Author Topic: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!  (Read 2344 times)

Offline typebrad

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New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« on: October 28, 2014, 02:23:43 AM »
Greetings Everyone! Brad here. Brand new to the forums.

I've been homebrewing for about a year now. Started with kits and extracts yada yada, moved very quickly to BIAB. I love brew in a bag. It's super-quick, requires minimal gear and produces good beer.

I'm having a major issue though– one I am NOT able to figure out.

I use BeerSmith 2 to create my recipes. After brewing a few IPAs that ended much too dark, I decided on doing a SMaSH with nothing but a Pale 2-Row (2.0 SRM). Certainly I wouldn't end up with a dark brew with one single and light-colored malt, right?

BLAH!!

My beer that should have ended up about a 4.5 SRM (fairly high gravity) is more like a 9 SRM. Nothing but Pale 2-Row!

Here is my process:
Mash 60 min. at 149°
Boil 60 min. (Gypsum for pH and Whirfloc)
Immersion chill quickly with recirculating pump in bucket of ice water
Pitch a healthy starter, decanted, at optimal temp
Ferment for a long time (3, often 4 weeks) at about 65°
Dry hop for a week a little warmer (68-70°)
Cold crash for about 5 days at 35°
Bring up to room temp and add bottling sugar (corn sugar)
Condition for 3-4 weeks at 70-74°

Beer tastes good, smells great, looks like s**t.

Chill haze is one thing. How am I ending up with a beer so dark?? I really need some knowledge dropped on me.

Offline Stevie

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New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2014, 02:48:44 AM »
How are you determining your beer color? Are you using a color card? Typically one would pour about an inch into a clear cup, degas, place on white paper in a well lit area (day light preferred) and compare to a color card. I think how to brew has a color card on the inside back cover.

Offline bluesman

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2014, 03:10:41 AM »
That's very odd. Is there a lot of haze? What's your water source? Try checking color with known commercial examples.
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Offline HobsonDrake

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2014, 04:47:45 AM »
First thing that comes to mind is how did it look when you pitched? Dark then or fine?
What is your kettle?
I picture or two would be helpful too.
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Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2014, 10:32:00 AM »
First thing that comes to mind is how did it look when you pitched? Dark then or fine?
What is your kettle?
I picture or two would be helpful too.

is your water brown??? :o 

scorching in the boil?

odd for sure.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2014, 11:20:15 AM »
Make sure you are comparing the beer with the color strips or apps using the proper glass.  The bigger (broader) the glass, the more light has to penetrate, the darker the appearance of the liquid.  Using an 8 ounce plastic judging cup is most appropriate.
Oxidation also causes darkening, but it is not usually immediate.
Significant boil-off will make the beer darker, but I'm sure you've checked the volumes when you plugged it into beersmith, right?
Just thinking out loud.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2014, 11:24:23 AM »
Are you introducing a lot of oxidation somewhere? Bubbles in your siphon tube? Oxidation can definitely darken a beer. Other than that, try 100% pils and see what happens. Who knows, perhaps your pale malt was mislabeled.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2014, 11:39:02 AM »
Are you introducing a lot of oxidation somewhere? Bubbles in your siphon tube? Oxidation can definitely darken a beer. Other than that, try 100% pils and see what happens. Who knows, perhaps your pale malt was mislabeled.

Never rule out the obvious, right?

Offline mabrungard

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2014, 11:50:43 AM »
The first thing affecting color is pH. From the OPs message, I don't get the impression that much is known or done with the water. If the mash and wort pH are high, that will extract more color from the grain.

If they are not looking at the water, they should be.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2014, 11:59:27 AM »

The first thing affecting color is pH. From the OPs message, I don't get the impression that much is known or done with the water. If the mash and wort pH are high, that will extract more color from the grain.

If they are not looking at the water, they should be.

Yes. Speaking of overlooking the obvious!

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2014, 12:04:05 PM »
Look what I don't know. Ph would not have been my first, second, or last guess. But it makes sense. Too high ph extracts tannins from husk so why not color too, since a lot of the color is in the husk. Or am I still not even close?

Offline typebrad

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2014, 12:04:59 PM »
First thing that comes to mind is how did it look when you pitched? Dark then or fine?
What is your kettle?
I picture or two would be helpful too.

It's hard to say -exactly- how much it's changing between pitch and finished product. A huge amount of liquid in a carboy always look darker than in the glass, y'know. Flows through hose out of kettle very light in color, but that doesn't mean much.

I think it's too dark by the end of my boil though.

My kettle is a 15 gal MegaPot 1.2 from Northern Brewer. 4 mil bottom. Nice and heavy. No browning, no scorching.

I will put my horrid side-by-side pic with commercial brew up when I'm not on an iPad.

Offline typebrad

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2014, 12:09:03 PM »
First thing that comes to mind is how did it look when you pitched? Dark then or fine?
What is your kettle?
I picture or two would be helpful too.

is your water brown??? :o 

scorching in the boil?

odd for sure.

I can't imagine it's scorching in boil. I think now I'm not boiling vigorously -enough-. I have read about not getting a "good" hot break can leave proteins behind that cause off-colors, but I've always been an "easy rolling boil" type. Maybe I need to go for it and boil a little hotter?

Offline typebrad

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2014, 12:18:18 PM »
Are you introducing a lot of oxidation somewhere? Bubbles in your siphon tube? Oxidation can definitely darken a beer. Other than that, try 100% pils and see what happens. Who knows, perhaps your pale malt was mislabeled.

Funny you mention that because a few months back (prior to my current issue), I noticed a splintering in the racking tube that was causing a steady stream of the tinyest bubbles straight into my bottling bucket. Immediately went to store and bought a new one.

The only oxidation I'm seeing happen is the oxygen I'm giving wort prior to pitch with my air stone and pump.

Offline typebrad

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Re: New to Forum (Why are my brews so dark??) HELP!
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2014, 12:28:19 PM »
The first thing affecting color is pH. From the OPs message, I don't get the impression that much is known or done with the water. If the mash and wort pH are high, that will extract more color from the grain.

If they are not looking at the water, they should be.

I'm going to be paying attention to my water chemistry more closely. Where I'm from it's "Oh, we have the best water in the country." And while we do have very good and flavorless water, the city test results show a pH of about 9.5. I do know guys that brew at home though and don't mess with adjusting pH at all and don't have this issue.

All I have done to lower my pH is throw the recommended amount of Gypsum in my water (8 grams per 5 gal) and trusted it work. Lazy, I know. I first started doing this for more "pop" from my hops but now learning pH can effect color as well?! Damn water.

I just bought some pH strips and will be trying to get in range with my next brew using the Gypsum.

Quick question ... When would I check my pH exactly? Would I add Gypsum upon firing up my burner to bring strike water up to temp and then check pH just before mash-in?

I've even read of some people adding Gypsum during boil but that makes no sense to me at all. Especially if color is your issue, like in my case.