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Michael Astfalk

American Light at 3 Weeks Fermentation?

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All:

 

I've received some helpful advice here in another post. One of the things that we talked about was letting the fermentation process go longer, and also maintaining the temp range.

 

I'm at the end of week three today of the fermentation of my first batch, the American Light beer that came with the kit.

 

I tasted it last Wednesday and it tasted flat with a sour apple taste. I let it go another week and tasted it today. The temp in the coleman cooler that I have my LBK in is at 71 degrees this morning. It did peak yesterday at 75 when I tried to raise it a bit (it was 68). 

 

When I tasted it today, it tasted more like flat beer - a bit more bitter than last week. However, it also has a slight vinegar taste to it and my wife thinks it tastes "yeasty". Not bad, but having those tastes to it. It is also a bit darker in color.

 

Is this beer ready to bottle or did I mess something up with the temperature (maybe reactivated the yeast & boosted the fermentation process?). I don't want to mess with this too much, but I want to do it right. Will the taste & fermentation work itself out after bottling?

 

I'm not a light beer drinker either - so I'm at a loss when it comes to the taste.

 

Please let me know if I'm on the right track. I think I'm ready to bottle, but if I have to let it go a little bit longer I can. I don't like it that there is a slight vinegar taste to it though. Afraid I may have messed this up.

 

Michael

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As explained previously, there is absolutely no reason to go beyond 3 weeks fermenting - you gain nothing.  Rarely, with some yeasts, a fermentation will be stuck.  I've never had one.  A flat beer, non-sweet taste tells you, in combination with three weeks, that it is done.  Don't go longer.  There is no way anything darkened up over last week - it doesn't change color.  Perhaps there is more trub in the sample, making it cloudier.

 

There was no reason to raise the temperature from 68.  And raising it to 71, or 75, for a day likely did nothing.  You could ferment the entire time at 68 and it would be fine.  

 

You should bottle now, put the bottles in a 68 - 80 degree spot (doesn't matter much), and leave them alone for 28 days.  Then, refrigerate a bottle for 3 days and then see how it came out.

 

Classic American Light is one of the weakest beers, lacking flavor, of all the Mr. Beer refills.  Don't judge your ability to brew beer on it.  

 

I'd also suggest you spend some time reading things that have been recommended.  You need to move down a bunch of notches on your anxiety level, and continually questioning what you are doing.  Find a nice spot that has mid to high 60s, like a basement, brew up a batch, and walk away for 21 days.  Don't look, don't touch, don't think about it.  21 days come back and you'll find a great result.

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Don't look, don't touch, don't think about it. 

Rick has forgotten what it is like to brew your first batch! 

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Rick has forgotten what it is like to brew your first batch! 

 

No I haven't...   :lol:   I try to help you guys NOT make the same mistakes I did.  Put my LBK in a closet with a small heater.  That batch was awful, as was the next.  I figure if we can screw things up, you should learn from us and then you'll both make better beer and once you've made a few be able to spread the knowledge.

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 You need to move down a bunch of notches on your anxiety level, and continually questioning what you are doing.  Find a nice spot that has mid to high 60s, like a basement, brew up a batch, and walk away for 21 days.  Don't look, don't touch, don't think about it.  21 days come back and you'll find a great result.

 

Rick:

 

I agree. I'm just the type of person that will learn by asking questions. Your answers have been great, but I'm probably second guessing myself. I'm also more excited to get the ball rolling on this and proceed to the next batch. But I'm getting the point of "Relax, have a home brew".

 

I'll bottle tonight as it is exactly 21 days since I started the batch.

 

The cooler and spot I have it in seem to be doing the right job of having it in the temp range.

 

I'll be brewing up a batch of the Irish Stout next. I'm debating on doing it straight or as the Ole Mole recipe, which doesn't seem hard and might be a good intro to the recipes.

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Michael Astfalk, on 21 Jan 2015 - 09:57 AM, said:

Rick:

 

I agree. I'm just the type of person that will learn by asking questions. Your answers have been great, but I'm probably second guessing myself. I'm also more excited to get the ball rolling on this and proceed to the next batch. But I'm getting the point of "Relax, have a home brew".

 

I'll bottle tonight as it is exactly 21 days since I started the batch.

 

The cooler and spot I have it in seem to be doing the right job of having it in the temp range.

 

I'll be brewing up a batch of the Irish Stout next. I'm debating on doing it straight or as the Ole Mole recipe, which doesn't seem hard and might be a good intro to the recipes.

We were all pretty much the same way our first batch.

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Find a nice spot that has mid to high 60s, like a basement, brew up a batch, and walk away for 21 days.  Don't look, don't touch, don't think about it.  21 days come back and you'll find a great result.

 

Rick - I am listening to your advice. My curiosity of the process gets me a little more involved. I did another post in brewing techniques on temperature for fermentation. I brewed up another batch and at 24 hrs it is around 75 degrees according to the thermometers on the keg. It was a couple degrees lower yesterday. Just wanted to know if I should deal with the temp or just let it be. Not sure why we are measuring the temperature on the fermenting chamber if we just brew it and let it go?

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we've all been where you are now.  it is easy to say 'hey, just relax! have a home brew' but from experience actually doing that only comes with time and confidence.  omg , my first batch took me two weeks of asking questions just to get the nerve up to try to make it. then 2 hrs after pitching the yeast I was running here in a panic because nothing was happening. I was convinced I murdered the yeast...got an infection.. or somehow totally made an absolute mess of everything.

 

now.. deep breath.. repeat after me:  it's very hard to totally screw up a beer.

 

you measure the temp ON the fermenter because it shows you more closely what the temp is INSIDE the fermenter.  fermentation produces heat. if you temp AROUND the fermenter is 70f, inside temp can be as high as 78f which is kind of high for ale yeast.  that's why keeping tabs on ambient air temp is rather pointless. you are interested in controlling the temp INSIDE the keg.

 

ferment too hot - you can get cidery off flavors... or banana flavors if using wheat beer yeasts ... and fusel alcohols ( hot liquor tastes )

ferment too cold - your yeast goes to sleep... or takes longer... or produces other flavors like clove depending on the yeast

ferment just right - your yeast makes good beer and is happy.

 

for your average ale yeast if ferment in a room that is 64f-68f, at peak fermentation the temp inside the keg will be around 69-76f. 

fermenting an ale with a keg temp over 72f tends to make cider tastes. use ice and a cooler to try to get your keg temp lower ie 64-72f.

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Find a nice spot that has mid to high 60s, like a basement, brew up a batch, and walk away for 21 days.  Don't look, don't touch, don't think about it.  21 days come back and you'll find a great result.

Is it OK if I go down to the basement to talk to the LBKs during fermentation?  As in, "You guys are doing great!"  Or, "Nice looking trub!"  Maybe, "Are those fermentation bubbles in your keg, or are you just happy to see me?"  :lol:

 

Sorry, couldn't resist.  I talk to my tomato plants in the summer; I figure a little verbal encouragement given to the LBKs wouldn't hurt.   

 

Tamie

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Is it OK if I go down to the basement to talk to the LBKs during fermentation?  As in, "You guys are doing great!"  Or, "Nice looking trub!"  Maybe, "Are those fermentation bubbles in your keg, or are you just happy to see me?"  :lol:

 

Sorry, couldn't resist.  I talk to my tomato plants in the summer; I figure a little verbal encouragement given to the LBKs wouldn't hurt.   

 

Tamie

 

No it's not ok.  It shows deep psychological problems never experienced by any other homebrewer ever.  Seek counseling immediately.

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Is it OK if I go down to the basement to talk to the LBKs during fermentation?  As in, "You guys are doing great!"  Or, "Nice looking trub!"  Maybe, "Are those fermentation bubbles in your keg, or are you just happy to see me?"  :lol:

 

Sorry, couldn't resist.  I talk to my tomato plants in the summer; I figure a little verbal encouragement given to the LBKs wouldn't hurt.   

 

Tamie

I keep peaking in on mine.  I don't expect anything but I just want to make sure.

"Hey little guys!  1 more week and you'll get all cleaned up and ready to go again.  I don't like the way you're bubbling at me, sir.  For everyone except Mr. Grumpy, take care!"

Pretty much what happens every few days at my house.

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Vakko:

 

Here's the problem.  If you peak too early, then the yeast will be disappointed.  If you just peek early, then that's considered Beer Pron.  If you don't know what Beer Pron is, then Google it.   :lol:

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I don't open the lids.  I just look inside to check the temp (even though my temperature controller says the temp on the outside).  My whole set up is brand new to me so I want to make sure that everything is going along properly.

 

AND this will be my first 3 week ferms.  First lagers not made with bags of ice in a cooler.  First beer made outside.  I think we're having my first child's baby shower in March so there's tons of expectation for my batches!!!

 

I think its perfectly natural for me to "coach" them along.  :D

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No it's not ok.  It shows deep psychological problems never experienced by any other homebrewer ever.  Seek counseling immediately.

RickBeer:

 

You have no idea.  :blink:   I've already sought psychological counseling.  Didn't help.  Just couldn't shake that irresistible urge to run into burning buildings.  Or to homebrew.  Or to go golfing with my firefighter buds and take their money.  Oh, and, JICYWW...GO BUCKS!!!  ;-)

 

Tamie

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I wasn't wondering....  :D

 

I used to run into burning buildings years ago also.

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I used to slowly meander into foreign countries and drink ethyl rubbing alcohol before we figured out how to make a still and keep it hidden from people who would care.

 

Damn those dry countries!

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Need some feedback and advice on this again.

 

It has been 4 weeks since I bottled this first batch of beer - the American Light that I posted about here. I chilled a few and tried one last night. 

 

Ugh! It is drinkable, but I'm not impressed.

 

First off, it is indeed carbonated BUT it didn't have much of a head. Beer is still slightly darker in color.

 

Taste? Instead of hoppy, it was a bit bitter as in a "vinegar taste". Also, it had a yeasty smell & initial taste to it.

 

It tasted more like beer when I tasted it from the keg before bottling even though it had these tastes to it. I expected it to improve, I don't think it did.

 

I conditioned it in a spare cooler which I put in the basement. Basement stays cool, at or below 68 degrees. Kept it away from heat.

 

Not sure what I did wrong - or if maybe I should give it another week?

 

Not looking forward to my next swig of it though.

 

I'm now concerned about the Winter Dark Ale that I have conditioning in the basement (not in the cooler, but I put the PET bottles back in the box that they came in). Also a little gun shy on doing another batch - I was going to cook up the Ole Mole Stout this weekend.

 

Feedback? Can this be corrected?

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You are not understanding. Bottles need to be WARM, not cool. 70 or higher. Not in the basement. If 68, figure 6 weeks instead of 4.

Did you gently pour the beer into a glass, leaving the last 1/4 inch in the bottle?

Mr. Beer base refills have little to no head. Discussed many times.

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Rick:

 

I guess I don't understand. I feel like a total idiot when it comes to this.

 

Didn't see the head in any discussions, but I'm not on here every day. I don't read all the posts and do a quick search before asking a question. Sorry for the ignorance.

 

I did gently pour it and left some in the bottom.

 

Not sure where to move the beer to. Sounds like I need a brewery just to do a couple gallons of beer.

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Warmth accelerates yeast consumption of sugars.  So the warmer your bottles are, the faster they will carbonate.

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I just put a thermometer in the cooler and closed the lid. It looks like it is about 58 degrees in the cooler. I didn't think it would be that low.

 

I don't know where to move these bottles of beer.

 

I could switch around what I am doing - move the cooler for the LBK down in to the basement so there is a lower temp for fermentation, move the cooler for the beer upstairs where it is warmer.

 

Have I stalled the process though? If I warm up the beer bottles by moving them to a different room, will that kick start the process of carbonation/conditioning again?

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Right.  If it's truly at 68 it will take a few weeks longer.  You said "at or below 68".  If it's 62 then it's going to take a very long time. If it's below 60 it may not carb at all.  

 

When you ferment beer, the fermentation generates heat.  Heat is the enemy of a fermentation (except for some special yeasts that want it hot).  That's why we say that putting it in a cooler, and rotating frozen water bottles, may be necessary.  If your basement is a constant 68 degrees, then just putting it down there may be good enough.

 

When you bottle beer, cold is your enemy (except for lagers, but nearly all Mr. Beer recipes use ALE yeast, not lager yeast).  You want the yeast in the beer to eat the sugar and carbonate the brew.  Since there isn't much yeast, it doesn't generate much heat.  So, you want the bottles ideally at 70.  Higher is fine, even 80.  68 is ok.  But the more you go below 68, the longer it's going to take, until the yeast go to sleep around 60 (depending on the yeast).  So, if you bottled a beer and then immediately stuck it in the frig, it would never carb.

 

As far as reading, the reality is that you learn in life by either experience or cheating.  If you want to learn how to brew beer by experience, and brew 12 batches a year, you'll be pretty good at it in 2018.  However, if like me, you want to cheat - then read.  Read a little every day.  Read the threads that are stickies (and linked to from one of my signature threads).  I cheated.  My first brews were awful.  I thought a ROOM temp of 70 was right, not a WORT temp.  I heated our pantry to 70 and made some nice hot beer.  Then I read more, and more, and more.  Finally, my brews about 6 months in got pretty good.  In 4 months I'll be 3 years in this hobby and my beer is damn good.  I learned nearly everything by cheating, reading the knowledge of others, on this forum mostly.

 

Lastly, CAL is not a high quality brew.  Don't judge your brewing skills based on your first brew, and certainly not on CAL.  

 

Edit - you just posted, while I was typing "I just put a thermometer in the cooler and closed the lid. It looks like it is about 58 degrees in the cooler. I didn't think it would be that low."   Ding, ding, ding, ding.....

 

That's your issue.  Move the beer upstairs immediately, and let it sit for another 3 weeks.  Move the Winter Dark too, and let them sit for at least 4 weeks in the warmer temp

 

What you just learned is that you can't guess.  You thought it was 68 or lower.  It was lower, 58 50.  That's way, way, way too low.  Yeast went to sleep.  Warm them up, they'll get to work.  No problem except your first bottle tasted crappy.  All will be well when it warms up.

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All:

 

I've received some helpful advice here in another post. One of the things that we talked about was letting the fermentation process go longer, and also maintaining the temp range.

 

I'm at the end of week three today of the fermentation of my first batch, the American Light beer that came with the kit.

 

I tasted it last Wednesday and it tasted flat with a sour apple taste. I let it go another week and tasted it today. The temp in the coleman cooler that I have my LBK in is at 71 degrees this morning. It did peak yesterday at 75 when I tried to raise it a bit (it was 68). 

 

When I tasted it today, it tasted more like flat beer - a bit more bitter than last week. However, it also has a slight vinegar taste to it and my wife thinks it tastes "yeasty". Not bad, but having those tastes to it. It is also a bit darker in color.

 

Is this beer ready to bottle or did I mess something up with the temperature (maybe reactivated the yeast & boosted the fermentation process?). I don't want to mess with this too much, but I want to do it right. Will the taste & fermentation work itself out after bottling?

 

I'm not a light beer drinker either - so I'm at a loss when it comes to the taste.

 

Please let me know if I'm on the right track. I think I'm ready to bottle, but if I have to let it go a little bit longer I can. I don't like it that there is a slight vinegar taste to it though. Afraid I may have messed this up.

 

Michael

Bottle away!!!!!

 

I waited 3 weeks on my first batch... as opposed to the 2 suggested..and my sip was flat and a bit vinegary....just a hint.. but there..

now enduring week 3 on the wait for those bottles!!! 

cheers.

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If they were there the entire time, start the 4 week clock over ONCE the beer reaches 68 or higher.  Figure tomorrow morning as your start.

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The American Light and the Winter Dark Ale are very different beers - the WDA is far superior. As Rickbeer suggested, let them sit a while longer at room temperature. I also condition my beer in the basement which is cooler than 68 deg F, and I most often condition 6-8 weeks. Time makes a big difference. Was the beer clear in the glass, or did you get lots of trub?

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The American Light and the Winter Dark Ale are very different beers - the WDA is far superior. As Rickbeer suggested, let them sit a while longer at room temperature. I also condition my beer in the basement which is cooler than 68 deg F, and I most often condition 6-8 weeks. Time makes a big difference. Was the beer clear in the glass, or did you get lots of trub?

 

 

I thought it was clear, but then when i took the other two bottles out of the fridge I noticed they were a bit cloudy when I held them up to the light.

 

All bottled beer is now in a corner of my kitchen on an inside wall. These should go to room temp no problem. It was the warmest area I can find. Frigid here in PA this year. Feel like I'm in Maine or Minnesota. 

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lol I bet.  just keep them out of direct sunlight. That's the reason I moved my Buckeye butt down here

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I thought it was clear, but then when i took the other two bottles out of the fridge I noticed they were a bit cloudy when I held them up to the light.

 

All bottled beer is now in a corner of my kitchen on an inside wall. These should go to room temp no problem. It was the warmest area I can find. Frigid here in PA this year. Feel like I'm in Maine or Minnesota. 

Man, it was like 31 or 30 the other night.  I had to wear a hat!  Wife even moved some plants inside.

I feel your pain.

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lol I bet.  just keep them out of direct sunlight. That's the reason I moved my Buckeye butt down here

Wow, you don't often see those words together even though they are so natural together...

GO BLUE!

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