Beers changing flavor after a few weeks

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by FFreak, Nov 21, 2014.

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  1. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    My last 3 or 4 batches have all been hop bombs. Each one was dry hopped, cold crashed to 50 degrees for two days, then bottled. All these beers have started out tasting wonderful. At 1-3 weeks they've all been close to commercial quality. After about 3-4 weeks the beers have all changed. The color gets darker, the hop aroma, dryness and freshness fades, and a similarity in flavor creeps in. This is a slightly sweet, slightly acrid taste. Overall the beers are still good, not at all drain pours, but have lost the quality that they displayed at first. What's going on?
     
  2. OddNotion

    OddNotion Defender (600) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey

    Sounds like it may be the onset of oxidation to me. I have had similar experiences with some of my very hoppy beers as well.
     
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  3. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    Is that just something one has to expect with hoppy homebrewed beers, or is there something in my process that is causing the oxidation? Is bottling itself the culprit? Would kegging produce more longevity in hoppy beers?
     
  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,611) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Like @OddNotion posted, sounds like an oxidation problem here.

    Cheers!
     
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  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,611) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I am sure that some BAs would encourage you to keg instead but I bottle all of my beers (including the hoppy ones like IPAs) and I do not have the issues you are describing. It is important to minimize splashing and any other forms of introduction of air (oxygen) to the beer during the bottling process.

    My bottled homebrewed IPA beers typically last about 3 months. At the 3 month mark the beer is still drinkable but the hop aroma is diminished. There are no other flavor changes other then the hop aroma fade.

    I typically get 9 months of shelf-life for moderate gravity ales/lagers. For my higher gravity ales I obtain 1+ years of shelf-life. I have a couple of batches of high gravity ales that are 2 years old in my basement.

    Cheers!
     
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  6. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    Could the sheer volume of dry hops added post-fermentation be causing the oxidation? I've been adding from 4-6 oz of hops to the primary just after active fermentation dies down. I leave them for 4-5 days, then cold crash to 50 for two days, then bottle. I'm pretty careful not to oxidize during bottling, although I do use a fine-mesh bag during racking. I boil the bag for 15 minutes just prior to racking, so that should de-oxygenate the water while sterilizing the bag. Could the cold crash be sucking oxygen into the fermenter and causing the oxidation?
     
  7. sjverla

    sjverla Disciple (397) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Yes, cold crashing could be sucking oxygen into the fermentor, especially if you're using buckets, which have a large surface are of beer coming in contact with the air. If you're using a carboy that's full to the neck it's less of an issue, but could still be one.

    When transferring, make sure all the hoses are well sealed and you don't get a constant stream of tiny bubbles flowing with the beer. What's your bottling process? Do you use a bottling wand?
     
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,611) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    “Could the sheer volume of dry hops added post-fermentation be causing the oxidation?” Not a likely cause.

    “Could the cold crash be sucking oxygen into the fermenter and causing the oxidation?” I personally do not cold crash but that sounds like a distinct possibility to me.

    Cheers!
     
  9. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    When you introduce hops, you also introduce oxygen. When you're racking and bottling you also introduce oxygen. All the guidelines are to minimize this introduction...but there is no way to completely remove oxygen exposure.

    You can get pretty darn close when kegging and transferring under CO2, however.
     
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  10. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    To some degree yes. Kind of the driving force behind the Stone "Enjoy By" series :slight_smile:

    But of course your own process could be making it worse.
     
  11. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    I use an auto-siphon with a fine-mesh bag zip tied to the tube end to transfer the beer from a Big Mouth Bubbler to a bottling bucket, then bottle from the spigot with a bottling wand. I put the boiled and cooled priming sugar in after a quart or so of beer has transferred to the bucket, then after all the beer has transferred, I give a quick, gentle stir to get the priming sugar blended in evenly.
     
  12. alanforbeer

    alanforbeer Initiate (53) Jan 29, 2011 South Carolina

    You might try:

    Ferment in a bottling bucket. Bottle directly from primary via the spigot.

    Let the caps rest on the bottle for 15 min. or so before crimping. The idea being that CO2 escaping from solution will scrub out some of the O2 in the headspace. (Not so sure about this one.)

    The sad reality is bottled-homebrewed IPA's just don't have much of a shelf life.
     
  13. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    Yes.

    ALL of my heavily dry-hopped beers have suffered faster oxidation than my non-dry-hopped. Personal experience, my hopbursted APA has no discernible hop loss after many weeks. However, my dry-hopped APA's and IPA have noticeable loss after 6 weeks (I keg), I have been able to stretch it out a bit farther by adding hops to an empty keg, and pressurizing with C02 for a few hours. This helps scrub much of the O2 from the hops.
     
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  14. ventura78

    ventura78 Aspirant (268) Nov 22, 2003 Massachusetts

    I had the same problem when I brewed up a big batch of a pliny the elder clone. The massive hop flavor faded and the beer changed. It happened in the same time frame that yours did. The beer was still good, but a lot different. I guess that's why Russian River wants that beer to be consumed right away.
     
  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,611) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Alan, it is my practice to place the caps on the bottles and wait 30-60 minutes for crimping. I did this for my very first batch 20 years ago and I will be doing this later today for my 342nd batch. I have always had very good shelf-life for my bottled beers including my hoppy beers. Maybe this practice is indeed very effective?

    Cheers!

    Jack
     
  16. ronobvious2

    ronobvious2 Initiate (0) Aug 24, 2010 Tennessee

    Based on two of my failed beers, the color change and taste change probably indicate oxygen. It'll only get worse, trust me. How are you capping? Using EZ-Cap style bottles or regular beer bottles? If regular, see if you're getting those oxygen-scrubbing caps and you might want to invest in a bottling gun to flush out your bottles with CO2 before filling.
     
  17. sjverla

    sjverla Disciple (397) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Pretty standard, as I assumed. The mesh bag is a common practice, so it's unlikely that's the culprit. Given the current facts, I'm inclined to look at cold crashing as the primary suspect.
     
  18. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    I've used both types of bottles, and the problem might be less with the EZ-Cap bottles. I tend to drink those first though, so might just be timing.

    I see the value in getting some CO2 equipment, but that's probably not going to happen any time soon. Meanwhile I've got another hoppy batch getting close to bottling time and need to figure out what to do to combat this.
     
  19. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    Interesting. I'll have to give this a try on the next batch. If the problem is from the O2 in the headspace, this might be a way to counter that.

    Thanks to all of you for the great responses. My breakdown of things to change in my process:

    1. More hopstand - less dry hop
    2. Avoid cold crash if possible
    3. Minimize splashing or anything else that would cause oxidation during bottling
    4. Leave caps on bottles for 30-60 minutes before crimping
    5. Drink beer faster
     
  20. jamescain

    jamescain Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2009 Texas

    The issue is that with bottling all bottles are full of O2.

    If you leave head space in your bottle you're leaving O2 in the beer.

    If you want your IPA's to last longer, kegging is necessary.
     
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,611) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    “If you leave head space in your bottle you're leaving O2 in the beer.”

    There is most definitely some oxygen in the headspace of a beer that has just been bottled. During the bottle conditioning phase a true secondary fermentation takes place:

    · The yeast consumes the priming sugar (fermentation)

    · The yeast utilizes oxygen within the bottle during the secondary fermentation

    · The yeast produces CO2 as part of the fermentation which carbonates the beer

    The bigger issue with bottling is that the cap liners are not oxygen impermeable and therefore over time oxygen will indeed ingress into the bottle over time. This ingress is a slow process and as I have reported above I obtain long shelf-lives for moderate gravity non-hoppy bottled beers: about 9 months.

    There are caps that have oxygen scavenging ability and therefore will mitigate the ingress of oxygen through the cap liners. I have zero experience with these types of caps.

    Kegging has the advantage that a sealed keg is oxygen impermeable.

    Cheers!
     
  22. fuzzbalz

    fuzzbalz Disciple (340) Apr 13, 2002 Georgia

    I'm wondering if the mesh bag over the end of your auto siphon could be the culprit, I've tried this before myself and had a bottled ipa turn out the same way as yours did. Could the beer flowing through that fine mesh cause enough turbulence to pick up some O2?
     
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,611) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    “Could the beer flowing through that fine mesh cause enough turbulence to pick up some O2?” There should be no oxygen dissolved within the beer.

    Cheers!
     
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  24. Tebuken

    Tebuken Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2009 Argentina


    +1 - I think you shoud avoid using it.

    BTW do you store your beers in a cool dark place?
     
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  25. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    I store the bottles inside of ice chests/coolers while they bottle condition. I doubt they ever exceed 65 degrees.

    The mesh bag I use to prevent dry hop debris from getting into the bottles. With the cold crashing, that usually doesn't amount to much debris, but if I eliminate the cold crash, I could see the hop debris being a problem.
     
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,611) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Esteban (@Tebuken ) brings up a very good point. The oxidation processes in beer follows the Arrhenius Equation. If you have a dedicated beer refrigerator where you can store your bottled hoppy beers that will retard oxidation (e.g., hop fade). Cold storage retards the oxidation processes.

    Cheers!
     
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  27. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,030) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Yep. Or put another way... No new oxygen will get into your beer as a result of putting a mesh bag over the end of the auto siphon, assuming the bag is on the input end. (Apart from a negligible amount forced in by agitation at the surface of the beer as the porous bag is being pushed through the beer surface on its way to the bottom.)

    Putting it on the output end would be a great way to dissolve lots of O2. It sounds silly, but IIRC it has been done.
     
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  28. alanforbeer

    alanforbeer Initiate (53) Jan 29, 2011 South Carolina

    OP: I had one more thought.

    Apart from the EZ-Cap bottles you're using, how are you sanitizing your caps?
     
  29. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    Silly me...that's how I've been doing it. I zip tie the bag to the end of the auto-siphon hose that goes into the bottom of the bottling bucket. So, you think that is causing dissolved O2? I use a large fine-mesh bag that stays at the bottom of the bucket. The beer flowing into the bucket does not appear to be foaming or turbulent at all. How is this causing dissolved O2?

    I've heard of folks getting a clogged auto-siphon when using the bag on the input side.
     
  30. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    I put the caps in a Pyrex measuring cup and cover them with Star San.
     
  31. alanforbeer

    alanforbeer Initiate (53) Jan 29, 2011 South Carolina

    Cool. Just checking.
     
  32. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,030) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    Until that bag is fully submerged, you're continuously running beer through it at the Beer to Air Interface (BAI, it's a technical term). I wouldn't do that.

    ETA: and even after its submerged, you're still probably making some fine bubbles that are getting to the surface, increasing surface area, and thus O2 dissolution.
     
    #32 VikeMan, Nov 21, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014
  33. sjverla

    sjverla Disciple (397) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Ah, I thought you had submerged the mesh bag on the end of the autosiphon in the fermenting bucket.

    In your case, the mesh bag acts like a faucet aerator. Rather than the beer flowing as a continuous stream, the mesh bag basically slices into tiny, mesh-sized streams, increasing surface area and allowing increased contact with the air.

    Take the aerator of your kitchen sink faucet if you can. You'll notice a distinctly different stream that comes out as opposed to when the aerator is attached.This is essentially the difference between the mesh bag in the bottling bucket versus not.
     
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  34. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    Well that's illuminating. I'll definitely try putting the bag on the input side next time! I'll try to figure out a way to do it without having it clog up.
     
  35. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,030) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Or find a way to keep large amounts hop debris out of your fermenter, such as bagging your dry hops.
     
  36. sjverla

    sjverla Disciple (397) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    OP, this is what I do. 5 gallon paint strainer bags, boiled for a few minutes with a couple stainless steel bolts for weight and tied with sanitized fishing line. I've done up to 6 oz of dry hops for 5 gallons in a single bag. On bottling day I use a pair of sanitized tongs to wring the bag into the bottling buck at the very bottom when it's empty. The farther the beer falls and splashes, the more oxygen you're letting in. Then I gently pour in my priming solution, and rack the rest on top.
     
  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,611) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I personally bag my dry hops in a sanitized muslin bag which includes marbles to weigh down the bag. No clogged siphon for me!

    Cheers!
     
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  38. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (665) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont

    I'm somewhat new so I'll bow to the more experienced, but I've found that constraining the dry hops in bags really limits the amount of flavor and aroma extracted. However, I guess it's kind of a "six of one" situation. That extra bit of flavor/aroma comes at the cost of a high amount of hop debris, and then problems like I'm having. I just threw in my dry hops for my currently fermenting beer....this time without a weighted bag, and I'll try the filter bag on the input at bottling time and hope for the best. Thanks again for all the great advice!
     
  39. sjverla

    sjverla Disciple (397) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    What size bag are you using? 6 oz of pellet hops in a 5-gal. bag spreads out plenty.

    I saw a picture somewhere on these forums of Sierra Nevada prepping dry-hop bags of whole leaf Cascade for Bigfoot. The bags were stuffed tight. If it's good enough for Bigfoot, it's good enough for me.
     
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  40. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Seems to me that the problem in some cases at least...is a failure to drink enough beer to approach equilibrium :slight_smile:
     
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