Author Topic: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer  (Read 640 times)

Offline Bunt23

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Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« on: September 03, 2019, 11:32:50 AM »
Hi everyone,


First time posting on here, so thank you in advance for the help.  I recently brewed an all-grain Bell's Two Hearted clone, and I had my first taste of it this weekend.  Unfortunately, it had too much of an alcoholic taste that detracted from the maltiness I know and love.  I've done some reading on fusel alcohols, and a lot of what I've read described them tasting sort of like rubbing alcohol.  Mine definitely was not THAT alcoholic, just a little too much alcohol flavor to where it wasn't really enjoyable.  Here's some details to help nail down my issue.

Mash at 152 F for 60 min
90 min boil
Chilled to 74 degrees F, racked to a glass carboy (OG = 1.077), and pitched a Wyeast 1056 smack pack
Primary for 4 weeks in a temp controlled room that stays 68 degrees F
Racked straight from the primary into a keg (FG=1.018) and carbed with a CO2 cylinder at 11 psi
First taste after 7 days in the keg was not enjoyable


One important note is that when I was pitching the yeast, a little bit did spill on the outside of the carboy.  It was not much at all, but more than just 1 or 2 drops, so I don't know if that is significant or not.  In any case, I have cold beer in my kegerator right now with an off-flavor, and I have 2 questions:

A) What is the most likely culprit of that off-flavor?
B) Is there anything I can do to salvage this batch?

Offline Oginme

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2019, 12:18:10 PM »
Fusel alcohols do not always taste like rubbing alcohol (Isopropanol) but can come across as an alcoholic spiciness or sharpness.  They are usually higher alcohols that are often produced at high temperatures and when the yeast is under stress.  My first guess is that you pitched at a high temperature and because you were monitoring the room temperature and not the carboy temperature, it held at greater than room temperature until the initial active phase was near over.  Yeast consumption of sugar is an exothermic reaction and it is not uncommon for the contents of the carboy to be several degrees higher than the surrounding air. 

Another aggravating factor is probably the under pitch of yeast.  Your couple of spilled drops was not going to help you there as pitching one packet (at how old?) into a 5 gallon (?) carboy of wort at 18.7 Plato or 1.077 gravity would require a pitch of around 0.75 million cells per ml-P or 0.75 million cells * (5 gallons * 3785 ml/gal * 18.7 P) = 265 Billion cells.  Your packet of Wyeast 1056 contained a little over 100 Billion cells when it was fresh, which is only 38% of what was needed for a good steady fermentation without undue stress on the yeast cells.

Fusels sometimes mellow out with age, but if you have an IPA, that is working against you since the hop presence will diminish with age. 
Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline Bunt23

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2019, 01:18:48 PM »
Thanks for the input Oginme. Shoulda bought a few smack packs. Any suggestions as to how I could save this batch? Take it back out of the fridge, pitch a few more yeast packs at room temp, and see if they can help mellow it out?

Offline Oginme

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2019, 01:56:02 PM »
You have already reached your FG and there is not enough sugars left for fresh yeasts to feed upon.  The best you can do is to take it out of the cold and hold the keg at room temperature for a while.  Depending upon how much fusel alcohol there is in the beer, it may take a month or so to mellow out. 

Also, don't discount the temperature control as the main culprit. I fermented more than a few batches when I started out with less than half the amount of yeast I needed and did not have the issue with fusels.  Keeping the temperature controlled and low gives the yeast time to work without burning itself out and throwing out off-flavor compounds.  My standard routine is to chill the wort to less than fermentation temperature, move the carboy to my fermentation chamber and strap on the temperature probe.  When it gets to within a couple of degrees of where I want it (rising), I pitch the yeast.  I also tend to start the fermentation process toward the low end of the recommended range for the yeast and then bring it up after the first couple of days to allow the yeast activity to stay strong after high krausen.  Gotta baby those yeasts!
Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline Bunt23

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2019, 02:02:20 PM »
Alrighty I'll let her age for a few weeks and do another taste test. Thanks for the input! This is the first high gravity beer I've tried. Do you think higher gravity beers are just a little more temperamental since they require more yeast? I suppose all of my past brews were fine with just the 1 pack. I didn't even think to do a calculation to determine if 1 pack was sufficient for a ~8% beer.

Offline dtapke

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2019, 02:07:57 PM »
pitched a Wyeast 1056 smack pack
Primary for 4 weeks in a temp controlled room that stays 68 degrees F
Racked straight from the primary into a keg (FG=1.018) and carbed with a CO2 cylinder at 11 psi
First taste after 7 days in the keg was not enjoyable


1: you definitely underpitched. 1 pack is not enough for that quantity and gravity.
2: "temp controlled room"... yeast don't give a sh*t about the temperature of your room. I've seen beer fermented in a 50F room and the wort hit 80F. literally warm to the touch just from fermentation.
3: 7 days in keg isn't really enough time, give it another week or two and see how it turns out.

Back to #2. as oginme stated it's best to start your beer out on the LOW temp range. Say your yeast says its best between 60-72F absolutely start that beer out at 60, heck, maybe even start it out at 56-58 if you can. let it ramp up a few degrees ever day making sure it never exceeds 72. Also, you'll note some yeasts will provide a totally different flavor profile if fermented at 60, versus fermented at 72. even though both of those temps are within the yeasts range.
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline dtapke

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2019, 02:13:04 PM »
You'd have had to pitch three packs that had NEW dates. probably four really...

higher gravity beers require a few special treatments.

A: more yeast, I pitch 1m/1ml/P
B: more o2, I provide o2 via an inline stone.
C: more nutrients. zinc, ca, etc.

try to achieve at least two of those ;)

1.077 isn't really too high... I never really started having too many issues when I first started brewing higher gravity beers until I started hitting 1.1 and above
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline Oginme

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2019, 02:14:14 PM »
My fifth brew was a 8.5% Scotch ale and I think I got really lucky on that one having used only one pack of WY1728.  It was winter and the temperature in my sauna where I did the fermenting was in the 50's so it got a slow start. Overall though, I tend to pitch higher with rising gravity to make sure the yeast cells don't struggle when coming down the finish line.  The higher alcohol creates a hazardous environment for the yeasts, so some strains which are not geared for it can tucker out toward the end of the fermentation and not quite get to the ultimate final gravity.

Add to that the sudden immersion in a sugar rich environment which challenges their cell wall integrity. 
Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline dtapke

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2019, 02:16:21 PM »
Also... looking over this again you almost definitely pitched way too warm. if you chilled to 74, and the room is 68, the wort likely never dropped below 72. then you pitched yeast. more than likely it hit mid 80's

and... 4 weeks primary?... this beer was done in a week. especially at that temp.
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline Oginme

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2019, 02:19:46 PM »
dtapke brings up a good point that I forgot!  The Oxygen level in the wort needs to be as saturated as you can make it.  Either shake the living daylights out of the carboy to dissolve a lot of air into the wort (this is one of the reasons I bring the wort down to below fermentation temperatures -- it helps with dissolving more O2), or use an air stone either with an aquarium pump (with filter) or bottled Oxygen.  I use the Oxygen since it is easier to manage and replicate the amount needed to fully saturate the wort.
Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline Bunt23

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2019, 09:12:06 PM »
Got it. Guess I've just never had trouble with fermentation before. Always used the same spot in the same room. I have temp gauge stickers on my carboys, and the highest they read at high krausen is 72... Of course, that's on the outside of the carboy... I've done about a dozen of so all grain batches, but maybe  all the ones I've done prior  to this have just been much simpler beers. Thanks for the help, guys. Much appreciated.  If I'm not learning, I get bored. So this makes things interesting!

Offline dtapke

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2019, 09:31:52 AM »
Yeah, I started out using the small o2 tanks with a carb stone. Now I've got a big tank and run the blichmann regulator inline as it meters in lpm of o2 delivered so I can set it nice and low and provide o2 during my entire transfer into fermenters.

instead of buying more yeast, just do a simple starter. I actually pressure can wort to use in my yeast starters. this kills one brew day a year. I produce quarts of wort at 1.080 and dilute with water to 1.040 for my starters. This allows me to spend less time pressure canning my wort and gets me twice the output in a "starter brew day". I add servomyces and a few other yeast nutrients to the wort so that when I do my starters the yeast have everything they could ever want. The beersmith yeast starter tool is helpful in this regard, as it'll give you the number of yeast cells required and the number you have, along with what you need to do to get to the number you should pitch.
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline Kevin58

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2019, 04:33:12 PM »
Here is another way to simplify yeast starters... ignore stir plates and don't get hung up on cell counts. I've been using a method championed by Denny Conn... the same man who was ahead of the curve promoting batch sparging and mashing in a cooler... called the "Shaken Not Stirred" (SNS) aka the James Bond or 007 method.

Simply make a 1 quart wort starter medium and add it to a 1 gallon container with a screw on lid. The lid is a bit important because you will then shake the container like mad for a minute or more. The goal is to create as much foam in the container as possible. Then pitch your yeast and cover the container with tin foil. Do this about 12 hours before it needs to go into the fermenter. The object is to pitch this starter at high krausen.

Here is a link to Denny's brief article and then a link to Mark Van Ditta's (aka YeastWhisperer) original post that kicked the hornets nest over...

https://www.experimentalbrew.com/blogs/denny/old-dognew-tricks

https://www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=70926

If you?re stressing over homebrewing, you?re doing something wrong.
- Denny Conn

Offline WESBREW

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Re: Slightly Too Much Alcohol Taste in Beer
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2019, 09:02:30 AM »
Sounds like you've got a handle on it now.  Most likely under pitch and pitched a little warm. toss that fermentor in a tub of water and add ice/frozen water jugs as necessary to get temp down and maintain through fermentation.
My ales are typically done in 4 days. I let them ride a couple more days , dropping temp,  then transfer to keg. no reason to leave it in primary that long.
As said above make starters!

 

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