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Tadpole

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I keep getting batches that are much higher in ABV than they're supposed to be. This makes the 2nd batch in a row. I'm doing extract kits from William's Brewing. My first 2 went great, the last 2, not so much.

The latest is an Imperial IPA. The instructions say my FG should be around 1.042. I had an OG of 1.097 and now my FG is 1.022. They say ABV should be around 8.5% and my numbers show 9.98%. And it tastes that way too from the FG sample.

Before this I did a Fireside Ale that also had an FG much lower than the recipe said, and came out about 1.5% higher in ABV.

What am I doing to get this result? The only thing I can think of different with these last two batches is fighting the cold and winds outside here in Colorado. Takes me longer to get a boil and to keep it boiling. Will that affect this? This is frustrating. These last two batches aren't tasting as wonderful as the first two. :(
 

j_adkison27

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Couple of questions to help us answer:

1. What was your grain bill
2. Do you know your efficiency?
3. What yeast did you use?
4. At what temp did you ferment?

Give me those and we can narrow it down a bit.
 

brettg20

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What is your final volume? If you ended up with 4.5 gal on a 5 gal recipe you will have a higher ABV because more water was boiled off. This could be 1 of many reasons, hard to say what happened without more info.
 

RM-MN

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Couple of questions to help us answer:

1. What was your grain bill
2. Do you know your efficiency?

3. What yeast did you use?
4. At what temp did you ferment?

Give me those and we can narrow it down a bit.
The 2 questions in red do not apply, the beer was from an extract kit.

Fermentation temperature and conditions can change how the yeast react. Your yeast may have just decided to do better than the average. The other thing that I can think of that could do that is the accidental introduction of a wild yeast that can attenuate better than it's tamed cousins. What do you ferment in and how good is your sanitation?
 

LakesideBrewing

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The latest is an Imperial IPA. The instructions say my FG should be around 1.042. I had an OG of 1.097 and now my FG is 1.022. They say ABV should be around 8.5% and my numbers show 9.98%. And it tastes that way too from the FG sample.
I don't think you did anything wrong! I'm not sure why the kit you bought had a FG of 1.042! That's real high in my opinion. Sounds like a FG of 1.022 is just about perfect and I would be very, very happy. :mug:

-Mike
 

aiptasia

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I'd suspect the yeast strain first. It sounds like they're getting plenty to feed on and your water is full of nutrients, which is a good thing. I'm betting that your beers taste "hot," or high on the alcohol. This can be tamed if you have any other beer around that doesn't clash with the imperial's style by doing a slight blend, say 10%.
Breweries do blends all the time to monkey with their ABV's.

If you're using a high attenator strain of yeast, consider using something a little less aggressive. Be sure your sanitizing regime is up to snuff to avoid infections.
 
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Tadpole

Tadpole

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Couple of questions to help us answer:

1. What was your grain bill
2. Do you know your efficiency?
3. What yeast did you use?
4. At what temp did you ferment?

Give me those and we can narrow it down a bit.
The extract kit from William's doesn't identify any of the types of things I'm using, and my experience is too low to figure out what is what yet. The yeast was a Wyeast smack pack, though I don't recall which type off the top of my head. I fermented at around 68°

What is your final volume? If you ended up with 4.5 gal on a 5 gal recipe you will have a higher ABV because more water was boiled off. This could be 1 of many reasons, hard to say what happened without more info.
5gal. I top off with cold water to bring the wort up to 5gal when I put it in the fermenter per the directions.

The 2 questions in red do not apply, the beer was from an extract kit.

Fermentation temperature and conditions can change how the yeast react. Your yeast may have just decided to do better than the average. The other thing that I can think of that could do that is the accidental introduction of a wild yeast that can attenuate better than it's tamed cousins. What do you ferment in and how good is your sanitation?
I ferment in those plastic fermenters. Had no problems with the first two kits I made, but the last two come out tasting off, so maybe I'm getting something weird. Though I've been pretty anal with cleaning and sanitation. I use StarSan to sanitize everything, including scissors and the yeast pack, anything that comes in contact with the beer.

I don't think you did anything wrong! I'm not sure why the kit you bought had a FG of 1.042! That's real high in my opinion. Sounds like a FG of 1.022 is just about perfect and I would be very, very happy. :mug:

-Mike
I'm not liking the taste though. I'm not sure if it's from some contamination or the high alcohol. I'll rack this to the keg tonight and we'll see how it comes out. Hoping some aging will help. But the sample out of the fermenter for the FG measurement didn't taste as I'd expect an Imperial IPA to taste.

I'd suspect the yeast strain first. It sounds like they're getting plenty to feed on and your water is full of nutrients, which is a good thing. I'm betting that your beers taste "hot," or high on the alcohol. This can be tamed if you have any other beer around that doesn't clash with the imperial's style by doing a slight blend, say 10%.
Breweries do blends all the time to monkey with their ABV's.

If you're using a high attenator strain of yeast, consider using something a little less aggressive. Be sure your sanitizing regime is up to snuff to avoid infections.
The last batch fermented like crazy, had a massive blow out. This one fermented like the first batches, no blow outs. But they've both gone well below what the recipe says the FG should be.
 

unionrdr

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Part of the problem is the amount of fermentable simple sugars in the resulting wort. How well did you follow the recipes? I was thinking that maybe they count on you caramelizing the wort slightly to get enough long chain (un-fermentable) sugars in it to give more flavor & color. Since the ABV is normally higher for an IIPA,this could be likely.
As in how much extract did you start the boil with vs how much water? Late extract is usually a very good thing. but this time,somethings def off.
 

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Have you bumped your hydrometer lately? Perhaps the paper shifted in the tube. It's worth checking, though I doubt it's the full problem. Have you used the same fermenter for both unsatisfactory batches? If so, was that a different vessel than the first two batches?
How old were the kits? Purchased fresh, or sat on your shelf for a few weeks? This questions doesn't really address SG issues but may identify some attenuation or extract off flavor problems. Kyle
 
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unionrdr said:
Part of the problem is the amount of fermentable simple sugars in the resulting wort. How well did you follow the recipes? I was thinking that maybe they count on you caramelizing the wort slightly to get enough long chain (un-fermentable) sugars in it to give more flavor & color. Since the ABV is normally higher for an IIPA,this could be likely.
As in how much extract did you start the boil with vs how much water? Late extract is usually a very good thing. but this time,somethings def off.
They're pretty basic instructions and I follow them dead on. Nothing fancy but boil 4 or 5 gal of water and pour in the two malt pouches. They weighed 14lbs. The kit is all ore measured and they don't tell you weight or what it is. I'm going to a partial extract kit next that I'll actually know everything I'm putting in though. So on this one I boiled 4 gal. Once it boiled, I added the malt.

Going to brew up the last extract kit from them this weekend. I got it in the mail yesterday. Will see how this one goes.
 

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Just curious: How long did you let these ferment? Big beers like that Imperial IPA need about 3-4 weeks in the fermenter to finish and clean up off flavors. Then you need to age them in keg/bottles for about another 4 weeks minimum to improve flavor even more.

In my limited (2 years) of experience it seems that big beer extract kits that have sugar (corn sugar) in the recipe to boost alcohol always taste "hot" and high in alcohol until they age a long time. Part of the reason I usually brew 1.050 OG beers is I hate waiting 3 months for my beer to be tasty.

I do think that if you age that IPA another month it will improve significantly.
 

unionrdr

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Hmm,your having added all the extract at the beginning should've produced a bit more unfermentables. Maybe the LME they sell in their kits has too many fermentables vs unfermentable long chain sugars that make color & flavors.
That's why I like midwests' kits. They say what's in them,& they're balanced quite well to produce the results they describe pretty well. Maybe it's time for a change to get more consistent results?
 
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Conan said:
Have you bumped your hydrometer lately? Perhaps the paper shifted in the tube. It's worth checking, though I doubt it's the full problem. Have you used the same fermenter for both unsatisfactory batches? If so, was that a different vessel than the first two batches?
How old were the kits? Purchased fresh, or sat on your shelf for a few weeks? This questions doesn't really address SG issues but may identify some attenuation or extract off flavor problems. Kyle
Nope on the hydrometer. Tested with a different one last night too. Same fermenter for the last three batches, two bad and one good. Kits were fresh and kept in the fridge until needed.

I have an idea of what might have happened, maybe. Both bad batches I forgot to soften the malt before I needed them. I ended up dropping the bags into the wort to soften them and dump them out. Maybe that transferred funny favors. I didn't consider that before as I was just thinking the boil was sanitizing it but that wouldn't prevent a flavor problem. Still doesn't explain the higher ABV.

Thanks for the replies and brainstorming.
 
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Jayhem said:
Just curious: How long did you let these ferment? Big beers like that Imperial IPA need about 3-4 weeks in the fermenter to finish and clean up off flavors. Then you need to age them in keg/bottles for about another 4 weeks minimum to improve flavor even more.

In my limited (2 years) of experience it seems that big beer extract kits that have sugar (corn sugar) in the recipe to boost alcohol always taste "hot" and high in alcohol until they age a long time. Part of the reason I usually brew 1.050 OG beers is I hate waiting 3 months for my beer to be tasty.

I do think that if you age that IPA another month it will improve significantly.
This IPA has been in the fermenter for 3.5 weeks so far. My only taste of it has been the FG sample I took last night.

Th last Ale was in the fermenter for 2 weeks per instruction and then I kegged and force carbed. Even after 6 weeks in the keg it still tasted off. Te good batches I did were bottled and aged 4 weeks before drinking. Just switched to kegging.
 

Jayhem

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This IPA has been in the fermenter for 3.5 weeks so far. My only taste of it has been the FG sample I took last night.

Th last Ale was in the fermenter for 2 weeks per instruction and then I kegged and force carbed. Even after 6 weeks in the keg it still tasted off. Te good batches I did were bottled and aged 4 weeks before drinking. Just switched to kegging.
Don't go by the hydrometer sample. My Belgians always taste hot and harsh before I bottle them but after 8 weeks of aging they smooth out and balance! :mug:
 

unionrdr

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Any nasties on the outside of the extract pouches would've been killed in seconds in the boiling water. So no nasties to raise ABV from that. Maybe a lil plastic flavor.
 

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I keep getting batches that are much higher in ABV than they're supposed to be. This makes the 2nd batch in a row. I'm doing extract kits from William's Brewing. My first 2 went great, the last 2, not so much.

The latest is an Imperial IPA. The instructions say my FG should be around 1.042. I had an OG of 1.097 and now my FG is 1.022. They say ABV should be around 8.5% and my numbers show 9.98%. And it tastes that way too from the FG sample.

Before this I did a Fireside Ale that also had an FG much lower than the recipe said, and came out about 1.5% higher in ABV.

What am I doing to get this result? The only thing I can think of different with these last two batches is fighting the cold and winds outside here in Colorado. Takes me longer to get a boil and to keep it boiling. Will that affect this? This is frustrating. These last two batches aren't tasting as wonderful as the first two. :(
Are you sure the kit said 1.042 FG? 1.042 is too high for a FG. 1.22 sounds more like a finishing gravity for an IIPA.

Assuming your OG number is correct(it's easy to have a skewed number because it's difficult to get the wort and top off water completely blended) (og-fg)*1.31 or (1.097-1.022)*1.31=9.8% ABV. Again, about right for a IIPA. The difference in ABV is probably due to the wort not being completely blended. It's unlikely the OG is higher than what the kits says unless you added more sugar or were short on water volume. EDIT: you say 4 gallon. Was this a 5gal. kit? that would be account for the higher OG number.

A couple of other things....

one smack pack is not nearly enough yeast to properly ferment an IIPA. This very well may be your issue.

What was the yeast strain? Depending on the yeast strain, 68F is probably too warm. Fermentation is exothermic so the beer's temp is certainly higher than 68F (i'm assuming no water bath or fermentation chamber was used.)

Describe the off flavor. What does the off flavor taste like?

Have a read of common off flavors. Do any of these describe your beer?

http://www.winning-homebrew.com/off-flavors.html

EDIT: I just checked Williams kits. Their IIPA comes w/chico which is Wyeast 1056. 68F is too high for that strain. I'd guess underpitching and higher temps are your culprits here.
 

RM-MN

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This IPA has been in the fermenter for 3.5 weeks so far. My only taste of it has been the FG sample I took last night.

Th last Ale was in the fermenter for 2 weeks per instruction and then I kegged and force carbed. Even after 6 weeks in the keg it still tasted off. Te good batches I did were bottled and aged 4 weeks before drinking. Just switched to kegging.
It takes just as long for beer to mature in the keg as in the bottles but that maturing needs to be at or near room temperature. If you refrigerated your kegs, you slowed or even stopped that process of maturation. Bringing them back to room temperature will restart the process.
 
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Are you sure the kit said 1.042 FG?

EDIT: you say 4 gallon. Was this a 5gal. kit? that would be account for the higher OG number.
The instructions from the kit, and can be read online, say FG of 1.042 or lower. For Fermenting is says primary for 7 days at 60-65 degrees, then secondary for 15 day at a MINIMUM of 68°. I passed on the secondary and just let it stay in the primary, though I was at that 68-70° range the whole time.

They say boil 4 or 5 gal of water when making the wort, I boiled 4gal, added in the malt, etc, and once cooled and racked to the fermenter, I topped off with cold water to 5gal...again, as the instructions say.

It takes just as long for beer to mature in the keg as in the bottles but that maturing needs to be at or near room temperature. If you refrigerated your kegs, you slowed or even stopped that process of maturation. Bringing them back to room temperature will restart the process.
Last batch I did put it in the keg and then the fridge.

So I want to age this IIPA in the keg. Do I put any priming sugar (like the instructions say) into the keg for the aging? Or do I just rack it to the keg, and stash it away at room temp for awhile? I had someone else tell me to just keg it, stick in fridge, 10psi on it for three weeks. Always so many options, just looking for more I guess.
 

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They're pretty basic instructions and I follow them dead on. Nothing fancy but boil 4 or 5 gal of water and pour in the two malt pouches. They weighed 14lbs.
If you are adding 14 pounds of malt extract to a 5 gallon batch, that's your problem of too high OG. 14 pounds is way too much for a 5 gallon batch. 6 or 7 pounds would be more like the norm for 5 gallons...
 
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Hugh_Jass

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The instructions from the kit, and can be read online, say FG of 1.042 or lower. For Fermenting is says primary for 7 days at 60-65 degrees, then secondary for 15 day at a MINIMUM of 68°. I passed on the secondary and just let it stay in the primary, though I was at that 68-70° range the whole time.

They say boil 4 or 5 gal of water when making the wort, I boiled 4gal, added in the malt, etc, and once cooled and racked to the fermenter, I topped off with cold water to 5gal...again, as the instructions say.




Last batch I did put it in the keg and then the fridge.

So I want to age this IIPA in the keg. Do I put any priming sugar (like the instructions say) into the keg for the aging? Or do I just rack it to the keg, and stash it away at room temp for awhile? I had someone else tell me to just keg it, stick in fridge, 10psi on it for three weeks. Always so many options, just looking for more I guess.
Read the rest of my post. You underpitched the yeast. This will cause fusel alcohols and esters.
Also, you never answered my question... what off flavors do you taste? See the link in my prior post.
 
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Tadpole

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Read the rest of my post. You underpitched the yeast. This will cause fusel alcohols and esters.
Also, you never answered my question... what off flavors do you taste? See the link in my prior post.
I read it, and thought I did answer the taste early on in this thread.
 
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It just tastes very potent, like liquor, not beer, or any IIPA I've ever had. But it's not aged yet, so we'll see.

Mostly I was just posting this thread to figure out why my ABV comes out much higher than the recipe for a boxed up extract kit says it should.
 

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Well good luck to you then. I hope things improve
 
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I assume by underpitching you mean I didn't put in enough yeast? I put in what the kit came with and instructed. I'm a beginner, hence posting in this forum here....I just figured the kit would come with what it's supposed to.
 

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It just tastes very potent, like liquor, not beer, or any IIPA I've ever had. But it's not aged yet, so we'll see.

Mostly I was just posting this thread to figure out why my ABV comes out much higher than the recipe for a boxed up extract kit says it should.
Aging will change your flavors. The percieved alcohol flavor will fade somewhat. Your boxed kit doesn't say that you should have a FG of 1.042, it says it should be lower than that much. Yours is a fine FG, near perfect.
 
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I just checked Williams kits. Their IIPA comes w/chico which is Wyeast 1056. 68F is too high for that strain. I'd guess underpitching and higher temps are your culprits here.
I went downstairs and grabbed the empty smackpack. It's Wyeast 1272 American II. The package says to pitch between 62-72°. But it also says into an OG of up to 1.060.

My OG was above that, in which case it says additional yeast may be needed, but at that point, I only had the one package provided with the kit...that mentioned nothing about possibly needing more. Next time I'll read the yeast package for this knowledge and, if my OG is too high, I can run to the local store and see if I can get a 2nd pack...and get it to swell in time before the 1st one goes bad.

Also, I used the immersion chiller to get the temp down under 85° as the instructions said. Thinking about it, by the time I got it racked into the primary, I was probably around 80°, and it didn't take me long to pitch the yeast, so it was probably above the 72° this smackpack says.

So with all of this, I've done some learning...
  • Make sure my wort is cooled down to the range of the specific yeast.
  • Do better at checking OG to see if I'm going to need more than one pack of yeast.
  • Kit instructions are copy / pasted and not very accurate to each recipe!

So, as for where I'm going from here with this IIPA batch, I intend to rack it to the keg tomorrow night, no priming sugar or anything, and stick it in the same place I park bottled beer to age. I'll wait a month, then move it to the fridge and stick the CO2 on it to carb it up for some more time.

As for future batches, take what I've learned here and press on. Next one I have ready to brew is an Amarillo Ale LME kit from William's as well. Next after that will be one of those partial extract kits from Northern Brewer so I can start making that change into something other than just liquid malt.

Thanks everyone for discussing this with me, you rock! :mug:
 

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1272 is not Chico. Those instructions suck. One smack pack does not contain nearly enough of a culture to ferment a beer with that og. The kit sucked. No wonder you're tasting off flavors. G.I.G.O.

Post the next kit you're going to brew. I'll take a look at it to make sure the next brew turns out better

I try to keep fermentation in the lower third of the recommended temp range for the yeast strain I'm using. Also, I cool the wort lower and pitch cool. It slows the start time, but I think I get a better end product.

Give this thread a read. The first few pages are definitely helpful.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/aging-beer-facts-myths-discussion-84005/
 
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1272 is not Chico. Those instructions suck. One smack pack does not contain nearly enough of a culture to ferment a beer with that og. The kit sucked. No wonder you're tasting off flavors. G.I.G.O.

Post the next kit you're going to brew. I'll take a look at it to make sure the next brew turns out better

I try to keep fermentation in the lower third of the recommended temp range for the yeast strain I'm using. Also, I cool the wort lower and pitch cool. It slows the start time, but I think I get a better end product.

Give this thread a read. The first few pages are definitely helpful.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/aging-beer-facts-myths-discussion-84005/
Thanks, I'll look over that link. Here's the next one that I'm brewing, it just came in a couple days ago, it's in the fridge right now.

http://www.williamsbrewing.com/WILLIAMS-AMARILLO-ALE-P1754C183.aspx
http://www.williamsbrewing.com/pdfs/K52 Amarillo Ale.pdf
 

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Sounds like a good pale ale in the same light as midwests' cascade pale. Very good balance with these sort of kits. With an OG of 1.052,the max OG of the smack pack of 1.060,or the max of White Labs vials of 1.070 would be enough at the right temp range. I did an experiment myself with my 2 current brews. The 1st was light colored,OG1.055 with a starter,the 2nd dark with OG1.046,same yeast,pitched straight from the vial. If the 2nds' temp would've been right (water too cold),it would've started in the same amount of time as the 1st batch. So you should be borderline OG-wise with the Amarillo with regard to pitching straight or using a starter.
 

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It's a lower gravity ale, but I'd still recommend a starter to get your yeast count up.
Take a cup of your malt extract and combine with a quart of water.

Boil (be careful of a boil over the same way you would when brewing), chill to pitching temps, combine wort and yeast in a sanitized container (I used to use a growler).

Let this ferment a few days. While it's fermenting, every time you walk past it, give it a good swirl or shake. Unlike beer, you are trying to introduce O2 into this solution.

After a few days the yeast will have fermented the available sugar, place the yeast culture in the fridge.
You'll notice the yeast flocculate.

On brew day, pour off most of the liquid above the yeast cake. After the wort has cooled, pitch this slurry into the beer and ferment as normal.

The instructions don't indicate which yeast is included in that kit. I'd bet it's either 1056 or 1272. Either yeast is fine. Just remember to try to keep that temp down in the bottom third of the yeast's recommended range.

here's a video of a person making a yeast starter.



Remember the keys to moving your beer from ok to good/great are: rigorous sanitation, pitching a large amount of healthy, viable yeast, and controlling the fermenting beer's temperature. You do those things and you will make a solid product.

Good luck to you.
 
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unionrdr

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@ hugh-Yeah,that's basically it. But I question,for the sake of science,just how necessary is a starter 100% of the time? for example,Wyeast packets say to pitch straight into wort of 1.060 or less. With White Labs,it's listed as 1.070.
For the sake of experiment,I made a starter for a 1.055 light colored wort,& pitched straight into a dark colored 1.046 one. If I would've gotten the wort temp up to 64F like the light colored one,they would've started at about the same time. Garage got spring water a lil too cold by the day the dark was brewed that same week. And the dark one got down lower gravity-wise than the light colored one in realtively the same amount of time. That is to say,the two week mark for both,realative to their actual brew/pitch day.
So I think the instructions on the smack pack or vials is correct to a point & if they are fairly fresh. from my experience thus far. A point of interest anyway.
 

Hugh_Jass

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@ hugh-Yeah,that's basically it. But I question,for the sake of science,just how necessary is a starter 100% of the time? for example,Wyeast packets say to pitch straight into wort of 1.060 or less. With White Labs,it's listed as 1.070.
For the sake of experiment,I made a starter for a 1.055 light colored wort,& pitched straight into a dark colored 1.046 one. If I would've gotten the wort temp up to 64F like the light colored one,they would've started at about the same time. Garage got spring water a lil too cold by the day the dark was brewed that same week. And the dark one got down lower gravity-wise than the light colored one in realtively the same amount of time. That is to say,the two week mark for both,realative to their actual brew/pitch day.
So I think the instructions on the smack pack or vials is correct to a point & if they are fairly fresh. from my experience thus far. A point of interest anyway.
I think it's good brewing practice to make a starter when using a liquid culture. It ensures viability and gives higher cell counts.

Read the thread listed above by YuriRage. "aging beer: fact, myth, discussion. Especially the part that deals with pitching rates.

I know when I started making starters and controlling my ferment temps, my beers improved dramatically. That's just anecdotal, though.
 

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Do you guys think I should put some sugar in the keg so it'll carb while aging or not?
I'd give it a good charge of CO2 to seal the lid and let it be. When you want to put it on tap, carb as normal. That's just me though. I don't think it'd hurt to prime in the keg. I've never done it, personally. Maybe others will chime in.
 

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Do you guys think I should put some sugar in the keg so it'll carb while aging or not?
If the beer needs aging, then sure you could prime it and let it sit and carb up at room temperature while it ages. Beer ages faster at room temperature, so if a beer needs to age that's the best place for it.

I almost never let a keg sit at room temperature, though. A well-made beer is ready pretty soon, and so by the time it is clear, it's generally ready. So I keg it, and put it right in my kegerator to carb up and cold condition a bit.
 

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If the beer needs aging, then sure you could prime it and let it sit and carb up at room temperature while it ages. Beer ages faster at room temperature, so if a beer needs to age that's the best place for it.

I almost never let a keg sit at room temperature, though. A well-made beer is ready pretty soon, and so by the time it is clear, it's generally ready. So I keg it, and put it right in my kegerator to carb up and cold condition a bit.
The beer in question isn't well made though. It was underpitched and fermented a bit warm.
 

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I think it's good brewing practice to make a starter when using a liquid culture. It ensures viability and gives higher cell counts.

Read the thread listed above by YuriRage. "aging beer: fact, myth, discussion. Especially the part that deals with pitching rates.

I know when I started making starters and controlling my ferment temps, my beers improved dramatically. That's just anecdotal, though.
I know that's what everyone says,which runs contrary to what the yeast producers say. so I had to question the whole thing by using the same yeast in two different batches with close to the same gravity brewed in the same week. One with a starter,one not. both under the OG 1.070 listed by White labs. They both would've started in the same amount of time realtive to pitch time if the 2nd one wouldn't have gotten colder water. Darn garage.
But by timing how long it took to get the temp back up to minimum temp of the yeasts' range,it would've started in the same amount of time.
So I think the starter bit is indeed relative to actual OG vs max listed for the yeast on the package.
 
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