Author Topic: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale  (Read 1799 times)

Offline rkausch

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 18
    • View Profile
I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« on: March 30, 2010, 01:49:42 PM »
So, I must qualify that I've recently upgraded to all grain brewing, and am eagerly trying to learn as much as possible.  My first recipe was a pale ale, that I sort of based on Sierra Nevada's famous version (though some liberties were taken).  I used BeerSmith to concoct the recipe, and have pasted it below (though I accidentally substituted Crystal 60 for the Crystal 80):

Style: American Pale Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 10.00 gal     
Boil Size: 11.45 gal
Estimated OG: 1.059 SG
Estimated Color: 12.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 44.3 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU     
256.00 oz     Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        72.73 %       
80.00 oz      Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM)     Grain        22.73 %       
16.00 oz      Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM)     Grain        4.55 %       
0.50 oz       Magnum [14.00 %]  (60 min)                Hops         11.9 IBU     
1.50 oz       Pearle [8.00 %]  (60 min)                 Hops         20.4 IBU     
2.00 oz       Cascade [5.50 %]  (15 min)                Hops         9.3 IBU       
1.50 oz       Cascade [5.50 %]  (5 min)                 Hops         2.8 IBU       
2.00 tsp      Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min)                Misc                       
1 Pkgs        California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [StartYeast-Ale                 


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 352.00 oz
----------------------------
Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp     
60 min        Mash In            Add 27.50 qt of water at 165.9 F    154.0 F       

Now that we've seen the recipe, on to the outcome.  It tastes pretty good, except there's a slight sour note to it.  I'm not sure what could be causing it (though I have fears of contamination).  I've never done any of the strange belgian beers that supposedly permanently contaminate your equipment, and I'm careful with the sanitizer.  I've bottled the beer, and let it naturally carbonate. 

Anyone have any thoughts on what could be causing it?

Offline Matt B

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 78
    • View Profile
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2010, 02:42:28 PM »
I don't think there's anything off with your recipe, the sourness is probably from a slight infection of some sort. I can't think of anything you could do in your mash to give it that sour note (unless you sit for a couple of days.) The typical effects of an unintended mash is too dry (mashed colder), too malty (mashed too warm), and astringent (puckering dryness) from mashing *way* too high (above 172) where you start extracting tannins.


Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 7565
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2010, 04:14:45 PM »
Yep. Sour sounds like infection. What do you use to sanitize? How sound is your cleaning regimen? How long in Primary? Bucket? Secondary? What did you use? How long?
Keith Y.

Vote Jonathan Fuller for Governing Committee!

Offline rkausch

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 18
    • View Profile
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2010, 05:16:40 PM »
First, thanks for the quick replies!  And, after I typed up the reply, this seems to be more of a bottling issue, so the topic may be better suited in the bottling forum, but I don't know how to move the thread.

I use StarSan for everything.  On brewday, I sanitize the wort chiller by running star san through it (the wort chiller consists of a counterflow setup, built from copper pipe and garden hose, and a March pump running the wort through the chiller).  I sanitize the Glass carboys by racking into them (after a good scrubbing using the carboy brush). 

Links posted for information purposes, not endorsing northern brewer (though they have treated me well!)

The bottles were sanitized using about 5 squirts from a vinator gizmo (http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/vinator-bottle-rinser.html) full of the regular star san mix, then letting them drain out.  I also wash bottles in the dishwasher as they are used, but they sit in the closet for up to a month or so before reuse.  I fill the bottles out of a plastic bucket with a spigot, a length of hose, and standard spring tip bottle filler (http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/spring-tip-bottle-filler.html).  Caps sit in a bowl full of sanitizer until they go on the bottles. 

Fermentation on this one went a little longer than I normally do, both due to vacation, and some incomplete fermentation I was getting on previous batches.  Primary was 11 days, and secondary was about 14.  It seemed to taste fine (no sour taste that I recall) before bottling, so I suppose scientific method narrows it down to the bottling regimen.

Thanks for the support!
Rob

Offline blatz

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2619
  • Paul Blatz - Jupiter, FL
    • View Profile
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2010, 05:34:58 PM »
 6lbs of crystal for 10gal???  :o :o

The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

BJCP National: F0281

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 7565
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2010, 04:52:27 AM »
Have to agree, 25% crystal is way, way, way too much for just about any beer, but especially for a pale ale. 10% would have been plenty.

Your sanitizing regimen looks fine. It is hard to narrow down a real problem from looking at your routine, other than the excessive amounts of crystal, but that shouldn't cause a sour flavor.

Ho about fermentation temp? I see you don't mention that.

One thing it could be is acetaldahyde, which can leave a green apple flavor in the beer.

Another thing to consider, sometimes you can have a beer taste fine after the primary fermentation, but oxidation introduced by transferring/bottling can create compounds in the beer that produce off flavors. Did you notice a lot of bubbles in the line during transferring/bottling?
Keith Y.

Vote Jonathan Fuller for Governing Committee!

Offline rkausch

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 18
    • View Profile
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2010, 08:20:10 AM »
Hi All, Thanks again for the replies.

So, the Crystal is a side effect of using beer smith to nail the color for the style, and not knowing what I'm doing (trial and error, eh?)  So, the solution would be more base malt, and drop the crystal to around 10%?  What does crystal do that base malt doesn't (other than potentially costing more?)

I've actually been struggling with keeping my fermentation temperature up over the winter.  I ferment in the downstairs (unused) bathtub, and it can get pretty cold in there.  This is why I let primary and secondary go a bit longer, to get more complete fermentation.  Primary was about 59-61ish (I don't trust the accuracy of the stick-on carboy thermometers too much).  I've played around with the idea of upping the temp somehow (I've read about surrounding the carboy with water, and using an aquarium heater in the surrounding water), but I haven't implemented a solution yet.

I'll try another one tonight, and see if I can put the flavor on green apple or not (I might have to go eat a green apple to remember what they taste like!).

I may have had some oxydation introduced during the racking procedure, in the line.  I'll be doubly sure to get new tubing that properly fits the racking cane next time.

Thanks again!
Rob

Offline blatz

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2619
  • Paul Blatz - Jupiter, FL
    • View Profile
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2010, 12:20:21 PM »

So, the Crystal is a side effect of using beer smith to nail the color for the style, and not knowing what I'm doing (trial and error, eh?)  So, the solution would be more base malt, and drop the crystal to around 10%?  What does crystal do that base malt doesn't (other than potentially costing more?)

Rob

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I'd use tried and true recipes and get a dozen or so batches under my belt before I started tinkering around.  Jamil Z's "Brewing Classic Styles" is a good place to start - you'll get a feel for the effective usage of a lot of different ingredients by hitting some of the major styles there.  Brew them to a 't' and see how the final product is.

Also, do you have Palmer's "How to Brew" ?  Another goldmine I suggest you buy if you don't have it already.  I believe there are recipes in that as well, but I would stick with the former book for those.

And lastly - keep posting here and asking questions.  There are a few dozen 'regulars' here that are fantastic, prolific brewers that can give a lot of adivice to help bring your beer to the point where you'll forget where the "good beer store" is!

Welcome to the forum!

The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

BJCP National: F0281

Offline rkausch

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 18
    • View Profile
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2010, 12:30:42 PM »
Quote
Please don't take this the wrong way, but I'd use tried and true recipes and get a dozen or so batches under my belt before I started tinkering around.

No worries there, constructive criticism is always appreciated.  I've not read the books you've mentioned.  I'm pretty much going off of the Complete Joy of Homebrewing, and its supplement, the The Homebrewer's Companion.  I'm still reading the companion though.  I'll see if I can pick up a copy of the two you mentioned.

Thanks!
Rob

Offline enso

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 449
  • Northeast Kingdom, VT
    • View Profile
    • Bristle Bros. Brewing Blog
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2010, 12:49:33 PM »
The areas I see as potential problem points are as follows.

Your bottles may not be clean enough.  You can't sanitize dirt as they say.  Even if you rinse the bottle right away and clean in the dishwasher there is potential for organic residue to remain.  Either soak and scrub you bottles, or soak them in something like PBW, oxyclean, or a similar cleaner and then rinse well.  Same deal with your carboys.  I have seen carboys that were only cleaned with a brush.  They have film inside them and beer stone that can harbor bacteria.  Again, use a cleaning agent.  I cover my bottle tops and carboys with aluminum foil once they are clean and dry.  Paranoid?  Excessive?  Perhaps, but it gives me piece of mind.  Then I just dunk them in star san and drain.

Bottling buckets (as well as other plastic in the brew house) can harbor bacteria.  Not only in likely places such as the gasket around the spigot but also scratched in the plastic itself.  When I do use a bottling bucket I take the spigot off, clean it and sanitize the pieces.  Usually though I bottle from a keg.

Hoses and other plastic equipment should be treated with care to prevent scratching (which happens very easily) and replaced regularly.
Dave Brush

Offline zee

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 56
    • View Profile
    • masholes.org
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2010, 08:14:10 AM »
rkausch, in the meantime, the 1st copy of how to brew is online. you can read it at http://howtobrew.com/intro.html

there is a whole chapter on grains and what they do. http://howtobrew.com/section2/chapter12-1.html

that being said the later editions of the book have some changes that are important. [so definitely buy the book] for example: http://howtobrew.com/section2/chapter13-3.html under procedure says, 'Remove the grain bag from the pot, giving it a squeeze to drain the excess wort and avoid dripping on the stove.' do not squeeze your grain bag. {insert sex joke here} this actually will increase the amount of tannins in your wort and will lead to an astringent flavor. [later editions have been updated with that information.]

Offline skyler

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 649
    • View Profile
    • Brewing After Law School
Re: I accidentally created a Sour Pale Ale
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2010, 11:41:49 AM »
Another thing which may fall in the realm of possibility is the starsan itself. If you used WAY too much starsan, and didn't rinse or dry the bottles, the starsan itself has a very sour taste (similar to vomit). If your palette is very good, you might pick up the acidity left over from the added starsan.