Normal Taste Prior to Bottling?

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borders

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I bottled my first batch last night and had a little taste. It had a VERY strong overpowering alcoholic taste, perhaps even acidic. Simply, it was off and did not resemble what I hope is the final product. It did not taste very good at all and I could not even think about drinking more than a few sips. It burned my chest actually. However, it did not have a bad or off smell and there were no visual signs of infection or anything wrong. When I opened the fermenter, there were some small floating white islands of foam on top, nothing thick though. I just took this at first as natural afteraffects of fermentation, but I'm not sure now if that was normal.

It is a wheat beer that sat in the primary for two weeks at room temperature between 57 and 71 F (mostly around 64 - 67). Fermentation appeared to be complete. The brewing process and fermentation appear to have gone as proper procedure would dictate. I did everything by the book.

Is this overpowering alcoholic/acidic taste normal? How should it taste at this stage? Drinkable or like mine tasted? Is it simply green and will get better as it conditions in the bottle? I have read others post about how good theirs was at this stage and I could barely sip mine.

I have been reading everything that I can get my hands on and have been looking forward to this day for weeks. I am a little discouraged by this and am hoping that this is not a sign of the final product. I am not sure what I could have done differently.


Many Thanks.
 

Soulive

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You really can't judge it until its carbonated and conditioned. The burning to me sounds like fusel alcohols. They're caused by fluctuating and/or high fermentation temps, particularly in the early stages. Whether this batch is good or bad, I suggest you get brewing another one and pay close attention to your fermentation temps...
 
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borders

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If this taste is the result of fusel alcohols, will bottle conditioning help reduce the intensity of the taste? Is there any hope for this batch? What about the thin layer of white foam islands on the wort as I opened the fermenter prior to bottling?
 

david_42

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Your temperature range was excessive for good fermentation. Yeast, being what they are, would have done most of the fermentation at the higher temperatures. This can give the brew a 'hot' alcohol flavor. This will not go away.

It could also just need conditioning, so give it a month. Judging green beer is a skill.
 

malkore

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fusal alcohols will not diminish with aging. they are a different chemical structure than the type of alcohol you wanted to create.

but your temp range is too low for fusals. normally those appear at higher temps...upper 70's adn into the 80's.

please post your recipe. it sounds more like you made some kind of high ABV wheat beer which broke style and will taste funky for a while.
also if this used specialty steeping grains, tell us the exact temperature that was reached before the grains were removed. And is your thermometer for testing the steeping water calibrated?

i'm wondering if you went to hot and extracted tannins, which have an astringent off flavor which you might be perceiving as 'acidic'.

the only other thing i can think of for acidic is that you over-hop'd and its just too bitter. this will improve over time, to a degree.
 
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borders

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Here's my recipe:



Specialty Grains: 1 bag Specialty Grains (12 oz, steeped until right before boil, approx 20 minutes), Not sure of exact temperature, instructions said to remove immediately prior to water boil, so it would have been around 212 F, I suppose;
United Canadian Liquid Wheat Extract, 6lbs
Yeast: Danstar Nottingham (11g Dry)
Original Gravity: 1.044
Spalt (Bittering) Hops, Pellet 1.0 oz

Boiled in aluminum turkey fryer pot using turkey fryer thermometer for 60 minutes and then cooled in ice bath prior to adding yeast at 75 F in primary fermenter. Shook closed fermenter for 5 minutes to aerate.
 
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borders

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Also, would doing a full boil as opposed to a partial boil make any difference? The kit said to do an initial 2.5 gallon boil and then to add 2.5 gallons cold water later. I have also read that a full boil is better if you have the capability.

I did a 5 gallon boil using a 32 quart turkey fryer. I did not make any adjustments to the quantities of the repice. What would this mean and what difference does this make? There does not seem to be a consensus answer to this and whether anything has to be changed. Unfrotunately, the extract kit did not provide instructions for a full boil, only a partial boil.
 

Bobby_M

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You MAY have pulled some bitter tannins by getting the specialty grain over 170F but it's probably not that bad. Full boils utilize hops more efficiency so you ended up more bitter than the recipe calls for. Finally, since you pitched at 75F, you may have fermented in the mid 70's for most of the active part which would produce fusels. If the room's temp is 68, you can be sure the wort is more like 75 when fermenting aggresively.
 
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borders

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After reading some of these posts and doing some addititional reading, I'm thinking that my problem may be oxidation (hot side aeration), as the result of stirring the wort during cooling before it reached 80 degrees F or below.

That may explain the strong alcohol flavor, kind of light sherry.

Will conditioning in bottles improve oxidation problems like this? Or is it doomed?
 

brewt00l

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borders said:
After reading some of these posts and doing some addititional reading, I'm thinking that my problem may be oxidation (hot side aeration), as the result of stirring the wort during cooling before it reached 80 degrees F or below.

That may explain the strong alcohol flavor, kind of light sherry.

Will conditioning in bottles improve oxidation problems like this? Or is it doomed?
I wouldn't think that's the case considering the timing is so short for oxidation to really develop....and everything you have described up till now keeps pointing at fusel alcohols & astringency. Though, the acidic could have been an influence from the excessively harsh alcoholic flavor. Oxidation that I have tasted was very identifiable (granted it was post fermentation oxidation).

Bobby_M makes a very good point about your pitching temp and the possibility that your fermentation could have started high, producing the fusels....

You just bottled, how long ago was this brewed?
 

JimC

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It takes a surprising amount of effort to screw up a batch to the point where you get strong off flavors with hot side aeration on a homebrew setting. Years ago, they used to splash the crap out of beer as standard process. Churning the mash into a frothy mess and splashing wort from tun to tun throughout the processes.

I highly doubt stirring it a bit while it cools (something, IMHO, many of us do to speed up cooling) contributed any off flavors.
 

Soulive

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JimC said:
It takes a surprising amount of effort to screw up a batch to the point where you get strong off flavors with hot side aeration on a homebrew setting. Years ago, they used to splash the crap out of beer as standard process. Churning the mash into a frothy mess and splashing wort from tun to tun throughout the processes.

I highly doubt stirring it a bit while it cools (something, IMHO, many of us do to speed up cooling) contributed any off flavors.
IMHO, HSA just isn't an issue pre-boil...
 

brewt00l

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Soulive said:
IMHO, HSA just isn't an issue pre-boil...
Have you heard J. Palmer on the Basic Brewing podcast about HSA? He suspects that lipoxygenase present at lower mash-in temps could be the most likely culprit for bonding with oxygen and creating HSA in homebrewing in light of their experiments with HSA

http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=60

November 2, 2006 - HSA Experiment: Final Chapter
 

beerbuddy

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My first batch had an alcohol like burn and taste when I first sampled it while racking to keg. Two weeks later it was barely noticeable. Two weeks after that the beer was fantastic. Be patient and it will probably be fine.
 
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borders

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I let it sit in the primary fermenter for two weeks prior to bottling. I have read every piece of literature that I could get my hands on, including checking this site daily.

It's funny, when not at work, I now spend my down time thinking about this stuff. I started after my wife got me a kit for Christmas and I have not stopped since.

It's going to be disappointing if this first batch is not drinkable. I know it is only going to get better as I get more experience. So, I was sitting around yesterday wondering if the strong alcohol taste was caused by an error in the process and then just decided to go brew another batch while my other batch sits in the bottles.

The worst part is waiting.
 

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It is difficult, but you will be rewarded for your patience. I'm putting my money on your "problem" being a really green beer being tasted by someone that has no clue what green beer is "supposed" to taste like. plenty of people will tell you that you can drink your beer after two or three weeks in the bottle. While that may very well be true, it's not going to taste that great. Taste one a week at that point as a learning experience, but don't down 'em all in the third week. You need to let the majority of the batch age for many weeks, even a month or two or three. Once you do that, you'll understand the difference between "drinkable" and "properly aged".
 
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borders

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beerbuddy said:
My first batch had an alcohol like burn and taste when I first sampled it while racking to keg. Two weeks later it was barely noticeable. Two weeks after that the beer was fantastic. Be patient and it will probably be fine.

This is my issue, except that I'm bottling. I hope that mine turns out good as well after a few weeks of bottling and aging. How anyone else eperienced a really strong overpowering (not good) alcohol-like taste prior to bottling? Did it end up good (normal) like Beerbuddys?

Thanks to everyone on this forum. Y'all make this stuff even more fun and educational.
 

brewt00l

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borders said:
This is my issue, except that I'm bottling. I hope that mine turns out good as well after a few weeks of bottling and aging. How anyone else eperienced a really strong overpowering (not good) alcohol-like taste prior to bottling? Did it end up good (normal) like Beerbuddys?

Thanks to everyone on this forum. Y'all make this stuff even more fun and educational.
I would imagine that most folks have..I know that a few of my first couple batches were fermented warm and were loaded with fusels. Just let em sit in a nice room temp spot for a few weeks to carb and condition and I bet you drink em all :)

Cheers!
 
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borders

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Most instructions say to ferment ales at room termperature between 60 and 70 F. However, if the actual temperature of the wort in the fermenter is 6-7 degrees warmer due to the activity, should "room temperature" be adjusted downward so that the actual temperature of the wort is between 60-70?

Theoretically, according to most instructions, having the fermenter placed in a room having a temperature of 70 F (within recommended range) would result a wort temperature of around 76-77 F (well beyond the recommended range). Would this create fusels?

What should be room temperature? The room where the fermenter sits or the wort inside the fermenter?
 

beerbuddy

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What you need is a fermometer that sticks on the side of your ale pale or carboy. This will tell you what the actual fermentation temperature is so you can take action like the old bucket of water and wet T-shirt trick to get the temp into an acceptable range.
 
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borders

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beerbuddy said:
What you need is a fermometer that sticks on the side of your ale pale or carboy. This will tell you what the actual fermentation temperature is so you can take action like the old bucket of water and wet T-shirt trick to get the temp into an acceptable range.
I have since put one of those on for the second batch. However, it remains unclear whether I should be concerned with the actual room temp or the temp of the wort in the fermenter. General instructions say to place the fermenter in a room at room temp between 60-70 F. What should be between 60-70 F, the room where the fermenter sits or the wort in the fermenter? As you know, wort temp will be higher while fermenting. Advice on this seems to be inconsistent.
 

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Room temperature doesn't matter at all. It's the temperature of the fermenting beer that matters. But, the reason they say to put it in a 60-70 degree warm makes sense- it's easier to keep the beer at that temperature if the room is that temperature. I mean, if you put it in a 50 degree basement, that would be too cold. My alt right now is at 61 degrees. I have no idea what the room temperature reallly is, but I'm happy with the 61 degrees for the alt.
 
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borders

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YooperBrew said:
Room temperature doesn't matter at all. It's the temperature of the fermenting beer that matters. But, the reason they say to put it in a 60-70 degree warm makes sense- it's easier to keep the beer at that temperature if the room is that temperature. I mean, if you put it in a 50 degree basement, that would be too cold. My alt right now is at 61 degrees. I have no idea what the room temperature reallly is, but I'm happy with the 61 degrees for the alt.
Yeah, thanks. That makes sense. We'll see how this batch turns out and if the "hot" alcohol tasted has gotten better. If it truly is fusels, this batch may be gone. It has at least another week in the bottles.

I already have a another batch of a golden ale fermenting now at 63 F, with another week to go. If the first batch turns out to be a bomb, at least I'll have another batch on its heals.

I'm now three weeks into my brewing experience and still no beer. Patience.............
 

wilserbrewer

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Once carbonated, chilled and aged for another three to four weeks you will have a different product than you did while bottling. Even after 20 years in brewing I sometimes taste a sample during kegging just after primary, and I am disapointed and feel I have a substandard batch. Time and cold conditioning can do amazing things....be patient...have faith!
 

JohnA111

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I just got my first batch bottled a week ago, and I expected some possible fussel-OH's. At bottling it had no noticeable alcohol burn at all even though it had fermented at probably slightly too high temps - 71F to 74F.

Borders, your ?'s are awesome and a help to other new brewers including myself. I think we're all just trying to relax, but the desire to suck all the knowledge up that we can is too great. This seems to definitely be a hobby where book smarts are valuable, but no comparison to experience. I'm going through exactly what you're going through - the unknown.
 
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borders

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Just an update for all of you who were kind enough to offer your thoughts and advice on my first batch, this is an update. After having gone through almost the entire batch described in this thread with friends, all I have to say is that it was delicious.

Whatever "hot" taste I perceived early on in the process has conditioned out greatly. Maybe it was fusels, maybe it was oxidation, maybe it was "green", or maybe it was just my first brew. I'm not sure; all I know is that it's good. This being my first batch, it's not clear if this was the intented taste, but I'm happy, as are the friends who now get free beer. A month and half into my brewing experience and I am now on my 4th batch (considering brewing my 5th tomorrow); with 2 batches in bottles ready to drink, one just bottled this morning, and one in the fermenter ready to bottle next weekend. There hasn't been a weekend that I have not either brewed or bottled since I got started after Christmas. I just don't have enough empty bottles.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who helped. Just thought I'd let you know how it ended up. Cheers.
 

Revvy

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Before we start to scare the guy with talk about fuesils, HSA, temp and Tannins, we have to realize this is still just a really green beer.

There's really no point in trying to trouble shoot something that may not be there after 3 weeks or so of plain ole bottle conditioning.

I just pulled out a bottle of my pumpkin porter that's been conditioning for 6 weeks and it is finally drinkable. Even at 3 I was worried because it seemed thin and overly sweet. It's now starting to take on a nice smooth character, and you can really taste the pumpkin in it.

My only regret is that I only made a small batch since I never worked with pumpkin before.

So I betcha a bottle that your brew will be just fine in a month. :D

*Edit*
Ooops...I guess I should have read the whole thread before posting....

But I told you so:mug:
 

jonnyc1003

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I've been lurking on this site for a short while now. I came across this thread on a search, and had to post.

I just bottled my first batch yesterday. While bottling the whole house was filled with an excellent aroma. When I tasted some of the beer however, I noticed the same thing, strong alcohol taste that was pretty much undrinkable. I first thought fusels, but my room temp. for fermentation was pretty constant between 64 and 66F, so that didn't make much sense.

I'm glad to hear that the OP's beer came out well, because I don't think I could handle worrying about mine for the next 3 weeks. Still, we'll see how it comes out.

-Jonny C.
 
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