rjmanning

Ok, What'd I do wrong

19 posts in this topic

Ok Guys this is a little long but here goes.  I got my MrBeer starter kit for my birthday in October 2015.  It came with an IPA extract which I made almost immediately.  The IPPA came out great.  I thought it tasted great and everybody I shared it with also said it was really good.  When I finished with the fermenting, I hand washed my LBK as soon as I was done bottling.  I used warm water and unscented dish soap (Dawn) and a brand new unscented, non-scouring sponge. I hand washed the bottles the same way.  I used warm water and dawn mixture in each bottle and a small bottle brush. 

 

I was very excited to try my next batch. I thought I would try the equivalent of my favorite beer and went with the Irish Stout (I love me some Guinness Draught).  Because of timing issues, I didn't start it until May 2016.  I followed the instructions that came with my LBK.  I sanitized everything I was using to start the next batch.  I used two gallons of bottled water for my base.  I added the booster to the cold water (though it was probably just room temperature because I do not remember refrigerating it) but I had a hard time getting it all to dissolve.  I then brought the water to a roiling boil and added the Irish Stout Extract.  I poured the bottled water into the LBK up to the line, poured in the wort  and stirred.  I then added the rest of the water.  Finally, I added the yeast and closed up the LBK.

 

I let the beer ferment for the full 21 days and then bottled it.  I let it carbonate/condition for the 21 days called for in the instructions.  It tasted like crap. It had a very sweet taste to it.  Based on the comments I've seen on this board, I would describe the sweetness as an apple cider like flavor. It also had a bit of an after taste to it as well. 

 

I drank 4 or 5 of the 11 bottles (for some reason my kit only came with 11 PET bottles) over the course of 2 months. It never got any better so I'm ashamed to say that in pique of anger, I dumped the remaining bottles.  I normally wouldn't do something like that to the nectar of the gods but sometimes my temper gets the better of me.  I thought my problem may have been that I did not wash the bottles completely or thoroughly enough so this time I put them through the dishwasher. 

 

I wasn't going to let this experience stop me.  I figured I start with something that should be a little easier.  I got the American Lager Extract.  I sanitized everything.  This time the instructions said to add the booster to the hot water at the same time as the extract. The booster did not dissolve at all so I ended up just scooping the clumped up booster out.   Something I read on these boards made me think the bottled water might have been the issue so I used cold tap water.  I filled my LBK to the 1 line, poured in the wort, stirred and filled it the rest of the way with cold tap water.  I added the yeast and sealed it up. 

 

It fermented for 21 days.  When I did the taste test I thought it tasted a little sweet so I let it ferment for one more week (I think I read a response to a comment about the sweetness of my 2nd batch was due to not fully fermenting).  I bottled it and it has been sitting and conditioning for  21 days.  I opened the first bottle this past Tuesday (the 21st day).  It was sufficiently carbonated.  There was a good head and there were bubbles in the beer.  However, it had that same cidery taste to it. 

 

So now I'm scared that I am doing something wrong.  I have 3 more cans of extract (Oktoberfest, Australian Sparkling Ale, and Imperial Red Ale) that I want to make but I'm afraid to try it because I don't know what I'm doing wrong.  My LBK during fermenting, and my bottles during conditioning, sit on the kitchen counter out of any direct sunlight.  The room temperature in my house is usually between 65F and 68F degrees.  Can anybody help me.  Will the cidery taste go away with longer conditioning or am I doing something wrong.  Please help.

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Ok, here we go

 

dont put bottes in the dishwasher. Bad idea all around

 

did you stout get worse with age or just stayed cidery? Worth with age indicates infection which indicates poor cleaning. Cider means you either pitched too hot or fermented too hot. Theres other things too but ill save them for later. 

 

Screw the booster. It dissolves better in cold water from my experience but even when i think its dissolved it has a wierd hazy effect on my water.

 

temperature is everything when brewing aside from cleaning. Assuming you're clean id blame your temp control. If the can says ferment at 65, ferment at 62. Just to be safe. 

 

Extract is also sweet by nature. Partial mash recipes fix this. Give it a try. 

 

underpitching your yeast can cause such an off flavor too. Try a full packet of safeale us-05 and see if that helps.

 

dont pitch warm. Pitch the next day if you have to. Just dont pitch warm. Buy a temp controller. If you're serious about brewing theyre necessary investments    

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Cider flavors come from 

1. Pitching the yeast too warm.

2. Fermenting too warm.

--

So first step - how are you pitching the yeast?  Are you using the four cups of water to dissolve the booster in? Are you using more? When you fill the first gallon for the LBK, are you using refrigerator cold water and then topping off with cold water? Those things matter a lot. How do you know what temp your wort is when you pitch the yeast?


Second step - how are you controlling fermentation temps? Is it too warm while you are fermenting? How do you know?

 

Booster - Do not try to dissolve it in hot water. It just clumps. Pour it SLOWLY in room temp water, stir, stir. STIR DAMN IT! Then slowly bring the temp up to the boil.

--

Now, those things aside -

An IPA can hide fermentation problems because the hops and bitterness can mask it it a bit. When you go for cleaner, simpler beers (the stout...the lager) there is not as much room to hide. Every problem is going to be there in plain site.

--

If I were you I would:

#1. Not give up.

#2. Make sure you are not pitching too warm.

#3 Add LME instead of booster. Brew some of the recipes. Look into the craft series. Brew beers that have a bit more going on. Ironically the simpler, cleaner the beer the harder it is to get right. You like stouts? Do one of the stout recipes. I've got the slap hoppy stout conditioning and cannot wait.

#4 DON'T GIVE UP!!!!! You can do this. Just keep trying. It gets better. You turn the corner and are suddenly making beer that you love.

 

Finally....I hate to be the one to tell you this......but in the world of brewing 2 months is nothing. Giving up on a beer at two months in is like giving up on a kid when they are two......it's just too soon. I am right now sipping a quad I bottled in June of 2016.........I've got a porter that's been sitting 8 weeks and wouldn't think of touching it for another 4 at least.

 

If you want beer you can taste sooner, really go hoppy. (Again, look at the recipes). My hoppy ales  I brew I try at 6 weeks and they have been really good at that point. Looking at what you got, I think the Australian and Imperial Red are going to be fine. I am a bit concerned about the Oktoberfest. Let's try to jazz that one up a bit before you brew it with some LMEs and some hops. (Oktoberfestivus time!!!!)

 

KEEP BREWING!

 

You can do this.

 

We are all here for you!

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I don't think the Stout got any worse.  Just the cider taste was always there. 

 

I basically follow instructions that came with my LBK which I just checked and it calls for 4 cups of water. 

 

I think for now, I'm going to take the advice I've seen multiple times on here and chase the flavor not the ABV so I'm going to forego the booster or other ABV enhancing products.  At least until I get the basic brewing down. 

 

I'm not sure I understand pitching the yeast.  When I used the gallon sized bottled water, I probably used it at room temperature.  When I used the tap water, I ran the tap until it was cold and then filled the LBK.  I don't think I did anything to cool the wort down other than take it off the heat while I added the water to the LBK. 

 

It seems to that I should be refrigerating my water and letting the wort cool before adding it to the LBK.  I have a thermometer to check temps.  What temp should each be when I put them in my LBK.

 

As for fermenting temp, the room temperature in my house is maintained as I said.  Thermostat has a timer setting on it so it is almost always between 65F and 68F.

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1) If you're following the Mr. Beer instructions to "fill the LBK to the X mark with cold tap water", don't.  Put a gallon of spring water* in the fridge overnight and use that.  See my rantings and ravings on this page about the instructions being inaccurate as to why.
*Or tap water, if it isn't highly chlorinated and tastes good to you, or filtered water if you have a filter; basically if you don't like the taste of the water you put in you won't like the taste of the beer you get out.

 

2)  Get one of the Mr. Beer stick-on thermometers and put it on your LBK.  This way, you can be sure that your wort is in the proper temperature range before you pitch the yeast.  Despite what some people claim, if you follow the instructions your wort is NOT always at optimum temperature to pitch the yeast.  Why is that?  Click on that link in point #1 above.  I try and pitch the yeast between 65-68F.  This sometimes necessitates me chilling the wort in a cooler with a couple of liter bottles of ice to get it down to those temps.
 

3)  When you get to the part of the instructions that say "Put your keg in a location with a consistent temperature between 65° and 76° F (20°-25° C)", ignore that, too.  It's not the temperature of the location that's important, it's the temperature of the wort in the LBK.  This is also why having a stick-on thermometer helps.  For most recipes, the consensus is that you want to keep the wort around 65F, at least for the first week or so of fermentation.  There are exceptions, of course, but for a newer brewer doing basic recipes, keeping it around 65F should be the goal.

 

4) Most beers will benefit from longer conditioning times.  IPAs and Weizens are exceptions.  A good rule of thumb is the higher the ABV, the longer the conditioning.

 

5)  Pure extract brews have a bit of "twang" to them.  Longer conditioning helps eliminate that.  Once you get more experienced and take the step up to partial mash brews you'll notice that the "twang" is less present or eliminated entirely.
 

6)  Find one of RickBeer's posts and click on the links in his signature block.  Read, read, and read.

7)  Don't get discouraged.  I started brewing a few years back and while the beer I made was drinkable, it was not very good.  In retrospect I now know why:  I was using cold tap water which was not cold enough, pitching yeast too warm, not keeping the LBK at the proper temperature, not letting it ferment long enough, and not letting it condition long enough.  After a few batches I stopped brewing.  I came back to it a couple of years later and Mr. Beer's products have come a long way...as has the knowledge base as to how to make a quality product.  

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1. room temp of 68f means inside the lbk if we assume a vigorous ferment, it will be anywhere from 75-80f. fermentation makes heat. hot ferments , especially with coopers yeast, makes cider flavors due to yeast peeing out acetaldehyde. 

 

2. sweet icky beer, especially flat sweet icky beer means usually your yeast was too old and died. nothing fermented.

 

3. don't boil mr beer hme's. boil the water, turn it off. remove from burner and add the hme. stir. add to lbk that was already filled to mark with cold water. stir without scraping the bottom of lbk to add oxygen for the yeast. o2 is needed at the start for healthy yeast growth. once fermentation gets going you don't want o2.  boiling hme's drives off the hop essence mr beer worked hard to put in there.

 

4. go to a home brew shop and pick up some FRESH packs of safale us o4 or o5. I would suggest o5 for a cleaner ferment. less esters.  04 makes fruity esters if fermented too warm.  since you aren't looking for fruity stouts, you need to keep the ferment temp below 66f. ideally your ambient air temp will stay a near constant 64f for ale.

 

5. know your yeast. what is its optimal ferment temp? what esters can it make? use the right yeast for the job.  coopers is ok for starters but you can get really old yeast under the lid, especially if you buy a keg kit from a store or an old can of hme.

 

 

lots of good pointers above. scrap the booster. use the liquid malt packs from mr beer. use the right one for the beer you are making.

 

good water makes good beer. tap water can contain chlorine ... which will likely make compounds in your beer that taste like rubber bands or bandaids. ick. a good bottled spring or mineral water is the way to go.

 

just like good fresh ingredients make a good fresh cake, use fresh hmes and not expired ones.  after my third kit I stopped using the yeast under the lid and bought better and fresher.  I used the lid yeast as food for the other yeast by doing a 10 minute boil of the under the lid yeast in just water to kill it. cool this. added to the wort the yeast will cannibalize their dead cousins.

 

another thing I like about safale..  you don't need to rehydrate it. just sprinkle it on top of the cooled wort. give it about 15 minutes then it's good to go. don't even need to stir it in*. it will do the job.  using a 11g sachet, even if you do experience a 50% cell die off from osmotic shock you are pitching enough yeast for 5 gallons.  it's still enough cells.  as mentioned 05 is clean.  04 is a beast and tends to ferment quite vigorously..which means temp control is even more important. (*but do aerate the wort before pitching yeast)

 

extract twang for me is hit or miss. I rarely experience it but have. it's real.  I find dry malt extracts and especially the lighter ones like Pilsen have more twang than the dark... but that's just me.

 

so before starting another kit, verify they aren't old. look for the best by or exp date.  get good yeast.  research rick's footnote posts.  read howtobrew.com as it has lots of good info.

 

consider temperature control.   with the lbk it is easy.  put the lbk in an ice chest.  put the probe from an aquarium thermometer in the chest.  freeze 1 liter bottles of water. put one in the chest with the lbk and shut it.  monitor the temps.  getting too cold? use less ice. too hot? add more ice.  an ice bottle in a cooler should go for about 12 hrs before you need to swap it out.

 

don't give up.

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re pitching yeast

 

if you follow ricks advice and chill your water that goes into the lbk...  then when you add the heated hme/water  to it, it should stabilize around 64-66f.  sanitize a cooking thermometer if you want and see for yourself. 

 

when you pitch the ale yeast into the lbk you don't want to put it into scalding hot water...that can kill it, shock it... or just plain piss it off and you get cider.

you don't want to pitch it into too cold water. they will go to sleep.

if your lbk wort is at 64-66f, and you use a cooler with ice bottles to maintain that range your yeast will thank you.

if you aerate the wort before pitching yeast, your yeast will thank you.

 

good luck..

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All of the above advice is great. 

 

Read the forums, read the signature line from @RickBeer

 

Most importantly DON'T GIVE UP.  3 batches is the very beginning of any brewing hobbiest career.

 

Temperature, Temperature, Temperature.  I can't say it enough.  The biggest single improvement to my beers was temperature control.  I never pitch my yeast above 65 degrees,  I also rarely start fermentation above that number either.  I actually cool my wort to as low as 60 and begin fermentation there.  Then I control it to not rise above 63 for the first 3 days.  Believe me this works for most ale yeast.  I know if you look at the optimal range for most yeast you will think this is too cold.  Remember the word here is optimal.  Let the temperature rise to about 68 once the Krausen has begun to fall back into the beer.  This will help the yeast finish and clean up off flavors.  Search the internet or this forum for ways to control fermentation.  It can be done with items you most likely have at home already.

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1 hour ago, BDawg62 said:

All of the above advice is great. 

 

Read the forums, read the signature line from @RickBeer

 

Most importantly DON'T GIVE UP.  3 batches is the very beginning of any brewing hobbiest carrier.

 

Temperature, Temperature, Temperature.  I can't say it enough.  The biggest single improvement to my beers was temperature control.  I never pitch my yeast above 65 degrees,  I also rarely start fermentation above that number either.  I actually cool my wort to as low as 60 and begin fermentation there.  Then I control it to not rise above 63 for the first 3 days.  Believe me this works for most ale yeast.  I know if you look at the optimal range for most yeast you will think this is too cold.  Remember the word here is optimal.  Let the temperature rise to about 68 once the Krausen has begun to fall back into the beer.  This will help the yeast finish and clean up off flavors.  Search the internet or this forum for ways to control fermentation.  It can be done with items you most likely have at home already.

 

This!

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@rjmanning

 

The reason we know all this is because we all made plenty of mistakes, came on the forum, and people here helped us out. 

 

All of this is great advice and will help improve your next batches.

 

Don't give up! Like anything brewing is a skill and you get better as you learn more and brew more.

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Thanks Guys.  I really appreciate all the help.  Do not worry about me giving up.  I have been wanting to do this for too long for me to give up this soon.  Plus I'm a stubborn SOB according to my wife.  I just went an bought the temperature strip, the thermometer and some other things that I hope will help. 

 

So is the American Lager with the cider flavor that I currently have conditioning going to lose that cider flavor, if so about how long should I wait, or should I just resign myself to drinking a cidery flavored beer?

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1 hour ago, rjmanning said:

Thanks Guys.  I really appreciate all the help.  Do not worry about me giving up.  I have been wanting to do this for too long for me to give up this soon.  Plus I'm a stubborn SOB according to my wife.  I just went an bought the temperature strip, the thermometer and some other things that I hope will help. 

 

So is the American Lager with the cider flavor that I currently have conditioning going to lose that cider flavor, if so about how long should I wait, or should I just resign myself to drinking a cidery flavored beer?

 

It should fade. But depending on what it what, it might not fade out completely. There is just not enough going on with that beer to completely mask out a faded flavor.

Look - there are worse things in life than cider. 
 

At six weeks pull one of the bottles out. Pull out a shot glass. Fill the shot glass with either bourbon or a high quality vodka. (Don't go messing with this step and use something else!!!!) Look at the beer and with all of your will power, FOCUS, use your mind to eliminate the cider flavor. Take the shot. Now go put your beer back.

 

At 8 weeks, take the same bottle out. You might want to mark it. Now pour two shots (you need two shot glasses) of the SAME liquor as the last time. Now if the bottle is gone you are just going to have to drive to the market in shame.

 

Put one shot glass on the left of the bottle, one on the right.  Take a shot THEN use your will and focus to force the cider away. Then take another shot.

 

Put the bottle back.

 

At the end of week nine, put the bottle in the fridge.

 

After a week (this is now week 10) go to the table. Three shot glasses now. DON'T SKIMP AT THIS POINT!!! Leave the bottle in the fridge. This is important. One shot on the left, one on the right. One shot glass in front of you. Notice that empty space between the shot glasses? That is the cider GONE.

 

Shot one. Give thanks to Mr. Beer for all he has done for you. 
Shot two. Give thanks again to Mr. Beer.

 

Now take the bottle out of the fridge, pour yourself a big glass, and DRINK THAT SHIT UP!

That third shot glass?

You are either taking the shot in celebration of a cider free beer, or you are taking that shot because damn it, none of this worked.

 

Either way, this will be much more fun that just idly waiting for 10 weeks.

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1 hour ago, RickBeer said:

It should weaken over time.  Wait 6 weeks, then refrigerate one for 3 days.  If not, try 8 weeks.

6-8 weeks from initial bottling or in addition to the 3 weeks that have already passed?

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I hate to take this on a tangent but I also hate starting new topics that will probably only have 1 or 2 replies.  As I mentioned above I have the Australian Sparkling Ale and the Imperial Red Ale.  I noticed the cans I received are about twice the size of the standard refills (3.75 lbs compared to 1.75lbs).  Will these "fit" in the 2 gallon LBK I have?   

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yep.  bigger can... bigger alcohol and flavor.  some of us would use 2 regular cans and an lme pouch for a brew...  or more.

 

 

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