Turning Stuff Ups Into Great Beer

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manticle

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Currently trying a pint of a kind of old ale I made by (mostly) accident.

Essentially I was making an ESB with challenger that I had successfully made before but my starter smelled bad. Being a no-chiller, I cubed it (the wort, not the starter - that went in the garden) and pitched another yeast -wyeast PC old ale which contains brettanomyces.

After several days, the gravity was the same but the cubed wort smelled and tasted like wort. I pitched something else (maybe US05) and then after a week or so, pitched some orval dregs.

Later tastings weren't amazing but there was a suggestion of citrus in the flavour so I dry hopped with styrian goldings and dropped a bag of blood orange flesh and zest into the mix.

Months later I decided to rack it into glass for aging but my demijohn was only 15 L. This gave me close to 9-10 L spare. This I bottled.

It's only been bottled a week and obviously needs more but the complexity of flavour is fantastic. Makles me very excited about the bulk aged batch. I'm getting caramel and toffee, citrus, christmas pudding and a hint of liquorice.

Last year I made a Belgian golden ale that stalled at 1030 and no trick I tried could bring it down lower. I ended up adding orval dregs and racked to glass - 2 weeks later I had a beer at 1002 that was clear and tasting great. Same beer won VICBREW specialty ale and got a 4th in the same category nationally.

Anyway I'm curious to know how many people will see failed beers (failed as in not what they expected rather than completely fucked) as a chance to experiment with wild yeasts and whatnot and what your results have been like.
 

DUANNE

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i generally just tip any beers out that dont meet up to expectations.i think personaly that if im waiting a year or more for a wild yeast type beer to finish out i want to start with a good clean slate and not find out after a long wait that the base beer was shit and even with brett or bugs is still shit. at the moment though im fermenting a barley wine that seems to have been stuck on 1050 and is actually tasting pretty special regardless for the past three days so im going to wait another week and if it doesnt move it will be introduced to some brett c to finish off the job.
 

manticle

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Orval in my experience takes much less than a year but I have a set and forget mentality with most brett beers - mainly because I have enough else going on and most brett vessels are tapless so sampling is harder than forgetting. Have only done a few but none were made from wort that tasted horrible and none have failed to impress so far (myself and other brewers/tasters)

How long did you leave your orval clone that I tasted?
 

DUANNE

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that was about 10 months in the carboy and probably six or more in the bottle. i leave my wild type beers at my parents place so i find it incredibly easy to just forget them for that amount of time! the only exception i make is beers fermented on straight brett wich ive found require 3 moths tops before bottling, but they do develop in the bottle for ever . talking about it actually makes me think its time to do another lot. considering a threeway split of lambicus, caussseni and brux in seperate 5 litre carboys.
 

mxd

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I have tried it 3 times,

1) a revolting dbl chocstout, added boubon chips and brett, 5 months later it was shit so i tipped it.

2) an APA (60 ltr batch, 3 cubes) that was so out of balance (too many hops, not enough malt) was revolting, the first went in the garden (from keg), the second I used and english yeat to try and up the maltiness, then now I just added 4 ltr of 1.040 I made from DME, at bests it's only a drinkable beer.

3) an ESB that the first cube was lovely, the 2nd I had temp issues and then it stalled at 1.022 and had a bit of a blah taste, so I've added orval dregs to that, hopefully that'll do something :)
 

super_simian

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Slightly OT; do you guys prime your Brett beers, or is it too risky?
 

black_labb

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First one that comes to mind was when my girlfriend distracted me in a pleasant way. Ended up boiling the weizen for 3 hours by the time I pitched the cube and resanitised it. Alot of the protein had burnt onto the element giving a slight burnt flavour. I decided to add some ginger to blend/mask it in. The burnt flavour seemed to have cleared up and the small amount of ginger flavour worked out very well in the beer.

Second one was more recently. Brewed a couple belgian dark strongs (one batch split into 2 cubes). Because of my thermometer being way off they both fermented down to 1009 (dark candy sugar) and 1007 (light candy sugar). they tasted too dry and didn't have the sweetness I was expecting. I decided to steep 600g or so of dark crystals (a blend of what I had on hand). I then caramelised the crystal with some treacle and some brown sugar over about an hour and added that to the batches. It didn't add much more than 1 or 2 gravity points but the flavours it added really improved the taste from the hydro samples. I'm expecting really good things from these when the time comes.
 

.DJ.

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First one that comes to mind was when my girlfriend distracted me in a pleasant way. Ended up boiling the weizen for 3 hours by the time I pitched the cube and resanitised it.
Talk yourself up much?

are you sure you dont mean 3 MINUTES? :icon_chickcheers:
 

benno1973

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I recently brewed a double batch of english bitter with some Styrian Goldings. After draining 40L into the fermenters, there was still some left in the kettle so I drained that into 2 x 750ml PET bottles to use as yeast starters. The fermented beer was lovely, but a month later I still had these yeast starters sitting in the fridge so I got them out, put some cheesecloth over them and sat them in the kitchen and the laundry to see what wild stuff was floating by that might ferment them.

Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly for some) they took off after a day or so, fermenting so vigorously that they overflowed the bottle. After they'd settled down, I forgot about them for a couple of months till my wife mentioned that perhaps I should do something with them. I chilled them, decanted them into new PET bottles and carbonated them with a carbonator cap.

They were actually pretty good, with some stonefruit flavours and a bit of complexity. The beer wasn't originally designed to be a sour beer, and was probably too bitter to be the perfect canvas for the experiment, but it was great to know what comes of wild yeast experimentation.

As an aside, I have an APA on tap that, in theory should be great (fresh new season Amarillo and a tried and true grain bill), but unfortunately has an overwhelming pepperiness that makes it almost undrinkable. Last night I added a shot of Stones Green Ginger Wine to my glass, and it actually tastes quite good, complements the peppery flavour quite well. So I think I'll 'fortify' the keg with some Stones and see if it salvages the beer.
 

black_labb

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Talk yourself up much?

are you sure you dont mean 3 MINUTES? :icon_chickcheers:


I had to clean up the chocolate sauce and honey that were stuck to the sheets, sanitise the cucumber then clean the floor of the dungeon with a toothbrush all the while I was being whipped. Then I had to put my leather suit on and put each whip back onto it's correct order, place and orientation otherwise I would be forced to start again. I can never remember where that one paddle goes so I had to restart the process again too many times. The above makes up for the extra 2 hours 57 minutes :unsure:


Actually there was a fair bit of mucking around with pitching the beer that was in the cube already (sanitising fermentor, sanitising the cube ect). There was probably a bit of relaxing after the "pitching of yeast" before deciding that 3 hours was long enough as well. End result was 3 hours of boil, not neccesarily 3 hours of continuous distraction.
 

elec

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I recently brewed a double batch of english bitter with some Styrian Goldings. After draining 40L into the fermenters, there was still some left in the kettle so I drained that into 2 x 750ml PET bottles to use as yeast starters. The fermented beer was lovely, but a month later I still had these yeast starters sitting in the fridge so I got them out, put some cheesecloth over them and sat them in the kitchen and the laundry to see what wild stuff was floating by that might ferment them.

Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly for some) they took off after a day or so, fermenting so vigorously that they overflowed the bottle. After they'd settled down, I forgot about them for a couple of months till my wife mentioned that perhaps I should do something with them. I chilled them, decanted them into new PET bottles and carbonated them with a carbonator cap.

They were actually pretty good, with some stonefruit flavours and a bit of complexity. The beer wasn't originally designed to be a sour beer, and was probably too bitter to be the perfect canvas for the experiment, but it was great to know what comes of wild yeast experimentation.

As an aside, I have an APA on tap that, in theory should be great (fresh new season Amarillo and a tried and true grain bill), but unfortunately has an overwhelming pepperiness that makes it almost undrinkable. Last night I added a shot of Stones Green Ginger Wine to my glass, and it actually tastes quite good, complements the peppery flavour quite well. So I think I'll 'fortify' the keg with some Stones and see if it salvages the beer.
Stones fixes many things, Kaiser, many things indeed. My early efforts ( read 18 yo) were revolting, but as apprentice wages didn't allow much room to manouver, any batch that was rough out of the fermenter got the 1.5L of Stones treatment. I wish we could have bought the shit by the gallon.
Strange days indeed..........

Yours in Stonesfullness
 

manticle

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Slightly OT; do you guys prime your Brett beers, or is it too risky?
I prime mine. If they've sat for ages, I usually add a touch of new yeast. First time I did it I was a bit paranoid but if the brett has already eaten everything (check gravity obviously) so a small touch of sugar won't do much bsides add some fizz.

MXD - when you say 'revolting' - that's the kind of beer I usually tip out. My experiments are with beers than don't taste revolting but aren't as they are supposed to be either.
 

freezkat

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I prime mine. If they've sat for ages, I usually add a touch of new yeast. First time I did it I was a bit paranoid but if the brett has already eaten everything (check gravity obviously) so a small touch of sugar won't do much bsides add some fizz.

MXD - when you say 'revolting' - that's the kind of beer I usually tip out. My experiments are with beers than don't taste revolting but aren't as they are supposed to be either.
If we threw everything out that didn't meet our expectations in this house...I'ld have been out in the rubbish long ago. I'm too cheap to throw anything away. AS long as it doesn't get me sick. I'll save it for boiling bratwurst, steaming chicken, give it to people i don't want to stay long.

The beano tablets save a very expensive beer Last August. I ended up with a hoppy/barley wine that'll curl your toes
 

Dave70

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I have a strong dark that I apparently bottled to early. Evidenced by the bottle tops now appearing slightly convex. This thing was sitting in the secondary for over a month for **** sake.
I cant understand it, nearly blew the lid off the fermenter at the time. It was supposed to be a winter brew, but I cracked one last week to be greeted with around 40 seconds of foam rolling out of the bottle.
The taste wasn't bad - still a bit solvently - but I expected that for such a big beer at four months.
I'm hoping time will sort things out. If it doesn't, down the sink they go. A little disappointing as I cant remember the last time I brewed a dud. There's a few meh's in there, but very few fertilizers.
Bugger it. Life's to short to drink shit beer on principle.
 

DUANNE

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i prime my brett beers but at about half the amount i would usually use. i never use fresh yest but always still get good carb levels if somewhat higher than i expect even if it does take a couple of months sometimes.
 

Kai

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I've gleaned two new brewing axioms from this thread.

#1, if the ferment's shit, toss in some Orval dregs
#2, if the beer's shit, add some Stones.

I will definitely be filing both of these away for future reference.

My main method for turning ordinary beer into great beer has always been blending. This only really applies when the stuff-up is a flavour imbalance in the final beer.

It's a complex system of cutting one beer with a specific proportion of another. Or, in rare cases, sometimes two others. Could be another batch of homebrew, or a commercial beer.

The golden rule in blending arithmetic is that you can only ever make a good beer out of two ordinary ones.
 

manticle

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I agree with axiom 1 (to an extent - incomplete, rather than shit but some may argue that the former is evidence of the latter) and blending beer (or adding additional elements through considered minimash etc) that is imbalanced but if the beer's shit I'll grit my teeth and toss it or grit my teeth and drink it and make myself learn why it's shit and how to avoid it using aversion therapy.
 

dr K

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've gleaned two new brewing axioms from this thread.

#1, if the ferment's shit, toss in some Orval dregs
#2, if the beer's shit, add some Stones.

I will definitely be filing both of these away for future reference.

My main method for turning ordinary beer into great beer has always been blending. This only really applies when the stuff-up is a flavour imbalance in the final beer.
Those who subscribe to Zymurgy may be giggling along with Kai on this one !
The current (March/April) issue has some great comments from Randy Mosher about Australian Home Brewing (part of his three year planet brewing voyage including the 2010 ANHC in Melbourne).
 

benno1973

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Any beer that's obviously infected goes down the drain, that's a given. I can't drink 40L of beer tasting like bandaids.

But a beer that has a poor flavour profile may benefit with blending, be it with another beer (homebrew or commercial) or something else like Stones. There's the old adage that life's too short to drink shit beer, but then again, when you spend 5 hours on a brew day and further hours designing a recipe, putting together a yeast starter, racking, sanitising kegs, etc. etc. there's always motivation to salvage something from a beer that's just poor, rather than shit.

It'll never be the best beer you ever made, perfectly executed and exactly as designed, but then again it might be surprisingly drinkable and the worst you've done is waste a little time and some of whatever you used for blending.
 

Kai

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I agree with axiom 1 (to an extent - incomplete, rather than shit but some may argue that the former is evidence of the latter) and blending beer (or adding additional elements through considered minimash etc) that is imbalanced but if the beer's shit I'll grit my teeth and toss it or grit my teeth and drink it and make myself learn why it's shit and how to avoid it using aversion therapy.

Perhaps I was being a bit hyperbolic with my use of the term "shit".

If a beer's really shit, I just tip it and ask myself why it happened. There's usually a lesson to learn, or relearn, from the experience.

Through experience of "shit" (ie not good enough) beers I've learned that different categories of shit can be dealt with in different ways. Experience in knowing why a particular beer is shit helps heaps towards knowing how to then make it taste better. The more shit batches you brew and learn how to make them not shit, the better brewer you'll be.

It's all about the vibe, really.
 

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