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Bottled Brew Gone Bad - Diagnosis

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bry2

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Hi all

I need some help to identify the problem with my currently undrinkable 6 week old beer. This is my 3rd extract beer and I used an all malt recipe with the following:

*Morgans Mexican lager can
*Liquid wheat malt can
*15 g of amarillo hops steeped for 10 mins
*Safale S04 yeast

I left it in the fermenter for 2 weeks with the beer temperature hanging around the very top of the recommended range for this yeast (24 deg C). However, it did not go higher 24 deg C (at least on the outside of the vessel). I know this is not ideal but as I have very little space, the only way I could have effectively cooled it down is if I were to leave it in a tray of water outside on the balcony.

The OG and FG were normal at around 1038 and 1008 respectively (from memory) and the fermented beer looked similar to my previous 2.

I tasted the beer before bottling and it was OK. After two weeks of bottle fermentation at 24 deg C (again). I popped one in the fridge and tried it - I was met with a very harsh taste of which I find hard to describe but is definately not sweet or fruity (perhaps fusel alchohol?). Totally undrinkable. After waiting another 2 weeks I tried 3 more. All three tasted similar and all ended up down the drain.

I understand that if I wait for a while the taste will improve, but for learning sake I want to know what went wrong. I assume the root cause is either contamination or high temperature.

The reason I tried 3 at the 4 week mark is because if it was contamination, I thought it may not have affected the whole batch of bottles.

On the other hand, if it was temperature, then why didn't the beer taste undrinkable after primary fermentation when both primary and bottle fermentation were at 24 deg C (checked with a infrared thermometer)?

Any ideas/comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
 

bum

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(perhaps fusel alchohol?)
Was it like solvent/nail polish remover? Probably fusels if so.

High temps, under-pitching and poor aeration for primary are the best ways to promote fusels. Your temp is already high, many argue Fermentis packs include too little yeast for a standard "single" batch, many new brewers just give the wort a stir for aeration (my apologies if you do a bit more than this). It all adds up to a good chance of having some higher alcohols. If it is fusels they won't really fade over time but you may get used to them.

On the other hand, Mexican tin, wheatie fermentables, US hops, English yeast...a weird flavour may have just been designed into the beer.
 

yum beer

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What you describe is exactly what one would expect given your ingredients and temps.



Agree with bum, very mixed up ingredients.



Find a way to get temps down a little if you can, 18-21c and read up on yeast health and pitching correct amounts.
 

Mikedub

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agree with Yum and Bum,
IMO, 6 weeks is still early, assuming its not infected - make your judgement of drinkability after 12-16 weeks
 

benno1973

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IMO your eclectic mix of ingredients wouldn't necessarily produce an undrinkable beer. I've never used it, but I understand a Mexican Lager can is a good base for experimentation, and I would imagine that it wouldn't contribute too much flavour. Wheat I love in almost every beer. And fruity hops with a fruity yeast (despite the American/English origins) can work well.

As you pointed out in your original post, temps weren't ideal, so that's possibly one culprit. And infection as you said is another likely candidate.

I assume that you steeped the hops in the wort that you'd bought to the boil and then shut off the heat? That's an assumption, but maybe you could clarify this?

To be honest, without knowing the step by step process of how you brew and tasting the beer, it's hard to pinpoint the exact reason. But given the info you supplied, start with controlling your fermenting temperatures and go from there.
 

bum

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IMO your eclectic mix of ingredients wouldn't necessarily produce an undrinkable beer.
Absolutely. I didn't mean to suggest that an eclectic mix can't make a good beer - my next beer is loosely based on Lagunitas' Lil Sumpin Sumpin which has a tonne of wheat, a broad mix of hop origins and UK yeast, so I'm not at all down on mixing it up like that in general. However, his list does appear to be a bit bolted together and maybe not a heap of care has been put into the design. I guess I just mean it looks a bit scatter-shot rather than awful.
 

petesbrew

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Mexican beer + German Wheat - American Hops - English Yeast = WTF International Ale.
Weird mix, but that's what experimenting is all about right?
Providing it's not infected, I suggest instead of tipping them all out, maybe put them away and try them again after summer when the weather cools down.
Is it the first time you've used hops? Maybe you're tasting them?
 

carniebrew

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Hi all

I need some help to identify the problem with my currently undrinkable 6 week old beer. This is my 3rd extract beer and I used an all malt recipe with the following:

*Morgans Mexican lager can
*Liquid wheat malt can
*15 g of amarillo hops steeped for 10 mins
*Safale S04 yeast

I left it in the fermenter for 2 weeks with the beer temperature hanging around the very top of the recommended range for this yeast (24 deg C). However, it did not go higher 24 deg C (at least on the outside of the vessel). I know this is not ideal but as I have very little space, the only way I could have effectively cooled it down is if I were to leave it in a tray of water outside on the balcony.
Can't argue with the temp comments, it's the likely culprit. Could you try sitting your FV in a pan of water, with a towel wrapped around it with each end of the towel sitting in the water? And even better get a fan blowing on it, that should get your a few degrees. Although, when you opened the ones you tasted, did they gush/foam up at all? It an obvious sign of infection...I still recall my first infected beer, a LCPA clone of which i'd put some into bottles that I was a little dodgy on how clean/sanitised they were. After drinking a dozen or so (the recipe turned out great), I popped one, turned around to throw the cap in the recycling, and started chatting to a mate. My mate said "Hey what's going on with your beer?", I turned back and there was like 3cm of firm froth poking out the top of my beer. I had a swig and immediately had to spit it out. Opened another and it was fine. Ended up around 6 or 8 were bad, which is about the number of bottles I was suss on.

I'm also curious on the "Morgans Mexican Lager" can...I hadn't heard of it so checked their website and can't find a Mexican Lager. There's a "Cortes Mexican Cerveza", is that it? You mentioned it was an extract recipe but that's a pre-hopped kit from what I can tell...although being a Cerveza it would be lightly hopped so no big deal. I'm more interested in how you put it together, normally an unhopped extract recipe will involve a boil...did you do a boil? If so, how? Did you try to get your boil to 1040 before adding the hops?
 

bry2

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Thanks all for your suggestions.

Yes it does seem like a weird mix. It is a recipe from my local brew shop but it was meant to be fermented with Us05 not S04. I just got the wrong yeast and only figured it out after I had opened the packet.

It is meant to be similar to a JS 150 lashes pale ale clone. I believe the idea is, the pre-hopped mexican can (yes Carniebrew it was Morgans Cortes Mexican Cerveza) adds a light malt and citrus flavor in combination with the wheat malt and amarillo hops which definitely feature in the beer.

I didn't boil the extract at all, rather just mixed with boiling water (Is there any advantage to boiling the un-hopped wheat malt extract?). For the hops, I boiled some water, then put it in a mug with a couple of hop teabags and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Regardless of my brew method, or recipe this taste I am getting is definitely not from primary fermentation because it wasn't there when I tasted it during the hydrometer readings. It came upon the beer sometime in the bottles.

The beer seemed to be carbonated normally without excessive foam as carniebrew mentioned.

Based on all your comments I am leaning toward high temperature. It is possible at some time in the bottles, the brew got above 24 deg C when I wasn't checking it.

After all, if I ferment in the recommended temp range for this yeast, it should still turn out drinkable, maybe not brilliant but drinkable.

I will wait and see how they turn out in a few months.
 

431neb

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Based on all your comments I am leaning toward high temperature. It is possible at some time in the bottles, the brew got above 24 deg C when I wasn't checking it.
I think you are right about the bottles getting warm. Were the bottles being stored in the same area where the wort was "incubated". The temperature of the bottles would fluctuate over a greater range than the ferment vessel.

My brewing buddy took a slab of home-brew stubbies from my place but he left 'em in the hot car for a bit while he was at the Tote. They reminded me of the bad, "first try" homebrews of years gone by. We tipped them out - Life is too short to drink shit beer.

BUT

One of the worst beers I ever made was a Guinness rip off with two cans of stout and some other bits. I was dumbstruck at just how bad it was but couldn't bring myself to chuck 'em out. After two years in the bottle (ignored in the recesses of my garage) they were mothers milk. I drank the last one about six months ago at the ripe old age of about ten years (No , I'm not ten - the beer was!!). A dedicated stout drinker offered to pay for the whole lot at two years. He loved it.

edit syntax
 

mxd

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where are you. if your really interested try and get a bottle to one of the guys here with a good pallete, they will assist more than a thread
 

bry2

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where are you. if your really interested try and get a bottle to one of the guys here with a good pallete, they will assist more than a thread
I agree. I live in Port Stephens North of Newcastle. Was considering taking one down to the local brew shop.
 

carniebrew

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One of the worst beers I ever made was a Guinness rip off with two cans of stout and some other bits. I was dumbstruck at just how bad it was but couldn't bring myself to chuck 'em out. After two years in the bottle (ignored in the recesses of my garage) they were mothers milk. I drank the last one about six months ago at the ripe old age of about ten years (No , I'm not ten - the beer was!!). A dedicated stout drinker offered to pay for the whole lot at two years. He loved it.
What a brilliant story, good on you for posting that. Seriously ten years old and it was still drinkable? I've heard that stout ages well, but that's seriously astounding. I'm not sure the OP's pale Mexican with an American father, Bavarian mother, currently on holiday in London is gonna age quite as well...but i've love to re-visit this thread in 2-10 years to hear otherwise!
 

geneabovill

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I'm in Medowie, bring it over this week and I'll see if I can taste anything odd.
Edit: if it was the HBS in the Bay, I wouldn't bother, bad experience on a few occasions using his advice when I was a newbie.
 

petesbrew

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I agree. I live in Port Stephens North of Newcastle. Was considering taking one down to the local brew shop.
Why not take it to Murrays? Buy one while you're there.
 

sp0rk

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Take it down to MHB in Newy
He'd be a great source of information for where it's gone wrong
(and you can pick up gear for an AG setup while you're there...)
 

431neb

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What a brilliant story, good on you for posting that. Seriously ten years old and it was still drinkable? I've heard that stout ages well, but that's seriously astounding. I'm not sure the OP's pale Mexican with an American father, Bavarian mother, currently on holiday in London is gonna age quite as well...but i've love to re-visit this thread in 2-10 years to hear otherwise!
Yeah , I'm tipping that one is stuffed but it might be worth waiting to see.
Y'know, I tried to emulate that stout later and totally failed. I followed the same recipe but that was back in the day when I was still getting my head around how to make drinkable beer. There would have been many variables I didn't match.
 

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