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Messages - qm3k

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Yeast and Fermentation / Building up a starter
« on: September 20, 2016, 06:42:53 PM »
Hi all,

I typically make starters every time I brew, but I've never actually had to step one up.

I am planning to brew a Czech Pilsner, and the yeast I was able to get is a bit old (March 2016, only 19.63% viable according to BeerSmith).

Also according to BeerSmith, I need 467.7 billion cells, so I have a long way to go.

As I'm playing with the starter calculator in the program, it LOOKS like I can make a 1L starter on a stir plate to get the cell count up to 117 billion, so a bit more than a new package of yeast.

My question is, then, do I simply go ahead and pitch the new, happy yeast into another starter as though I'm pitching a fresh package of yeast (another 2.69L on a stir plate gets me pretty close to the recommended pitch rate of 467.7 billion according to the software)?

It seems simple enough, but I just want to make sure I'm not missing something important.


Ingredients / Re: Underwhelmed by Horizon hops
« on: August 14, 2016, 05:20:39 PM »
That's what I was thinking. Every beer I've brewed with them came out very dull-tasting to my palate. I'm a bit of a hop-head, and when I was unable to get the Horizon hops I would sub in something as drastic as Simcoe...totally different, I know, but I was just going for a similar AA% as what was called for in the recipe. Those beers turned out great.

All Grain Brewing / Trouble with hoppy beers
« on: August 14, 2016, 05:12:27 PM »
I have been having trouble with hoppy beers. For a long time I thought I was having a brewing-wide problem, but after stepping away from hoppy beers for a while I have regained my confidence a bit.

I recently brewed the American Pale Ale recipe out of Brewing Classic Styles, and the old problems are back. The beer is very...not beer-like. The biggest issue is that there is no hop character of any kind...little to no actual bitterness, no flavor from the late additions, no aroma from the flameout additions. In looking back over my failures over the years, I actually think that the beers would have been great if there had been any hop character in them...picture your favorite beer with all of the hops stripped out...that's sort of what I'm getting.

The hopping schedule as printed is:

Horizon 13% .66 oz 60 min.
Cascade 6% .5 oz 10 min
Centennial 9% 10 min
Cascade 6% 0 min
Centennial 9% 0 min

When I was brewing hoppy beers well (there was a time), I was NOT using the Horizon addition (I couldn't get them). I am wondering if that may be part of it...I may not like that hop. But that doesn't explain the lack of any kind of character from the other additions.

I have adjusted the water (used Bru N Water's Pale Ale Profile built from RO). I do brew with hop bags, but this never caused an issue in the past. I fermented at 68F.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Ingredients / Underwhelmed by Horizon hops
« on: August 14, 2016, 05:02:54 PM »
I have not brewed a good hoppy beer in years. Stay with me here...

I typically brew the recipes out of Brewing Classic Styles, and it has served me well for a long time. Some of my favorite recipes in there are the American Pale Ale, American IPA and the West Coast Blaster (hoppy amber). The first time I brewed these up they were killer.

Then, I rebrewed...and rebrewed...and rebrewed again. All of them duds.

I have been searching for the reason for going on 3 years now. I finally veered away from super-hoppy beers and made some really good examples (my Cal Common was particularly good) of other styles. So, with a renewed sense of confidence in my brewing ability, I tried the American Pale Ale recipe again. Dud. Total drain material.

The one factor that is different between my successes and failures on these beers is the Horizon hop. When I first brewed the recipes, I could not get Horizon hops in my area, so I was substituting other hops in. When Horizon finally became available, I started using them and following the recipes to the letter.

Is it possible that I simply don't like the results that a Horizon-based beer gives? I find the bitterness almost totally lacking (the recipe should be coming in at 40 IBU, and I am taking into account AA% when I scale the recipe to my system) and the beer tastes very dull (I have messed with the water in about every configuration you can think of. This time I landed at Bru N Water's Pale Ale Profile). I have looked around to see if others have had issues with this hop variety, but no, all I'm finding are articles about how wonderful they are.

Yeast and Fermentation / Pitching rate calculator discrepencies
« on: August 07, 2016, 05:55:05 PM »
Hi all,

I am brewing a porter with an OG of 1.060, 6 gallon batch.

I picked up some older WLP002 the other day...packaged on Feb. 18, and the "best by" date is sometime next week. I have no issues making starters, so I figured this wouldn't be an issue. I bought 2 packages.

The Mr. Malty calculator tells me that I have to pitch at least 5 packages into a 2.96 liter starter in order to get to my desired pitch rate of 250 billion cells.  Beersmith has me getting to the same place pitching my 2 packages into a 1.43 liter starter (both using a stir plate).

I'm confused. Any recommendations? If I have to pitch 5 packages to get a viable starter, I think I may just cut my losses and go buy a fresh package.

All Grain Brewing / Thin, vapid-tasting beer
« on: July 20, 2016, 01:46:45 AM »
Hi all,

I recently brewed an ESB that has had many issues. It has finally settled out into something that's ridiculously light-bodied...has a nice biscuity finish, but no bitterness, and a watery quality to it. I've been drinking it grudgingly, but am ready to dump it.

I brewed the recipe out of Brewing Classic Styles, so I'm assuming that the issue is not with the recipe. I am not a beginner...been brewing for many years. I made an appropriate starter. My OG was right on the button for the recipe. I have toyed around with serving temps and carb levels as well.

I have been messing with mineral additions, but what I used in this beer doesn't seem to line up with what I'm getting. I did find that my thermometer on my mash tun was registering about 6 degrees too low, but that should've had me mashing too high, giving me more body, not less.

Can't figure this out. Any thoughts?

All Grain Brewing / Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« on: July 03, 2016, 03:33:21 PM »
Add a pinch of gypsum to a glass of the finished beer, or a couple of pinches. That should enhance your bitterness.

I tried this...very cool! It made the beer much closer to what I was actually going for. Is it kosher to add gypsum to the keg to tweak the batch? I'm reading that I'll want to boil it in water and be careful about oxygen, but is there a formula to use to figure out what to add?

All Grain Brewing / Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« on: July 03, 2016, 01:46:35 PM »
Are you using a starter? If so, what is your procedure? I'd guess yeast health is the most likely cause of the off flavors you describe.

Your sanitizer of choice? Star San seems to work for the vast majority of brewers, but some live where a more robust sanitizer is needed.

I did make a starter. I use the Mr. Malty pitching rate calculator for every batch and adjust the starter size as it recommends.
I use StarSan.
Where are you from?  What is your water like?  Do you treat it?

The symptoms you describe sound like a lack of minerals.  I run into this often here in the PACNW when newbies don't add any minerals to our very soft water.

I build my water from RO using BrunWater. I am, however, extremely conservative with my additions, and perhaps that is where I'm running into trouble.

All Grain Brewing / Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« on: July 03, 2016, 01:55:36 AM »
Hi all,

I recently brewed the ESB recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. I followed the recipe precisely, adjusting for my mash efficiency. I fermented at 66F.

The beer I ended up with has no hop character whatsoever, and is extremely fruity. I know that fruitiness is a quality of Wyeast 1968, but should it really be this over the top? It doesn't taste like beer, and, again, NO hop character or bitterness at all (should've come to 40 IBU. I did adjust for the alpha of the hops).

I've had issues over the past 2 years of most of my beers not tasting like beer...muddled, dull, fizzy alcoholic liquid is what I tend to get. I've toyed with sanitation, equipment, oxygen levels, pitching rates, fermentation temps., etc. Nothing is fixing this...and what I used to brew was quite good (and, yes, I've gone back to what worked in the past. Doesn't help).

Any advice on the specific ESB issue would be helpful. More helpful though,would be any words of advice from someone who may have experienced a sudden and extended drop off in quality for no apparent reason.


All Grain Brewing / Re: Oxydized?
« on: September 03, 2015, 12:47:16 AM »
I've been able to rule out water. I don't use the tap water in my area, and I've tried various kinds of commercially-available RO water. Right now I'm using Culligan water and making adjustments. This issue has been present no matter what type of water and no matter what type of adjustments I make.

All Grain Brewing / Oxydized?
« on: September 02, 2015, 11:55:13 PM »
Hi all,

This is a follow-up to a post I made a while back. I have been brewing for a long time and was producing good to fantastic beers. Then, suddenly, about 18 months ago, I started producing crap. I looked at sanitation, equipment, water, yeast health and pitching rates, temperatures, etc. I still keep producing a product that doesn't really taste like's tastes very muddled and has an odd aftertaste that I would describe as caramel-like and sweet (although NOT cloying. It's not an attenuation issue, according to my hydrometer) although that's really reaching(unfortunately, I could go down an extensive list of common off-favors and say "no" to each and every one of them).

One thing I want to ask about is oxidyzation...the beer does not taste like cardboard, but I suppose I COULD describe the aftertaste as slightly-sherry-like (please don't get into a debate about how I said caramel and now I'm saying I said, I'm really clutching at straws here). After looking closer at my process, I realize that I have been lazy in one respect where I didn't used to be: purging the keg with CO2 before adding the beer. I've been skipping that lately (yes, I know it's lazy) and just purging the headspace. However, would oxydized flavors set in that quickly....say 3 days after kegging?

Any feedback is welcome...getting super-frustrated.


All Grain Brewing / Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« on: July 03, 2015, 09:57:45 PM »
Yes! Going with water as the probable culprit. I talked with the owner of one of the newer home brew supply stores in town (I was extremely impressed with his knowledge and his store, but that's another topic). He mentioned that a lot of people in my area were dealing with the same issue, and that RO water from several sources (which I have used) was testing....badly.

He turned me on to where I can get real, reliable RO water. I will also be purchasing a TDS meter  ;D.

Thanks to everyone who responded! I have a very good feeling about my next batch. I'll post a follow-up in a few weeks (re-brewing my most recent dud this week with better water, adjusted properly).

All Grain Brewing / Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« on: July 03, 2015, 05:27:51 AM »

Already swelled packs probably full of long dead yeast as well as a few live ones.

Make a beer taste like sh!t in most cases.

I hadn't considered this. The yeast smelled okay upon pitching into a starter, but in several cases it acted strange e.g. extremely active or inactive fermentations, odd odors during fermentation, etc. These packs were not simply a little puffy...they were swelled almost to the max, and the nutrient pack was still intact (I was either able to pop it or was able to see it when I emptied the package into my starter). However, the beer does not have any kind of rubbery flavor to it. The most frustrating thing is that I can tick off a list of off-flavors that are NOT present in the beer more than I can describe what actually tastes wrong.

More details! I want to see a couple recipes, know more about your process, etc.

I'm with the others who think "too complicated of a recipe" when they hear muddy.

I have been using recipes from Brewing Classic Styles, and all of my duds have actually been repeats of previous successes, so I doubt that the issue is with the recipe.

Could be the yeast, are you checking viability and making starters for each beer  with Mr. Malty or Yeast calc.? If the beers are properly fermenting and attenuating and you are not getting hot fusels or other fermentation related issues I'm not sold on it being the yeast.

I use the Mr. Malty calculator. I have tried making starters both with a stir plate and with intermittent shaking. Neither approach has made a difference.

Have you tried to start with 100% R/O water with calculated additions via brun' water? Have you changed suppliers of your ingredients?

I brew with RO water. My tap water is pretty much liquid dry-wall, so it's not well-suited to brewing. I have made adjustments in the past with Palmer's spreadsheet. I was always successful, for the most part, but I stopped making adjustments when my product began to go south, just in case I was over-adjusting the mineral additions.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« on: July 02, 2015, 09:20:21 PM »
Yeah, I know that "muddy and heavy" are pretty vague. The fact that I can't come up with anything else has made it particularly frustrating when I try to look for solutions!

I have indeed changed where I get get my ingredients...I think that my malts and hops are probably fine. Yeast, on the other hand...

Every batch I've done has come from a pack of yeast that has made me nervous in some way. However, I tend not to want to blame the yeast simply because of the sheer amount of disappointing beer that I've produced recently. However, the packages of Wyeast 1056 that I have used from this source have all been swelled almost to bursting when I bought them (so much so on this last one that I simply couldn't pop the nutrient packet inside it). They weren't old according to the manufacture date, and my starters all seemed okay. Another was a strain of the Wyeast kicked off so much sulfur during fermentation that it nearly knocked me over....more than usual, even for that strain.

Maybe that's it. I'll try a different supplier for yeast next time and see what happens.


All Grain Brewing / Frustrated beyond belief
« on: July 02, 2015, 08:58:14 PM »
Hi all,
I'm not sure if anyone will be able to help, but I'm at my wits end, so I figured I'd ask. I've been brewing since 1998. Suddenly, last summer, everything I brewed was crap...not one beer that was drinkable. I took a break and came back to it last month. Sure enough, same thing...right out of the gate, I got a drain-worthy beer.

The end product tastes very muddy...that's the only word I can use to describe it. No crispness, almost a heavy body, regardless of mash temp. It simply doesn't taste like beer. I have looked at my cleanliness and sanitation, I have gone from treating my water to using different water to making no changes at all. I have backpeddeled any equipment changes that I had made, and I have been vigilant about fermentation temp change. Still getting muddy, heavy tasting "beer." I also find that I can really taste the alcohol, which I know is a symptom of too-warm fermentation. However, I keep my fermentations steady in the mid 60s, so I'm not sure how that could happen.

I know that I MUST be doing something different if I was making good beer and then suddenly stopped, but I can't think of a single variable that I haven't considered. Has anybody else ever experienced this type of sudden slump, and if so, how did you work through it.

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