What am I doing Wrong ?

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kb2kir

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Hi folks,
I've got a big problem.
In the past 6 weeks I've lost 3 batches of beer.
I am using a simple recipe.
ALL ITEMS INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS ARE SANITIZED WITH STAR_SAN....
I start with 2 liters of boiling water, add 2.2 lbs Briess dried Malt Extract, add 1 3.3 lb tin of liquid Malt extract and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. I then use the ice bath method in the kitchen sink to bring the wort to 70 deg.
I then pitch the yeast ( Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast) on top and close it up.
After 10-20 hrs when I see activity from the air lock, I put the fermenter in the fridge with the Johnson Controls temperature controller set to 65 deg.
I have used this method for 2 years and only lost 1 in probably 20 batches (due to too warm temps). My fault....
To try to diagnose the problem, I used the exact same method, however, this time using bottled water. This batch after 4 days is taking on that smoked ham or hot dog odor. There is an indoor-outdoor thermometer in the fridge to prove the accuracy of the controller. Right now it reads 65.8...
Can anyone offer insight as to why this is happening ???

Joe
 

mojotele

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Well, what exactly IS happening other than this strange odor? Anything? How does the beer taste?

Also, I assume your liquid extract is hopped extract?
 

JOHN51277

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I would think the 5 minute boil needs to be jumped to 10-15 mins atleast to kill of any buggers!
 
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kb2kir

kb2kir

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The beer will not clear after 2 weeks, it smells like smoke and tastes like it too. The only time I've ever had this happen was when the weather got warmer here in upstate NY, and I was without a temp controller....
I usually use un-hopped extract. This is such a simple recipe, I can't understand how I can screw it up after using it with success for so long.
 

stageseven

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If you suspect your fermentation temperature as a culprit, why not go ahead and put the fermenter in the temp-controlled fridge as soon as you pitch the yeast? It might take a little longer to get started, but at least you won't have to worry about the temperature difference between the ambient temperature and the fermenting wort as much.

If your fermenter is scratched it's possible it's harboring some bug that your sanitizer isn't getting. Are you using a bucket or carboy?

Even 2 weeks is pretty young. I'm assuming you keg. When you say it won't clear, do you mean the beer itself is cloudy? I wonder if you just have a slow fermentation and the yeast is still in suspension and not finished yet.

:off: Not to judge, but you're using unhopped extract and not adding hops to the boil? Doesn't that taste really sweet without any bittering agent to balance it out?
 

eddie

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Never had a smoked ham or hot-dog odor before. It could be some kind of infection or it could be some kind of yeast odor. Have you just tossed the beer when you detect this or do you let it set and rest to see if it clears up? Personally, I'd opt for the later and see what happens. If it is an infection, get new buckets, lids, tubing, airlocks and stoppers (at least one set of all anyway.) Also, five minutes of boiling isn't really enough time to kill all of the bugs in the boiling wort. Like JOHN51277 said, step your boil times up to at least ten minutes to kill everything. To avoid burning the extract, heat your water up to a boil the remove it from the heat. Add your extract to the water and stir until everything is dissolved and nothing is on the bottom of the pot. Put the pot back on the burner and gradually bring it to a boil while stirring constantly.
 

blizzard

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I would definitely check for scratches and suspect my plastic components (bucket, tubing, etc). Even if you are using star san, scratches can occur over time and harbor bacteria.
 

SenorD

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2 liters of water for 6 pounds of extract? Can you even do that? o_O

If that's all the water you're using, I'd imagine there's going to be all kinds of caramelization/burning problems. And I don't imagine the poor yeast would be very happy in that environment...
 

mikeysab

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sounds strange that you used the same method for so long and never had anything go wrong, now you lost 3 batches. Are you making total sure that sanitizer is hitting every surface? I always suck some sani into tubing till they're drenched then let it sit. Are you sanitizing fermenter covers fully? Taking apart spigots to sanitize? I always worry about pouring anything out of a container, like a pot. Even though the liquid in a pot is sanized (after boiling), that doesn't mean the sides and rim are. So when I boil priming sugar_ I use as small a container as possible so boiling kills anything. Hope any of this helps.
 

Yooper

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The beer will not clear after 2 weeks, it smells like smoke and tastes like it too. The only time I've ever had this happen was when the weather got warmer here in upstate NY, and I was without a temp controller....
I usually use un-hopped extract. This is such a simple recipe, I can't understand how I can screw it up after using it with success for so long.
When do you add the hops? I'm just wondering if you're using unhopped extract with only 2 liters of water when the hops get boiled.

Anyway, "hot dog" or "meaty" flavors usually have to do with stressed yeast. What kind of yeast do you use, and how do you prepare it for use?
 
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kb2kir

kb2kir

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mojotele:
Now that I think about it, I am buying my supplies at the LHBS,and he does not have the liquid malt extract I used to use. Munton's and Coopers light lager. He has ordered some. I believe the stuff I have been using is un hopped. Could the absence of hops cause this ?
stageseven: I keg. Yes, I agree 2 weeks is young, but I have used this method with results that work for me. The beer is great. I am usually a keg ahead and it takes me better than a month to polish one off, so the other one has a little more time to age.

eddie: Yes, I toss it when I smell and taste the "smoke"
I smell the airlock on every batch. ( Yeah weird I know) and this has never happened before except as explained above.
I let 1 batch sit for a week trying to get it to clear. Racked it for another week, no joy. After that I mixed up a cup of finings according to the instructions (1/2 teaspoon for 5 gallons) and stirred it in. Boy, that stuff works great.. . So great that after 2 days and a crash cool, it looked like watery beer.
I kegged it carbed it and tried it I've had better... Still has a hint of smoke.

Should I replace my plastic buckets with glass carboys?

SenorD: Sorry, I should have been clearer on that... I use 2 liters for the start ( per the directions) and add 21 liters after boiling for about 5 gallons.
 

Yooper

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Check your supplies. If you're making beer without hops, you could have all kinds of weird flavors. Maybe your extract is hopped, maybe not. But check that first.
 

mikeysab

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I'm still a little unclear on this. When you made the recipe and it made a drinkable beer, you used HOPPED or UNHOPPED LME. I started with coopers hopped kits, and have read to not boil them at all. If you're using unhopped extract and not adding hops, I'd imagine it wouldn't taste so good. I don't know about tasting like hot dogs, but probably not much like beer, except maybe bud or coors light.
 
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kb2kir

kb2kir

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YooperBrew:
Although I have been given some very nice smelling hops, I don't use them as the norm....
Maybe I should....
I use Safelager 23, Nottingham Ale Yeast,Coopers yeast, anything I can get .
I have even used White labs liquid San Fransisco Lager yeast.
All with good results. I usually just sprinkle the yeast on top of the wort, attach the lid and airlock, set the controller for the optimum temp on the yeast envelope (usually 60 Deg) and wait for beer.
I have tried re-hydrating the yeast as per the directions on the envelope:(4 oz 80 Deg f water for 15 minutes) stir and add to wort.
 

Yooper

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Ok, but what kind of liquid extract are you using? Some of the kits, like Cooper's, have hops already in them. Some are just liquid extract, and you are supposed to add hops and boil for 60 minutes. If you're not using hops, maybe it's because you're using hopped extract. However, if you're supposed to be adding the hops, and you're not, you will have bad beer.
 
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kb2kir

kb2kir

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Yooper,
I think you may be onto something... the lhbs has not had the Munton's extract I usually use. I had him order some.
These Munton's labels are a little different.
I call him tomorrow and find out if they are hopped or not..
Thanks for the insight,
Gotta run, will keep everyone in the loop.
GN
Joe
 
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kb2kir

kb2kir

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Yooper,
I think you may be onto something... the lhbs has not had the Munton's extract I usually use. I had him order some.
These Munton's labels are a little different.
I call him tomorrow and find out if they are hopped or not..
Thanks for the insight,
Gotta run, will keep everyone in the loop.
GN
Joe
As promised, here is the answer:
HOPS !!!!
I went to the LHBS and purchased enough supplies to make two 5 gallon batches.
While I was there, I asked Mike how to hop. He gave me instructions and hops.
I made a batch using tap water.
That was Saturday morning.
I just drew a sample from the spigot and low and behold, I HAVE BEER !!! All is well in Norwich again...
This has been a learning experience for me as I have learned the value of an hour boil, and I have learned
how NOT to rely on hopped malt extract.
Thanks to all who helped, especially YooperBrew !!!
 
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