Not sure if I'm doing something wrong

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

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Not sure if I'm doing something wrong

Postby darriel » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:41 pm

Hi,

I'm a brewing newbie with only 4 batches under my belt (all extract malt kits). My problem is everything I brew turns out with the same dark color and slight bitter taste. I've tried a canadian ale, a raspberry wheat, american wheat and the latest was a belgian white ale with the same result.

The american wheat was ok and I think the only thing that saved the raspberry was the extract. I ended up dumping the canadian ale (it basically tasted like crap) and the white ale ended up brown like the others.

I've been taking great care to properly santize all the equipment and bottles and have been following the brewing instructions with each kit to the letter. I'm using a stainless pot to boil the wort and do the fermenting in a glass carboy and bottle from a plastic pail that came with my brewe's kit.

When fermenting, I keep the carboy in a room that for the most part has remained between 65-75 degrees (finished room in the basement) although with the winter coming it'll get cooler down there at night.

The belgian white looked like it started out ok. The aroma coming out of the airlock was pretty pleasing and the color was kind of light. However after a couple of days the fermenting slowed, and the liquid began to turn to the dark brown color. I bottled the batch after 5 days of keeping it in the carboy and let it sit for 3 weeks before trying it. Same result: dark beer (which surprised me for a white ale).

I know it's tough to tell from the description, but can anyone think of what i could be doing wrong? - It certainly feels like I'm doing something wrong. About the only things I can think of are temperature and maybe the fact that the room the beer ferments in has a flourescent light which is turned on and off during (normal traffic) durning fermenting process?

I'm at a loss and getting ready to pack it in...I'll take any advice..

Thanks,
Dave
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Postby slothrob » Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:13 pm

I bet you're making beer from extract.

It sounds like you're either getting "carmelization" of the wort in the boil or scortching the wort (I'm suspecting that the change in color you're seeing in the fermentor is the yeast clearing, but I can't know for sure, of course.)

If it's scortching, the best ways to prevent this is to add the extract to the kettle off the heat. The extract can sink to the bottom of the kettle, so adding while on the burner can lead to the undissolved extract hitting the bottom of the kettle and burning. Make sure it is all well dissolved and mixed, then return to the heat. Also, you only need enough heat to keep the boil going, you don't need a wild full boil, so watch that you don't have the heat any higher than you need.

"Carmelization" (it's probably not technically carmelization, but that's what everyone calls it) can occur from high heat, but is mostly due to boiling a lot of sugar in a small volume. What volume are you boiling? If you are only boiling a couple gallons and diluting to 5 gallons at the end, then only add half the extract at the beginning. Add the rest about 15-20 minutes from the end. If it is still too dark, you can add even less at the beginning and add the last of the extract within the last 5 minutes.

Also, liquid extract will darken in the can with age. Try to be sure that the extract is fresh and use dry extract when you can.
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You are right

Postby brewmeisterintng » Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:06 pm

Extracts willl never be as light as your plan. The only way to get a light colored beer is going all grain. You have to ask yourself, is color that important? If so, read up and go all grain. The only disadvantave I can think of is time and a few extra dollars on equipment. In the long run the equipment will pay for itself in the savings. I went all grain two years ago and now I wonder why I didn't do it sooner.
Just remember, all brewer didn't become good brewers without making a few bad batches. :lol:
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Postby darriel » Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:29 pm

Thanks...

It's not so much the color that bothers me but that each batch seems to be very similar in look and taste (not that great) - it made me think that I've been doing something incorrectly.

Dave
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Postby slothrob » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:29 pm

The one problem with those concentrated boils is not really the color, but the effect on the taste (often called "extract twang"). Late addition of much of the extract can help the flavor problem as well as the color.
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We haven't talked about yeast yet

Postby brewmeisterintng » Wed Nov 21, 2007 6:46 am

What type are you using? Did you use the same stuff for all your other batches? Yeast plays a big roll on flavor in beer. The other thing is your fermetation. Are you measuring your gravities? Not that any of this has to do with the carmel or color but just trying to help.
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Postby darriel » Wed Nov 21, 2007 8:37 am

I've been using the dry yeast packets that have come with each kit and sprinkling it into the carboy per the instructions.

I'll have to try adding the extract later into the boil. i've been removing the pot from the heat during the add, but the instructions have always called for at least an hour boil after the extract and hops go in (adding any other ingredients at various times during the boil per the instructions).

I'd still like to do more kit brewing before getting deeper into it. Are there some that are better than others?

Thanks for your suggestions and advice...

Dave
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Postby slothrob » Wed Nov 21, 2007 8:58 am

The late extract addition is a relatively recent discovery by homebrewers, so it isn't in any of the instructions yet.

Some Kits are definately better than others. I had good luck with the BrewersBest kit I used as my first beer, but they tend to use canned extract, which can be a problem, and you don't know how long they've been sitting on the shelf. The one I used had a decent yeast, but some kits come with a poor yeast choice. Unfortunately there are only a few excellent dried yeasts.

Ebrew.com and Homebrewadventures.com (same company), Northernbrewer.com, Midwestsupplies.com and Morebeer.com all make excellent kits that are packed to order. They use either dry extract or liquid extract that is freshly packed from 50 gallon drums, and have a high turnover so they have fresh ingredients. Many have a choice of dried and liquid yeast, so you can choose a yeast that will make the best beer of that style, not just whatever packet they stuck in the box.

I haven't brewed a kit for a while, but let me know what styles you like and I can probably recommend a great kit.
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Postby darriel » Wed Nov 21, 2007 10:31 am

Thanks...

I chose the white alre becuase I really like Sam Adam's white ale - not that I thought I'd get a result exactly like it, but I was hoping for something that might be close.

I've always liked Molson, so I was hoping the canadian ale would have been close, also. Neither was in the ballpark.

This has given me hope, though...thanks!
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light ales

Postby slothrob » Wed Nov 21, 2007 9:12 pm

Light, clean ales can be difficult for any brewer. The Canadian Ale probably isn't a great choice for a beginner. I wish they made this more clear... they'd probably lose fewer new brewers.

The white beers can be reletively easy to make, as light colored beers go, but they are very dependent on the yeast. You really need to use one of two specific yeast strains to get the right flavor.

If you like Pale Ale, it's probably the easiest beer to get right the first time. It's much more forgiving.

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