Sulfur, yeasty taste... Too late?

What went wrong? Was this supposed to happen? Should I throw it out? What do I do now?

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Sulfur, yeasty taste... Too late?

Postby fully_krausened » Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:30 pm

Help!
I just racked an irish red ale to a secondary fermenter. It has been fermenting since last Thursday. It had a sluggish start due in large part to the cold here. So I moved it to the warmest place I could find and wrapped it with a sleeping bag. I monitored the temp and it was relatively steady at 70 degrees. Finally kicked in about Friday evening. Smelled great first day or so, then started giving off sulfur. I moved it to a cooler location. I have had this happen before and everything turned out fine so I did not worry too much. Although I have had it happen and not turn out alright too. Upon tasting it when racking it tastes like a batch of marzen I made last fall (which also had a sulfer smell). That is to say it has the same exact yeasty bite to it which overpowers any hop or malt flavor and in every way tastes like it. I am using easyeast irish ale liquid culture which is the only liquid yeast culture my local shop carries.

What happened? Is there anything I can do to "save it" or is it too late. What should I do different next time? Man I am bummed. Everything was going so well.
Last edited by fully_krausened on Wed Jan 31, 2007 9:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby fully_krausened » Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:48 pm

Oh, and to desrcibe the taste of this and the marzen I would say it is reminiscent of the smell of dry cleaing fluid. Yuck. What is it?
Thanks.
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My Guess

Postby brewmeisterintng » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:29 am

Sounds like you have a couple of problems. The first is low oxygen to the wort. Some yeast strains produce a sulfur smell when fermenting (wheats) but it disapates and doesn't effect the beer. The other three things I would look at is fermentation tempature, water PH and the yeast itself.
Ensure that you make a yeast starter EVERY time. It is important that you pitch good viable yeast. After pitching, shake the carboy to get as much O2 into the wort as possible and provide the beer a constant tempature in the ale range. Hope this helps.
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yeast starter?

Postby fully_krausened » Wed Jan 31, 2007 9:15 am

I have heard the term but I am not sure what the procedure is. As to oxygen, I agitated the wort about 10 minutes before pitching by rocking it back and forth with the stopper on. This is much more than I usually agitate but I just read about agitating and realized I had not done enough in the past. I have been brewing a few years and until recently had pretty good results.

Temperature, yes that was a problem. It started out on the cool side about 56-58 F. Then of course it got much warmer when I moved it. It is realy difficult to maintain a constant temp. here in the winter. I live in an old (over 100 years) drafty house with steam heat. So it is eithe really hot near the radiators when they are on or really chilly everywhere between the times the furnace runs. Just to clarify ale temps should be 65-75 F with 70-75 being the ideal yes?

Any suggestions on maitaing temps?

As to PH, well yeah I have no idea. I really only brew with extracts and some grains. I guess I thought PH was only an issue for all grain? As I said, I have had good reults in the past with this water, which btw I have a filter for. If this is something I should check out how do I? I was kinda hoping I would not have to get into all that. I have asked the town for a water analysis. They thought I was nuts I think, but sent one. unfortunately they only test for contaminants and not for mineral content or PH.


Which leaves the yeast. I am suspecting it is this yeast. I have not used it too often. I did use this brand for my Marzen that also tasted bad. I really want to use something other than just dry yeast all the time as it would seem that the concensus is that you get better beer with liquid cultures? My only two options are this liquid yeast (easyeast) or dry at my local shop. I thought about ordering it, but wouldn't yeast "go bad" in transit? I will say that also, even when I have had good results with this yeast it has taken a long time for fermentation to begin. 18 -20 hours I guess.

Is there anything I can do to save this batch? Rack it one more time? The yeast has started settling since I racked it last night. Would getting more of the sediment away from the beer help? A different temp? I really do not want to waste another batch. I was really happy with how things were going. For the first time ever I hit my tartget gravity dead-on. The color is great... AAAGHH!!!

:x :cry:
Thanks for the suggestions James. Any other thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks again.
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A few more details...

Postby fully_krausened » Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:16 am

Oh, I guess there are some more details that might help to diagnose the situtation? Looking at my notes I see that beacuse of the cold (i am guessing) the airlock was actually sucked down and perhaps a bit of water with it, i.e. the carboy became a vacuum due to the cooling before fermentation started. After I warmed it up and things were subsiding the temp did get as high as 75 F. The carboy was in a cardboard box with the airlock sticking out the top and then wrapped in a sleeping bag. I had a instant read thermometer sticking into the box to monitor temp.

I am very slightly hopeful (in denial :roll: ) that maybe the taste will go away this time. It should not be done fermenting yet. The OG was 1.059 and the reading I got yesterday was 1.021. If things go the way they should it should go as low as 1.010-1.013. There are no more visible signs of fermentation but it has only been about 4 days since active fermentation began. I guess time will tell. I was hoping there might be something proactive I could do to change the outcome but I suppose I have to just wait? :(
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Postby slothrob » Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:31 am

The best thing you can do at this point is leave the beer alone and let it ferment at something close to the mid 60
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the more I learn the less I know...

Postby fully_krausened » Wed Jan 31, 2007 2:44 pm

Man, I made much better beer when I did not know much!

I checked out the website. It would seem that making a starter is risky in terms of contamination. I am not sure about that. The yeast brand I am using is somewhat regional/local I guess. It is supposed to be ready to pitch and comes in small plastic bottle (like a plastic milk jug but small). It is made by a microbiologist at the U of New Hampshire and I get it here:
http://www.brewbyyou.com/
my local shop. Upon checking out Palmer's site I guess I should have sterilized the container before I opened it too.

I will check out Palmer's book. I have been using Papazian's book. Read it cover to cover many times (two different editions) and check it frequently.

I had almost stopped brewing when my son came along. Now that he is older I am trying to get back into it but it has been pretty rocky. I even tried my first kit a few months ago thinking it would be easier/quicker than what I have been doing and I screwed that up! I know what went wrong though... don't ask. So bad I actually had to dump it. Never had that before, other "bad batches" were tolerable.

Well, I will keep all this advice in mind next time I guess. Though I am feeling pretty discouraged at the moment. Does not help that I have no homebrew to enjoy :wink:
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Postby slothrob » Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:20 pm

Relax, your beer could still be fine, when it's done. It's just not done yet.

Unless there is about 50-100 mL of pure yeast in the bottle, it probably is a bit low in cell number. Most of the "ready-to-pitch" yeasts are fine for a 1.032 beer, but can get a bit stretched for a 1.050 or larger beer. They can make great beer, I've done it, but add to the low cell number the stress of low temperature and uncertain age and you may have some off flavors.

Don't worry about starters and contamination, they're no more apt to get contaminated than any other batch of beer. Maybe less, since the operation is simpler than transferring 5 gallons.

If the temperature control continues to be an issue, the dried yeast US-56 (or US-05, same thing) works well down to 55-56
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Aeration

Postby brewmeisterintng » Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:22 pm

I don't know how everyone else is doing it but I craddle my carboy at a 45 degree angle while sitting and shake the crap out of it after I have pitched my yeast starter. I usually get some wort in the airlock which I rinse.
I have tried easyeast and was not very pleased with it. I read it was ready to use. WRONG... I endded up with a long lag time and slow fermentation.
Keep your chin up... it will get better.
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pheww. taking a breath now...

Postby fully_krausened » Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:30 am

Thanks guys. I guess I kinda freaked out there. It is hard not to keep checking on it. I will let it be now. I have it at as stable a temperature as I can manage, low of 60 high of 65. It has developed some effervescense on the surface (and some larger bubbles) So I guess it is still working. It had stopped prior to racking it. Suppose I should start another batch so I have something else to think about...

As to aeration I do it basically the same way James describes sitting on the floor with it and rocking it vigorously. I was under the impression that you aerate before pitching? I guess I thought all the commotion would not be good for the yeast before it started? Should I try it that way?

Thanks again, if nothing else this batch has been a most "enlightenting" experience :D
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Postby slothrob » Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:54 am

It's all a learning experience.

The short answer is: aerate after cooling, but prior to pitching.
There are occasions and techniques where people aerate again within the first 24 hours, but it really isn't anything you need to worry about now.
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Re: Aeration

Postby billvelek » Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:24 am

brewmeisterintng wrote:I don't know how everyone else is doing it but I craddle my carboy at a 45 degree angle while sitting and shake the crap out of it after I have pitched my yeast starter. ... snip
Yikes! :shock: I'd either drop the carboy or throw my back out. :(

My 'kettle' is a 7.5 gallon turkey fryer, so it doesn't have a spigot at the bottom and I need to pour it out rather than drain it; it is already somewhat awkward to handle so I'd rather not be holding it for a slow pour through a funnel into my carboy. I therefore use two santized plastic buckets, with one slightly smaller than the other. I dump part of my wort into the large plastic bucket and add my starter. Then I SLOWLY pour some from the large bucket into the small bucket from a good height, creating lots of foam and mixing the starter with the wort. I'll usually go back and forth a couple of times, ending with the wort in the smaller bucket which is easier to hold and pours better into the funnel to the carboy, which also creates some aeration. I repeat until I have most wort out of my pot, leaving behind most of the hops and break material. This method has worked very well for me, although it does require the extra work of carefully sanitizing the buckets.

Cheers.

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Aeration

Postby brewmeisterintng » Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:30 pm

Bill, I haven't done either (broke carboy or back) yet (knock on wood). I think your idea of pouring back and forth to aerate leaving the trub behind is a good one. The down side is longer exposure to wild yeast that
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Re: Aeration

Postby billvelek » Fri Feb 02, 2007 9:48 pm

Just taking a break now while I wait on my mash to finish; I'm brewing an IPA. Just a single batch this time; did a double last weekend -- an ESB and a RIS. My wife asked me this week why I brew on the weekends; she was very nice about it, but I suspect that she gets annoyed that I take up the kitchen for so long when she is home, so ... since she'll be gone until about 11:00 tonight, I'm going to knock off one batch real quick and surprise her. ;-) Have to keep the boss happy.

[quote="brewmeisterintng"]Snip ... I think your idea of pouring back and forth to aerate leaving the trub behind is a good one. The down side is longer exposure to wild yeast that
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Relax, don't worry, have a home brew

Postby Camper » Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:59 pm

I am sure your beer will be ok. Some yeast gives off a sulfur smell.
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