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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2007 * Archive through April 17, 2007 * Problems with Home Brew < Previous Next >

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scott messenger
New Member
Username: Scottallan

Post Number: 1
Registered: 03-2007
Posted From: 170.201.180.136
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 04:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey everyone I just bottled my 3rd batch, and they've gotten progressively worse.

The first batch was a 5gal with with Mountain Spring Light Malt Extract Syrup from Bierhaus International, and corn sugar. Not bad, but nothing special either.

The second batch was a 6gal with John Bull's Wheat Malt Extract Syrup and corn sugar. I followed the instructions from Bierhaus International and this brew never seemed to mature. It tasted like sweetened water with a little malt.

The third batch (and most recent) I followed the recipe from "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" for Righteous American Real Ale, styled on a traditional bitter. For a 5 gal batch it called for 3lbs of Amber DME, 1.5oz Cascade, .5oz of another American hop that I can't recall off the top of my head, and English ale liquid yeast. He only had 2lb bags of the DME, but he said to use it all, it will just have a darker color and stronger alcohol. For both hops he had 1oz packages so I added 2oz of Cascade and 1oz of the other. I followed the books recipe, boiling the DME and Cascade in 2gal of water for 60min, it never scorched. I added the other hop then strained into 2gal of water. I added the yeast and let ferment for 1week, the bubbles were done after about 6 days. I primed with 3/4c of corn sugar in water, then bottled. After a week in the bottle I opened it. There was no carbonation and it had the consistency of maple syrup, actually clinging to the frosty mug. I was a little nervous, but took a mouth full, which I immediately spit out because it was so syrupy I couldn't stand the feel in my mouth.

Where did I go wrong?

I've reviewed my procedures and there's a couple of places I messed up. The 2gal in the fermenter were at room temperature instead of ice cold so it took almost an hour to bring the temp down to a safe temp for the yeast. The yeast got off to a slow start, but once it got going it seemed to bubble away for a couple days, until I noticed there was no bubbles. Turns out I hadn't put enough liquid in the one-way valve and the gas was just escaping. I added some liquid and it bubbled for a couple more days. So in theory it could have been exposed to oxygen for 24hrs. I sanitized the bottles with a bleach solution and boiled the caps, I didn't scrub the bottles. I had cleaned all the utensils in the bleach solution prior to usage.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what may have happened?
Now that its in the bottle is there anything I can do?
 

Belly Buster Bob
Senior Member
Username: Canman

Post Number: 2747
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 131.137.245.200
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 04:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

heya Scott...welcome... can't answer the syrupy texture but I think you may be jumping the gun a bit. Brew/bottle and taste in 2 weeks is pushing it.
Don't trust the bubbles as an indicator of fermentation, use a hydrometer. It is the only way to really know for sure if and when fermentation is done.
pour a bottle into a hydrometer test jar, let decarb and test gravity and get back to us
Bellybuster Bob
www.bellybuster.netfirms.com
 

scott messenger
New Member
Username: Scottallan

Post Number: 2
Registered: 03-2007
Posted From: 170.201.180.136
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 05:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Bob, I haven't invested in a hydrometer yet, but I'm gonna have to at this point.

Do you think there's any salvaging this beer?
Will time in the bottle help it out?
 

Christopher Allen
Junior Member
Username: Treeboy

Post Number: 37
Registered: 01-2007
Posted From: 130.39.215.236
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 05:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yeah, the syrupy thing is what's bothering me. Was it syrupy when you put it into the fermenter?

In your 1st 2 batches, did you use corn sugar as a base for fermentation or was it just used at bottling?

Time should help it out.
 

Graham Cox
Senior Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 1012
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.253.156
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 05:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Scott, it sounds like your yeast pooped out on you. I suggest using a quality dried yeast for your next couple of batches and see if your results improve.

Pitching liquid yeast directly into the fermenter without first making a starter is a risky proposition. If the yeast is fresh and has been properly cared for, no worries, but if it isn't and hasn't, big worries. Dry yeast eliminates this variable.

As Bob said, make sure you take accurate gravity readings before and after fermentation to eliminate unpleasant surprises.

I also suggest ditching the bleach and using a quality no-rinse sanitizer like Star-San or Iodophor.

Keep trying. It'll get better!
 

Tim Wi
Advanced Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 796
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 170.141.68.2
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 05:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Scott,

I boiled a some bottle caps one time, and it ruined the seal. I know its not supposed to but it did. I bottled a batch with some of these boiled caps and also ones that had been soaked in Star San. Without excepton, the bottles capped with Star San caps were carbonated, and the ones that had been boiled were flat.

Here is a suggestion for you for your next batch. Use US56 dry ale yeast. Its a great yeast and does not seem too tempramental. Good, clean beers result.

Also, upgrade to a 10 gallon (40 qt) boil kettle. Instawares sells one right now made by Update International for $86. One hell of a good deal. I have a 60 qt Update International stock pot, and I can attest to their high quality.

Invest in a chiller. I like an immersion chiller for its ease of use.

As for your batch....

sounds like a couple of things.

One, I've never had successful carbonation in only a week.

Two... the syrupy texture ... It sounds like you had some fermentation going on in the primary. Could be incomplete fermentation causing the syrupy texture (you did not mention aerating the wort - possible issue here), or maybe you have the beginings of "rope". Was it also very sweet?

Welcome to the hobby!

Tim
And, get and/or use a hydrometer. They are about $7 right? I use one 3 times on every batch. Prior to pitching, after primary fermentation and just before packaging.
 

Hophead
Senior Member
Username: Hophead

Post Number: 2526
Registered: 03-2002
Posted From: 167.4.1.41
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 05:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Scott, there's not much you can do at this point as it's bottled. You could take them all out and leave in a dark place at room temp, then every week or so, put one in the fridge and then try it. When it's carbonated enough, then fridge 'em all, and hope for the best.

Sounds like they didn't ferment down very far, so they will be overly sweet and 'syrupy'...
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4189
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.23.59.245
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 06:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Was the brand of DME Laaglander or Holander?

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Doug J
Intermediate Member
Username: Doug_j

Post Number: 260
Registered: 06-2004
Posted From: 207.250.116.151
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 06:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm thinking that the brand of DME is meaningless.

You don't mention stirring or shaking the fermenter after topping it off with water.

IF this is the case, it's possible that you had 2 gallons of heavy syrupy wort on the bottom of the fermenter and 2 gallons of beery water on top.
Malam cerevisiam faeceus in cathedram stercoris
 

scott messenger
New Member
Username: Scottallan

Post Number: 3
Registered: 03-2007
Posted From: 170.201.180.136
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 06:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks to everyone, I'll try to answer as many questions as I can, and maybe we can shed some light on this.

Chris, Corn sugar was the base, and it felt like way too much, I don't use that recipe anymore.

Graham, Dried yeast and Star-san, thanks for the advice

Tim, I've never heard of "rope" what is that? Thanks for the advice.

Hophead, I'm gonna move the bottles to the basement (usually around 55F) and let them rest there for a while.

Dan, I'm pretty sure it was Laaglander, do you find a difference in performance/taste?

Again, thanks everyone, a couple hours into my first day and so many responses, I really appreciate it.
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1340
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 70.236.19.232
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 06:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Laaglander DME is notorious for finishing at a high Final Gravity. It's much less fermentable than other brands like Cooper's or Briess or Munton's.

I've read that most dry malt extracts are about 70-80 percent fermentable. Laaglander comes in around 55 percent, from what I hear. Ray Daniels has a chart in Designing Great Beers that show Laaglander amber DME at 44 percent fermentable.
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 6259
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 140.211.82.4
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 06:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

BINGO! Laaglander strikes again....
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4192
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.23.59.245
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 07:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Laaglander is only about 55% fermentable and probably should not be used without sugar to help attenuation.

On the other extreme of the brands I have experience with, United Canadian Maltings light syrup will ferment out at to 85% attenuation dependably.

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Tim W
Member
Username: Timw

Post Number: 222
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 56.0.143.25
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 07:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Scott,

Do not move the bottles to the basement! You need to move them to a warm place, 70 to 75 degrees for at least 3 weeks. Then test one to see if the carbonation is the way you like it.

When the carbonation is good you can move the bottles to the basement or to the fridge.
 

Belly Buster Bob
Senior Member
Username: Canman

Post Number: 2748
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 131.137.245.199
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 07:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

curious....what kind of temp were you fermenting at
Bellybuster Bob
www.bellybuster.netfirms.com
 

scott messenger
New Member
Username: Scottallan

Post Number: 4
Registered: 03-2007
Posted From: 170.201.180.136
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 08:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wow, thanks guys.

I'll keep the bottles in the bedroom where the temp stays in the upper 60's.

I'll have to keep that in mind about Laaglander. I'm 99% sure that is what I used, but it was almost 3 weeks ago, so I could be wrong.

I fermented on the 1st floor of my house which is typically 66-68F this time of year.

On the second batch I fermented in my basement which is quite cooler, and that is what I assumed caused the incomplete fermentation in that batch.

So if I keep it in the bedroom, for a couple more weeks do you guys think it will, eventually, be drinkable?
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 6260
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 140.211.82.4
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 08:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You'll have to tell us, Scott!
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6819
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.224.220
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 12:26 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dan, that makes me wonder if the United Canadian Maltings syrup uses sugar or adjuncts. It seems difficult to me to achieve 85 percent apparent attenuation with an all-malt wort.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4196
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.23.59.245
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 01:12 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, I know that they claim to be all malt and their syrup makes great beer. If they use enzymes to get that kind of attenuation, I can live with it.

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Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 2104
Registered: 10-2002
Posted From: 66.176.154.94
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 02:03 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Somethings just does sound right here. 3 lbs of DME for a 5 gallon batch? Are we making soda pop? Even at 4 pounds you only going to have a SG of 1.036. Then when you factor in Laaglander as the DME you really are not going to have much alcohol of attenuation. Seemed like a doomed batch to begin with.

Scott, Ask the boys here for a simple extract ale recipe. They will hook you up with a beer that is more than drinkable. I did this many years ago and have never thought of giving up the hobby. If you don't have a hydrometer let the beer ferment for a good two weeks. You want it to be done when it is done. If your Home brew store only carries Laaglander as the DME I can give you a recipe that works with that stuff. What the heck here it is.

For a 2 gallon batch
1 pound of Laaglander DME (light)
1 pound of honey

Hops:
0.5 oz. Crystal for 60 minutes
0.5 oz. Crystal for 10 minutes

US56 of any quality dry yeast

This makes a nice beery sort of thing with laaglander that not only you will enjoy but your buddies will like it as well.

-Doug
 

Vance Barnes
Senior Member
Username: Vancebarnes

Post Number: 2707
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 208.49.148.10
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 08:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Check out John Palmer's howtobrew.com site. Even buy the book although it's all there online. Sounds like you're only going on your homebrew store's advice which may be a little sketchy.

The first floor temp is a good fermeting temp for the ales you're doing. If the bottles are really syrupy they could end up exploding when they finally do carbonate. Best to check them periodically and then get them in a fridge when there's carbonation.

Oh, and welcome to homebrewing.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6839
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.224.220
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 08:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Actually, Vance, the print version of How to Brew is the third edition (2006). I believe the online version dates from 2001, not that the vast majority of its valuable information has changed. However, my opinion is that the later print version is even more useful, as well as the fact that John Palmer benefits from its sale.
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 6277
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 140.211.82.4
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 08:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree with Bill. The 3rd edition of HTB is SO good that it's worth buying even if you have the previous one.
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

scott messenger
New Member
Username: Scottallan

Post Number: 5
Registered: 03-2007
Posted From: 66.211.220.84
Posted on Saturday, March 31, 2007 - 12:55 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Doug I modified the recipe that appears in The Complete Joy of Homebrewing on page 170. Which originally called for 4.5lbs of amber dme. The guy at the homebrew store only had 3lb bags so I bought two, and he said to add it all and I'd get a slightly darker beer with a higher alcohol. The original recipe (which I had with me at the store) called for a 5g batch. In retrospect I should have made it a 6g batch since I was increasing all the ingredients anyway. After sayng all that it does sound like way too much: 6lbs of amber dme for 5g of beer, I'm no expert, but I should've known better.

Well Vance you hit the nail on the head. I just had one burst. Trying to relax on the couch and "pop." I couldn't figure out what it was until I realized my cat was staring upstairs, where by beer is!!! Sure enough one burst I got to it before too much could get on the carpet, but it will have to stay in the basement now. What do you guys think, if a bottle burst am I done for?

Yeah, I guess I got a lot more to learn. I've read the Complete Joy of Home Brewing, and the Home Brewer's Companion, but I guess I gotta start listening to some people with experience.

Thanks for the advice on How To Brew, I'll have to look it up. I'm also gonna look for a new source for my materials.
 

jeff wright
Member
Username: Barly

Post Number: 185
Registered: 07-2003
Posted From: 71.61.250.233
Posted on Saturday, March 31, 2007 - 03:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Scott,
Your hydrometer is your friend. You need to get one and use it religiously. Even if it isn't real accurate, the readings will give you benchmarks from which to make decisions.

brew on,
jeff
 

Vance Barnes
Senior Member
Username: Vancebarnes

Post Number: 2712
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 208.49.148.10
Posted on Monday, April 02, 2007 - 08:40 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dang, didn't mean to jinx things but bottle bombs can happen if you bottle before all the sugars ferment or if you prime with too much sugar.

You might be able to salvage the bottles. I'd open one and see how carbonated and how sweet or not sweet it is. If it tastes about right and isn't too overcarbonated you can try putting them in the fridge where the cooler temps should shut down the yeast. If it's still sweet I'd open a bottle, let it off gas for a minute and then recap and keep your fingers crossed. Let them condition another week and then sample one.

Yes, definately buy the new revision of HTB. It's a great resource book to have handy. But if you have questions in the mean time you can probably find the answer on the website.
 

scott messenger
New Member
Username: Scottallan

Post Number: 6
Registered: 03-2007
Posted From: 170.201.180.136
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 05:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Vance, having a bottle burst was worrying to say the least. When I examined the bottles yesterday in the sunlight I noticed a heavy amount of sediment on the bottom of the bottles. At least I hope its sediment, it actually appeared more like mold because when I turned the bottles over it clung to the bottom of the bottle.

I'm pronouncing this batch dead. Bums me out to loose $40 like that, but I suppose it could always be worse. I'm not gonna take the chance and hassle of salvaging those bottles, I'm just gonna toss them out. I have a small fridge lined up to get in a month or two, so I will convert that to a kegerator and then get some small kegs that way I only have one container to clean.

Thanks to all who posted.
 

Tim Wi
Advanced Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 811
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 24.158.157.254
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 07:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Scot,

sediment on the bottom that stays there when inverted? I've see that with the small yeast cakes at the bottom of bottle-conditioned beers.

Have you chilled and then opened one of these to see if its still nasty?

T
 

tim roth
Advanced Member
Username: Hopdude

Post Number: 514
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 12.206.8.165
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 08:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Scott,
You've been given good suggestions here. If you did what Tim Wi suggested and it's still really sweet, you could try this;
Sanitize your brewing bucket or carboy and open the bottles and GENTLY pour them back in. Put a lid and airlock back on and let it sit for another week/10 days. Then stir in another 3/4 cup of corn sugar "boiled in 3/4 cup of water" and bottle again. Sounds like a lot of work but it might save the batch. cheers,tim

(Message edited by hopdude on April 03, 2007)
You know I'm on the level because, my bubble is in the middle.
 

Belly Buster Bob
Senior Member
Username: Canman

Post Number: 2757
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 74.14.90.221
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 - 02:06 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

$40 for 4lbs of DME a couple ounces of hops and some yeast....that would put a bad taste in my mouth that's for sure
Bellybuster Bob
www.bellybuster.netfirms.com
 

scott messenger
New Member
Username: Scottallan

Post Number: 7
Registered: 03-2007
Posted From: 170.201.180.137
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 - 09:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bob it was 6lbs of dme, 3oz of hops, and one vial of liquid yeast. Not that, that is a huge difference, but I got better places for that money, just like the rest of us.