Author Topic: Frustrated beyond belief  (Read 1857 times)

Offline qm3k

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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 control...no 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.
Thanks.

Offline duboman

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2015, 09:05:01 PM »
Muddy and heavy are pretty difficult descriptors to pin down to one variable going wrong but I would look specifically at two items: water source and ingredients-specifically how fresh they are.

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

I'd start with one of these first.
Peace....Love......Beer......

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Offline qm3k

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #2 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 3068...it 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.

Thanks.

Offline duboman

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2015, 09:35:14 PM »
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.

OTOH, if your supplier is selling you old malt and less than fresh, improperly stored ingredients I would be concerned.

BTW you didn't mention if you were brewing extract or AG, I assumed AG since you have been brewing a long time but descriptors of muddy and heavy have been used when discussing extract batches with less than ideal fresh extract.... liquid specifically but dry as well.
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Offline toby

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2015, 09:50:15 PM »
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).
If it was already swelled, it was already burst.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2015, 09:57:37 PM »
"Heavy body, regardless of mash temp" -  Do you have an accurate thermometer that's calibrated ?  You could be mashing several degrees higher and not be realizing it. It's hard to judge much further without seeing a recipe.

"Taste the alcohol.........however I keep temps in the mid 60s" -  do you use a temp controller, and if so do you feel it's operating properly?  Cheap fermometers on the fermenters are a pretty accurate comparison reference.

"Muddy" -  That often says overly complicated recipes with too many malts to me.

Give us some more info and we'll help figure it out. Don't throw in the towel !
Jon H.

Offline gsandel

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2015, 10:12:00 PM »
You mention yeast, but not the results.  Are you attenuating to the point you were in the past?  Are your ingredients fresh, including malt?

What are you brewing?  the recipe could be an issue.

One other thing....tastes change.  If your palate has shifted, you may not like beers you used to like/make, or if you are more accustomed to good quality beer, average beer no longer cuts it.

You wouldn't believe the things I've seen...

Offline euge

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2015, 10:28:05 PM »
Autolysis.

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.
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Offline Frankenbrew

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2015, 10:53:07 PM »
Autolysis.

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.

Yeah, a friend of mine made a beer one time and left it in a boiler room for a couple of months, and it tasted and smelled like burnt rubber. My conclusion was autolysis. Smack packs should be flat and cold.
Frank C.

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heart, you brew good ale.'

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2015, 11:03:16 PM »
Autolysis.

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.

Yeah, a friend of mine made a beer one time and left it in a boiler room for a couple of months, and it tasted and smelled like burnt rubber. My conclusion was autolysis. Smack packs should be flat and cold.

Yeah, you'd think that a smack pack already swollen to that degree would not smell usable on opening if autolysis had set in. OP - did you smell the swollen pack when you opened it ? Wyeast says a slightly inflated pack at purchase is not a sign of mishandling ( I've used smack packs that were in that condition at the LHBS) , but not to the degree you describe .
Jon H.

Offline brulosopher

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2015, 11:43:09 PM »
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.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2015, 12:07:20 AM »
Has your tap water changed? In parts of the Southwest and Southern CA they are having to adjust to more alkaline water.
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Offline Alewyfe

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2015, 02:13:15 AM »
Have you let another homebrewer or brewery/brewpub brewer taste it? What is their appraisal of it? No matter how rural you are, there's usually someone with a bit of brewing knowledge you can turn to. 2 heads and palates are always better than one.

Are you brewing a known recipe that has worked for you before? I talk to a lot of homebrewers who are never happy with their results, yet they have never brewed the same recipe twice.
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2015, 04:31:31 AM »
Sounds like you should try the dry yeast if it is kept in a fridge.  US-05 is almost the same as 1056. 

Offline qm3k

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Re: Frustrated beyond belief
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2015, 05:27:51 AM »
Autolysis.

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.