homebrew flaws and their causes

Anything and everything about beer and brewing it.

What is the most common cause of flaws found in homebrewed beer?

1. Poor ingredient selection/balance issues
2
11%
2. Poor handling (oxidation during packaging etc)
3
17%
3. Water treatment or lack of
0
No votes
4. Fermentation/yeast issues
7
39%
5. Combination of 2 and 4
1
6%
6. Combination of 3 and 4
1
6%
7. All of the above
0
No votes
8. Other (please specify by replying below)
0
No votes
9. Wild yeast or bacterial infection
4
22%
 
Total votes: 18

Capn Ahab
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homebrew flaws and their causes

Post by Capn Ahab »

What do you think is the major cause of flaws* in homebrewed beer? Three votes each.

*flaws that make the beer a chore to drink, not stylistic issues
Last edited by Capn Ahab on Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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RogerP
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Re: homebrew flaws and their causes

Post by RogerP »

Infection of some description would be the number one flaw.
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Jeltz69
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Re: homebrew flaws and their causes

Post by Jeltz69 »

The brewer's level of experience and ability?

Capn Ahab
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Re: homebrew flaws and their causes

Post by Capn Ahab »

RogerP wrote:Infection of some description would be the number one flaw.
I didn't think of that as distinct from yeast/fermentation issues, but you're right that getting a bacterial infection, say, is different to fermenting too warm or stressing your yeast out. I have added another category with all previous votes cancelled.
Jeltz69 wrote:The brewer's level of experience and ability?
That's a bit of a daft thing to say Nick, as experience and ability will determine whether or not you can control all the factors above to consistently make good beer.

Just to be clear though, I'm interested in what people think is the main problem with all the dodgy beers we have tried at beer club or competitions over the years, not what has caused problems for you specifically.
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steve crawshaw
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Re: homebrew flaws and their causes

Post by steve crawshaw »

I have voted. I would say fermentation issues are number 1. Normally caused by underpitching, poor temperature control or failing to rehydrate dried yeast. Of course if yeast health is sub optimal due to the above factors, that also allows other organisms to gain a foothold before the pH drops from fermentation. Poor sanitary procedures are also an issue but I think most of us have that controlled and the modern sanitisers have improved this a lot. I do think that a lot of new homebrewers tend to get a bit over excited and try and brew extreme beers with lots of ingredients ( I did this). There's a lot to be said for mastering a clean english bitter and then moving to other styles. I also found that the discipline of brewing to style helped my brewing by helping me understand what ingredients were appropriate to each style.
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Jeltz69
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Re: homebrew flaws and their causes

Post by Jeltz69 »

Mark, my point was that a lack of understanding of the processes involved (from sterilisation to serving) is a major factor in people churning out rubbish beer.

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Bimster
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Re: homebrew flaws and their causes

Post by Bimster »

Probably the most common one I notice/come across is fusel alcohols due to fermenting at too high a temperature. From my recent beer lottery that I've been partaking in (this involves drinking random beers picked up at the national) the main issue seems to be adhering to the style. Seems the Brewers focus on being too extreme in one area and missing the balance elements, presumably to give their beer an edge.
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Capn Ahab
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Re: homebrew flaws and their causes

Post by Capn Ahab »

steve crawshaw wrote:I have voted. I would say fermentation issues are number 1. Normally caused by underpitching, poor temperature control or failing to rehydrate dried yeast. Of course if yeast health is sub optimal due to the above factors, that also allows other organisms to gain a foothold before the pH drops from fermentation. Poor sanitary procedures are also an issue but I think most of us have that controlled and the modern sanitisers have improved this a lot.
I agree with all of this.
steve crawshaw wrote:I do think that a lot of new homebrewers tend to get a bit over excited and try and brew extreme beers with lots of ingredients ( I did this).
This is also a very good point. If you can't get a simple beer nailed every time, you are mad to be trying extreme Belgian experiments. I think there are a number of forgiving styles, that you could class as beginner styles, that everyone should master before branching out:
Bitters
American ales
Standard strength IPAs (not Imperials)
Standard strength stouts (not Imperials or Foreign extra)
Porters (not imperial or baltic)
Brown ales
The unifying factor in these styles for me is that you can use forgiving yeasts that are not too fussy about their fermentation conditions. US05 is a good example as I have fermented this at temperature ranging from 18 c to 24 c and it still makes good beer. British yeasts in low gravity beers are also pretty tolerant.
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Capn Ahab
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Re: homebrew flaws and their causes

Post by Capn Ahab »

Jeltz69 wrote:Mark, my point was that a lack of understanding of the processes involved (from sterilisation to serving) is a major factor in people churning out rubbish beer.
Fair enough, but then surely it's a good idea to identify where exactly the understanding is lacking?
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PMowdes
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Re: homebrew flaws and their causes

Post by PMowdes »

I'd rank it

Poor fermentation (temp control, yeast health, pitching rate)

Poor sanitation (infection)

Poor storage (oxidation, infection)

There were so many beers at the national which suffered as a result of one or a number of the above.

The number of well fermented, clean, on style beers were very much in the minority.

I think balance and stylistic accuracy are somewhat secondary and subjective. You can argue the toss about what category a beer should be in but first and foremost it needs to be a well made beer.
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