Author Topic: Good before bottling, bad after...  (Read 1056 times)

Offline JohnK

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Good before bottling, bad after...
« on: September 09, 2018, 02:42:31 AM »
Hello, noob here with some inquiries for you more experienced folks. I'm about to brew my third batch, trying to make an all grain super hoppy IPA. First batch is drinkable, but just meh.. nothing to write home about.

Second batch, I made some changes to the recipe and temperature control. it came out of the fermentor after two weeks tasting exactly how I wanted! ;D hit both gravities on the nose and all the hop bitterness/flavors/aromas were there. Here I am 17 days after bottling, not fully carbonated yet, but cracked one open and it's gone from a beautiful golden yellow, to a sickly brown color. It tastes even worse than the first batch, and most of the hoppiness is gone :(

Something is wrong with my bottling process.

I suspect that too much oxygen got to it because I get a little bit of the old book/cardboard flavor, but would that cause such a dramatic change in color? How does oxygen exposure affect hop flavor and aroma? I find the auto-siphon to be really awkward and frustrating and think that's where I may be introducing oxygen. Brewing again tomorrow and switching from a glass carboy to a plastic Big Mouth Bubbler, with a valve on the side so I can more easily transfer to a bottling bucket. (not to mention the cleaning and weight conveniences)

How important is it to let bottles dry after sanitizing? I'm using Star San.

How else can I minimize oxygenation during bottling besides deleting the siphon, avoiding splashing, and covering the bottling bucket?

Has anyone else had this dramatic change in color after bottling and what was the cause?

Maybe the yeast is too stressed out? I had a super active fermentation and a sample taken after one week was at FG and tasted great, but left it for anther week for secondary because 'that's what you do', plus acetaldehyde paranoia. Pitching two WLP001 packets for OG of 1.065. Is it unheard of to bottle after one week of fermentation? Could the bottle conditioning just serve as secondary fermentation?

I suppose there is a chance that its not oxygenation and could be infected, but I am super careful about cleaning and sanitizing. I would LOVE to switch to kegging and force carbonation, but my current available space and funds will not yet allow for it. I'm temped to try bottling straight out of the fermentor with some of those priming tablets, thus deleting the whole transfer to a bucket with corn sugar priming solution thing, but that seems dramatic, and I'd probably end up a bunch of hop gunk in there.

I could ramble on, but that's worst of it... what do you all think?
John King
Denver, CO.

Offline Robert

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2018, 03:17:45 AM »
I think you've nailed it, oxygen.  It really does just what you describe.  I don't  have an immediate solution for you.  It is virtually impossible to avoid oxygen pickup when bottling from a fermenter or bucket and bottle conditioning.  It is difficult even in closed systems using CO2 pressure to transfer and carbonate the beer.  But you have a good insight, early in your brewing career, on how important it is to exclude oxygen as far as possible at most points in the process.  My only thought is, until you can directly address this, if you are (commendably) sensitive to these quality issues, try some styles that are less sensitive to oxidation.  (Some people will point out that all beer suffers from this.)  But IPA is really susceptible.  Fancy a stout?  (BTW congrats on hitting all those targets in your process.  You're off to a good start.) 

Oh and something to worry about later, oxidation can start right from mashing in, through fermentation, as well as post fermentation and bottling.  You'll tighten up your system as you go.  You sound like the kind of brewer who will be continually striving to understand and improve.  Welcome to the deranged obsession hobby.
Rob Stein
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Offline RC

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2018, 04:19:02 AM »
One specific thing you can do is add some new yeast at bottling time, e.g. add a slurry of a half-packet of rehydrated dry yeast to your bottling bucket before transferring the beer into it. The fresh yeast will scavenge some of the oxygen that's introduced. Unless you're very certain about the amount of fermentable sugars remaining, I would bottle only after having reached terminal gravity. Otherwise you might end up with bottle bombs. It's not important to let the bottles dry, but it's a good idea to let them sit upside down for a bit to let as much residual sanitizer as possible drain out.

Offline JohnK

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2018, 04:55:06 AM »
Okay, thanks!

Glad to know that's what it does so I know what to hone in on, for now. From what I've read it does seem to be a constant battle against the oxygen, just didn't expect it to be such a sensitive variable. I had no idea IPA's were more susceptible. I'm determined to get a good IPA as my first goal, but for sure looking forward to trying different styles!

I like the idea of adding yeast, especially if it were to speed up the carbonation, but it also makes me nervous about bottle bombs. I will pick up a drying rack. When I first started buying stuff it was low on the priority list for an expensive hobby, but now its really time to get one. 

And yeah Robert, the obsession is real! No turning back now.. So happy to have a resource like this, as well as so many awesome books out there!

Cheers
John King
Denver, CO.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2018, 12:27:06 PM »
Find ways to expose it to air as little as possible. Meanwhile, if you are in for the long haul, start looking into kegging.

Offline Lori_B

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2018, 02:45:39 PM »
It sounds like you are transferring to a secondary. Transfer to secondary is just another place for contamination and oxygen pick up. The advice i have received is to not include a secondary unless there's a particular reason. So far i haven't used a secondary. I just take gravity readings every couple of days after fermentation has slowed down. Two consecutive readings the same mean that i am ready to bottle. When i make my first fruit beer, i will use a secondary to age the beer on the fruit.

Lori

Offline JohnK

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2018, 04:58:42 PM »
No transferring to a secondary for that very reason. Just leaving it in the primary for a week after it slows down and raising the temp 4-5 degrees F from 65-66 to 60-70.

I will just put more trust in my gravity readings over airlock activity. I know airlock activity is not a good indicator of a finished fermentation... but how slow does it get when it's at FG? Mine seems to keep bubbling every 1.5 minutes or so even when at FG, then goes on for another few days. If the fermentor is at all agitated it really gets bubbling again.

The next serious upgrade is for sure kegging. Waiting 2-3 weeks for carbonation in the bottles is a real drag, but it's what I'm stuck with for now. Having the valve on the fermentor will make taking samples a breeze, too.
John King
Denver, CO.

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2018, 05:29:08 PM »
Okay, thanks!

Glad to know that's what it does so I know what to hone in on, for now. From what I've read it does seem to be a constant battle against the oxygen, just didn't expect it to be such a sensitive variable. I had no idea IPA's were more susceptible. I'm determined to get a good IPA as my first goal, but for sure looking forward to trying different styles!

I like the idea of adding yeast, especially if it were to speed up the carbonation, but it also makes me nervous about bottle bombs. I will pick up a drying rack. When I first started buying stuff it was low on the priority list for an expensive hobby, but now its really time to get one. 

And yeah Robert, the obsession is real! No turning back now.. So happy to have a resource like this, as well as so many awesome books out there!

Cheers

Many moons ago I used the dish draining rack in the kitchen to drain bottles after sanitizing.  It doesn't take long to dump the majority of the sanitizer out.  You also start the relish the idea that, if you stack them just right, you can actually put 54 bottles in a dish drying rack at one time (no matter how horrified SWMBO is when she sees it).  ;D ;)

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline James K

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2018, 07:11:32 PM »
When you say it taste worst, do you think something other than oxygen was present? I do not fully dry my bottles out and have never had an issue. Right now I use a wand and am left with very little head space after filling. I don’t have oxygen problems when I use my bottling bucket.
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Offline JohnK

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2018, 08:12:24 PM »
Ah yes, I suppose if I can do the balancing act with dishes on the rack, I could do it with bottles too! I'm usually dancing around my girlfriend in our small kitchen. I'm sure she would love it if I stole the drying rack.  ;)

When you say it taste worst, do you think something other than oxygen was present? I do not fully dry my bottles out and have never had an issue. Right now I use a wand and am left with very little head space after filling. I don’t have oxygen problems when I use my bottling bucket.


I guess there's always the possibility it was contaminated with something else, but I'm very clean and sanitized. I use the wand as well and fill right to the top of the bottle, letting the displacement from pulling out the wand determine the head space, which isn't much. I'm pretty sure it was my trouble with the siphon that introduced too much oxygen at this point. Happy to hear you haven't had any trouble with wet bottles. That makes me suspect my bad siphoning even more.
John King
Denver, CO.

Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2018, 03:28:37 PM »
Regarding star san residue in the bottle don't sweat it.  I use a vinator to spray the inside of the bottles with star san, and simply give the upside down bottle a good but brief shake and call it done. I do all my bottles at one time and set them rightside up on my kitchen counter and start filling them from the bottling bucket using a bottling wand.
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Offline James K

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2018, 03:58:29 PM »
Obv you don’t know this yet, but, do all the bottles taste the same? Maybe you drank a dirty bottle? Just putting that out there. It still seems like the beer is pretty fresh so perhaps some contamination hasn’t produced some sour or infected off flavors.

When i use an auto siphon it’s attached to a 5’ tubing so it goes into the bottom of my bottling bucket or keg and then fills from the bottom. I used to have a small siphon with less tube and I would aim to have the liquid go against the side. My siphon also has a giant crack on it, but hat doesn’t seem to be a problem. I draw a fair a,pint of liquid into the siphon and then plunge it down creating the flow.

I have also recently moved to the priming tablets and I love them, if the beer is fresh enough you can add them when you transfer into a bottling bucket and just place them in your bottles. I use 750s with 2 tabs. I also don’t think transferring into a bottle bucket is that dangerous. I’d be more worried about bottling from the big mouth because of the Trub at the bottom, but I’ve never done it.

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Offline JohnK

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Re: Good before bottling, bad after...
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2018, 10:49:05 PM »
Obv you don’t know this yet, but, do all the bottles taste the same? Maybe you drank a dirty bottle? Just putting that out there. It still seems like the beer is pretty fresh so perhaps some contamination hasn’t produced some sour or infected off flavors.

When i use an auto siphon it’s attached to a 5’ tubing so it goes into the bottom of my bottling bucket or keg and then fills from the bottom. I used to have a small siphon with less tube and I would aim to have the liquid go against the side. My siphon also has a giant crack on it, but hat doesn’t seem to be a problem. I draw a fair a,pint of liquid into the siphon and then plunge it down creating the flow.

I have also recently moved to the priming tablets and I love them, if the beer is fresh enough you can add them when you transfer into a bottling bucket and just place them in your bottles. I use 750s with 2 tabs. I also don’t think transferring into a bottle bucket is that dangerous. I’d be more worried about bottling from the big mouth because of the Trub at the bottom, but I’ve never done it.



I have since opened two more bottles, and both were more of the same. I'll keep these going for a while just to see what happens, but definitely not for sharing. It would be awesome to come across a good one though! I'm sure my siphoning technique is way off, weather that's the problem or not. I'm just over it and will gladly avoid it if this other way works out. It's the one thing that's gotten me pissed off with each batch.

Happy to hear good things about the tablets. I will try them with this next batch. Seems like they will save the trouble and time of cooking up and cooling a priming solution, plus consistency.  :)

We'll see how the hop trub goes after dry hopping and taking some samples. I'm not opposed to the bucket, and might just have to live with it. It would be sweet to have a conical fermentor and be able to remove the trub from the bottom.
John King
Denver, CO.