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I'm a beginner homebrewer. I've brewed 3 beers, one from a Muntons and two from Brewferm brewkits. They were quite good, me and my friends liked them, but each one's taste reminded me a little bit of the taste of wine.

Why is that? Am I doing something wrong during brewing?

Update:

I used 2 Brewferm Gold and one Muntons Premium Bitter brewkits. I used the yeast which came with them. I added as much sugar as their manual said. The fermenter was a Brewferm plastic bucket put in a fridge with which temperature was controlled by a thermostat between 19 and 23°C. I fermented them for about 2 weeks, and they got the wine-like taste immediately before bottling them. The wine-like character is a bit sour, not strong. Definitely not sharp or vinegary. It tastes fine, like beer, but with a little wine-like character which doesn't fade much after 4 weeks in bottles at room temp.

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Can you provide some specifics? Were the kits all malt, or did you add sugar? What yeast did you use? What temperature did you ferment at? How long did the beers age? –  Tobias Patton Oct 29 '13 at 22:23
    
Can you explain the wine-like character a bit more? Was it thin body, sour, sharp, oaky, vinegary? –  mdma Oct 29 '13 at 22:31
    
Could you also let us know what you fermented it in? Plastic pail/barrel or an oak barrel etc. Did you bottle them or keg them? –  WillNZ Oct 30 '13 at 2:19
    
I used 2 Brewferm Gold and one Muntons Premium Bitter brewkits. I used the yeast which came with them. I added as much sugar as their manual said. The fermenter was a Brewferm plastic bucket put in a fridge which temperature was controlled by a thermostat between 19 and 23°C. I fermented them for about 2 weeks, and they got the wine-like taste immediately before bottling them. The wine-like character is a bit sour, not strong. Definitely not sharp or vinegary. It tastes fine, like beer, but with a little wine-like character which doesn't dissappear much after 4 weeks in bottles in room temp. –  Nonoo Oct 30 '13 at 8:15

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Adding simple sugars like sucrose dextrose increases the alcohol content of the beer, but contribute nothing in the way of body or malt flavour. Beers brewed with a significant amount of these sugars are often described as "cidery", which might be similar to what you're calling "wine like".

Next time, try brewing an all-malt kit, i.e. one that does not instruct you to add any table sugar. Or, if that's not available to you, add malt extract instead of sugar. Because sugar is more fermentable than malt, you'll need to add a bit more malt extract: about 27% more by weight for liquid malt extract, and 5% more for dry malt extract. (Based on 46 points, per pound, per gallon for sucrose, 44 for DME, and 36 for LME)

I suspect the wine-like characteristics will be absent if you omit the sugar.

UPDATE:

When adding sugar or malt extract, each contributes a different amount of fermentables to the wort. This is measured in points, per pound, per gallon. Sugar, e.g., contributes 46 pppg. So 1 lb of sugar in 1 (US) gal of wort would give a SG of 1.046. It's hard to find a definitive guide to malt extract PPPG, but Beer Smith specifies 44 for light dry extract. (46/44) = 1.05. So to get the equivalent gravity points for 1 Kg of sugar, you need 1.05 Kg of light dry extract.

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I don't think it's the sugar per se, but it might be the amount of sugar. Many of the world's finest breweries add sugar to the beer, so that alone doesn't seem to account for it. –  Denny Conn Oct 30 '13 at 17:35
1  
Good point. I looked at the instructions for Muntons Premium and Brewferm kits. Muntons specifies 2.2 lb for a a 6 Gal (US) batch. With a starting gravity of 1.044, 17 points come from sugar. That's 38% of fermentables from sugar. The most sugar I would ever use is 20%, and that's for a strong Beligian style. The Brewferm kits differ by style in their use of sugar, but are similar: 1 Kg in 20 litre for pilsner, e.g. –  Tobias Patton Oct 30 '13 at 18:48
    
So next time if I use a Muntons Premium, I should add 1.15kg DME instead of 1kg sugar? Can you please explain these calculations more? –  Nonoo Oct 31 '13 at 8:33
    
I've updated my answer with an explanation. Also note that I've changed my advice from 1.15 Kg malt extract to 1.05 Kg. Note also that an all-malt beer will taste different. It will be fuller bodied and maltier tasting. –  Tobias Patton Oct 31 '13 at 19:54

Depending on the type of sugar that you added it will give different tastes. If you have used regular table sugar (cane sugar) this might be the cause of the "off" flavour that you have experienced.

Normally in any brew it is normal to use malt sugars for beer, these are added from malted grains (such as barley or wheat) and are the cause of the so called "malty" flavours to beer.

I would assume that you are not doing anything wrong during your brewing process (without knowing the exact details) but would suggest to try to add DME (Dry Malt Extract) or LME (Liquid Malt Extract) to your brew. This will give your wort the malt sugars needed to give you a bit more "beery" taste.

Good luck with your future brews!

EDIT: Found this page that explains the different types of sugars that are used during brewing, and how they might affect your brew; Brewing With Sugar.

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I'm not going to downvote, but table sugar (whether cane or beet) in itself is not a problem. –  Denny Conn Oct 30 '13 at 19:06

Sugar itself isn't the problem, but the amount of sugar might be. In general, you want sugar to be less that 25% of the total fermentables in your beer. A high percentage of sugar, combined with the high temps you fermented at, could very well be the cause of your problem. In the future, choose a kit that uses only a small amount of sugar, if any, and keep your fermentation temperature in the 16-19C range for ales. Lagers should be in the 9-13C range.

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