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Thread: Brewing Issues

  1. #1
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    Default Brewing Issues

    I really miss Jelo today. I'll give him a call about this over the weekend. However, I've gathered that there are other excellent home brewers on the forum, and I'm hoping for some advice.


    I started brewing my own beer quite a while back. Originally it started out of necessity (read: lockdown and the fact that I could not buy beer), but it has become much more than that to me. The last three years (divorce, covid etc) have been very difficult for me and have exacted a massive toll and I'm a little stuffed from a nervous aspect. I get very agitated and anxious when I'm not doing stuff. Sadly, there are only so many things I can build, weld, fix, make etc, and I've virtually run out of things to do. As such, despite the massive amount of work involved in brewing, I love it as it keeps me busy. Especially on weekends. Otherwise I'd be miserable with everybody and would resort to anti-social behaviour like trolling uncle Keith...


    I originally started brewing with "canned beer" or "extract" kits. But following a very generous donation of brewing equipment from Gothan (baie dankie weereens - ek waardeer), I started brewing my own stuff from grain. I'm not experienced enough to sort out my own recipes and so on, so I use various recipes from the Internet.


    My "kit" beer brews come out perfectly, every time. However, my brew-in-a-bag type brews are all over the show and very hit and miss. Especially with some ales. And this I cannot figure out.


    My thinking is that if I had issues with the water I use, or if I had issues with cleaning or sanitisation, or if there were issues with the fermenters, I'd have problems with the "canned" beer as well. Likewise, if there were issues with the kettle I use, or any of the other equipment, I would permanently have issues with all my brews. But I don't. It seems restricted to blonde ales.


    I cook my grain and boil the wort. Add hops when required. However, at some point after pitching yeast, the wort fermenting starts getting a very chemical taste. I belive it is from the gas created during fermentation, as one can smell it through the airlock when the airlock bubbles. I cannot explain the smell / taste, but it is pretty chemical.


    However, this gets gradually worse and worse and, as previously mentioned, contaiminates the "beer" with the same taste.


    The first batch, I let ferment until FG was in-spec with the recipe. And then I bottled it (with the required sugar for secondary fermentation) with the hope that the taste would improve. It never did and I ended up opening all two cases of quarts and pouring it all away. The other batches, I have just ended up pouring away from the fermenter the moment the smell and taste have occurred.


    In any case, this is breaking me. I am at my wits end as I am not sure what I am doing wrong. If it was kettle related, I would have issues with all my "grain-brewed" beers. If it were fermenter related, I would have issues with all the beer I make - including the "kit" beers. Likewise if it were water-related. Or if my cleaning and sanitisation routines were not adequate.


    I've read subsequently, that sometimes the yeast used during fermentation can also cause strong smells - especially with ales, but that this would eventually go away. So I'm not sure if I am not letting the stuff ferment long enough. However, if this is the case will the strange taste also go away ? Also - I've always bottled when FG is in-spec over a period of two days. How long can I leave the wort in the fermenter without messing this stuff up ?


    Anyways, those are my brewing issues. If anybody has any idea what I can try, or look at, I would appreciate it. Thanks.
    Ian de Villiers
    Nissan Patrol GRX 4.5

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Hi Ian,

    Two things come to mind and both are temperature related.

    Mash temp? Can you control it? At what temp do you mash? Do you do a mash-out?

    Fermentation temp? Can you control your fermenting temp and at what temp do you ferment? What yeast do you use?

    You'll have to share more details in order for us to assist you.

    Also, look at joining this forum: https://www.wortsandall.co.za/content.php - you will find lots of brewers on there, from newbies to seasoned guys like Jelo..

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Dewald Posthumus View Post
    Hi Ian,

    Two things come to mind and both are temperature related.

    Mash temp? Can you control it? At what temp do you mash? Do you do a mash-out?

    Fermentation temp? Can you control your fermenting temp and at what temp do you ferment? What yeast do you use?

    You'll have to share more details in order for us to assist you.

    Also, look at joining this forum: https://www.wortsandall.co.za/content.php - you will find lots of brewers on there, from newbies to seasoned guys like Jelo..
    Dewald, thanks for the response.

    I mash at 67 degrees for 60 minutes.
    Mash out at 75 degrees for 10 minutes.
    I boil for an hour.

    I boil in a kettle on gas. My temperature control for mashing and mash-out is by keeping a hawk-eye on the two thermometers and playing with the gas. I guess this is not satisfactory then, and I will need to make some other plan ?

    I cannot control temperature of fermentation, so I've normally just used ambient. This has been between 22 and 26 degrees.

    Yeast: Safale US-05 - American Ale Yeast
    Ian de Villiers
    Nissan Patrol GRX 4.5

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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    [QUOTE=iandvl;4621602
    I cannot control temperature of fermentation, so I've normally just used ambient. This has been between 22 and 26 degrees.

    Yeast: Safale US-05 - American Ale Yeast[/QUOTE]

    There in lies your issue,, US-05 will get stressed at those temperatures and create Ethyl Acetate, which is where your chemical taste comes from. I ferment US-05 at 18 degrees. If you cannot control fermentation temperatures, then you need to use something like Kveik yeasts (I prefer the Oslo variant), they can tolerate anything between 19 and 37 degrees without any off flavours.

    Read more on Kveik yeasts here: https://liquidculture.co.za/strains/kveik_strains
    Last edited by Dewald Posthumus; 2021/04/15 at 12:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    You mention a chemical taste. Can you describe the taste, and can you also smell it or just taste it.

    First thing that comes to mind is Chlorophenols. This is commonly cause by using brewing water that has chlorine in it. It will result in a beer that has a taste / smell that is similar to band-aid plasters. If you are brewing with normal municipal tap water, this quite likely a possibility.

    There are then numerous other factors that could result in chemical tastes, but to narrow it down it would really help to have a description of what the taste is like. Try googling "Beer Off Flavors" to see if you can find a description that matches what you are tasting.

    Cheers
    Nick

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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Funny chemical smells are normally a sign of infection during fermentation with some non desired bacteria or suchlike. How to brew by John J palmer has a very nice chapter about this including exactly what each type of off smell means. ( if I remember I will take a photo and send to you tomorrow). ( I am anal when it comes to sanitising everything that may come into contact with the wort after the boil, I also try not to open the fermenter as this can allow yeat or bacteria in the air to get inside ( if you have a dog, their breath is full of wild yeast which causes infections)

    Fermentation temperature can also be an issue. ( too cold and it doesnt ferment as yeast goes dormant, too hot and it can develop off flavours) most ale yeasts are happiest between 18 and 22 degree. ( in winter I have a reptile heating pad with STC 1000 controller and a blanket to keep fermenter happy)

    you can keep the wort in a 25l fermenter happily for about a month without any issues.

    I have also tasted some homebrew where the iodophor sanitiser has given a nice Iodine smell and flavour.

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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Dewald Posthumus View Post
    There in lies your issue,, US-05 will get stressed at those temperatures and create Ethyl Acetate, which is where your chemical taste comes from. I ferment US-05 at 18 degrees. If you cannot control fermentation temperatures, then you need to use something like Kveik yeasts (I prefer the Oslo variant), they can tolerate anything between 19 and 37 degrees without any off flavours.

    Read more on Kveik yeasts here: https://liquidculture.co.za/strains/kveik_strains
    Dewald, thanks very much. This makes so much sense. And here I thought that apart from Lagers, I needed to ferment at temperatures between 20 and 28...

    Thanks for the link. I am definitely going to save this to refer to when selecting yeasts.

    Appreciate the help massively.
    Ian de Villiers
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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by DiligentDragon View Post
    You mention a chemical taste. Can you describe the taste, and can you also smell it or just taste it.

    First thing that comes to mind is Chlorophenols. This is commonly cause by using brewing water that has chlorine in it. It will result in a beer that has a taste / smell that is similar to band-aid plasters. If you are brewing with normal municipal tap water, this quite likely a possibility.

    There are then numerous other factors that could result in chemical tastes, but to narrow it down it would really help to have a description of what the taste is like. Try googling "Beer Off Flavors" to see if you can find a description that matches what you are tasting.

    Cheers
    Nick
    Nick, thanks - this was one of my considerations. However, I discarded it as my other brews come out perfectly...

    I googled "beer off flavours", but I'm sadly too much of a philistine to explain the smell / taste...

    I think Dewald has identified the problem perfectly (ie: temperature to high / stressed yeast). I will report back when I have had a chance to build my next batch...
    Ian de Villiers
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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Dewald Posthumus View Post
    There in lies your issue,, US-05 will get stressed at those temperatures and create Ethyl Acetate, which is where your chemical taste comes from. I ferment US-05 at 18 degrees. If you cannot control fermentation temperatures, then you need to use something like Kveik yeasts (I prefer the Oslo variant), they can tolerate anything between 19 and 37 degrees without any off flavours.

    Read more on Kveik yeasts here: https://liquidculture.co.za/strains/kveik_strains
    I replied above before I saw the reply mentioning fermentation temperature. If the taste is similar to solvent or acetone, then this is most likely the issue. Ethyl Acetate will give the beer a solvent like character.

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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert M View Post
    Funny chemical smells are normally a sign of infection during fermentation with some non desired bacteria or suchlike. How to brew by John J palmer has a very nice chapter about this including exactly what each type of off smell means. ( if I remember I will take a photo and send to you tomorrow). ( I am anal when it comes to sanitising everything that may come into contact with the wort after the boil, I also try not to open the fermenter as this can allow yeat or bacteria in the air to get inside ( if you have a dog, their breath is full of wild yeast which causes infections)

    Fermentation temperature can also be an issue. ( too cold and it doesnt ferment as yeast goes dormant, too hot and it can develop off flavours) most ale yeasts are happiest between 18 and 22 degree. ( in winter I have a reptile heating pad with STC 1000 controller and a blanket to keep fermenter happy)

    you can keep the wort in a 25l fermenter happily for about a month without any issues.

    I have also tasted some homebrew where the iodophor sanitiser has given a nice Iodine smell and flavour.
    Thanks for the post. As mentioned, I've checked different smells. But I think Dewald has indicated that the problem is my fermenter temperature being to high for the US Ale Yeast.

    I'll give it a bash when I brew again and report back.
    Ian de Villiers
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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by iandvl View Post
    Dewald, thanks very much. This makes so much sense. And here I thought that apart from Lagers, I needed to ferment at temperatures between 20 and 28...

    Thanks for the link. I am definitely going to save this to refer to when selecting yeasts.

    Appreciate the help massively.
    Ian, if you are serious about brewing, get your hands on an old fridge and a reptile heat pad (suck to inside of the door), connect it to a STC-1000 controller and you will be able to control your fermenting temperatures. It is the best investment I made for brewing, controlled mashing and fermenting temperatures are paramount to making consistently good beer.

    STC-1000: https://rebelpets.co.za/shop/all-pro...re-controller/
    Heat pad: https://rebelpets.co.za/shop/all-pro...355x360-large/

    Cheap investment for great beer...

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  19. #12
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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Dewald Posthumus View Post
    Ian, if you are serious about brewing, get your hands on an old fridge and a reptile heat pad (suck to inside of the door), connect it to a STC-1000 controller and you will be able to control your fermenting temperatures. It is the best investment I made for brewing, controlled mashing and fermenting temperatures are paramount to making consistently good beer.

    STC-1000: https://rebelpets.co.za/shop/all-pro...re-controller/
    Heat pad: https://rebelpets.co.za/shop/all-pro...355x360-large/

    Cheap investment for great beer...
    Dewald - thanks. I shall look at this. The STC-100 was one of the items I was looking at for fermenting during the winter. I'll rustle up an old fridge...

    If I may ask - how do you control your mash temperatures ?
    Ian de Villiers
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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    I use a converted coolerbox to mash in, in summer I leave it as is, and in winter I wrap an old duvet around it. Keeps the mash temp perfectly constant.

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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Dewald Posthumus View Post
    I use a converted coolerbox to mash in, in summer I leave it as is, and in winter I wrap an old duvet around it. Keeps the mash temp perfectly constant.
    Thanks. I've been doing the brew-in-a-bag thing. I've actually got a cooler / tun (thanks Gothan). I'll give that a bash next time.

    Looking forward to my next brew day.

    I've been torn about making this post. I'm so glad I did. It's literally been keeping me up at night.
    Ian de Villiers
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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Hey Ian, want to join me for a brew day? I'm holding a course, will explain the whole process and everything involved in detail and give you some wort to take home to ferment into beer. I think I've posted about it in the homebrewing thread as well. Send me a PM if you want more info. I'm planning a few courses and this will be the first (Level 1) course.

    I also do BIAB all grain, and I think my beers come out not too bad at all.

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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Toxxyc View Post
    Hey Ian, want to join me for a brew day? I'm holding a course, will explain the whole process and everything involved in detail and give you some wort to take home to ferment into beer. I think I've posted about it in the homebrewing thread as well. Send me a PM if you want more info. I'm planning a few courses and this will be the first (Level 1) course.

    I also do BIAB all grain, and I think my beers come out not too bad at all.
    Sorry - only noticed your post now. I will have to check when it is and figure out if I am going to be available or not. My weekends are all over the place for a bit. If I can make it, I guess I will drop by. Some things are still a little confusing for me...

    Sadly, my weekends are a little full at the moment. But let me see if I can make a plan. I will confim attendance on your thread.
    Ian de Villiers
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    Default Re: Brewing Issues

    Great. I wanted to host it on the 1st, but life got in the way and it's being postponed. Also gives me some time to get all the required 4 guys to join up (have one who will join already). So I'm aiming for the 29th of May right now.

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