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Messages - qm3k

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All Grain Brewing / Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« on: July 03, 2015, 02:57:45 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 02, 2015, 10:27:51 PM »

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, 02:20:21 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, 01:58:14 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.

Yeast and Fermentation / Switching to O2
« on: June 05, 2015, 12:07:16 PM »
Maybe this should go in the general topic category, but it has to do with oxygenating my wort prior to pitching my yeast.

I have recently switched from aerating with an aquarium pump to pure O2. I use a bottle of oxygen that I get from the local hardware store without any kind of flow meter (just the canister, a regulator, a tube, a filter, and an aeration stone).

About how long should I let the oxygen flow, and should it be a fast flow, or one that produces smallish bubbles from the stone? I simply don't want to overdo it.


General Homebrew Discussion / Whirlpool and final hop additions
« on: June 05, 2015, 09:49:14 AM »
Hi all,

I've been brewing for a long time, and one thing that has confused me for that time (apparently not enough to ask, say, years ago) is the timing of my final hop addition. I manually whirlpool at flameout with a spoon and let it settle for about 20 minutes before chilling. I have traditionally tossed in my 0 minute hop additions before I do this. However, I know that in order to get the most out of these final hop additions I should be chilling as quickly as possible. My beers tend to have lower hop aroma than I would like, and I'm pretty sure that having the final addition sitting in a pot of near-boiling wort is the culprit.

Would I get a better result from tossing the hops in AFTER the 20 minutes that I allow the wort to settle out? It's obviously still pretty hot, and I would basically start the chilling process immediately. However, I'm not sure whether the temperature drop during the 20 minutes would counteract what I'm trying to accomplish.

Also, if anyone has a better way to whirlpool, I'd love suggestions. I have built whirlpool arms and such and have never been happy with the results.


All Grain Brewing / Re: About to destroy my immersion chiller...
« on: July 31, 2014, 12:42:02 PM »
I suppose I can toss it in the fridge. Shouldn't take more than an hour to get to 68, I suppose.

All Grain Brewing / About to destroy my immersion chiller...
« on: July 31, 2014, 12:31:33 PM »
Hi all,

I am constantly in awe of those who claim that they can get 5 gallons of wort from boiling to pitch temp in 15 minutes with an immersion chiller. I am using one right now (25 ft., copper, fitted with a whirlpool arm) rigged up to two pumps (one to recirculate the wort, one pumping chill water through the coil. It started as ice water and has risen to about 65 degrees). Wort is stuck at 74 degrees. It has been nearly an hour. Not sure what I can do about this now...what's the magic trick to keep this part of the process more time-efficient?

All Grain Brewing / Re: Overtreated water?
« on: July 12, 2014, 06:31:18 PM »
Salty, astringent, harsh.

In a light über I get a chalky and muddy flavor if the bicarbonate is too high, it is the opposite of crisp. Don't use chalk with RO unless you have to.

YES! I can't describe what I'm tasting, but muddy and "opposite of crisp" hit it as well as anything I've ever been able to come up with. It tastes like beer, but...not. I did use chalk in the water treatment. I've since (in just the past few weeks) read other sources that recommend against it as well in RO water. Thanks!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Wyeast 3068
« on: July 12, 2014, 06:09:11 PM »

That more beer article was a really good read on that. I've never had the rotten eggs smell before or really heard of it so bad in the primary it would nearly "knock me over".

If it was in your starter and the beer is super watery, my guess is that's not a positive sign. Assuming your were sanitary in your process, then think about the yeast. If you under pitch, what is one of the by products? You get a lot more volatile sulfur compounds which come out during yeast growth.

Is there a chance there was a low viable cell count in the pack due to age or poor handling or similar? Since it was present in the starter then maybe you under pitched your starter??

I'd say it would have to be fairly heavily under pitched but just another take on it.

I made the starter based on the date on the package and calculated the volume based on the Mr. Malty yeast calculator. It has always given me solid results in the past. The one thing I am concerned about is that the yeast was delivered via FedEx and it was in transit during a few rather hot days. I did notice that the slurry in the starter seemed rather sparse compared to previous batches. The fermentation was active, but not what I've become accustomed to. Perhaps the yeast got fried in transit?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Wyeast 3068
« on: July 12, 2014, 06:06:05 PM »
I never got sulfur with that yeast strain until I switched from a copper to stainless immersion chiller.  Now I always do!  It will dissipate with more time, warming it up will help too.

Did you happen to replace your copper wort chiller with something else since last using that strain?  A little copper in the system is supposed to reduce sulfur.

Heh, actually, just the opposite! I'd been using a Therminator counterflow, but this year I haven't been able to get it cleaned out enough to feel comfortable with it (a discussion for another time). I moved back to a copper immersion chiller a few months ago.

All Grain Brewing / Overtreated water?
« on: July 12, 2014, 01:09:53 PM »
Hi all,

I recently brewed an amber ale that has an odd aftertaste and mouthfeel to it. It isn't bad, exactly, just odd. I have pored over lists of off-flavors and can find nothing that comes close to describing what I am tasting. I did treat RO water (my water sucks), and am wondering if I overdid it. What would a beer taste like if I over-treated the water (just general impressions are fine here...I know that without knowing all of the additions I used it would be impossible to nail down exactly what I over-used)?


Yeast and Fermentation / Wyeast 3068
« on: July 12, 2014, 01:07:02 PM »
Hi all,

Just brewed a hefeweizen and it looks like I'm going to get a disastrous result. It's a pretty standard grain bill, 50/50 wheat and pilsener malts. I used Wyeast 3068, which I have used to great success in the past on this recipe. I got a little nervous when my starter smelled like rotten eggs. I am not used to that smell from this yeast, but the manufacturer specs list it as a possible odor, so I figured that I wouldn't worry about it. I probably should have dumped it...

I fermented it at 62 degrees, and after a few days, I opened up my fermenting fridge to check on it. The smell nearly knocked me over, it was so strong. It did finally dissipate, but it is still present, and there is next to no banana/clove aroma. I pulled a taste sample, and the beer is super-watery, barely any banana or clove, and a definite sulfur note.

I have been brewing since 1998, so I am not a beginner, and have made quite a few hefeweizens with these ingredients and this yeast strain. I should stress that I am aware of the importance of sanitation practices and, as I have said, I have brewed great hefeweizens in the past. I am inclined to chalking it up to getting a bad yeast culture, but I hate to blame the ingredients if there is something in my process that may have gotten away from me. Has anyone had these issues with this yeast strain?


P.S. The culture was relatively fresh, only about 2 weeks old when I got it. I did, however, get it through the mail.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Dramatic swings in mash efficiency
« on: July 04, 2014, 11:00:23 AM »
If everything else in your process is the same but the equipment then that's where the issue lies. IMO 2 batches of 2 completely different recipes is not enough to dial something in.

I would try and brew the same recipe a few times and see what you get. If the same recipe produces the same numbers each time then use that as your efficiency calculation moving forward

Thanks. I figured I'd have to brew a lot more to get my numbers consistent...the degree of the variance this time was just a little unnerving. Cheers!

All Grain Brewing / Dramatic swings in mash efficiency
« on: July 04, 2014, 10:36:48 AM »
Hi all,

I recently made a few equipment changes to my system and am having trouble with my mash efficiency.  I know that there will be a period of instability until I brew more with the new equipment. I have brewed 2 batches so far and have had a very large variance in my mash efficiency...72% for the first, 66% for the second. I expected my numbers to be a little wonky for a while, but that's a pretty big spread.

I switched my MLT from a 10 gallon Polarware and false bottom to a Blichmann 10 gallon Boilermaker with AutoSparge and false bottom. I used to get 75% consistently with my old system. Has anyone had similar drops/variances with that equipment?

The beers I brewed were an amber (72%) and a hefeweizen (66%).

If it isn't the equipment change, where should I be looking in my process to get things more consistent?


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