I haven't begun BIAB yet, but figured somebody may have run across this problem I am having. My process: I currently brew extract full volume 60 minute boil batches using Briess light DME and steeped flavoring grains, pelletized hops, dry Safale ale or lager yeast. I bottle. All ingredients are properly packaged and refrigerated. 2 weeks primary, 2 weeks secondary, 4 weeks in the bottle. All at 66 degrees or less.
At some point this season my beers went from OK to bad. They have not returned. I brew a batch every weekend, and so every week I grab the next one in line and cringe. Yup - bad again. It happens every batch, regardless of recipe or ingredient. Here's how it goes:
I taste at brewing - no issues. I taste at bottling - no issues. I open one after 2 weeks - no issues. I open another after 3 weeks and get a hint of clove. After 4 weeks it is decidedly worse. By 5 or 6 weeks they are undrinkable. An embarrassment. They eventually go directly to the sink drain. Clearly, time has something to do with it.
I don't think it's bottle cleanliness, because it isn't hit or miss - they're all bad. I clean with PBW and sanitize with Star San.
Please help - I'm ready to pack it in.
I believe I may have the solution. I went to the shop to purchase the bottling equipment replacements for today's bottling and was able to get another opinion.
It is probably not the bottling equipment, although it might be a bit player. Likewise for the chlorine. Once I described the one change I made this season, he pretty much said that was it. That being the discontinuance of using a hop bag for bittering hops. He explained that with free hopping, as he called it, there is an increased surface area and the utilization is far greater than when using a hop bag. Hop bags plug, and the water doesn't get good flow through it. Sounds logical. So I'm getting more bittering than my software says. But it gets worse.
I found that when I free hopped the oils seemed to do a nice job of cutting down the foam at hot break. So I began adding the hops right along with the DME. So now the hops are in the pot for the 60 min boil PLUS the 20 minute heatup to boil. So I'm making an IPA on steroids. I could not get an explanation of why it starts out as a clove-like flavor, but the nasty taste is a product of over-boiled hops.
As for the delay in formation of that taste, which had everybody thinking bottling equipment, the explanation I got was that bad flavors, like good ones, need time to evolve. It is the product of aging.
I will need to wait til next year to confirm this, but I did buy the bottling equipment anyway. Good to rule things out, and a good way to say thanks for good advice. It would be nice to find out it IS the bottling equipment - I'll have something I can drink!
I wouldn't mind additional comments pro or con on the above theory. Nothing has been proven yet.
Thanks to all for your help and generosity with your time. A very civilized group. I "witnessed" a forum at another site where a topic developed into a heated debate among responders, and ended up completely divorced from the original posting. I was happy to see that wasn't the case here. Hoping for success and beginning my BIAB next season.
Post #1 made 4 years ago
Last edited by dke on 22 Mar 2014, 04:42, edited 2 times in total.