What the…?!?!

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

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

Wannabe

New Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Messages
3
Reaction score
2
Location
Iowa
Been brewing for years, but this is a first for me.

I made an all grain brew 3 months ago. It’s been fermenting since. About 2-3 weeks ago, I noticed that it was starting to turn black from the top down. The amount of black liquid is still getting bigger. Anyone have any idea what kind of infection/bacteria would cause this?

Pulled a sample. It smells a little like soy sauce to me. My wife disagrees. She thinks it smells like fermented fruit. Taste is sour/winey/pungent.

Here was my mash bill:

White wheat
Barley
Flaked barley
Rice hulls

Starting gravity was 1.072. Finish gravity was 1.010.

Could it be oxidation? Bacteria of some kind? Wild yeast? While it is a dumper, want to try to learn from it.
961C7557-63D9-4142-95F2-A942BF0C25E5.jpeg
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
19,411
Reaction score
9,715
Location
Pasadena, MD
Did the airlock dry out? That may explain oxidation. Never thought it would stratify like that...

Why did you leave it that long? It was likely done after 3 weeks.
Soy sauce flavors/aromas point to yeast autolysis, and a 3 months time frame is where that may indeed starts to happen.

BTW, it doesn't look the beer is all that clear yet. Could be from the wheat.
 
OP
OP
W

Wannabe

New Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Messages
3
Reaction score
2
Location
Iowa
Ya, got busy. Also thought I’d give it some time to settle. There is only about 2 lbs of barley and 1 lb of flaked barley. Very large majority is wheat. Want to try a 100% wheat at some point, so this was the transition batch. Was hoping that the barley may give it just a bit more fermentation power.

Went to check on it after 2 months and found the beginning of the black color. Decided to keep it rolling to see what happens. Just now getting around to posting about it.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
19,411
Reaction score
9,715
Location
Pasadena, MD
Very large majority is wheat. Want to try a 100% wheat at some point, so this was the transition batch. Was hoping that the barley may give it just a bit more fermentation power.
Wheat malt tends to have a tremendously high diastatic power, better than 2-row ale malt in many cases. A DP of 120-160°Lintner for wheat malt is not uncommon.
So even 50/50 wheat malt/wheat adjunct (e.g., flaked wheat) will convert well and thoroughly. If in doubt do a small test mash and run an iodine check.

Lots of rice hulls will help keep the mash lush, permeable, and lauterable.

I'm looking at doing a Wheat Wine soon, so a similarly crazy high % of wheat plus gravity. We'll see...
 

bracconiere

Jolly Alcoholic
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
22,964
Reaction score
13,392
Location
S.AZ
i'd be curious if you get a mother on top? and if you have a turkey baster, i'd also be curious, if you gently pull a sample from both the dark and light layers what 'both' the denisity and rafrac readings were? can't let a scienice experiment like this be wasted, gotta get all and every detail out of it!

otherwise life is boring! ;) :mug:
 

Tobin Bottman

Member
Joined
May 5, 2022
Messages
13
Reaction score
5
Been brewing for years, but this is a first for me.

I made an all grain brew 3 months ago. It’s been fermenting since. About 2-3 weeks ago, I noticed that it was starting to turn black from the top down. The amount of black liquid is still getting bigger. Anyone have any idea what kind of infection/bacteria would cause this?

Pulled a sample. It smells a little like soy sauce to me. My wife disagrees. She thinks it smells like fermented fruit. Taste is sour/winey/pungent.

Here was my mash bill:

White wheat
Barley
Flaked barley
Rice hulls

Starting gravity was 1.072. Finish gravity was 1.010.

Could it be oxidation? Bacteria of some kind? Wild yeast? While it is a dumper, want to try to learn from it.
View attachment 773066
Once a year I make a saison that I transfer onto peaches and brett to age for ~9 months. I always transfer to tertiary for a final settling and it always does something like that as it clears. Always tastes delicious. So might the two be unrelated? I will try to find a photo of mine doing that….
 

jpitz31

Wild Yeast Brewing
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 20, 2022
Messages
91
Reaction score
64
Location
Escondido, CA 92025, Olympia WA 92025
Yes this will be a good science experiment. I understand you got busy and forgot about it. In the future, after 7 days, pull the beer into a secondary. They if you forget, it will not matter how long you let the beer rest in the secondary. Sounds like some bacteria got into the fermenter. maybe lacto. Can always use it for a meat marinade. I had a brown ale that I pulled out after 7 days that had not removed all of the fusel alcohol, made a great chicken marinade.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
19,411
Reaction score
9,715
Location
Pasadena, MD
In the future, after 7 days, pull the beer into a secondary. They if you forget, it will not matter how long you let the beer rest in the secondary.
Oh, please... secondaries are the bane of good beer unless applied expertly, such as transferring under CO2.
And since there's a transfer involved, you may as well hold off on it for 1-2 weeks, then package.
 

jpitz31

Wild Yeast Brewing
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 20, 2022
Messages
91
Reaction score
64
Location
Escondido, CA 92025, Olympia WA 92025
John Palmer indicates to transfer after 7 days. I ferment my primary using plastic buckets, unless I pressure ferment. I purge my secondary with co2, then run a co2 line through the air lock hole and pump some co2 into the fermenter. I then drain the primary into the secondary.

1 to 2 weeks are fine if you are fine if you are going to bottle or keg. But if you want to dry hop or add fruit or other ingredients then transfer after 7 days make good sense.

I have read many receipts which indicate to transfer after 7 days.

That is fine, healthy debate is a good thing.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
19,411
Reaction score
9,715
Location
Pasadena, MD
😂 I don"t think it's turning 'black' at all. Looks like it's getting less opaque, from the top down, aka going bright 👈
The "dark layer" may very well be an optical illusion. I definitely see clearing happening underneath the dark band, the top being the clearest.

Seeing a large glass carboy sitting there like that is a frightening sight... What's even more frightening is the thought of when it needs to be moved!
Please, @Wannabe, be extremely diligent and careful handling those large glass vessels. Consider using a Brew Hauler or similar carrying device, and leave it on permanently.
 
Joined
Apr 23, 2009
Messages
35,497
Reaction score
15,302
Location
☀️ Clearwater, FL ☀️
Been brewing for years, but this is a first for me.

I made an all grain brew 3 months ago. It’s been fermenting since. About 2-3 weeks ago, I noticed that it was starting to turn black from the top down. The amount of black liquid is still getting bigger. Anyone have any idea what kind of infection/bacteria would cause this?

Pulled a sample. It smells a little like soy sauce to me. My wife disagrees. She thinks it smells like fermented fruit. Taste is sour/winey/pungent.

Here was my mash bill:

White wheat
Barley
Flaked barley
Rice hulls

Starting gravity was 1.072. Finish gravity was 1.010.

Could it be oxidation? Bacteria of some kind? Wild yeast? While it is a dumper, want to try to learn from it.
View attachment 773066

Don't dump. Paradoxically, the dark part is the clear beer, the white stuff has lots of suspended particles (proteins and yeast).

Light reflects off the particles, making that part of the beer appear light. The clear beer on the top contains no reflectors, and thus doesn't reflect and seems dark. True story!
 

hottpeper13

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Messages
1,505
Reaction score
636
Location
Mequon
It's kinda weird that oxidized brew that you can't drink makes the best braising liquid for pork or beef, and with wine it ain't so! Must be why I prefer beer. My oxidized wheat wine made a great brine for my turkey last year. I wouldn't toss it till I used it in a recipe.
 

SRJHops

Why did the rabbit like NEIPA's so much?
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
602
Reaction score
210
Location
Minneapolis
John Palmer indicates to transfer after 7 days. I ferment my primary using plastic buckets, unless I pressure ferment. I purge my secondary with co2, then run a co2 line through the air lock hole and pump some co2 into the fermenter. I then drain the primary into the secondary.

1 to 2 weeks are fine if you are fine if you are going to bottle or keg. But if you want to dry hop or add fruit or other ingredients then transfer after 7 days make good sense.

I have read many receipts which indicate to transfer after 7 days.

That is fine, healthy debate is a good thing.

I'd be curious if anyone has heard Palmer's thoughts about secondary transfers recently? It's true that the old brewing books pretty much all say to transfer to secondary. However, brewing changes and evolves. There weren't highly hopped New England IPA's back when those books were published.

As you noted, for most beers that will be kegged or bottled in under a month, there is usually no reason to transfer to secondary. Will they still be OK -- maybe/probably. But for some beers, it can be downright harmful, such as any beer with any substantial amount of hops. You can transfer carefully using Co2, but why bother when you don't need to? Unless you need to free up the fermenting vessel I suppose. Personally, I'd just get another one...

The only time I use secondary anymore is when I have a low hopped beer with a fruit addition. But even then my preference is to just drop the fruit into primary. I would also transfer any beer that I plan to age more than a month....
 

SRJHops

Why did the rabbit like NEIPA's so much?
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
602
Reaction score
210
Location
Minneapolis
Been brewing for years, but this is a first for me.

I made an all grain brew 3 months ago. It’s been fermenting since. About 2-3 weeks ago, I noticed that it was starting to turn black from the top down. The amount of black liquid is still getting bigger. Anyone have any idea what kind of infection/bacteria would cause this?

Pulled a sample. It smells a little like soy sauce to me. My wife disagrees. She thinks it smells like fermented fruit. Taste is sour/winey/pungent.

Here was my mash bill:

White wheat
Barley
Flaked barley
Rice hulls

Starting gravity was 1.072. Finish gravity was 1.010.

Could it be oxidation? Bacteria of some kind? Wild yeast? While it is a dumper, want to try to learn from it.
View attachment 773066

Agree that it's a dumper. Since you said it smells like soy sauce and tastes bad, my bet is autolysis, based on my reading. Or some kind of infection, since you said it's sour (assuming that was not the goal). I've never seen a beer oxidize like that, so I think that's a distant third place for what happened.

The fix is easy, of course, as you have surmised. Don't keep the beer on the yeast for three months....
 

mashpaddled

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
909
Reaction score
686
Location
Denver, CO
If you carried forward a lot of sediment from the mash, then that would explain at least some of the appearance. You're definitely seeing yeast and other solids in the beer dropping out as fermentation winds down. I am not too alarmed by the difference in color if that is the case. The cylinder on the side looks ok. Wheat doesn't have a husk so the more wheat you use the less of a filter bed you have for your mash.

With your explanation of aroma it sounds like maybe an oxidation issue which would also explain some of why the beer is so dark.

It seems too early to make a judgment call about the beer. I'd give it at least a few more days.
 

bwible

I drink, and I know things
HBT Supporter
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
2,018
Reaction score
3,739
Location
Oxford, PA
I'd be curious if anyone has heard Palmer's thoughts about secondary transfers recently? It's true that the old brewing books pretty much all say to transfer to secondary. However, brewing changes and evolves. There weren't highly hopped New England IPA's back when those books were published.

As you noted, for most beers that will be kegged or bottled in under a month, there is usually no reason to transfer to secondary. Will they still be OK -- maybe/probably. But for some beers, it can be downright harmful, such as any beer with any substantial amount of hops. You can transfer carefully using Co2, but why bother when you don't need to? Unless you need to free up the fermenting vessel I suppose. Personally, I'd just get another one...

The only time I use secondary anymore is when I have a low hopped beer with a fruit addition. But even then my preference is to just drop the fruit into primary. I would also transfer any beer that I plan to age more than a month....
I still do “secondary” carboys for the majority of my beers. I’ve said many times that I hate that word - “secondary” - because there’s no “second” fermentation. There is only 1 fermentation.

It is not a second fermentation. It’s a clearing/settling step. Breweries do this, where its called a “bright tank”. It’s the same function.

When I started brewing in 1997 everybody did this. And we didn’t have oxygen purged systems, we didn’t rack to our kegs under pressure through the liquid dip tube, nobody knew what “spunding” was. Now this is all of a sudden a thing that is a big problem?

I think you nailed it - NEIPA. So if I’m not making a NEIPA, then I guess I don’t have a problem.

We follow the same rules we always did. Sanitize everything. I sanitize my racking cane and hose by first siphoning a full carboy of star san to another clean carboy. Then I have a sanitized carboy, sanitized hose and sanitized racking cane. Use the right size carboy so its filled almost all the way with no large head space. Don’t put your mouth on a hose and suck start a siphon. Keep the end of the hose submerged and splash as little as possible.
 
Top