High Alcohol Content

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Hawkeye Brewing, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. Hawkeye Brewing

    Hawkeye Brewing New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2018
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Hey Fellow Brewers,

    So I am new to the grain brewing and learning my ways slowly but surly. Recently I tried a ESB recipe and it came out with way high alcohol content (Over 8%) and all you could taste was the alcohol so I dumped it and want to try again. The only thing I know that did not come out the way I wanted was the mash temp. I am temp using a insulated water cooler until I decide to buy a good mash ton.
    I put 200 degree water in the water cooler to warm it up before mashing out then dumped it. I put my spark water in and had it at 175" expecting it to drop 15-20 degrees when I put in the grains and also being I was using a water cooler. I dumped in the grains and mashed out and put lid on. It immediately dropped to 145 degrees in the mash ton and 60 min later it was around 140 degrees. Would the alcohol content raise that much to the point it skunks the beer from the lower mash temp.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    9,418
    Likes Received:
    6,671
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aurora, CO, USA
    Okay, first, I use an insulated water cooler as my mash tun, works fine. And it isn't your problem. Warming the tun should have moved your temperature in the opposite direction and 175 degrees, as long as you had an adequate water to grist ratio (1.5 qt/lb or greater), should have produced a very hot mash - something is wrong here. You didn't mention stirring in the grains, I assume you did so. My guess is that you miscalculated either strike water volume or temperature. You mashed out before your rest? Mash-out is heating the mash to around 170 degrees to stop enzyme activity. That it dropped to 145 degrees - that part still confuses me. But it wouldn't have caused high alcohol content. Maybe you should share the recipe and a bit more about your process, because what you describe simply doesn't make sense.
     
  3. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    7,767
    Likes Received:
    3,977
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Managment
    Location:
    The Ozark Mountains of Missouri
    no not that much, the issue is probably related to fermentation and an infection, I would bleach everything before your next brew
     
  4. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3,476
    Likes Received:
    2,694
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    A beer at 8% shouldn't be undrinkable by any means. And it would mellow out with some aging, anyway.
    I assume that you used hydrometer readings pre-and post-fermentation to give you your ABV figure. You'd have to have an OG of 1.08 or better or have an FG of near zero or both. What were your actual hydrometer readings?
     
  5. Hawkeye Brewing

    Hawkeye Brewing New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2018
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Recipe:

    Golden Pride ESB

    Batch Size: 5.5 gallons
    OG Pre: 1.051
    Final Gravity: 1.014
    ABV: 4.85%
    IBU: 44.16
    SRM: 10.44

    9' of Maris Otter
    1' of Crystal 60L
    4.5 oz First gold Hops.
    WLP023 Burton Ale Yeast

    Here is the recipe I used. I will start documenting what I used so I know for the next round and future reference. If my memory serves correctly I used about 1.5 qt of strike water per pound. I warmed my mash tun 1st then dumped out the water. I put my strike water in the water cooler (mash tun) and started adding my grains, and mixed well. Closed the water cooler and let sit for 60 min. I installed a thermometer in the side of the water cooler and after adding grains my temp went down to about 147 and that was with strike water at 175. I watched it for the 60 min and the temp slowly decreased to

    140-141 after the 60 min. I slowly recirculated some of the wart until clean and then slowly drained the wart into my boil tank. I used sparge water and added slowly to the mash tun to get the remaining goodness out and get to my boil volume. ( I am not 100% sure on what I am suppose to do with sparge water and how much to use at what temp so that may be part of my problem)


    From that point I started my boil and added hops in the increments that they asked for and boiled for 65 min I believe. 15 min before the end of the boil I put my copper cooling coil in to make sure it was sanitized. After I shut down the burner I started the water cooler until the product was down to around 80-85 degrees. I drained the wart into my fermenter (that was sanitized with Starsan). I added my yeast put the lid on and added my air gap on top.


    A couple days later the air gap was really bubbling and I let it ferment for 2 weeks. After fermentation I bottled with about 1 tsp of sugar in my bottles to get the carbonation started.


    I plan to buy a keg in the future but want to get brewing down pat 1st.


    As for OG pre boil and post I don't remember the exact number but my pre boil was about 1. 045-1.047 and final gravity I can't even give a number on what it was. I had it written down but can't find the paper. I am going to use the brewing template on this site going forward so I have everything documented.


    I am ready to make the same ESB again this weekend but not sure where I went wrong cause the beer tasted horrible. I am not one to dump out a beer but I dumped the entire batch it was so bad.


    I am willing to go to any length to get this figured out.
     
  6. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Messages:
    2,457
    Likes Received:
    1,947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Rosedale, MD
    You didn't mention any off flavors other than the high alcohol.
    Did it smell or taste sour or like vinegar? Was it overly carbonated than what you intended?

    From what I can tell (and bear in mind I've had a few pulls from the keg tonight) your process sounds about right. I'm leaning towards an infection at some point
     
  7. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    7,767
    Likes Received:
    3,977
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Managment
    Location:
    The Ozark Mountains of Missouri
    well 8% is just a guess I'm guessing because that's not even possible, 6.69% is the highest you can get from that gravity Im guessing youre gravity was either higher or an infection occurred, some do not have a flavor and just cause the yeast to go crazy and eat everything
     
  8. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3,476
    Likes Received:
    2,694
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Based on the partial info, you didn't have 8% beer. You're just not going to get there with .045 pre-boil wort. You could go to 110% attenuation and only get a little over 7. If you pitched at 85 degrees and left it at room temp, you got a load of fusels in it. That would taste solvent-y like alcohol but the ABV wasn't as high as you think.
    Don't pitch at that temp.
     
  9. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    9,418
    Likes Received:
    6,671
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aurora, CO, USA
    Perhaps a miss-read on a hydrometer? Or a badly calibrated one?
     
  10. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    7,767
    Likes Received:
    3,977
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Managment
    Location:
    The Ozark Mountains of Missouri
    could be and also JA made a point if your setting your fermenter in the house at room temp lets say 74F as an average the yeast will increase temperature as much as 9 degrees making it in the 80's and that can cause the fusel alcohol taste, yeast love that temp but it's not good for beer in most cases
     
  11. Hawkeye Brewing

    Hawkeye Brewing New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2018
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    That very well may be it. It does not taste like solvent but it does taste like pure alcohol which very well could be Fusel. I am using a 7 gallon plastic fermenter bucket and what temp should I keep it at or where should I place it so it does not get to warm?
     
  12. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    7,767
    Likes Received:
    3,977
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Managment
    Location:
    The Ozark Mountains of Missouri
    I keep mine at 62 for 4 days many people ferment at 65 but a constant 65 not up and down, your best bet is to invest in a plastic tub big enough to hold water and your carboy then add frozen bottles of ice or plain ice every day or so keeping it low
     
    Medarius likes this.
  13. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2012
    Messages:
    961
    Likes Received:
    578
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Mentor, Ohio
    Most ale Yeast are going to give you the best results at about 68°.
    Here is a chart from White Labs that will give you information about the different strains and their optimal fermentation temperature range.
    https://www.whitelabs.com/sites/default/files/YeastGuide-poster_8-21-18_final.pdf
    If you look under the tools at the top of the page, you'll find a strike water calculator that will help you get to your desired mash temp.
    I'd get your water into the mash tun a little hotter than your target and then stir it gently until you get down to your strike temp and then mash in.
    Also, It seems like a lot of Hops for an ESB.
    Search out a swamp cooler to control your fermentation temperature and don't pitch your yeast until you are in the optimal range.
    Good luck,
    Brian
     
  14. Bierman707

    Bierman707 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2018
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    44
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    California
    I'm new and was just wondering how an infection would affect the alcohol level in the beer.
     
  15. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    7,767
    Likes Received:
    3,977
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Managment
    Location:
    The Ozark Mountains of Missouri
    I won't go into details but there is a yeast infection that creates a zombie effect and they go crazy and eat everything in site, it doesn't ruin the beer but it creates a very high alcohol in the process
     
    Bierman707 likes this.

Share This Page

arrow_white