Simply Pale Ale fail

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MZonard

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This is the second time I have made a 20L brew using the Simply Pale Ale kit. And on both occasions it has turned out ‘cardboard’ and undrinkable after leaving it to mature at 20C for two weeks and then in a fridge for a further two weeks. I’m quite experienced with kits and bottling and have had no other failures. I clean the kit thoroughly etc.

My method:
Kit of Simply Pale Ale.
1kg Cellar Supplies Beer Enhancer.
Tsp Wilco yeast enhancer.
Water: 50% RO and 50% local non-chlorinated water (high in CaCO2).
Kit yeast.
Fermentation at 20C for 14 days. No dry hop. Bottled with 140g dextrose.

What am I doing wrong…? Is this a problematic kit? Thoughts please.
 

the baron

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Your description of cardboard gives the exact result you get from oxidisation on many beer fault finders.
The only thing that goes against this is that you said you have never had a problem before, is the beer going a slight off brown tinge to it? as well as the cardboard taste
 

MZonard

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It comes out of the bottle fine. Good colour, carbonation and head. I forgot to say I use Harris finings but I doubt that could affect things(?).

I’ve just read the post on reducing the headspace in bottling - I rely on the wand space which is OK for my other ‘brews’ (up to 80 now)
 

the baron

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A brown tinge gives me the impression it might be oxidised as long as you have not put in grains that would make it brown.
The brown I am talking about is usually not totally clear and ever ever so slightly murky i.e it takes the brightness away from the beer. It will get browner as the beer ages more week by week
 

MickDundee

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Definitely sounds like oxidation from what you say in your post.

It’s most likely to come from your bottling process - are you able to please give us a full description of how you bottle?
 

Agentgonzo

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Colour? Yes it’s a bit brown for a Pale Ale.
How does it compare to when it came out of the fermenter and into the bottle? If it's a different colour, it could be oxidation in the bottle (as opposed to elsewhere). It's a good idea to taste the brew at each stage to help you figure out when problems occurred (obviously it's a bit late on this brew). I normally taste the sample beer from the gravity reading when it goes into the fermenter (tastes foul and hugely bitter at that stage) and coming out of the fermenter (tastes like a pleasant, if thin/flat beer at that stage). That would hopefully tell you on future brews if something has gone wrong before or after the bottling.
 

MZonard

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Thanks for the comments. I add dex to a jug of boiling water and add the finings. Put this in the bottling bucket which was previously cleaned and ‘Starsannned’ and then gravity feed from the fermenter. Lift the bucket onto the table and use the wand to fill the bottles. Bottles go through the dishwasher and are individually cling-filmed and stored in crates.

The fermenter to bucket and bucket to bottling wand tubes are given a squirt of Starsan before use.

OK. Perhaps the weakness was the bottling bucket. I might have failed to sanitise on the day and to have relied on last week’s cleaning (tho it has a sealed lid).

Busy life means cut corners.

Lesson learned.
 

MZonard

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Oh, it tasted good from the SG thingy after fermentation. So that gave me confidence that it would be a good brew. Bummer.
 

the baron

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The weakness is using a bottling bucket and transferring it from the FV to it as you are doubling your chances of oxidising the beer.
I do not transfer from my Fv but Keg bottle straight from there as it is one less chance of getting oxygen in the beer.
Many do as you do but you must be very careful of splashing when tranferring to the bottling bucket, I prefer to add the sugar to the bottles and straight in
 

Agentgonzo

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I prime each bottle and bottle straight from the fermenter as well. It's not quite as accurate for the priming sugar, but good enough.
OK. Perhaps the weakness was the bottling bucket. I might have failed to sanitise on the day and to have relied on last week’s cleaning (tho it has a sealed lid).

Busy life means cut corners.

Lesson learned.
Indeed. It's always best to sanitise on the day. You can't guarantee it'll keep all the nasties out.
 

barry.morgan71

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This is a question really, not a suggestion because I am a novice,but MZonard says that he/she puts the bottles through the dishwasher and then cling films them. Is this enough to ensure they are clean and sanitised?
 

foxy

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This is a question really, not a suggestion because I am a novice,but MZonard says that he/she puts the bottles through the dishwasher and then cling films them. Is this enough to ensure they are clean and sanitised?
Probably clean but definitely not sanitised.
 

Agentgonzo

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Putting bottles through the dishwasher is a good way to sanitise them for beginners. Make sure your clear the filters out so your not spraying old bits of carrot around. Use the hottest wash you can (a 70° cycle will pasteurize the bottles). Don't use dishwasher tabs if you want a big creamy head. And do this immediately prior to bottling - sanitation doesn't kill everything and nasties can get back in and regrow. It'll still not be as good as other sanitisation products through.

I used a dishwasher successfully for many many years, but when I switched to using starsan, I found it was easier than using the dishwasher. Starsan is cheap and lasts a lifetime
 

MZonard

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OK, I’ll stop using the bottling bucket and:

1. I’ll carry on dishwashing the bottles and cling film (for ease of storage) but Starsan them on the day prior to bottling.

2. I’ll bottle direct from the fermenter into bottles primed with dextrose.

Thanks all…! MZ.
 

Agentgonzo

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Why starsan them the day prior to bottling? Unless timing is a constraint, you should sanitise as close to bottling as you can
 

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