Author Topic: Ridiculously fruity ESB???  (Read 1072 times)

Offline qm3k

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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.

Thanks.

Offline Phil_M

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2016, 02:46:07 AM »
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.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline santoch

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2016, 02:58:22 AM »
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.

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Offline pete b

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2016, 11:12:27 AM »
I suspect with this particular beer Phil and Santoch may both be right. Excessive fruity esters could be from under pitching and the adding the appropriate minerals should improve the hop character.
The solution would certainly be using a starter every time (which maybe you do) and using brunwater or another mineral calculator. It's also possible that the fruitiness is not excessive but the lack of hop character makes it seem so.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2016, 11:51:50 AM »
Interesting to hear about the need for minerals - I made a Porter yesterday following Gordon Strong's recipe in the Homebrew All Stars book (he uses 1968) where he suggests adding CaCl2 to the mash and boil kettle.  I modified the recipe on malts slightly but followed the suggested salt additions and did a Shaken Not Stirred starter with the yeast and pitched at high krausen, so I'm hoping for the best. 

Is 1968 a touchy yeast on temps?  I'm hoping to repitch, if it goes well....
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Offline qm3k

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #5 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.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2016, 01:48:03 PM »
Given your recurring issues with other beers, an infection sounds like the most likely issue. I would replace every piece of plastic tubing, siphons, o-rings, etc that you can, and give everything else a thorough cleaning, followed by a soak in bleach.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2016, 03:05:06 PM »
Add a pinch of gypsum to a glass of the finished beer, or a couple of pinches. That should enhance your bitterness.
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Offline blair.streit

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2016, 03:17:00 PM »
Muddled and dull don't match descriptors typical of a contaminated beer, but describing these things so that everyone is on the same page can be difficult.

You said this happened with previous batches -- did it get worse over time or remain mostly the same. Contamination character tends to get more intense over time, where recipe or process issues tend to stay the same or perhaps fade a bit.

Also, you mentioned you're treating your water the same, but have the recipes changed since your more successful batches? If you're brewing beers with more dark roasted grains and using similar water treatment from RO then you may be ending up with low mash pH (which can create dull, insipid beer).

I'd recommend finding someone that you think has good tasting experience and without much prompting get their take. Don't put too much stock in one "expert" opinion, but if you get some commonality in the feedback then those are areas for further research.

Offline qm3k

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #9 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?

Offline santoch

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2016, 04:17:33 PM »
I'd take about a tablespoon of gypsum, boil it in a cup or two of water.  Then add small amounts of that until you are happy with the flavor.  Go easy as you can always add more but you can't take any out once its in there.  As far as stirring it in, just mix it in very slowly to avoid adding oxygen into the beer.  You can't avoid it completely, but do your best to minimize splashing.  I'd use a sanitized dip tube from another keg like a big mixing straw.

Bru'n water is great.  Don't be so afraid of it.  You can trust it. Even if you want to cut the recommendations, remember that LOTS of brewers have been using it for a while with great results. Start with the recommendations and tweak from there.  Martin Brungard (the author of Bru'nWater) is universally recognized as one of the top brewing water chemistry experts in the whole world.  He really knows what he's doing and he's a nice guy (I've met him in person) and he will answer any question you may have.  He posts in this forum all the time, so you can even create your questions here with Bru'nWater in the title and he'll see it, I guarantee it.

Note that this is a quick fix.  Boosting the gypsum in your mash and HLT in your next batch will make a much better beer overall.  The yeast will be much happier, the hops will pop more with the additional sulfate, and it will be dissolved in fully.

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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2016, 04:44:02 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?
It is Kosher if you add Kosher gypsum. (Not meant to be offensive, but a joke on the use of Kosher)

Yes you can do it, no rule says you can't. This Homebrewing, not brewing to the Reinheitsgebot. I view some of the ions as flavor ions, you can add those to taste in the kettle or keg just as you add salt and pepper to food.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 04:45:49 PM by hopfenundmalz »
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2016, 07:24:06 PM »
I've never heard of minerals making a beer fruity though. IMO this is a two part problem, one part recipe and the other process.

I'd agree give everything a good cleaning. I'd abscond the use of chlorine, and just get some iodophor and use that. Like bleach, and unlike star san, iodophor kills everything. Unlike bleach, it's safe to use on stainless, and doesn't have to be rinsed if used properly.

Something definitely not right though. I just did a 1968 beer that I fermented at 69o and it's definitely not a fruit bomb.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline santoch

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2016, 08:44:19 PM »
I've never heard of minerals making a beer fruity though. IMO this is a two part problem, one part recipe and the other process.

I'd agree give everything a good cleaning. I'd abscond the use of chlorine, and just get some iodophor and use that. Like bleach, and unlike star san, iodophor kills everything. Unlike bleach, it's safe to use on stainless, and doesn't have to be rinsed if used properly.

Something definitely not right though. I just did a 1968 beer that I fermented at 69o and it's definitely not a fruit bomb.

Its a cascading effect.  Lack of minierals -> stressed yeast + weak fermentation -> yeast don't clean up -> acetaldehyde + excess esters
compounded by lack of sulfate -> subdued hops -> exacerbates fruity flavors
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2016, 12:29:43 AM »
I thought all the minerals needed for yeast health were already present in malt? Less calcium for flocculation, but that wouldn't necessarily make it taste fruity. We add minerals to benefit the mash pH and the flavors of our beers.

If it was a higher ABV beer I might agree that the yeast needed more minerals, but in an ESB I'd think the yeast would be fine.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.