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Ribcracker

I Didn't Expect This

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My Mr Beer kit came with the standard American beer refill which is not what I would have chosen but I brewed it anyway. After a month of fermentation I opened my first bottle tonight. Surprise! It looks and tastes exactly like carbonated apple cider. Now, it's not unpleasant, really. There's plenty of carbonation but it's cloudy and very sweet.

Not at all what I expected.

The only deviation from instructions was that it was brewed at less than the recommended temperature. My house averaged about 60 deg. during the brewing process. That might explain why it's cloudy and sweet but why apples?

Any insight?

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Don't be discouraged. I did my first batch and the first 2 I drank tasted the same way. I then took them out of the fridge and let them sit for another 1-1/2 weeks. Put them back in the fridge, and they came out fine after another 4 days. When you say you fermented for a month, did you leave it in the keg that long, or is that the total of keg, bottle, fridge?Generally, the consensus is 3 weeks in the keg, 2-3 weeks at room temps, another week or 2 in the fridge. I've found mine to be good enough after 2-2-2  (6 weeks total), but my latest batch is going longer to see if there is a difference. 

Be patient, and give it another try with a different recipe. 

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Thanks for your reply, bobdude1. I left the beer in the keg for three weeks until the yeast debris settled to the bottom and then stored the bottles under a blanket for a week and a half. At that point two of them were hard as a rock (carbonated) so I put them in the fridge for a couple of days before opening.

I'll take your advice and give the rest a coupla more weeks under the blanket.

I think I'll wait for summer to do the next batch so I can ferment at proper temperature. But I still don't get why this batch tastes like apples. Oh well...try, try again.

Peace,

Bud

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The apple taste is acetaldehyde, which is a normal product of the first days of fermentation.  It is normally reduced to ethanol alcohol after that by keeping the wort in contact with the yeast, but oxidation may reverse the process, converting ethanol back to acetaldehyde - which is one reason why opening the keg during fermentation is discouraged.  Acetaldehyde can also be produced by zymomonas or acetobacter bacteria, which are not harmful to our health but do produce off-flavors - which is addressed by good sanitation. 

In short, make sure you have good sanitation, keep the wort in the keg for 3 weeks beforee bottling, and then 4 weeks. 

 carbonating & conditioning in the bottle before considering it done - although ccasional sneak samples are interesting and educational about the conditioning process.  That conditioning should be at room temperature.  Also, read sources like John Palmer's How To Brew.  Good luck with the brewing adventures, and keep asking questions. 

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Did you add and extra sugar or booster? Seems that contributes to the apple cider taste. 60 deg F is a bit low for fermentation, but if you gave it three full weeks, it was most likely done. Give the bottles a full month to condition at room temperature. then try one. try another in another week or two and compare. The cider flavor should mellow out. 

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I have to disagree with Bobdude1.  The recommended fermentation from long time contributors to the forum is 3 weeks in the keg then FOUR weeks in the bottle all at room temp.  Then, refrigerate only what you're going to drink 2-3 days later, leaving the rest to continue at room temp in the bottle.  Mr. Beer's "2 weeks in the frig" is their recommendation, not ours.

Some beers require more than 4 weeks at room temp and get better with age.

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CAL seems to be one that requires a little longer to get rid of that cider taste....At least 6 weeks, sometimes 8.........After 3 months mine never really got rid of the flavor all the way though

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Thanks for the discussion, and especially the explanation from Foothiller. My first two batches came out very appley and I have some Diablo fermenting right now. I originally suspected the water I'm using but it looks like I just need to let it ferment more. Good to know I didn't ruin that expensive Diablo refill. :)

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Ribcracker's original question didn't mention adding sugar (saying he had followed the MB instructions other than having a lower temperature, which should not be a problem - usually just producing a cleaner beer with possibly longer fermentation time, but probably still within 3 weeks).  But Brian N's note about adding sugar is still good info.  Sugar is an "adjunct", along with honey, molasses, corn syrup, Mr Beer booster, etc., and things like corn for advanced brewers.  The alcohol from adjuncts should not exceed 1/3 of the total, preferably less, or one is likely to get a cidery taste that takes a long time to condition.  When someone is tempted to add sugar, adding malt extract (LME or DME) is usually a better choice, although it soon gets to a point where okling hops is also needed to keep the beer balanced and not too sweet. 

Thanks, we're glad to help folks learn this great hobby. 

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