So stick at least one beer of every batch aside, no matter how bad it was, or how dissapointing, put a date on the bottle...and one day, 6 months or a year down the road, chill them down...and savor the magic!

You won't regret it.


:mug:

(Story time is over, kiddies, it is time for Ale and Cookies! And if you like this story, then Prost the thread, so more people can read it, and maybe together, we can help stamp out the alcohol abuse that is prematurely dumped beer!)

Edit There's an update to THIS beer here, Revvy's further adventures with this beer. It wasn't gone.
 

SavageSteve

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Wow... that was quite a story!

I recently had 2 batches (10 gallons total) that each had a bothersome off-flavor at kegging time. I was greatly disappointed. I figured I'd let them sit for a while to see if the flavors disappear, but I wasn't hopeful.

So hearing a story like yours, Revvy, encourages me to be patient, and give me hope that they'll work themselves out!

-Steve
 
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Revvy

Revvy

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I'm honestly surprised at the quality of the last beer...if it weren't for the code of the bottle cap I wouldn't have believed it was from the same batch....

My brown ale has a similar problem, only to a lesser extent...and it was the recipe I was going to enter into the Michigan State fair in August....I'm crossing my fingers that on deadline week (I think in 2 or 3 weeks, I hope) it will be all nice and tasty.

I just cracked open one and it is getting there....I hope, I hope....
 

Sir Humpsalot

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I made a Hob Goblin Clone with a little munich in there just for experimentation. Damn was it bad, even after a month in the keg. I actually could also describe the off-flavor I was experiencing as being like bubblegum, though intense "artificial fruit flavor" would be more accurate I think, like someone dumped a shot of artificial fruit syrup concentrate in my beer. Funny I should stumble upon this thread, because I just poured myself one about a half hour ago and.... it's now an amazing beer. More confirmation that Revvy speaks the truth...

except for that part about the last beer being the best. I keg. Therefore my last beer is full of sediment. It's the second to last beer that's the best when you keg.
 

Philip1993

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Great post. I'm now drinking a FINE 9 month oktoberfest that I was ready to dump after 3 months of cold conditioning. BUT, I had a keg and room in the fridge so I saved it.

except for that part about the last beer being the best. I keg. Therefore my last beer is full of sediment. It's the second to last beer that's the best when you keg.
Cut 1/2" off your dip tube. The keg will die just before it starts to suck the dead yeast.
 

kornbread

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Thanks Revvy.

As a noobie with 48 bottles of hot fermented beer sitting in the closet that tasted like cinnamon on bottling day, you give me hope.:)
 

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Great thread. I keep telling myself, "Brewing will make you more patient, be patient..."

This is a great example of being patient. Brewing is bringing out the zen in me! We are all just a leaf on the river of beer...
 

xithix

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Thanks for the inspirational story. I was about to dump a batch I had bottled two weeks ago that tasted like a sour punch in the mouth since I'm low on bottles... maybe I will hold out and taste it close to when I need bottles (about 4 weeks from now) to see if it is salvageable.
 

Richard

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I have a batch from last year that I haven't gotten around to dumping yet. There's no way it can be salvaged though...I overcarbed in the bottles.
 
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Revvy

Revvy

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I have a batch from last year that I haven't gotten around to dumping yet. There's no way it can be salvaged though...I overcarbed in the bottles.
If they aren't blowing up then chill some down for at week and reabsorb some of the co2....Some people have had success un capping, venting and recapping as well.
 

stever

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This makes me feel better about my 80 degree fermentation that last week and the overwhelming smell of :ban::ban::ban::ban: coming from the basement.

Granted I have already learned this after having a batch that tasted dirty socks it cleaned up nice after about 2 months and really was a nice beer.

DDTB!!
 

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I just cracked an IPA I made like 8 months back that tasted terrible much like cardboard (oxygenated beer I assume). It still has that cardboard taste but it's faint and progressively getting better over time, I didn't think this would get better but rather worse as oxidized beer usually gets worse over time but sure enough the yeasties are slowing cleaning it up.
 

Philip1993

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Thanks for the inspirational story. I was about to dump a batch I had bottled two weeks ago that tasted like a sour punch in the mouth since I'm low on bottles... maybe I will hold out and taste it close to when I need bottles (about 4 weeks from now) to see if it is salvageable.
2 cases of bottles =~ $24. Much cheaper than ingredients, time, propane, etc. Get some new bottles and let that beer age awhile....
 

Chello

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yeah, i almost dumps some Vanilla Caramel Cream Ale back in december because i had a keg of stuff that i really did not enjoy at all... But i tasted it again last week and the flavors have mellowed and its not my favorite but i'll drink it now!
 

aryiman

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Thanks for posting Revvy, I will keep this in mind if I get a bad batch. If you all need more bottles go look on craigslist. I just got hooked up with 6 cases of 12 oz bottles for $7.20. They will come in handy when I start aging 6 packs.
 

tmoney1224

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This thread makes me feel a lot better, I have a Northern Brown thats been bottlled for 3 weeks after a primary of 4 weeks. Tried my first one last night and it has an aftertaste that is hard to describe, but may be considered a bit sweet and maybe cidery, not undrinkable, but definitly not what I hoped for. This beer never felt rigtht the whole time I was brewing, because everything just seemed to go wrong. But now I will wait and hope that I have as happy of an ending as you did.
 

neuron555

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I'm encouraged too. I have a Belgian Strong Ale that was very stubborn. I started it last September and got a stuck fermentation, finally bottling it in November. It has had a sherry-like flavor, and maybe the cardboard taste - probably from all the fussing I did with it to get the fermentation going. I thought of tossing it but stuck it in the back of the basement. Every so often I pull one out. It's getting better but still not what I was looking for. I haven't tried one for a month, so you've inspired me to go chill another and give it another shot.
 

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When making bleu cheese dressing a day ahead, my friend Patrick says "You need to let it sit overnight so the flavors can think about what they've done."

The same seems to be true for beer.

I made a Hoegaarden clone that wasn't good at all. It was the beer that I would try every couple weeks just to remind myself it still sucked. I sent a bottle with my girlfriend on a trip, and she came back telling me that she and her family agreed, that the bottle I thought was going to suck, was everyone's favorite. So, I had to find out for myself, and chilled a bottle down, and poured myself a tall glass. She was so right! This beer was phenomenal! 3 months in the bottle cleaned the beer up, and made it so wonderful. The bad news is that I only had 6 bottles left. Now it's a special occasion beer, and will be savored, and worshipped!!
 

Tonedef131

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I just carbed and tapped my cream ale that is like 7 weeks old, it's just been sitting in the keg for about 5 weeks. Smells and looks great but has an aftertaste that is slightly sour or tangy. I can palate it but it certainly takes away from the drink ability of it. I wanted to take it to a buddies party on Saturday, but now I think I might stick it in the spare bedroom for a month or so. I have not tried the other 5 gallons of this batch, it is sitting in another keg right now, hopefully that one doesn't have the same off flavors going on.
 
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Revvy

Revvy

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I just carbed and tapped my cream ale that is like 7 weeks old, it's just been sitting in the keg for about 5 weeks. Smells and looks great but has an aftertaste that is slightly sour or tangy. I can palate it but it certainly takes away from the drink ability of it. I wanted to take it to a buddies party on Saturday, but now I think I might stick it in the spare bedroom for a month or so. I have not tried the other 5 gallons of this batch, it is sitting in another keg right now, hopefully that one doesn't have the same off flavors going on.

I have to say, I'm not a kegger and know almost nothing about kegging, or bulk aging/conditioning in kegs...So I can't vouch for it in anything other than bottles....but all you keggers who let stuff go, I'd like to hear about it.:mug:
 

MrGneissGuy

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Wow, first registered day and I read the thread I was looking for. The last couple of brews of mine came out a little on the sweet side. Mind you, I really like them as is (and so do the friends and relatives) and they weren't high hop styles to begin with. But I'm planning on an IPA for my next batch and was a little worried about that ending up too sweet as well. I mean, a malty IPA??

I figured I should simply leave the brew in the primary and secondary longer than I have been. But I wasn't sure if there was such a thing as leaving it in there too long. Thanks for the great post.
 
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Revvy

Revvy

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Wow, first registered day and I read the thread I was looking for. The last couple of brews of mine came out a little on the sweet side. Mind you, I really like them as is (and so do the friends and relatives) and they weren't high hop styles to begin with. But I'm planning on an IPA for my next batch and was a little worried about that ending up too sweet as well. I mean, a malty IPA??

I figured I should simply leave the brew in the primary and secondary longer than I have been. But I wasn't sure if there was such a thing as leaving it in there too long. Thanks for the great post.

Welcome!!! I leave my beers generally 3-4 weeks in primary the straight to bottle...that way the yeast has a chance to clean up the aftereffects of fermentation.
 

Saccharomyces

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I brewed my first lager back in April.. first week of June I opened the first bottle. It tasted like buttered popcorn. Actually, it was MORE buttery than buttered popcorn. :cross: I know I pitched warm, and apparently didn't do enough of a D-rest, so I knew right away I had diacetyl.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=70438

I DIDN'T DUMP IT... on Sunday, I cracked open another to see how much diacetyl is gone (two months and change in the bottles at this point). The buttered popcorn flavor is still there, but I'd say it's reduced by 2/3.

I'm sticking a note on the remaining bottles to try again in late September. By then I'm betting they'll be really clean. I'll probably save a couple for Christmas time to celebrate my first lager experience.

There's not much yeast in the bottles, esp. in a lager, but the ones in there will eat anything they can to stay alive, and that is a good thing for us!

Prost, Revvy!

- Eric

p.s. I have the cure for drinking green homebrew:

 

Hagen

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I had what is probably one of the very few exceptions. I brewed an APA, and did my usual thing. 2 weeks in primary, 2 weeks in secondary, 2 weeks in keg before tapping. It had a funny sweet flavor that melded with the hop flavor and kind of tasted like sweet lime. Not horrible, but odd nonetheless. As time passed, that flavor subsided to a definite butterscoth flavor. OK, I now know what was up, diacetyl. This was before I started using the ice bath technique, and I remember the airlock looking like it was literally boiling at the peak of activity, with a temp of 78*F

I went with the "time heals all things" motto, and let it sit 2 more months. When I tried it again, all I could taste was the butterscotch. It seems that all the other flavors had mellowed to the point that the diacetyl REALLY shined through, and not in a good way.

I needed the keg space and the slot in the kegerator, so I dumped the 2 or so gallons remaining. It's the first time in 13 years I've ever dumped, and I have no regrets, as it inspired me to revamp my process to include some kind of fermenting temp control.

Like I said, this example is probably the exception and definitely not the rule.
 
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Revvy

Revvy

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Like I said, this example is probably the exception and definitely not the rule.
Yeah, but you at least TRIED...That is the moral of the story...If you just assume and dump without letting any time go by, like so many new brewers do, then you would never know...More likely than not the beer would have been alright...Or as in your case, you actually know for sure.

My condolence on your loss...I'll sit shiva (or is it Chivas?) for your beer...

:D
 

Philip1993

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I went with the "time heals all things" motto, and let it sit 2 more months. When I tried it again, all I could taste was the butterscotch.

Like I said, this example is probably the exception and definitely not the rule.

Definitely the exception. I had a batch that tasted like s**t at 3 months. I had space, so I let her sit. At about 6 months (IIRC) she had really changed and became one of my most favorite beers. I'll never dump another one in less than 6 months again... In fact, right now I'm aging a 4mo AG that ended up astringent on me. I may end up dumping it, but in the meantime I'm just hang on to it and see what happens..
 
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