Author Topic: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?  (Read 1342 times)

Offline enso

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Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« on: March 05, 2011, 11:47:58 AM »
I brewed a Tripel in Nov. of '09.  Unfortunately I do not have any notes on the actual fermentation temps but I was shooting for a target of 70F.  Now I have been using various means of temp control for years and my standard practice is to start a bit cooler than the target temp and let it rise to that temp.  So, most likely I would have started it at about 66F and then let it rise to 70F.  I do know for a fact that the method I used at the time was a water bath with a aquarium heater in it.  So, I am fairly certain it did not get to hot.

The brew itself tastes great I think.  Maybe a bit high on IBU's (about ~42 I think my software calculated).  I don't feel it tastes hot from alcohol.  There is some warmth but I do not think it is hot.  The bitterness in the finish could be something other than hop derived I suppose.  Maybe alcohol? However, I tend to develop a headache later after drinking it.  Which leads me to believe fusels.  So, where did they come from if I kept the ferment under control?

It is bottle conditioned.  Is it possible to develop significant fusel alcohol from bottle conditioning?  I do not have any data on the conditioning temp.  Or is it something else?  Could it be the caraway seed I added?  I do not know why, but I had an inclination for quite a while to brew a tripel with some caraway.  So I did.  Anyone have any experience using caraway?  Does it produces headaches in beer?

I entered this in NHC east last year.  It was a bit young at the time I suppose.  It scored pretty low @ 25.5.  On aroma both two judges noted cidery notes and one said vegetal.  Neither of which I detect.  Just a side note of interest not related to this inquiry: on appearance one said chill haze, the other said "the beer looks amazing.  Great clarity...", which all of the bottles I have had have been.  On flavor both cited a bit harsh minerally character and a bit solventy.  One continued to say "chalky like...  ferment seems clean".  The other states "grainy pils malt like flavor with some fruit esters through the middle...  Finish is initially sweet but immediatly drops off to complete dryness...  bitterness is moderately high perhaps a bit too harsh for the style."

Both commented in overall impression that there was a minerally character that was distracting and harsh leading to bitterness.  I don't experience that.  Both also stated I should try a different simple sugar (or less) to improve it.  I used one container of clear Belgian cnadi syrup (1.5 lbs I believe is the amount) and 1 Lb of cane sugar.  One said it was too dry, the other also said "bone dry".
Dave Brush

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2011, 12:33:32 PM »
I think the ferm temps were your problem.  With all that sucrose and invert sugar the yeast probably really went fast and the temp of the beer might have been well over 5F higher than ambient.  When you get up into the 70's fairly early in a ferment you tend to get more fusel production.  I think this is why some people feed sugar in during the primary.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline enso

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Re: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2011, 01:54:30 PM »
I would agree with that analysis, but I am saying I am fairly sure I kept it in the high 60's initially (starting temp of 66F) and let it build up to 70F as the highest temp after a few days of ferment.  The water bath keeps it constant.
Dave Brush

Offline bluesman

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Re: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2011, 03:07:43 PM »
I am getting ready to brew a tripel soon and I am planning to pitch it at 62F and let it rise in temp on it's own. My cellar is sitting at 60F right now which will help keep the fermentation temps at bay. I believe that pitching in the low 60's is key to keeping the esters and phenolics under control with this beer. The other thing to consider is the strength of the beer as a lower OG will help keep the alcohol from being the star in the flavor profile.
Ron Price

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2011, 04:12:31 PM »
Whatever your temp was, I'd lower it.  And I'd feed the primary half of that sugar in increments.  You might consider lowering the % of sugar as well.

I haven't had much luck with this style either.  Fortunately I'm not that fond of it to begin with.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline enso

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Re: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2011, 04:32:17 PM »
Oh, I forgot to mention one factor that prompted me to post this in the first place.  The beer never gave me a headache last spring or all summer when I drank it.  It was not until this winter that it started to do that to me.

Funny thing is I brewed a golden strong not long after this tripel using overall a similar recipe about same percentage of sugar (only straight cane instead) and it is awesome.  Very drinkable.

I don't know.  Go figure.
Dave Brush

Offline ndcube

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Re: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2011, 04:51:32 PM »
Maybe you weren't as sensative to the fusels a year ago.?

How long was the fermentaion?  (A question for all, Can fusels develop from an unhealthy fermentation even if temps are in control?)

I think a year and a half is a bit long to age a Tripel but then again I haven't aged one more than sixth months and I think they taste awesome in that timeframe.

Did you take temps of the fermenting beer itself?  Even in a water bath, I've had bigger beers get away from me w/o ice in the bath.  Then temp may have been higher than you think if you didn't check the beer itself.

Offline tumarkin

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Re: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2011, 06:09:03 AM »
Maybe you weren't as sensative to the fusels a year ago.?

How long was the fermentaion?  (A question for all, Can fusels develop from an unhealthy fermentation even if temps are in control?)


+1 on sensitivity being a possible contributing factor.

and on the question... I believe that low dissolved oxygen in the wort can sometimes be a cause of fusel development.
Mark Tumarkin
Hogtown Brewers
Gainesville, FL

Offline gimmeales

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Re: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2011, 11:18:12 AM »
If anything, fusely-solventy character should decrease overtime (that's IF it will), unless there is something to the low-DO comment above.  My guess is your sensitivity to those characters is increasing  or some kind of infection is producing a similar effect.

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2011, 03:16:57 PM »
I think the higher alcohols will eventually combine with other compounds to form things like esters that will give a different flavor and aroma profile.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline richardt

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Re: Where'd those fusels come from? Or is it the something else?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2011, 11:16:20 AM »
If you think it tastes good, and don't perceive a "hot" alcohol presence, then you probably don't have fusels given your temps.

I suspect the headaches are from drinking a high ABV beer when you're dehydrated. 

Perhaps you're drinking less water during the winter months or the drier air/forced heat is contributing to your body's hydration levels.  You lose more water than you think by respiration/perspiration due to the relative difference in humidity levels.

I can relate--I spent all day Saturday at the ball fields with my sons and didn't drink much fluids.  Wasn't making much output either--if you catch my drift.  Came home and thought it'd be a good idea to have a bottle of BDS (10% ABV) and relax before dinner.  Had a headache later that night, but nothing that a few glasses of water and an ibuprofen didn't cure.