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Why do ALL of my can kits taste bad?

Discussion in 'Kits & Extracts' started by megabyte, 4/6/16.

 

  1. megabyte

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    Posted 4/6/16
    So this has me stumped.

    I’ve been brewing for about 8 years. I started with Coopers kits and I could never get them to taste even remotely good. It’s a miracle that I persevered with brewing after so much disappointment but thankfully when I moved to extracts (and all grain soon after) my beers became tasty and I’ve been brewing quite happily ever since.

    Recently I brewed a few all grain batches of a Coopers Pale Ale clone. I re-cultured the yeast from a bottle of the Coopers beer and while my attempts didn’t taste exactly like the original, they tasted every bit as good.

    Next up i thought why not get back to my roots and try a Coopers Australian Pale Ale can of goo to see if it would taste closer to the real deal (after all, Coopers should know how to make a brew that tastes like their own beer right?). I used a fairly fresh Can (from my LHBS), Brew Enhancer 2, rehydrated the kit yeast, sanitised everything, fermented with temp control and the result was something I hadn’t tasted or smelled in many years - shitty homebrew. It’s thin and cidery, the bubbles are big, the head dissipates quickly and it has a pungent stink just like all the kit beers I made when I was starting out. The taste is bland and it has that signature “bad homebrew” aftertaste. I aged it a few weeks in the keg and it didn’t help much.

    OK so my first thought was that the yeast is bad. I’ve heard warnings about using the yeast that comes with cans of goo and I know Coopers uses an Ale/Lager blend with their Australian Pale Ale kit that’s completely different to the yeast they use in their commercial example.

    So next I started again with a fresh Coopers Pale Ale Can and BE2, but this time I re-cultured a healthy pitch of real coopers yeast, the stuff that I’ve been using in my all-grain batches. The result - equally shitty homebrew. It’s got a slightly different character, but the signature stink, bad aftertaste, poor head and artificial bitterness are all the same. It’s exactly the kind of beer that gives homebrew a bad reputation.

    So my AG batches turned out great but the kits turned out almost undrinkable (I can’t even palm them off to my in-laws). I’ve ruled out the yeast, the fermentation temperature, and serving (I kegged and force carbed them all). I don’t see anything in my process that would make the kits taste bad. My only remaining conclusion is that these Coopers can kits are just rubbish.

    So here’s what’s got me beat… The staff at both of my LHBSs think that canned kits are great. There’s an entire coopers forum filled with people who think these kits are the duck’s nuts (including the Aussie Pale Ale kit). Heck, I’m posting this in a sub-forum of AHB that’s dedicated to kits and extracts and filled with brewers with far more experience than I have. I *must* be doing something wrong.

    I am humbled by my repeated failure to brew decent beer with these kits and I really respect the knowledge amongst my fellow brewers on AHB. Is there something else I should try or am I beating a dead horse expecting these kits to taste like commercial quality beer?
     
    gazzagahan and KE VO like this.
  2. Ducatiboy stu

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    Posted 4/6/16
    Dunno

    Everytime i have done a Coopers Pale Ale kit it has been bang on
     
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  3. megabyte

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    Posted 4/6/16
    Awesome, that gives me hope. May I ask some tips?

    Do you use BE2?
    Do you reculture the coopers yeast or use the satchel with the can?
    What temp do you ferment at?
    Does it to throw pear esters like the original?
    Do you oxygenate?
    How fresh are your cans? Is it okay if they are a couple of months old?
     
  4. Ducatiboy stu

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    Posted 4/6/16
    Havent done one for a while, but always used BE2, fermed at about 18*c..ish

    The Pale Ale kit really is very good if done properly, very close to the original

    Have used kit yeast and re cultered

    I have tasted beers made from kits and they where fantastic. Better than some AG beers ( mine included ) at swap meets

    Nothing wrong with kit beers, and in saying that, most issues are caused after the tin has been opened
     
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  5. fletcher

    bibo ergo sum

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    Posted 4/6/16
    the only thing i can think it could be is the yeast culture giving poor performances. yes, culturing can be good, but you can never be sure that culture is going to be completely healthy. would you consider using a yeast such as us-05 or something similar to get the desired neutral profile? (considering you're fermenting at about 17-18c anyway). try that and see how they compare?
     
  6. Ducatiboy stu

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    Posted 4/6/16
    Start from scratch

    Think of every step

    Then sanitise, and sanitise again, and when you have finished sanitising and cleaning, sanitise

    Change your sanitising chemicals

    I dont know. If your using the same equipment and so on for AG's and kits then they should both be good

    Maybe try a Pale Ale kit with all malt instead of BE2 and see what difference that makes
     
  7. danestead

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    Posted 4/6/16
    Did you use dechlorinated and chloromined water? Was the water you used sterile?
     
  8. megabyte

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    Posted 4/6/16
    These points are very reassuring. Thanks.

    I may give US05 a go if it comes to that. My reservation is that I really want to get the signature ester profile of the commercial beer. Given that it's only POR hops and an ordinary malt bill the esters are the main thing that makes Coopers Pale Ale interesting to me.
    I also think I ruled out yeast being the problem already though since my recultured yeast worked awesome on my AG batches and also that the bad flavours were present with both kit yeast and my recultured yeast. I'll keep US05 in mind though.

    Admittedly I used a brand new plastic fermenter for the Coopers kits so not all variables are the same, not that it should really matter. I usually ferment my AG batches in glass carboys but in order to pour in the can of goo it's much more convenient with a wide-mouth fermenter. I did fill it to the brim with starsan and sanitise the crap out of everything before use. Same Meticulous OCD I use for my AG brews.

    ^^ this! I used tap water (Sydney Water/Illawarra). I've never noticed high levels of chlorine in my local water, but without a boil I wonder if this could be a contributing factor? I've heard that if you can't taste it in the water you won't taste it in your beer though. Also I think the "homebrew" taste and stink that I'm getting isn't much like chlorine.
    Regarding sterile water, all I do is spray my tap with starsan before beginning. Are you Kit and Kilo guys pre-boiling (and cooling) all your water before adding to the fermenter and I never got the memo? If so maybe that's the trick, but I've never heard of anyone going that far for Kit and Kilos.

    Still, I don't really suspect infection or sanitation being a problem either. I've tasted beers with a slight infection and picked it up right away. I'm not getting any sour notes in the taste or smell.

    Loving the suggestions guys, I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of this. I would be so happy if I could keep a Coopers Pale Ale on tap that doesn't involve a 6 hour brew day!
     
  9. Ducatiboy stu

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    Posted 4/6/16
    Unless you can really smell the chlorine then I dont think you will have an issue from the water

    Maybe try some spring water from the Aldiwoolcoles
     
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  10. motman

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    Posted 4/6/16
    I recently went back to kits due to having kids and no time for AG brewing. I had hoped they'd be better than they were in the old days but I had the same experience as you - not good! I have been thinking one possibility is that I'm using a carbon filter to remove chlorine and it may be harbouring infection I'd normally knock out with full boils.

    Ducatiboy's comments are promising though, I'll persist a few more.
     
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  11. peteru

    Here, taste this!

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    Posted 4/6/16
    It's the water. I've had exactly the same problem, several batches of beer just tasting off. I detected a clove-like tone in them all. When I did partial boil batches, they were better, but still had that "bad homebrew" undertone to them. All were done just with Sydney tap water.

    Then, one day I decided to only use filtered water for everything I was doing. I have a 2 stage under sink filter, including a 1 micron sediment filter and coconut activated carbon filter. It slows everything down, because the water flow is much slower than from the tap, but the result is like night and day.

    Haven't looked back since. These days I plan ahead and fill a keg and a 10L container with filtered right at the start. Then I just use this water as I go.
     
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  12. megabyte

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    Posted 4/6/16
    Cool, I'll experiment with the water, that makes the most sense to me so far.

    Where should I start?

    1. I have an RO/DI filter from my old aquarium days, it still works well but I worry about sanitation.
    2. I could buy some bottles from Aldwoolcoles, I know people do this, but without chlorine, is it sanitary?
    3. I could boil and no-chill a cube worth of tap water from my brew kettle - would this be the best starting point?


    I really want to nail this!
     
  13. contrarian

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    Posted 4/6/16
    Just sit your fermenter on the lawn today and by the afternoon you'll have plenty of pure rain water to experiment with!
     
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  14. Ducatiboy stu

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    Posted 4/6/16
    You could do all of these.

    Top get the chloramine click here http://www.beeradvocate.com/community/threads/vitamin-c-for-chlorine-chloramine-removal.76953/
     
  15. Ducatiboy stu

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  16. yum beer

    Not in the house, you've got a shed..

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    Posted 5/6/16
    If your after the Coopers feel with the yeast, I have found that using 05 with a small Coopers reculture will still give the Coopers estery profile while still brewing clean.
    Water should not be a problem in the Gong...best water in the country.
    Try 50/50 tap water and either distilled or rain. Spring water contains a lot if chemicals.
     
  17. Black Devil Dog

    .

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    Posted 5/6/16
  18. Coldspace

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    Posted 5/6/16
    When I did coopers kits, use the can extract additive like the light malt or wheat malt, instead of the powdered BE2 etc. makes a difference in quality.
    I all-grain, but have taught a few mates extract/kit brews, and when they do kits with can malt additives instead of powdered ones, made a big leap in quality of their beers.

    Cooper yeast, robbed from 3 bottles, started in 500 mls with 25 grms lme, then upto 1.5 ltrs with 150 grms lme, on your yeast forge , when at high krausen, 18-24 hrs later, tip all straight into your fermenter which has been made upto 19.5 to 20 ltrs only with the kit and make can. 18 degrees, 10 days, 21 degrees, 4 days, cc, fine, leave for 1 week at 0 degrees, keg or bottle . You don't have to fine, 1 week at 0 usually cleans it up abit as well as leaving some suspended for that coopers taste. Some friends of mine prefer the filtered version , some like it el-natural. I drink it either way.lol.
    Coming back down from all-grain you will notice a taste diff, but then again , done right , some extract brewers win awards, so good beer is possible. Abit of aging/largering in the keg for a couple weeks makes it a lot better live tasted some extract brews I've kegged up and thought, tip this onto the lawn, but then parked that keg at back of keezer and a month later was far far superior. Also , if over-carbed the beer tends to act like a soft drink, fizzy, big bubbles and kills the head.
    Sparkling ale is scrumptious !!

    I usually do the sparkling all-grain, but the kits have proved good with the above steps. Especially with can extract from coopers instead of powdered extracts.
     
  19. Ducatiboy stu

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    Posted 5/6/16
    Dont what happened there

    Just google chloramine removal vitamin c
     
  20. soundawake

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    Posted 5/6/16
    I'm in the same boat as you OP. Never have had a kit beer that hasn't tasted like ass. All grain fine, kit beer bad. I think its just the kit beer. Some people just have different palates.
     

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