Author Topic: Beer staling prematurely?  (Read 6137 times)

Offline wingnut

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Beer staling prematurely?
« on: July 27, 2010, 03:36:55 PM »
→ The thing I am looking for advice about is beer flavor stability. 

Essentially, a LOT of batches in the past year and a half seem to be having their flavor change...relatively quickly.  The most common comments I have been getting from judges are “cardboard” or “sherry”.  Some of the beers with these comments are only 10 weeks old.... I did not used to have this issue, but now it seems to happen frequently.  Once the beer goes a little stale, however, it sees to say stable for at least 6 to 8 months (no beer has lasted past that age so far) Also, other than the notes of sherry/cardboard, the beers, when judged, receive very favorable comments, and no mention of flavors indicating bacterial infections.  (three of the beers in question were sent to NHC and scored 34,37, and 38, and the only negative notes were about the apparent “age” of the beer.   

In the past year I have started refrigerating my carbed beer, in hopes of lengthening the time (with minimal improvement, however). 

→ OTHER PROCESS NOTES
I presently prime/bottle condition my beer instead of kegging. (Would kegging help the issue?)

I batch sparge, ferment in glass, .put bottles in fridge 1 to 2 weeks after priming when carbonation is achieved.   All transfers are siphoned via boiled tubing. I use Irish Moss in the boil kettle, and that is the only fining.   Yeast is from a yeast starter/liquid yeast.

The one batch I did with extract, was a barley wine, about 6 months ago, did not have this issue. (Too bad, it would not mind it if the barley wine aged a bit fast!) The rest of the process was identical.

Any process recommendations that will increase the shelf life, or am I just expecting too much?

Thanks!

 
-- Wingnut - Cheers!

Offline majorvices

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2010, 04:11:48 PM »
IMO kegging will definitely help. The whole "bottle bucket" bottling method is not a very good way to bo9ttle beer. Ironically, having a kegging system is a far better way to bottle beers with nat. carb because you can purge the bottle with Co2.

Another thing I would recommend (though I didn't see it mentioned) is skip secondary.
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Offline hopaddicted

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2010, 05:56:47 PM »
Wingnut, it sounds like an oxidation issue to my novice ears. Majorvices' suggestions will minimize movement, but you can also look to how you are siphoning, i.e. is output tube at bottom of container, is flow slowed to minimize turbulence at the start of siphon, etc. Are you moving your carboys any distance? Just wondering if you may be splashing too much. I have to move my fermenters further than I like, so I kill myself trying to move them without splashing out of paranoia. Just some thoughts. I don't see AG as a likely cause of the issue, probably just a coincidence IMHO.
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Offline wingnut

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2010, 08:09:04 PM »
Thanks for the advice... unfortunately, I have already been taking measures with siphoning to be sure the hose is under the beer during transfers, no splashing of beer, minimize agitation of beer... etc.  (That is the kind of stuff I am looking for, however, assuming my experience is not “normal” for un-purged bottling.

If 10 to 14 weeks is normal time to get some oxidation with my method of bottling, then kegging is the next logical step.  If that is not normal, then I am hoping to find out where my process is flawed, and extend the shelf life a bit. 

I will keep thinking through the process and see if there are any other changes I can make.

Thanks for the advice!!
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Offline The Professor

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2010, 09:07:34 PM »
IMO kegging will definitely help. The whole "bottle bucket" bottling method is not a very good way to bo9ttle beer. Ironically, having a kegging system is a far better way to bottle beers with nat. carb because you can purge the bottle with Co2.

Another thing I would recommend (though I didn't see it mentioned) is skip secondary.

I agree...set up a kegging system and you have the best of both worlds.  I have bottled some strong beers from keg and they taste fine years down the line (as long as your sanitation is good).
I do secondary all of my beers, but that's a matter of personal choice (and reflecting confidence in my procedures in that I am not introducing o2 or other contaminants o my beers during secondary and/or bulk aging.

But yes...by all means set up to keg.  You won't regret it, and you and bottle fully conditioned beer from the kegs.
AL
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Offline hopaddicted

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2010, 09:26:04 PM »
10-14 weeks is definitely not a normal time frame for 'staling' to occur. I have plenty of bottles in my brew closet from nearly a year ago (not because I am aging them, but can't keep up on the drinking/gifting side with my production schedule) with no noticeable signs of going bad.

How are you cooling? Are you cooling in your brew kettle?
Primary: Lambic
Secondary: Oktoberfest, German Pilsner, Double IPA,
In Bottles: Lucknow IPA clone, Rough Rider Brown Ale clone,
John Harvard Imperial Stout clone, Hoppy Amber, Witch's Brew (Habanero and Smoked Corn Small Ale), Porter, Dunkleweizen, Dry Stout, Irish Red Ale, American Maple Wheat Ale, Black Wit, Belgian style Wit, Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Kegged: IPA, Saison, Hoppy Brown Ale

Offline sienabrewer

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2010, 07:12:54 AM »
Based on the sherry and cardboard comments it seems to me like you are having some oxidation issues.  What types of bottles are you using; pry off or twist off?  Twist off is said to allow oxygen in there.  You could also try using oxygen absorbing caps.  Other than that there might be a splashing issue you are just not noticing. 

Offline bonjour

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2010, 07:33:32 AM »
The issue is oxidation.  and unless you are intentionally doing something to cause it, it should not be happening that quick.
How are you siphoning?  could you provide as much detail as possible,  everything from specifically what equipment you are using to the exact process you are using.

I had a similar problem that was traced back to an auto-siphon.

Fred
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Offline tygo

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2010, 07:39:26 AM »

I had a similar problem that was traced back to an auto-siphon.

Fred

What was your problem with the autosiphon?
Clint
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2010, 07:46:19 AM »
They tend to develop a very small ait leak at the plunger,  I could see what i call a micro bubble bouncing at the high point.  The quality and complexity of my big beers went down (lack of oxidation) when I fixed this.

Fred
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Offline tygo

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2010, 09:22:48 AM »
Yeah, I've noticed that as well.  I'm sure it's introducing some O2 but I'm hoping its minimal.  I usually tap the line until it goes away which only takes a few seconds.
Clint
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Fermenting: Wit
On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline bonjour

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2010, 10:16:06 AM »
Mine didn't stop, and it did make a difference
Fred Bonjour
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Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline wingnut

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2010, 07:12:04 PM »
Thanks everyone for the great feedback.  At the very worst, I have confirmed that the beers in the first three years, that did not have quick staling issues, were not just good luck, and I have a great excuse to step up to kegging!

Below is a lengthy description of the beer transfer process, any constructive advice is greatly welcome!


As far as siphoning goes, in the post fermenting setup... that was the center of my attention this past few months.  I started off using an Auto-siphon, (used this for three years of good beers, and then had 4 batches go south quickly with stale flavors).  After having some issues, I purchased a new Auto-siphon, and had similar issues for two batches.  So I tried new hoses for two more batches (using the new auto-siphon, and fresh pieces of hose for two batches.) When that did not work, I then purchased a stainless steel racking cane and ditched the Auto-siphon completely. 

I also purchased some high-temp hosing, and started to boil that for 10 minutes prior to use with the Stainless racking cane.  Using stainless, I can place a hose clamp around the hose and get a good seal on the cane... ensuring that the air bubble that often formed at the top of the cane part of the auto-siphon would not appear. 

To prime the hose I first used the method of filling the hose with starsan water and starting the siphon that way.  I found it a bit cumbersome, however, and I eventually found a turkey baster that I sanitized and used to start the siphon.  (Kind of like sucking on the tube, but more sanitary) 

As far as moving beer from primary to bottling bucket (no secondary)..  I siphon to a bottling bucket, where I have boiled and still hot sugar/water solution.  I then siphon the beer into the bucket, let it set for 10 minutes to a half hour while I finish getting the bottles ready

To bottle, I start the siphon and after the line if full of beer, I clamp the hose to stop the flow, but keep the line full of beer, and then I insert the bottle filler (non-spring tip type) and clamp that down too.  I then run off 6 to 12 oz and begin bottling.

The bottles are Sam Adams or Bells bottles with crimp caps, all bottles are pop tops, and I have used a variety of caps, but not the O2 adsorbing ones.  (I like to sterilize the caps, and some of the things I have read indicate that the caps lose their O2 adsorbing ability by doing this... but that is just here say)

So as near as I can tell, I am doing the right things on siphoning, and I do not slosh the beer around, so I am at a bit of a loss. 

My thoughts presently are to possibly take the plunge and go kegging and buy a better bottle.  Then I can push with CO2 at a very low pressure (plastic better bottle reducing the risk of exploding glass if I screw up) out of the bottle and in to a purged keg.  At the very least that would isolate if the issue is with beer transfer methods, or if the issue lies elsewhere.

I have also been reading up on some fining agents, in the hopes of finding a lower cost fix. PVP appears to be the most promising, but while PVP claims to help reduce the tannins that are part of the staling equation, I suspect it will not cover up what must be a brewer/process  issue.
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Offline tygo

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2010, 09:40:08 PM »

The bottles are Sam Adams or Bells bottles with crimp caps, all bottles are pop tops, and I have used a variety of caps, but not the O2 adsorbing ones.  (I like to sterilize the caps, and some of the things I have read indicate that the caps lose their O2 adsorbing ability by doing this... but that is just here say)


I use the O2 absorbing caps but was wondering about this tonight as I was bottling.  I soak the caps in starsan while I'm bottling and I've heard the same thing:  that this may cause the O2 absorbing properties to be less effective.  Anyone have any thoughts on that?
Clint
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Fermenting: Wit
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Offline hopaddicted

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Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2010, 09:52:57 PM »
I use the O2 absorbing tops too, I can't say I taste a difference, but they barely cost anything more, so unless you really like colored caps, why not use them for a touch more insurance? Maybe I'm just a sucker, but at a fraction of a penny/bottle, seems like a no brainer to me. I was unaware of the sanitizing issue, good heads up...
Primary: Lambic
Secondary: Oktoberfest, German Pilsner, Double IPA,
In Bottles: Lucknow IPA clone, Rough Rider Brown Ale clone,
John Harvard Imperial Stout clone, Hoppy Amber, Witch's Brew (Habanero and Smoked Corn Small Ale), Porter, Dunkleweizen, Dry Stout, Irish Red Ale, American Maple Wheat Ale, Black Wit, Belgian style Wit, Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Kegged: IPA, Saison, Hoppy Brown Ale