Hold off just a little longer. Sometimes the fermentation takes a little longer than expected, especially when brewing at cooler temperatures, or when brewing with extra fermentable sugars or old yeast. In some cases, fermentation may take up to three or four weeks before your beer is ready to bottle.
To understand if there's anything wrong with your beer, we've got to get more specific than "bad." Common unwanted flavors detected in beer include: cidery, vinegary, fruity, bitter, skunky, musty, buttery, solvent-like, and medicinal (band-aid or plastic-like).
Each of these common off-flavors can be thought of as different symptoms which can help diagnose the problem. Most off flavors are caused by simple sanitation errors. Whether the brew keg was opened during fermentation, or the spoon didn't get a proper soaking in the sanitizer, at some point bacteria was probably introduced into the beer. Other problems are caused by fermentation temperature issues. If the beer is too warm during fermentation, it can lead to fruity, spicy, or medicinal flavors. Too cold, and your beer will be syrupy, sweet, and under-attenuated. Pin-point your beer's specific off-flavor, then find it on the FAQ page for more information.
One possibility is that you accidentally omitted the priming sugar when you bottled. If this happened, go back and add the appropriate amount of sugar (see chart below). Or perhaps you refrigerated them too early. If this is the case, try taking them out of the fridge and leaving them at room temperature for a week.
Grapefruit rind, unsweetened chocolate, and overly strong tea are three bitter things. Hops are bitter, too. They provide an essential bitterness to balance the sweetness of malt. Bitterness is different from sourness. For some drinkers, even a little extra bitterness is offensive, while for others (we call 'em "hopheads"), there's no such thing as too many hops. Besides bitterness, hops also contribute to flavor and aroma. Our MR.BEER® mixes with the least bitterness are Bewitched Red Ale, Whispering Wheat Weizenbier, and Octoberfest's Vienna Lager. Of these, the two with the lowest hop flavor are the Bewitched Red Ale and the Whispering Wheat Weizenbier. Our more bitter products include West Coast Pale, Englishman's Nut Brown Ale, Cowboy Lager, Linebacker Bock, and St. Patrick's Irish Stout. The Englishman's Nut Brown Ale and the St. Patrick's Irish Stout also have a kind of bitter/dry flavor due to the presence of roasted barley malt.
A buttery flavor is caused by a specific compound that is produced during the fermentation process. It is an intermediate product, which is later metabolized into ethanol and CO2. If your beer is still quite sweet and buttery, your beer may be (or may have been) fermenting too cold, causing the yeast to go dormant prematurely. Conversely, if your yeast ferment too warm, they may produce more of this compound than they can later re-absorb. Maintain a temperature between 65-75 F for ale fermentations, and 45 - 60 F for lager fermentations.
Buttery or butterscotchy flavors may also be caused by bacterial contamination. Pay close attention to sanitization procedures.
Off Flavor Questions
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