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I'm an extract brewing beginner. My first batch, an Irish Red, had decent head, decent retention, decent mouthfeel. I bottled after 2 weeks in fermentation, and bottle conditioned for the following 2 weeks. The beer was not bad.

Problem batch: I picked up the stuff for a Manny's Pale Ale clone. Brewing process was good. I got a chance to use my brand new wort chiller (cleaned and sanitized properly before hand obviously) I kept it in the primary fermenter for 3 weeks until the gravity readings were the same each day for 3 days. I then bottled and have let it bottle condition for 2 weeks. Cracked one open. AWFUL. No head at all. The carbonation looked like a half flat cola left out overnight. It is damn near a hard cider that gives off the worst bitter beer taste ive encountered.

2 bad things happened during the overall process, and Im curious if these could have contributed to the problems.

1.) Almost had a blow off during primary. Replaced part of the 3 piece airlock with a sanitized tube, running into a growler full of sanitize solution (blow off tube). At one point about 2 weeks in when bubbling was slowing down, I noticed the other end of the tube had somehow come out of the sanitizer all together, and was open to the air. Id estimate it was open for at least 6 hours while I was at work. (fiance forgot to check before she left for work)

2.) When transfering to the bottling bucket, my priming sugar (3/4 cup, 1 cup water, boiled allowed to cool) was ...um...forgotten about. I started to syphon, and at about 4 gallons transfered I realized I had not put the solution into the bottom of the bucket. I poured it in on top....

I realize that this is going to be a drain pour more than likely.

Is there anything I can do to save it?

SG: 1.054

FG: 1.014

5 gallon batch

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Did you stir the priming sugar completely after adding it? Could be you ended up with an uneven distribution of sugar, which would make some bottles overcarbonated and some under. –  Tobias Patton Sep 15 '12 at 1:05
    
@TobiasPatton; No I didnt stir it, I was under the impression that would add too much oxygen to the fermenter –  francisswest Sep 18 '12 at 15:12
    
sorry, the Wert –  francisswest Sep 18 '12 at 15:18

2 Answers 2

Two weeks may not be sufficient time for the bottles to condition. I've had batches that took 4-6 weeks and longer. Conditioning time depends on how active the yeast are. Put the bottles in a warm, dark place and let the yeast do their work. Open one occasionally to see how they're doing.

That said, if it doesn't taste any good then it's probably not worth the effort.

Neither of the issues you mentioned should have caused a problem like you describe with the bitterness of the beer. If you link to your recipe, that might provide additional clues. Other factors to consider are the freshness of ingredients and your brewing process. Since you know what Manny's is then I assume you're in the Seattle area and your local water is pretty good for brewing, but if you made any adjustments to the water chemistry that could be to blame.

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I had my first bottle at 2 weeks, 2nd at 3 weeks, and will open another one this weekend at 4 weeks. The only thing I could think of, is primary fermentation was happening during our one really hot week this year in Seattle. I tried to keep the fermenter cool, but it was always pegged at above 78, for that main week, then settled around 72-75 for the remainder of the time in the fermenter. –  francisswest Sep 18 '12 at 15:20
    
The first few days of ferm being the most important, that might be to blame for the bad taste. I lack the understanding of yeast mechanics to explain why it was bitter (I would have expected fusels and heavy esters), but 75-80F is certainly a lot higher than recommended. Did the 3 week bottle seem any better than 2 weeks? –  Galapagos Jim Sep 18 '12 at 20:42
    
Sadly, nope. However I pulled the bottle from the same general area in the 2nd case which could be to blame. Ill folllow up when I pull a fresh bottle from case 1. –  francisswest Sep 18 '12 at 20:54

Try bottles from a different case or a different part of the case. You definitely have bottles that have priming sugar in them. I might worry that those will over carbonate. It seems like you just didn't get a good mix of the sugar into the beer. (Which I think you already know.)

You'd be surprised what carbonation does for balancing the flavor profile of a beer.

FWIW, I think you need to re-check your flavor profile. Hard cider doesn't really have a bitterness component to it. Its tough to diagnose flavor issues online through descriptions. Its impossible when those descriptors are used incorrectly.

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I will pop a bottle from the other case this week and see how it does. I have the first and last bottles labeled, and they are in sequential order, so Ill pull a different one. I'll recheck my flavor profile and try to get a better comparison. –  francisswest Sep 18 '12 at 15:22

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