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gbaker

fermenting in an unfinished basement...

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Hello all, I am a new brewer. I have been reading alot here, seems like there are talented folks on the board.

I made my first batch according to instructions. My beer is the blonde ale that came with the kit. I fermented in the basement, not opening at all except to bottle.

My beer definately has a musty basement overtones to it. Is it from fermenting in the basement? I don't think I can drink it... Thanks for opinions in advance.

Gerald

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My basement is only partial finished. The area I store and ferment my beer is the un-finished part. No issues.

I bet it is something else.....

How long did you ferment and how long in bottles?

What is your home water like?

How clean was everything?

Anyways Welcome aboard!

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:borg: Welcome to the beerborg information center gbaker. You will be assimilated. resistance is quite futile:we have beer.

yep, those are the starting questions...

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My basement is entirely unfinished, and all my beer ferments and conditions down there. I've had no musty basement overtones in any of my batches.

It has to be something else.

Trollby's questions are a good place to start, especially about the quality of the water used and your cleaning/sanitizing procedures.

Can you walk us through, step by step, how you prepared everything, and what was used?

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Welcome aboard The Obsession gbaker! If you're like the rest of us here you'll soon be awash in a sea of beer and setting sail on many great brewing adventures. There's lot's of information here and plenty of hands to help you get under way. You'll soon be producing some memorable beers and having a lot of fun too in the days ahead.


Like the others have already said, it's not the unfinished basement that's doing that to your beer. My basement is unfinished and I brew beer, culture yeast, ferment and bottle down there exclusively. Tell us more about how you prepared and pitched your yeast, like wort temperature, yeast type, amount, etc.

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Thanks everyone for the assistance. I stuck to the instructions for brewing with the kit. I sanitized everything per instructions. Maybe the house water is the culprit.

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gbaker wrote:

Thanks everyone for the assistance. I stuck to the instructions for brewing with the kit. I sanitized everything per instructions. Maybe the house water is the culprit.

What was your fermentation temperature? At the higher temperature range listed in the instructions, you can get some pretty strong "Belgium-like" esters which I sometimes describe as musty.

Personally, I think Mr. Beer does a bit of a disservice telling people the temperature range they do for that yeast. It is much cleaner (and I think better) if you ferment at the low end of the range ... actually I prefer starting it a bit lower than they specify (maybe 65 or so) and letting the temp rise into that 68 to 70 range after a couple days of fermentation.

Just something to consider.

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We have a dehumidifier down there. Temps for fermentation was 72 +/- 1 degree. Fermented for 2 weeks, bottled all and let sit for 1 week, some for 2 weeks , the rest is still in bottles. Refridge for 2 weeks, still funky. Also doesn't appear to have much alchohol. Don't have a hydrometer, just guessing. Carbonation seems good. I assumed it was the basement giving the off flavor.

Maybe I didn't clean the Mr beer plastic bottles well enough. I don't remember the musty flavor when I sampled the brew before bottling. But then again, I tasted while in the basement...

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Screwy Brewer wrote:

Welcome aboard The Obsession gbaker! If you're like the rest of us here you'll soon be awash in a sea of beer and setting sail on many great brewing adventures. There's lot's of information here and plenty of hands to help you get under way. You'll soon be producing some memorable beers and having a lot of fun too in the days ahead.


Like the others have already said, it's not the unfinished basement that's doing that to your beer. My basement is unfinished and I brew beer, culture yeast, ferment and bottle down there exclusively. Tell us more about how you prepared and pitched your yeast, like wort temperature, yeast type, amount, etc.

I followed instructions per the kit. Didn't know temp of the wort, perplexed and pitched yeast as directions. I don't mean to sound vague, I just followed the instructions. Thanks

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Quality of the water used : I boil my home water in a 5 gallon stainless steal pot to remove the chlorine etc. Then put it in one gallon ( sterilized ) screw cap milk jugs. I have an extra ice box dedicated for the sole purpose of storing them in. This is a great way to begin ! Cleanliness ! Sanitised & no worries ! Happy brewing !

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My guess is you fermented on warm side thus giving what you perceive as a musty flavor. If you had an infection usually you get a vinegar like taste.
Your beer should improve with time. If not, call it Farmhouse Saison & your friends will be amazed. :laugh: Cheers & Brew On. 40489-20111029.jpg

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Welcome to the Borg!

Next batch try some springwater from the store, see if you still get that taste. Might also give it another month to condition to see if it changes. IMHO

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Really if the temp of the room is 72* plus or minus 1* your beer is 3-5* higher.

So this maybe the issue, also I like 4 weeks min for lighter beers and 6-8 weeks for most I make before in the fridge for a week befor drinking.

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Trollby wrote:

Really if the temp of the room is 72* plus or minus 1* your beer is 3-5* higher.

So this maybe the issue, also I like 4 weeks min for lighter beers and 6-8 weeks for most I make before in the fridge for a week befor drinking.

This is true. PLUS, your pitching temperature is critical.

Lots of the flavor esters from yeast come very early in the fermentation process. The first 24 hours or so is the reproductive phase of the yeasties, and that is when most of the yeast-derived flavors would come through. If you pitch at 80, your beer most likely won't stabilize at the lower temps until well after that phase is done. (by then the yeast are active and generating their own heat).

It is worth the cost and effort to get yourself one of those stick-on thermometers and keep an eye on fermentation temps.


PLUS ... in my opinion, 72 is a little warmer than I would want my yeast until that initial fermentation is over.

I really do think if I am understanding the flavor you are describing, the fermentation temperature is the prime suspect.


Some guys have mentioned water. Do you drink the same water you brew with? Does it have a bit of the same flavor? If not, I don't think I would blame the water. If your water tastes good, it shouldn't negatively affect your beer.

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Could the flavor also taste like wet cardboard? A friend of mine brewed a few batches that I thought tasted like wet paper and he described it as musty. The link below talks about common off flavors but in my friends case it turned out to be oxidization. The link describes it as:

"Oxidation is probably the most common problem with beer including commercial beers. If the wort is exposed to oxygen at temperatures above 80°F, the beer will sooner or later develop wet cardboard or sherry-like flavors, depending on which compounds were oxidized. See the discussion of oxygen and the wort in Chapter 6 - Yeast."

How to Brew's section on off flavors.

It turns out my friend was running his hot wort through a strainer at near boiling temperatures which was aerating the still hot wort. Once he started cooling it down first the flavor went away.

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Hello & welcome. I don't think your smell & taste issues come from a damp basement, my Dad use to make some really good wine & hard cider in a dingy, dank, dark celler. I agree with what is told above, most likely brewing temp. Keep trying, it only gets better.

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Well, here goes batch # 2. Irish stout. I used spring water and feel optimistic.

If the temperature of the wort is so critical for pitching yeast, why do the instructions make no mention of it? I'll wait a few weeks and report the results.

Added bonus, I found a great home brew shop about 5 Miles from my house. The owner was helpful. They had complete 5 gal kits they were pretty inexpensive. Maybe someday.

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gbaker wrote:

Well, here goes batch # 2. Irish stout. I used spring water and feel optimistic.

If the temperature of the wort is so critical for pitching yeast, why do the instructions make no mention of it? I'll wait a few weeks and report the results.

Added bonus, I found a great home brew shop about 5 Miles from my house. The owner was helpful. They had complete 5 gal kits they were pretty inexpensive. Maybe someday.

Mainly because they use the KISS method with brewing. Adding the HME and booster plus 2 gallons of chilled water should bring the temp down to a good temp for yeast but still in the high 70s is too high. The fromunda yeast is pretty forgiving stuff. But for best results try using an ice bath than adding to lbk with cold water. Getting temp below 70 before pitching the yeast yields the best results.

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If you get some time read the sticky thread under beginner brews. It's Long but has some essential info in there for just starting out.

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After reading more and based on your comments, now I'm not so confident. I pitched the yeast hotter than you suggest. I remembered something about temperature when brewing so I took the temp, it was 85ish. Ugh. Will it taste like crap? I'll ride it out and see what happens. I'll check the lbk tonight to see if the yeast is working.

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Yeast can survive that high of temps. You may get some fusel alcohol smells and taste which can eventually condition out of the beer. That takes a while to condition out, maybe several months, and may not condition out completely. Like mentioned before, the MR. Beer yeast is pretty forgiving. Let the beer ride out the fermentation and bottle. You may have to start and finish a new batch before this one is drinkable.

In the mean time a few good practices for future batches are chilling the brew pot in an ice bath in your kitchen sink and topping off the fermenter with chilled water from your fridge. I used to take a gallon just of water and put it in the fridge the night before. Top off with that in the keg and after the ice bath and top off you should have your wort at an acceptable yeast pitching temp.

If you enjoy the hobby but are disappointed with the first few batches than dont give up. Many of us have made those mistakes. Its a part of the learning curve. Pick yourself up a book called How to Brew by John Palmer and give it a read. Lots of good info in that book.

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Months to condition?! Wow. Seriously though, thanks for the pointers, I appreciate it.

Gerald

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D Rabbit wrote:

gbaker wrote:

Well, here goes batch # 2. Irish stout. I used spring water and feel optimistic.

If the temperature of the wort is so critical for pitching yeast, why do the instructions make no mention of it? I'll wait a few weeks and report the results.

Added bonus, I found a great home brew shop about 5 Miles from my house. The owner was helpful. They had complete 5 gal kits they were pretty inexpensive. Maybe someday.

Mainly because they use the KISS method with brewing. Adding the HME and booster plus 2 gallons of chilled water should bring the temp down to a good temp for yeast but still in the high 70s is too high. The fromunda yeast is pretty forgiving stuff. But for best results try using an ice bath than adding to lbk with cold water. Getting temp below 70 before pitching the yeast yields the best results.

As a newbie, I can attest to the above about the pitching temps. A few weeks ago, I did 2 batches of the WCPA w/UME. This was also the first time I paid attention to the pitching temps. The first batch, I had plenty of cold water on hand and pitched at 66 degrees. The second batch, I ran low on cold water and pitched at 72 degrees. Once both had repeated FG 2 days in a row (after 15 days for the first and 16 days for the second) I took a taste. When I tasted that first batch, I knew I was going to have a great beer after conditioning. The second batch still tasted like a flat beer but just not the same flavor. I made sure I had plenty of cold water on hand today and pitched yeast for the Octoberfest and the Red Ale both at 65 degrees.

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gbaker wrote:

Months to condition?! Wow. Seriously though, thanks for the pointers, I appreciate it.

Gerald


Fill up the pipeline... I was down on my 1st batch but as soon as I tasted it and knew I was going to have good beer... Time no longer became a factor.. Filling my pipeline with several brews and look forward to tasting a bottle days week and even months after conditioning. From what I have read the brew just gets better in time... You got this! Happy brewing!

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One last question on this subject... If the musty taste is from the water, would any amount of conditioning or time going to help? Should I dump the remaining beer? Thanks,

Gerald

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Do you drink the water you used regularly? Use it in cooking? I wouldnt dump it regardless, let it condition just in case. If your area really has bad water that you dont drink from the tap or cook with - then try spring water from store next time - and do a comparison, that will tell you for more likely if it was the water. If it was, you know going forward, if it isn't the water it will likely condition out anything that wasnt an infection - I think.

Cheers
jeff

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Yes,.we cook with the water. We usually drink water from the fridge dispenser. Is filtered, but in a pinch, ill drink the tap water. Not that bad, but what do I know... I.have relatives in north east new jersey. That tap water is undrinkable. Unthinkable!

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Ok, here's an update...
I have been keeping an eye on the.temps in the basement, looks like its a little too cool. pulled a sample today 6 days fermenting and it doesn't taste sweet. Tastes like a flat stout. I don't think it is possible that fermentation is done yet, but is it possible?
Gerald

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I think your on the money! Flat beer good sign... Bitter beer bad sign.. I would wait till it's been two weeks. You should notice a difference 222 rule is great.


Happy brewing!

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Duff wrote:

Could the flavor also taste like wet cardboard? A friend of mine brewed a few batches that I thought tasted like wet paper and he described it as musty. The link below talks about common off flavors but in my friends case it turned out to be oxidization. The link describes it as:

"Oxidation is probably the most common problem with beer including commercial beers. If the wort is exposed to oxygen at temperatures above 80°F, the beer will sooner or later develop wet cardboard or sherry-like flavors, depending on which compounds were oxidized. See the discussion of oxygen and the wort in Chapter 6 - Yeast."

How to Brew's section on off flavors.

It turns out my friend was running his hot wort through a strainer at near boiling temperatures which was aerating the still hot wort. Once he started cooling it down first the flavor went away.


I'm really late to this party, but even when you just stir a can of malt into the water you just boiled wouldnt that be exposing the wort to oxygen at high temps?

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gophers6 wrote:

Duff wrote:

Could the flavor also taste like wet cardboard? A friend of mine brewed a few batches that I thought tasted like wet paper and he described it as musty. The link below talks about common off flavors but in my friends case it turned out to be oxidization. The link describes it as:

"Oxidation is probably the most common problem with beer including commercial beers. If the wort is exposed to oxygen at temperatures above 80°F, the beer will sooner or later develop wet cardboard or sherry-like flavors, depending on which compounds were oxidized. See the discussion of oxygen and the wort in Chapter 6 - Yeast."

How to Brew's section on off flavors.

It turns out my friend was running his hot wort through a strainer at near boiling temperatures which was aerating the still hot wort. Once he started cooling it down first the flavor went away.


I'm really late to this party, but even when you just stir a can of malt into the water you just boiled wouldnt that be exposing the wort to oxygen at high temps?

How vigorously are you stirring? If you're just gently stirring, it's not going to add enough oxygen to make much of a difference.

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gbaker wrote:

Ok, here's an update...
I have been keeping an eye on the.temps in the basement, looks like its a little too cool. pulled a sample today 6 days fermenting and it doesn't taste sweet. Tastes like a flat stout. I don't think it is possible that fermentation is done yet, but is it possible?
Gerald

It is possible. In fact, I don't think I've ever had an ale NOT done fermenting in 6 days.

The reason most people go 2 weeks or more is that it gives the yeasties an opportunity to clean up some of the miscellaneous off-flavor components that are created during the making-sugar-into-alcohol phase.

When you say "a little too cool", what temps exactly are we talking about?

Did you measure the wort or the ambient temperature?

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Room temps around 62 -64. I would think that's a little too cold for fermenting. At the very least, I thought it would cause slower fermenting.

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gbaker wrote:

Room temps around 62 -64. I would think that's a little too cold for fermenting. At the very least, I thought it would cause slower fermenting.

:huh: verrily! yeah, that's really using sluggish yeast.

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gbaker wrote:

Room temps around 62 -64. I would think that's a little too cold for fermenting. At the very least, I thought it would cause slower fermenting.

That depends on the yeast. The fromunda yeast probably won't do very well at those temperatures. It'll ferment, but slowly and it may have trouble finishing the job.

If you use something like US-05 or Nottingham and pitch enough, you can get good results. It'll still ferment more slowly than at higher temps, but those two yeasts seem to ferment out at lower temperatures without any problem.

I actually prefer to ferment in the low 60s with US-05 and Nottingham, but I'll point out that in the latest Mr Beer podcast, Patrick suggests fermenting above 65 with any of the ale yeasts, so take my comments with a grain of salt.

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gbaker wrote:

Room temps around 62 -64. I would think that's a little too cold for fermenting. At the very least, I thought it would cause slower fermenting.

Well, the room temp doesn't matter all that much. Your wort was probably at least 4 degrees warmer (maybe more) when the yeast really got going. If you pitched at a warmer temperature, the yeasts probably had the opportunity to get going and generate their own heat.

I still say 6 days is more than reasonable for the main fermentation.

If you want to use this space going forward, you might want to spend a little extra and get US05 or some yeast that is rated for these kind of temps rather than using the Mr. Beer yeast.

If your beer tastes as you described, I would say it fermented fine. Let it go for two weeks and bottle it up.

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I moved my lbk to a closet in my living room this weekend. Temps around 68 - 70. I'll let it go for a second week. Thanks for the advice.

Gerald

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Update... I just took a hydrometer reading from the lbk, I am at 1.019 corrected for temperature to 1.02. Does that put my alchohol around 3%?

Definately tastes like it is ready to bottle, tomorrow maybe ill do it. If this batch is better than the first, ill get a capper and move to 12oz glass bottles for the next batch.

-Gerald

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gbaker wrote:

Update... I just took a hydrometer reading from the lbk, I am at 1.019 corrected for temperature to 1.02. Does that put my alchohol around 3%?

Definately tastes like it is ready to bottle, tomorrow maybe ill do it. If this batch is better than the first, ill get a capper and move to 12oz glass bottles for the next batch.

-Gerald

What was the OG reading? The FG reading by itself can't be used to determine the alcohol content.

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bpgreen wrote:

gbaker wrote:

Update... I just took a hydrometer reading from the lbk, I am at 1.019 corrected for temperature to 1.02. Does that put my alchohol around 3%?

Definately tastes like it is ready to bottle, tomorrow maybe ill do it. If this batch is better than the first, ill get a capper and move to 12oz glass bottles for the next batch.

-Gerald

What was the OG reading? The FG reading by itself can't be used to determine the alcohol content.

Just got the hydrometer, didn't have an og reading. So is the fg reading usless by itself?

And yes, I couldn't attach a pic, not sure why. I am posting from my phone, not a computer, maybe that's the problem.

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gbaker wrote:

bpgreen wrote:

gbaker wrote:

Update... I just took a hydrometer reading from the lbk, I am at 1.019 corrected for temperature to 1.02. Does that put my alchohol around 3%?

Definately tastes like it is ready to bottle, tomorrow maybe ill do it. If this batch is better than the first, ill get a capper and move to 12oz glass bottles for the next batch.

-Gerald

What was the OG reading? The FG reading by itself can't be used to determine the alcohol content.

Just got the hydrometer, didn't have an og reading. So is the fg reading usless by itself?

And yes, I couldn't attach a pic, not sure why. I am posting from my phone, not a computer, maybe that's the problem.

Was it an extract only (or extract and Booster) batch with no mash and no steeping grains? If so, let us know what all is in it (and the size of teh batch), and we can probably determine the OG.

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Ah! The waiting! Tom Petty was right when he said it's the hardest part! But patience is definitely a virtue in the world of homebrewing! Welcome to the obsession!

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