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StretchNM

Carbonation versus Conditioning

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Hello, I'm a new brewer with my first batch of American Lager. When it had carbonated in the bottle for a few days less than 3 weeks I began putting one bottle in the refrigerator each day. Today is my 4th week of carbonating so ALL remaining bottles went in the refrigerator this morning. I have been sampling the first few, one each night. This beer has a sour aftertaste with very little head and very poor head retention. It carbonated but not very well. It's drinkable - it's certainly not a terrible beer - but I can't figure out why it has a "winey-soury" aftertaste, just at the end of the swallow. Maybe it just needs conditioning time? The reason I say that is because each night, I think I'm detecting a little less of the wine/sour aftertaste, and of course, each night the beer is older.

 

Anyway, during fermentation I contacted Mr Beer via email (or chat) and the good fellow that responded explained to me the difference between carbonating versus conditioning. I thought I understood at the time, but I guess I really didn't and now I really need to be clear on it.

 

So I fermented for 3 weeks. I carbonated for 3 weeks. Is "conditioning" now the amount of time it sits in the refrigerator?

 

Thanks for any help

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Hi StretchNM. Welcome to the forum. Let's see if i can help you. Basic rules are, ferment for 3 weeks (This length of time lets the yeast do all thier work), Condition for 3 weeks (Preferably at 72 degrees or so, to let the remaining yeast in the bottle, carbonate fully) Conditioning , 1-10 weeks @ 72 degrees or so. (Time varies depending upon recipe. This lets the yeast clean up the brew) After these three steps, put some bottles in the frig for three days min to let the carbination "soak" into the beer.

 

Your winey or soury after taste could be from several things.

Maybe your fermenter, brewing utenciles or bottles and caps weren't cleaned properly.

Or fermentation temps went to high.

If you would like to condition them more just take them out of the frig and let them sit at 72 degrees or so for a few more weeks and maybe the bad after taste will subside.

 

Hope this helps. Lots of good info on this site. be sure to go to @RickBeer page to get all kinds of beginner info.

 

 

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This is my opinion, Rick Beer may differ and provide better suggestions LOL.

Just to emphasize - conditioning is out of the refrigerator. 

Carbonation is good at 65-70.

The temperature for conditioning depends on the beer style  ales -  60-75 is OK. I have mine in mid 60-s. Lagers colder. so maybe you could condition lagers in the fridge but it has to be a temp at which the yeast can be somewhat active.

Then, putting it in the fridge  for >= 3 days to allow carbonation to absorb. More carbonation is absorbed in the liquid at cooler temperatures - so that will affect head retention and initial carbonation gush.

 

 

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Thanks fellows. I guess I'll get those last bottles back out of the fridge and back into the cooler where they fermented. This was the American Lager LBK Kit, so I kept the inside of the cooler at about 63 to 65 degrees, according to the meat thermometer I installed in the lid of the cooler. The Kit came with a small thermometer strip so with that one on the keg, the temperature was in the middle (green checkmark) all the time.

 

DEFbrewer, I'm a stickler for details and I cleaned and sanitized everything per instructions (including my hands in the mix), BUT..... I certainly allow room for error, because something went wrong, and your advice seems sound. I was watching a youtube video where I think the brewer mentioned that "green/cidery" beer during the first taste test should ferment a little longer. Well, when I sampled my batch at 3 weeks, it was definitely beer tasting, but it did have a wine aftertaste. I went ahead and bottled anyway thinking that would go away during carbonation, but it didn't.

 

Do you think that my putting the remaining bottles in the refrigerator this morning will have an ill effect if I take them back out to a warmer location and let them condition? Or have I short-stopped the conditioning process?

 

Thanks again.

 

ON EDIT: Ok after typing this I went back up and re-read again both posts. DEFbrewer you already answered my question about taking them back out of the refrigerator to condition some more. I'll do that right now.

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I don't think it will be  problem. The yeast should wake up again and continue. You can always momentarily invert the bottle to get it up to suspension again if you are concerned. Don't shake though...……….dagnabbit - what do you think this is - champagne? lol. Wait until you win  in Nascar.

 

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Thanks Nickfixit. I just came back in from putting them back into the cooler. Temp in there is at 68 or 69 degrees. For the American Lager, should I be there or a little warmer? I know you said Lagers like it a little cooler and you do yours at mid-60.

 

And, now this beer was bottled on Monday, February 11, so that's right at 4 weeks. How much longer should I condition? 1 to 10 weeks is a very wide range but maybe there's some way to test them during conditioning(?). Again, the beer carbonated eh...so so...but the head is poor and there's very little head retention. I'm using Mr Beers flip-top bottles.

Thank you

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@StretchNM the MB refills that don't give a Carb/Condition time, I Carb/Condition for a total of 8 weeks. But I have a bit of a pipeline worked up so I can do that. I used to do a minumum of 6 weeks and switched to 8 weeks for recipes that don't have a recommendation time for Carb/Conditioning. Mid 60's you might want to Carb/Cond. longer than let's say 72 degrees. Some of my first recipes I made hade that cidery or twangy taste. It wasn't the extract or recipe it was some little process I didn't do in cleaning or sanitizing.

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Thanks DEFbrewer. But I do want to say that I noticed the soury taste less and less with each beer. And I just came back in from the shop after drinking one I labeled "23 days" (that's carbonation time only). It had little, IF any, sourness to it. Only time will tell if the 2 coming up are also without the sour. By my calculation, that one had been in the fridge 5 days, since March 5th. I am a stickler for detail, but I will recheck myself on my next batch (1776 Ale is next) because it seems obvious you're right - something went wrong and most likely during sanitizing,  brewing, or bottling.

 

But I did put all of them back in the cooler. I have a plastic container and a tiny aquarium heater that heats the water and thus the cooler temperature. I didn't use it during fermentation because 1) it creates condensation (which Tim at Mr Beer said could create a problem) inside the cooler and 2) the batch fermented in the check-marked "OK" range according to the stick-on thermometer. But now with the bottles sealed I think I'll get it going again to bring the temp up a couple of three degrees.

 

Also, when opening each beer, the flip-top doesn't "pop" off, rather I have to nudge it with my thumb and then there's a little gas escaping. When drinking, after tilting the glass back to vertical, you can see lots of tiny carbonation bubbles, but they dissipate quickly. The head is very slight, and even then only if I hold the bottle high above the glass when pouring. It's an off-white with larger bubbles, not like a creamy, velvety head, and it doesn't last long.

 

Ok. I probably sound like an idiot who can't figure out a simple process on his own, so I'll close by saying today's beer was not bad at all - not sour - and... not bad at all.

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7 minutes ago, StretchNM said:

I'll close by saying today's beer was not bad at all - not sour - and... not bad at all.

That’s what really counts.. You made it and you can drink it. Congratulations your a brewer!

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Thank you. 1776 Ale is next (I already ordered and received it), and then ..... That Voodoo That You Do (with brown sugar), I think. I will pay extra-close attention during cleaning and sanitizing this next batch. Thank you both for the diagnosis and advice.

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7 hours ago, StretchNM said:

Thank you. 1776 Ale is next (I already ordered and received it), and then ..... That Voodoo That You Do (with brown sugar), I think. I will pay extra-close attention during cleaning and sanitizing this next batch. Thank you both for the diagnosis and advice.

That Voodoo that you do is very good. If you carb/ cond it for 12 weeks I have found that it turns out great. Brew on!

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You're not going to have a creamy, white head with an HME beer...

 

The rule is 3-4.  3 weeks fermenting with ideal wort temp at 65, 4 weeks conditioning in bottles at 70 or higher.  Then 3 days in the frig.  

 

Green beer will get better with age.  A beer that tastes sour will not improve.  

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Depending on how strong the "winey-sour" aftertaste is it could just be what is called "Extract Twang".  Some people have a greater ability to taste this than others.  Also, depending on your carbonation level, it could be from the carbonic acid from carbonation.  Try this, pour part of a beer and stir it with a spoon to get most of the carbonation out of it.  Then taste it, if it still has the sour aftertaste it is not carbonic acid.  This would mean that it is either the extract twang or something else. 

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@StretchNM, don't get discouraged; it sounds like you've got some of the important basics down from the very beginning - sanitation and temperature control.  You're already making beer that's "not bad at all", so you're ahead of where I was when I started.  :)  Some of the recipes that use only extract just need a little time to hit their stride.  I let mine carbonate/condition at room temperature until the minimum recommended conditioning time.  Then I put one in the fridge and drink it three days later.  If it tastes good, I'll put a couple more in the fridge.  But anything that I'm not going to enjoy in a few days stays out at room temperature.  They get better with age.

As far as head retention, as Rick said, extract-only beers don't have much head.  To help with this, I steep four-six ounces of grains (a combination of carapils and two-row) with every extract-only batch I make.  They help with mouthfeel and head retention.  Once you've got a few batches under your belt and have the process down, you'll be ready to start adding grains.  It's not a steep learning curve (pun definitely intended); if you can make tea and read a thermometer you already have the necessary skills to steep/mash grains.  :)

Oh, and welcome to the hobby and the forum.  There's a ton of great information here (RickBeer's signature block alone contains a wealth of knowledge) that'll help you make beers that you'll be proud to share with friends and family.

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I can't add much, except to repeat what has already been stated. Ferment most ales at around 66-68 deg F for three weeks, and you should have beer free from "off" flavors. Let them condition a full month at room temperature. A few days before you want to drink the beer, put what you expect to drink in the fridge (leave the rest out). 

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Thank you all. And Bdawg62 I will run the test you suggested.

 

I wonder if.... the cooler I purchased was on sale at Walmart. I washed it out well with Dawn and water but DID NOT bleach it or sanitize the interior. Of course, the fermenter keg sat in there for three weeks. I wonder if that might've caused a problem(?). Just searching here.... searching for any possibility... any clue....like an old man trying to find his underwear in the dark of daylight.

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Doubtful that your cooler caused any issue.

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On ‎3‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 5:31 AM, RickBeer said:

You're not going to have a creamy, white head with an HME beer...

 

 

I know what LME(liquid) and DME(dry) extracts are, but what is HME? Also, I'm getting ready to brew 1776 Ale, which has an ounce of hops added and a different yeast Safale US-05. Will that be considered an HME? Thanks

 

ON EDIT: And.... I've cleaned my LBK well, with Dawn, hot water, and the soft side of a sponge, but it still smells like beer. Is that normal? I just don't want another sour beer if I can figure out how to avoid it (aside from following instructions exactly).

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Hopped Malt Extract.  Mr. Beer cans, etc.  

 

You should not clean your LBK with HOT water.  That bakes the smell in.  Too hot, and it can damage the LBK.  

 

You should use unscented dish soap, never scented.  Some use Oxiclean FREE.  I use unscented dish soap.  

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2 hours ago, StretchNM said:

I know what LME(liquid) and DME(dry) extracts are, but what is HME? Also, I'm getting ready to brew 1776 Ale, which has an ounce of hops added and a different yeast Safale US-05. Will that be considered an HME? Thanks

 

ON EDIT: And.... I've cleaned my LBK well, with Dawn, hot water, and the soft side of a sponge, but it still smells like beer. Is that normal? I just don't want another sour beer if I can figure out how to avoid it (aside from following instructions exactly).

 

For the 1776 recipe, the can of American Lager is the HME which as Rick said is Hopped Malt Extract.  It's the same stuff as LME except the malt had hops added before reducing.  As a side note, LME and DME can be boiled but HME should not as it can change the hop portion of it in undesirable ways.

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On ‎3‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 11:51 AM, Shrike said:

<.....>
As far as head retention, as Rick said, extract-only beers don't have much head.  To help with this, I steep four-six ounces of grains (a combination of carapils and two-row) with every extract-only batch I makeThey help with mouthfeel and head retention.  Once you've got a few batches under your belt and have the process down, you'll be ready to start adding grains.  It's not a steep learning curve (pun definitely intended); if you can make tea and read a thermometer you already have the necessary skills to steep/mash grains.  :)

Oh, and welcome to the hobby and the forum.  There's a ton of great information here (RickBeer's signature block alone contains a wealth of knowledge) that'll help you make beers that you'll be proud to share with friends and family.

Thank you for the welcome. I think I have now read all of Rick Beers links.

 

Regarding steeping grains, If you cannot boil HME, then how do you steep the grains? Don't they have to be boiled?

 

The reason I ask is because my daughter bought 2 Kits for me with the intent of returning one later. Instead, she gave the other one to me for Valentine's Day. It's a full mash and hops kit from (Refinery & Co.) with a 1 gallon jug, muslin sack, siphoning tubes, etc. I will try their Kit and recipe (Summer Ale) after the 1776 Ale I think.

 

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14 minutes ago, StretchNM said:

Thank you for the welcome. I think I have now read all of Rick Beers links.

 

Regarding steeping grains, If you cannot boil HME, then how do you steep the grains? Don't they have to be boiled?

 

The reason I ask is because my daughter bought 2 Kits for me with the intent of returning one later. Instead, she gave the other one to me for Valentine's Day. It's a full mash and hops kit from (Refinery & Co.) with a 1 gallon jug, muslin sack, siphoning tubes, etc. I will try their Kit and recipe (Summer Ale) after the 1776 Ale I think.

 

Grains are steeped around 155F for 1/2 hour in water, then the grains are removed.  Then the water is brought to a boil and removed from heat.  Only then is the HME stirred in.  Check out the instructions here for a popular recipe called Black Beer'd Porter.  MRB walks you through it step-by-step.  

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HME has hops in it.  These hops are put in by the brewer to create a specific hop profile.  Then they can it up and sell it.  If you boiled this, you'd be changing the hop profile - for example, the brewer put in a specific hop and boiled it for 20 minutes.  If you now boil the HME, you're changing that to longer than 20 minutes.

 

We choose to use steeping grains, to augment the can of HME, to give it more flavor.  No hops, you then pour in the can of HME, stir, and you're done.  

 

When you move on to brew steeping grains + LME/DME + hops (or all grain), you'll decide how long you want t boil each hop.

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If you don't want to steep grains, adding the Golden (wheat) LME/DME or even  booster or maltodextrin powder will help head retention too.

 

When you sanitize the LBK before putting the wort in, don't forget to open and shut the spigot a few times quickly before letting it sit its 10 min. The spigot sanitizing flow can be used on the plate for your utensils to sanitize that too. Also to sanitize it ALL over inside,  I invert the LBK and shake it a bit as well  as shaking it right side up before adding the spoons etc. to sanitize there as well. After the 10 min I put the utensils on the plate and invert/shake it again to be sure then give it another 5 or as long as I can based on the other parts of the process. I used to get infections but have not since I started doing that. I also use some sanitizer from the bottles in the LBK after cleaning, before putting it away when bottling.

 

 

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I bought some PBW and am going to clean the Keg again with unscented soap, sponge, and then PBW. Then I can still sanitize it before setting aside to get ready for the next batch (which will be within days).

 

The first time for sanitizer I used MrBeer's no-rinse packet as instructed, but then I bought some "One Step" and thought I would use this solution on the next brewing/bottling. Plus, I don't think my Voodoo refill came with any sanitizer. What do you think of One Step? Probably not as good as Star San (?). I might try some of that next time.

 

I also visited a nice home brewery store in a large city near me (El Paso) and learned a lot about adding steeping grains, etc. SO, thanks for getting me started learning about that. I don't think I'll delve into that quite yet. Maybe after a couple of three successful brews are under my belt.

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2 hours ago, StretchNM said:

I bought some PBW and am going to clean the Keg again with unscented soap, sponge, and then PBW. Then I can still sanitize it before setting aside to get ready for the next batch (which will be within days).

 

The first time for sanitizer I used MrBeer's no-rinse packet as instructed, but then I bought some "One Step" and thought I would use this solution on the next brewing/bottling. Plus, I don't think my Voodoo refill came with any sanitizer. What do you think of One Step? Probably not as good as Star San (?). I might try some of that next time.

 

I also visited a nice home brewery store in a large city near me (El Paso) and learned a lot about adding steeping grains, etc. SO, thanks for getting me started learning about that. I don't think I'll delve into that quite yet. Maybe after a couple of three successful brews are under my belt.

I thought Mr B sanitizer was One Step.

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40 minutes ago, gophers6 said:
2 hours ago, StretchNM said:

I bought some PBW and am going to clean the Keg again with unscented soap, sponge, and then PBW. Then I can still sanitize it before setting aside to get ready for the next batch (which will be within days).

 

The first time for sanitizer I used MrBeer's no-rinse packet as instructed, but then I bought some "One Step" and thought I would use this solution on the next brewing/bottling. Plus, I don't think my Voodoo refill came with any sanitizer. What do you think of One Step? Probably not as good as Star San (?). I might try some of that next time.

 

I also visited a nice home brewery store in a large city near me (El Paso) and learned a lot about adding steeping grains, etc. SO, thanks for getting me started learning about that. I don't think I'll delve into that quite yet. Maybe after a couple of three successful brews are under my belt.

I thought Mr B sanitizer was One Step.

Yes I think so. I read it on the forum somewhere. Still Star San has really upped my game when it comes to sanitizing brew equipment. I use it on clean bottles, LBKs, brew day utenciles and I use it on the spigot after getting my FG sample before cold crasing and before bottling.

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15 hours ago, StretchNM said:

I bought some PBW and am going to clean the Keg again with unscented soap, sponge, and then PBW. Then I can still sanitize it before setting aside to get ready for the next batch (which will be within days).

 

The first time for sanitizer I used MrBeer's no-rinse packet as instructed, but then I bought some "One Step" and thought I would use this solution on the next brewing/bottling. Plus, I don't think my Voodoo refill came with any sanitizer. What do you think of One Step? Probably not as good as Star San (?). I might try some of that next time.

 

I also visited a nice home brewery store in a large city near me (El Paso) and learned a lot about adding steeping grains, etc. SO, thanks for getting me started learning about that. I don't think I'll delve into that quite yet. Maybe after a couple of three successful brews are under my belt.

 

Sanitizing your LBK before putting it away is fine, but unnecessary.  If you're not re-sanitizing it on brew day, that is not ok.  You must sanitize all equipment just before using it.

 

One Step is NOT superior to Star San, it's different.  Both are no-rinse sanitizers.  Star San works faster.  Star San stores longer.  But it is not better at sanitizing.  

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