Not desperate yet, but... things need to get better

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by okoncentrerad, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    I think I'm in need of some hugging, or some encouragment....or advice at least.

    I've done 6 beers so far, started in late October last year, and I'm not the happy brewer I hoped to be. To be honest, the five beers I've been able to taste is more or less a disapointment so far. There has to be something wrong in my brewing process but I don't know what and why. The disapointment is the way the beer tastes, there is this off-flavor in all of them...some got more and some got less. The hoppy IPA's seems to hide it better, in the english ales/bitters it's more obvious. Problem is, I have no word to describe the flavor...just that it's something i DON'T WANT in my beer. It's also a smellable flavor. However, it seems to be fading away somewhat as the beer ages. I'm at this moment drinking a bottle of my second brew, bottled a bit more than 2 months ago, and most of that off flavor seems to have vanished. But as with most of my brews it also have a problem with being to dry and lacking enough mouth feel.

    My brewing process (BIAB) (been more or less the same for all brews, maybe some slight changes from brew to brew):
    1. Mash at 67C (152F) for at least 60 minutes, usually 70-75 minutes. I've got an insulated kettle and I think I have the temperature rather OK during that time. I have two thermometers (standard alcohol ones) and they show pretty much the same. I stir the grain15 minutes, or so, into the mash. To the last two brews I've added some lactic acid to the water to get down to a decent pH reading. My first brew I finished mashing with lifting the bag and do a gentle squeeze, however with the others I've finished with doing quite a hard squeeze on the bag.
    2. I do a sort of a sparge where (with the bag sitting on a colander) I pour hot water, 75C/165F, rather slowly over the bag, into the kettle, to get to my expected boil volume.
    3. I boil for at least 60 minutes, more or less a good rolling boil.
    4. I use muslin bags for the hops. Usually a bittering hop at 60, and at end of boil, sometimes a 15-20 minutes before end of boil.
    5. I chill the wort by putting the kettle in a old stainless washbasin filled with cold water and with a immersion chiller I put into the kettle 10-15 minutes prior to end of boil. It takes me about 20-25 minutes to get the temperature down to about 23-25C (73-75F). I let the hop bags stay in the kettle during this time.
    6. I pour the wort into the fermenter through a rather dense cloth/filter (scrim ...i think thats the word?).
    7. Sprinkle my yeast over the wort and aerate it with a good shake for some minute. I've so far only used dry yeast, US-05, S-04 and Nottingham.
    8. The fermenting phase is something I'm rather concerned with, I don't have a good control over the temperature unfortunally. The first days when the yeast is as most active the temperature of the beer might go up and down 3 degrees Celsius (5-6 degrees F), something between 19C to 22C usually. I usally ferment for 2 weeks, up to 3 weeks. The FG of most of my beer is always lower than expected, sometimes much lower.
    9. I bottle the beers, using a tap on the fermenter with a bottle filler attached. I carbonate by adding the amount of sugar I need directly to bottles prior to filling them (dissolve sugar in boiling water, cool down and fill with a syringe kind of thing). Leave the beers in the bottles for at least two weeks for conditioning.
    Sanitation, I'm not anal about it. I try to do the necessary though. I wash things after I've used it. I give buckets and stuff a shower before I use them. Use starsan to sanitize fermentor, bottles, utilities etc.

    Someone seeing something obvious wrong with this? Some hint where I should change or something I can do different? Any kind of advice and help and hugs is appreciated!
     
  2. Medarius

    Medarius Active Member

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    Your procedures seem basically sound.

    Maybe aerate the wort mostly prior to yeast pitch and just give a good shake on way to storage spot after putting in yeast. But Not sure that would make a difference in taste.

    The only thing you didn't mention was your water. Do you use city water or bottled. ??? Water out of the tap can make a bad beer., any tap water should be charcoal filtered at least, and not come through a softener,.
     
  3. Johnwk

    Johnwk Member

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    Everything you are doing is right in line with good practices. In terms of fermentation, the range is nothing at all to worry about, but if you can stabilize the temperature even more (keeping it under 21 C would be ideal), that would be an improvement.
     
  4. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    What is your water supply? Public, well, RO, etc ? And have you checked that to the profiles of beer you are making? Mash pH?
     
  5. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    I use water from my own well. First brews, before I knew better, was AFTER a softener. The last two however I took water from prior to the softener.
     
  6. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    With my first brews I didn't pay attention to any pH, profiles etc. With my last brews I have tried to reach a good pH with lactic acid and brew beer that should fit the profile of my water.
     
  7. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    My well water profile changes from season to season. My well is also too high in iron and sulfur to brew with. Therefore I use bottled water. I’m no expert, but you may want to try a brew with bottled water. Either spring water with minor salt additions or distilled or RO water with salt additions. If the beer turns out the way you like (taste and smell), you might need to switch water sources.
     
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  8. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    http://www.howtobrew.com/
    This online book is great reading for any brewer. In it you will find descriptions of off flavors you may find in your beer. Give this a look and maybe it will help you describe the off flavor to yourself so you can get it figured out.
     
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  9. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I'm leaning in the direction of water. I remember the discussion on using water after the softener, I'm wondering what it would be like before? I'm guessing high hardness, leading to an alkaline (relative) finished beer, perhaps some tannin extraction due to high pH.... Try this for your next brew: Do exactly this beer again but buy your water somewhere, either distilled or RO. See if it comes out differently.
     
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  10. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    Should he not add brewing salts with RO water to the profile?
     
  11. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Something simple like a teaspoon of gypsum. Forgot the calcium.
     
  12. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    Yes I been looking into several sources to find a description I could relate to, but I haven't found something I think fits, or at least nothing that sounds right to me. In some way I think the "cooked vegetable" could fit somewhat, but it's nothing I feel sure about. Something I noticed very much in one of the beer I tried this weekend (my last brew) was this smell, similar as the flavor...if I let the beer sit for a while in the glass and then sniffed it before drinking, I was sometimes really hit on the nose with this strong smell...almost like been sniffing over sulfur or something like that.
     
  13. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    Yes I'm thinking of doing something like that for my next brew, either buy bottled water or use water from a friends house, connected to the city water.
     
  14. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    Some of my beers seems to get a bit better if I let them condition longer. Like the one I wrote about a couple of postings ago, it was bottled more than 2 months ago and the first bottles I drank, after 2 weeks in bottle, had this off flavor clearly. I had another bottle a week or 2 later and it was still there. However in the bottle I had yesterday there was hardly any noticeable off flavor at all.

    Is 2 weeks after bottling too soon to start drinking the beers? Do they need longer time in the bottle?
     
  15. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

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  16. Medarius

    Medarius Active Member

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    Time to bottle condition depends on type of beer and temp bottles are kept at for first week or so after bottling.
    Most beers require a same as or bit warmer than fermentation temp to get bottle condition started off correctly.

    If you put up type of beer you are speaking of Ale, lager etc.. the guys on here will give you more helpful tips..(usually) :)
     
  17. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Generally the longer the beer conditions the better it will be. Just because a beer is ready to be drunk (drank?), doesn't mean that it should be
    Inevitably, the last bottle of a batch is always the best one
     
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  18. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    I notice that site has a section describing sulfur/hydrogen/sulfid, I'm thinking of the smell I in the beers and can somewhat relate to that.
     
  19. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    Actually I put my bottles in a rather cool place after bottling, 13-15C (55-59F). Recent beers I have had a bit warmer, but only for 2-3 days.
    Type of beers...most noticable flavor in british types, brown ale, esb and a bitter. Less noticable in two American IPAs.
     
  20. Medarius

    Medarius Active Member

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    Most sites/experts will say you want your beer to start bottle conditioning at least same temp it was fermenting at. This gets the yeasties warmed up and ready to eat the sugar in your bottle. The 3rd and last stage of fermentation (if you secondary)


    What temp should I bottle condition?
    At the very least, filled and capped bottles should be stored at the temperature it was held during primary fermentation. A little warmer can be even better. 68-80°F is the general range for bottle conditioning.
    Mastering the Art of Bottle Conditioning - American Homebrewers …

    Then move it to the cooler place after a week or so
     

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