Typical Noob mistake?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by JimSmetana, Feb 17, 2013.

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  1. JimSmetana

    JimSmetana Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Illinois

    So I cracked open my first beer (brown ale) from my first batch yesterday and basically
    drain poured it. It wasn't a "Bad" taste just nothing there at all.
    The taste was like a flat coke but not nearly that sweet. A little carbonation already after one week but no mouth feel. It actually tasted better before I bottled it while it was room temp.

    So I went back to my notes and I think I know what I may have done wrong. I think I just bottled too early. This was an extract brew with specialty grains. OG 1.050. Brew date was Jan 18th. On the 26th I racked to secondary and measure 1.020. Bottled on Feb 9 gravity of 1.018. US-05 was the yeast.
    Fermentation was in the mid 60's but it would fluctuate from 63 to 67.

    Could the flavor be just a green beer? Also, I am worried a bit about bottle bombs now. I added 4oz priming sugar at bottling. The bottles are in a cooler in a warmer locale. Should I open each one to let out carbonation and re-cap or just let them sit? Any help is appreciated as always.
  2. ipas-for-life

    ipas-for-life Disciple (347) Feb 28, 2012 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    Let them be. From what you have said I would not be worried about bottle bombs. Try one a week from now. And try another one a week after that to see how it changes. A lot of people say three weeks in the bottle before it is ready. Also depending on the recipe brown ales can be a little bland sometimes in my opinion. That could be part of it.
  3. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    From Jan 18 to Feb 9 should have been enough time. I would leave them in the bottles and let them continue to carbonate and condition. They will probably have more mouthfeel when they are fully carbonated. Don't pop the caps, especially if they were undercarbonated on your sample bottle. Patience. They will probably improve with time. Test another bottle in a couple weeks.

    That being said, don't get discouraged even if your first batch isn't good. Brew another one. Make it a simple recipe that can't be easily messed up. A hoppy pale ale or IPA will be very forgiving. Hops cover flaws.
  4. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,390) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Green beer (acetaldehyde, diacetyl, etc.) has off-flavors, such as a green apple flavor, or buttery/butterscotch, or sulfury, or etc. These compounds don't cause a flavorless beer as you described it.

    That's only about about 64% attenuation, which would be very low for Chico yeast (US-05) with most worts. So, depending on recipe, you may well end up with some overcarbonated bottles. (What was the recipe?) But under-attenuation doesn't cause a 'nothing' flavor either. On the contrary, there should be more (sweet) flavor if you have unfermented fermentables in the bottles.

    Regarding your bottle bombs fear, I would keep an eye on the bottles by sampling every few days, unless 64% attenuation would be expected given the recipe. What was that recipe?
  5. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (459) Oct 19, 2012 Florida


    You drank your first beer after just 30 days . . . with predictable results . . . welcome to the club.

    Yes, this is way too early. I am fairly certain the lack of taste is due to your jumping the gun. Carbonation can easily take 2-3 weeks, so chill out and just wait.

    Regarding time in fermentation: There is almost no advantage of transferring to secondary after 8 days. Your beer needs time to ferment and to age. Most experts will advise 2 weeks and 3+ weeks is not a problem. You don't want to rush the yeasties, they need time to do their job. Letting your brew age in the secondary for 2+ weeks is an advantage. You are drinking a beer at the 4 week mark when this is the earliest you should be bottling. I never taste a beer until 6 weeks and almost always wonder why I didn't wait a couple more weeks.

    Regarding bottle bombs: It depends. Because you didn't make sure fermentation was complete (multiple grav readings), this is uncertain. If 1.018 really was your final gravity you will be okay. If there is still fermentable wort and you added sugar is where there will be a problem. But it is unlikely they will all go off immediately. It sounds like your priming sugar has barely had time to start, so this is just something to track.

    Recommendation: Wait another two weeks before even thinking about opening another bottle. And it may be another month+ before the taste really comes around. BTW, which brown ale kit did you make?
    gotweid and MLucky like this.
  6. JimSmetana

    JimSmetana Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Illinois

    Thanks for the advise. The kit was the Caribou Slobber from NB.


    My OG was spot on to the recipe and looking now the final gravity assuming an attenuation of 72% should have been 1.014. So I bottled too soon for sure. I know about the secondary debate. In this case being my first "go" I wanted to follow the recipe as exactly as possible so I racked to a 5G carboy. Wanted to get the feel of the whole process too. Also I wanted to do another batch so needed an empty primary :stuck_out_tongue:

    Bland. Yes. That is a good way to describe the taste. Drinking too many stouts and Lag Sucks this winter spoiled my palate a bit perhaps. I will chill another bottle next Saturday and see.
  7. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Disciple (372) May 2, 2006 Utah

    I believe that your attenuation problems arose from your early secondary transfer. By transferring to a secondary one leaves behind lot of yeast. This can really slow down the fermentation process, especially if the original pitch of yeast was less than optimal.

    As for bottle bombs, you are unlikely to experience these, but it is best to sample at short enough intervals so that if the carbonation begins to become excessive, you can refrigerate the remaining bottles to slow down the fermentation.

    Also, sounds like you already need a second primary. :slight_smile:

    Good luck!
    AlCaponeJunior and cavedave like this.
  8. IPAescotch

    IPAescotch Initiate (0) May 8, 2010 Ohio

    I've had alot of beers taste flat and 'unfinished' after only a week bottle conditioning. Even after two weeks they may not taste quite right. The longer you wait the better they taste, to a point.
  9. mountsnow1010

    mountsnow1010 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2009 Vermont

    Caribou Slobber usually tastes much better after several weeks in the bottle.

    Also, I had a similar attenuation last time I made it, but I used danstar Windsor which tends to attenuate less than Chico.
  10. kjyost

    kjyost Initiate (0) May 4, 2008 Manitoba (Canada)

    Not necessarily. Attenuation is a function of many things, primarily the yeast used & the fermentability of the wort, which is a function of types (and age) of extract, grains and how you boiled it all up... You could be fine.

    That said, finishing a 1.050 beer at 1.020 will have a sweeter body than I would likely enjoy. Carbonation though will change the mouthfeel massively so don't despair. 2 more weeks and the beer should be better. 4 more weeks, I bet you'll be happy with it.

    That said if you ever get massive foaming on bottles, you may be getting near bottle bomb territory. In that case, I'd refrigerate them to (almost) stop the yeast from continuing their work!
  11. JimSmetana

    JimSmetana Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Illinois

    Thanks for ALL your help guys. Feel a bit relieved!
    Patience is key. I will try again in a week or so..
  12. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (459) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    Slobber improves with age. I am drinking some now that is 10 months old and it seems to be getting better. I recall it being decent after two months in the bottle, then really started to shine after four months. I am determined to have some of it make the one year mark.

    In a true blind tasting my Slobber finished ahead of Dogfish Indian Brown Ale and SN Tumbler. So if you can control your urges, you have something really good ahead.
    JimSmetana likes this.
  13. JrGtr

    JrGtr Disciple (394) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    What temperature was your fermentation at? At normal temps, most fermentation should be about done after a week or so. At that point generally the yeast should be cleaning up after themselves. Generally you want your ambient temps in the mid-60s or so, something like 62 to 65 degrees.
    Personally, I don't bother with a secondary unless I'm looking at long-term, bulk aging, like with a sour or Imp stout or something. I also leave the beer in primary for about 3 weeks, them bottle straight from there. I've found the extra week (I used to do 2 weeks) seems to result in way better beer at the end of things.
  14. JimSmetana

    JimSmetana Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Illinois

    Temps were right in that sweet spot.
  15. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,013) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    You'll get into a groove and figure out what works best for you. Go buy a wine theif so you can easily take gravity readings so you don't have this problem again. FG needs to be determined over the course of a few days at least. Me? I like to see gravity stay the same for almost a week. then I leave it on the yeast for a little bit longer, just as Vikeman brought up there are alot of byproducts created during fermentation, and the yeast need time to clean all that up. Some guys will tell you that it'll happen in the bottle, which is correct, but I like to leave it on my yeast cake for a week after fermentation stops just to let the yeasties do what they need to do. Then it's on to bottles or secondary for dry hopping or brett or whatever else I can dream up. :wink:
  16. JimSmetana

    JimSmetana Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Illinois

    So I tried another bottle this weekend. Thats 2 weeks in the bottle. Better than last week. I do know now that I did not let fermentation finish up completely because I am over carbonated and still just a tad sweet. Tasted better after leaving in a glass for about 1/2 hour for some of the carbonation to die down and also to warm up as well.
    I think I will let this sit now for a while. maybe a bottle every Saturday just to see how it progresses.
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