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those trappist secrets and spells still elude me


read 737 times • 12 replies • posted 1/8/2014 8:56:51 AM

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RD400F 158:3
Iíve got a weird problem Iím hoping you guys could help out with.

Every time I make a dark Belgian strong ale, it turns out sour. Every other beer Iíve made has been completely fine...my IPA, ESB, Belgian blonde, Belgian brown...which rules out infection. So far Iíve made three attempts and they all turn out really crappy.

A sample recipe (5 gal):

og 1.072
fg 1.006

10 lbs pilsner
3 lbs pale
2 lbs dark caramel sugar (homemade)

mash at 148f for 60 min

90 min boil

syrup at 90 min
0.75 oz northern brewer 60 min
1 oz fuggles 20 min
1 oz mt. hood 10 min
5 g yeast energizer at 5 min

yeast is wyeast 3787, no starter, pitched at 64f at 8:00PM, fermentation started at 4:00AM, let temp free rise 24H after pitching.

This recipe was the best of the three, but itís still kinda sour. Someone who has been brewing for a long time Iím sure will point out possible mistakes or the problem if they tried the beer but Iím wondering if thereís something glaringly obvious that Iím missing.

Iím going to brew a tripel possibly today...this time around I made a yeast starter. I doubt that could cause sourness but Iíve been brewing for a year now so what do I know.

Any ideas?
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dEnk 3463:31
Recipewise Iíd use some caramel malt instead of just dark sugar, but that wouldnít be the reason it turns sour.

One thing Iív learned, you can never rule out an infection.

Did you use the yeast energizer every time? Maybe somethings off with that?
1/8/2014 9:24:22 AM

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RD400F 158:3
I didnít the first two times, which makes me wonder if itís yeast driven as the most recent beer was the "best" of the three. I can imagine no starter stressing yeast and giving me problems...but sourness like that? Kind of weird.

An infection would be strange as Iíve brewed other beers in between all three of the strong ales and they turned out great. With big beers like these Iím twice as careful as well. However I changed out my plastic tubing just in case as itís difficult to clean. Even though I soak it in star san for 10 minutes I still wonder about air trapped somewhere.
1/8/2014 10:38:31 AM

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HornyDevil
Use a different strain. That one throws acetaldehyde (sour apple) when stressed even a little. Make a big starter or use one of the abbey strains and youíll be OK.
1/8/2014 11:19:48 AM

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SamGamgee 2452:182
Definitely make a starter. You are probably just way under pitching and getting bad fermentation character as a result.
1/8/2014 11:24:51 AM

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GothGargoyle 933:17
Originally posted by SamGamgee
Definitely make a starter. You are probably just way under pitching and getting bad fermentation character as a result.


^ What he said. You definitely shouldnít be pitching a single Wyeast bag into an OG 1.072 wort.

In the ones youíve done so far, was the sourness present at bottling? Or was it after some bottle conditioning? How long was it in the fermenter (did you do a secondary?) and how long did you condition the bottles before drinking?

Can you describe the sourness? e.g. green apple, lemon juice, lactic/yoghurt, vinegar, astringent...
1/8/2014 6:16:16 PM

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bitbucket 2158:63
Originally posted by GothGargoyle
Originally posted by SamGamgee
Definitely make a starter. You are probably just way under pitching and getting bad fermentation character as a result.


^ What he said. You definitely shouldnít be pitching a single Wyeast bag into an OG 1.072 wort.

In the ones youíve done so far, was the sourness present at bottling? Or was it after some bottle conditioning? How long was it in the fermenter (did you do a secondary?) and how long did you condition the bottles before drinking?

Can you describe the sourness? e.g. green apple, lemon juice, lactic/yoghurt, vinegar, astringent...

Thatís what Iím wondering. Sourness is one thing, off flavors are another.

For sourness Iíd suspect infection. Might be worth replacing your ísoft bitsí (corks, tubing, etc.)
1/8/2014 11:29:57 PM

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RD400F 158:3
Originally posted by GothGargoyle
Originally posted by SamGamgee
Definitely make a starter. You are probably just way under pitching and getting bad fermentation character as a result.


^ What he said. You definitely shouldnít be pitching a single Wyeast bag into an OG 1.072 wort.

In the ones youíve done so far, was the sourness present at bottling? Or was it after some bottle conditioning? How long was it in the fermenter (did you do a secondary?) and how long did you condition the bottles before drinking?

Can you describe the sourness? e.g. green apple, lemon juice, lactic/yoghurt, vinegar, astringent...


Usually hints of it start at two weeks or so. Iíll open one beer a week for the first month to see how they progress. Of course that might seem like dirty bottles or bottling bucket but then I wouldíve ruined my IPA or two of the Belgian Blondes I did. Itís so weird itís so consistent only with dark strong ales.

About yeast throwing off flavours...hereís the kicker...1762 is a LOT worse...in particular one of the first beers I did with it. The beer was pretty good at two weeks in. At 3 months it started to become distracting and I pretty much gave up on that batch though a buddy really liked it. A week ago I thought it was all gone until I dug out three more bottles. Opened it for curiosityís sake and it was horrendous...very acidic and the aroma carried it as well which didnít happen before. Iíll try to do a "tasting" of all three and give you guys some notes.

Right now, it doesnít seem likely but the only constant here is the syrup...I made my own and now Iím wondering if thatís the cause though thatís farfetched.
1/9/2014 8:17:54 AM

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DA 1
Are you putting a lot of citric acid or something into the syrup? Iíve had some turn out bitter and slightly metallic when I overcooked them, but never sour. Maybe try brewing the recipe with the store bought stuff?
1/9/2014 8:22:31 AM

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bitbucket 2158:63
Originally posted by RD400F
Originally posted by GothGargoyle
Originally posted by SamGamgee
Definitely make a starter. You are probably just way under pitching and getting bad fermentation character as a result.


^ What he said. You definitely shouldnít be pitching a single Wyeast bag into an OG 1.072 wort.

In the ones youíve done so far, was the sourness present at bottling? Or was it after some bottle conditioning? How long was it in the fermenter (did you do a secondary?) and how long did you condition the bottles before drinking?

Can you describe the sourness? e.g. green apple, lemon juice, lactic/yoghurt, vinegar, astringent...


Usually hints of it start at two weeks or so. Iíll open one beer a week for the first month to see how they progress. Of course that might seem like dirty bottles or bottling bucket but then I wouldíve ruined my IPA or two of the Belgian Blondes I did. Itís so weird itís so consistent only with dark strong ales.

About yeast throwing off flavours...hereís the kicker...1762 is a LOT worse...in particular one of the first beers I did with it. The beer was pretty good at two weeks in. At 3 months it started to become distracting and I pretty much gave up on that batch though a buddy really liked it. A week ago I thought it was all gone until I dug out three more bottles. Opened it for curiosityís sake and it was horrendous...very acidic and the aroma carried it as well which didnít happen before. Iíll try to do a "tasting" of all three and give you guys some notes.

Right now, it doesnít seem likely but the only constant here is the syrup...I made my own and now Iím wondering if thatís the cause though thatís farfetched.

If time makes a difference youíve got an infection. The earlier softer sourness could be lactic acid, but the sharper (maybe vinegar-like) sourness typically comes from acetic acid which typically comes later. If youíre not physically adding acetic acid the only other option is bacterial byproduct a.k.a. infection.
1/9/2014 7:26:02 PM

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RD400F 158:3
An update...made the tripel, fermented, bottled, carbing up real slow so now itís in the closet with a homemade closet heater keeping the temp up. I cracked a bottle the other day and itís gonna be one hell of a beer.

Lesson learned: yeast starters in big beers are mandatory. Now if youíll excuse me Iíll get to brewing my Westvleteren 12 clone thatís been waiting since Iíve moved.
2/10/2014 10:20:36 AM

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