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My second failure

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bcolbyb

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So, I just declared my second batch a failure.

My first batch was a Peach Wine with fresh fruit, and the second batch is/was Dragons Blood with frozen Berry Blend. On both batches, I followed the recipe to the letter, except I used Red Star Montrachet instead of Lalvin EC-1118.

Both batches developed a horrid stale beer smell (and taste) towards the end of primary fermentation. Based on what I've read in some of the threads on this site, I'm guessing it's the leather smell and that temperature is my issue. I live in Dallas and my choices for cool spots in the house are few. I thought I had a cool spot, but wine temps have been in the 78-82 range. I think that may be a little high for the primary.

So... what do you do when you're limited on cool'ish spots in the house?

Brian
 

lilvixen

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A wet towel wrapped around the bucket or carboy with a fan blowing on it?
 

pip

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Could you use a sanitized ice pack of some sort that you drop into the must and fish out and repeat once or twice a day? Or sit the fermentation bucket in a sink and add ice every now and then?

I'm more familiar with the problem of keeping everything warm so i'm guessing here.

Also, i'd go ahead and put it in a carboy or secondary fermenter and just see how it goes. I wouldnt throw it out because of a stale beer smell, there are worse smells. You never know, it might be fine after a few weeks or months and a bit of racking.

PS, i'd do some research on using ec-1118 as i understand it has a fermenting range of between 50-80F
 
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bkisel

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Plastic cat litter box with water and ice packs. Cover the fermenter with an old tee shirt that drops down into the water to act as a wic. Air circulation as mentioned above will help.
 

bcolbyb

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Wow. Thanks for the quick responses. All good ideas. I like the wet towel/tee shirt idea since I normally cover the carboys with an old tee shirt anyway.

I'm not sure continuing it at this point is a good idea. My wife suggested I continue the last batch and move it to the secondary, but it never got better. Even after two rackings.

I'll see the guys at the homebrew store about getting a packet of EC-1118 and trying that.
Thanks all...

Brian
 

sour_grapes

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I am with Pip. I do not think there is any reason to conclude this batch is a failure. I think the temperature concerns that you are raising may be a red herring. I don't make a lot of fruit wines, but in my time here, I have heard of peach failures, but very few Dragon Blood failures. I think you ought to at least give this a chance...
 

garymc

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I think the stale beer smell is the smell of yeast. I think you should have racked your wine off the dead yeast. I think the only mistake you made was thinking there was something wrong with it. But I wasn't there.
 

bcolbyb

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Yes, it's possible that the temperature concerns are a red herring. I've gone through quite a few smell related threads, and dismissed most of the causes. Temperature is something I could have accepted, until pip made me look up the specs on Montrachet and EC-1118 yeasts. Doesn't seem so likely now.

Not sure racking it off the dead yeast was a good option. My notes show that the airlock smelled really good at two days, but at four days the odor turned foul. At that point, SG was 1.008 at 78 degrees, and not stabilized. When the smell turned bad, it wasn't near time to rack.

I haven't dumped it. I took SG/temp readings today and stirred as normal. If SG is stable at .993 tomorrow, I can rack it to secondary. But what do I do about the foul odor and taste? Strain it through/over copper? Aerate? If you want to know what it smells and tastes like, just leave a bottle of beer open on a table for a day or two, then take a sniff and swig. Not really something I want to bottle. :)

Thanks for the responses. It's good to hear from those in the know.

Brian
 

Johnd

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Temps in the high 70's/low 80's are not likely to be cause for a batch to be dumped. As others have expressed, stay the course. If, indeed, you have a spoiled batch of wine, all of the other factors should be examined.
 

lilvixen

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Could it be the water you used? I've switched from boiled or Brita-filtered chlorinated city water to a jug of spring water from the store. I've heard chlorine can affect the yeast, and it definitely affected my StarSan sanitizer.
 

pip

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Yes, it's possible that the temperature concerns are a red herring. I've gone through quite a few smell related threads, and dismissed most of the causes. Temperature is something I could have accepted, until pip made me look up the specs on Montrachet and EC-1118 yeasts. Doesn't seem so likely now.

Not sure racking it off the dead yeast was a good option. My notes show that the airlock smelled really good at two days, but at four days the odor turned foul. At that point, SG was 1.008 at 78 degrees, and not stabilized. When the smell turned bad, it wasn't near time to rack.

I haven't dumped it. I took SG/temp readings today and stirred as normal. If SG is stable at .993 tomorrow, I can rack it to secondary. But what do I do about the foul odor and taste? Strain it through/over copper? Aerate? If you want to know what it smells and tastes like, just leave a bottle of beer open on a table for a day or two, then take a sniff and swig. Not really something I want to bottle. :)

Thanks for the responses. It's good to hear from those in the know.

Brian
You might consider degassing it thoroughly in the clean second carboy. That might help to rid it of some of the yeast taste and smell.

Also, was the primary fermentation done in a carboy under air-lock? If so, you might want to try using a wide rimmed open bucket for the primary next time. I think it helps with fruit wine to get rid of various unwanted odors during the primary fermentation. You kind of stir them away, if that makes sense, although i have no scientific proof of that.
 

bcolbyb

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Could it be the water you used? I've switched from boiled or Brita-filtered chlorinated city water to a jug of spring water from the store. I've heard chlorine can affect the yeast, and it definitely affected my StarSan sanitizer.
Yes, it could absolutely be the water. I've been using straight tap water for everything, start to finish. I will fix that.

In the failed first batch, I thoroughly degassed in the secondary (carboy), but it had no effect on the smell/taste.

My primary fermenter is a food grade, 6.5 gallon bucket specifically designed for winemaking. Initially it was covered with a towel. After pitching the yeast, I attached the airlock.
 

NorCal

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My ferments are almost always above your temps, don't think that's a culprit. As others have said, rack it, let it finish ferment. If it still smells, splash rack it vigorously and see if the smell blows off. A lot of off odors from fermentation are volatile and will go away.

I would look closer at sanitation (to guard against spoilage organisms) and yeast nutrients (a struggling ferment will give off odors). 1118 is a known workhorse, and low H2S producer, I'd go with that as well.
 
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TXWineDuo

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Here is what we do in our great state of Texas to combat wine fermentation temperatures.
We put the primary bucket in another larger storage container that holds the ice water, then put the brew belt on primary bucket and temperature probe in the primary and hook brew belt and temp probe to micro controller and set temp and add ice bottles morning and night when we stir the must.
The pics are not great but might help. 1st is the 20gal brute primary in the 27gal storage container, and if you look to the lower right you might see the ice bottle before changing (thawed). 2nd pic the ice bottle, no brand specific.
We have only used spring water or Reverse Osmosis water when making wine but use tap water in ice bath setup when finished just dump in flower beds.
During primary fermentation do not snap down lid or put air lock on, per Jack Keller we use muslin cloth on primary which makes it easier to lift to stir every day. Remember oxygen is crucial in primary fermentation.
My guess is you need to splash rack once into a bucket then stir for 5 minutes NOT vigorously then immediately rack back to carboy with air lock. Smell again at 1 week and again at 2 weeks to see if odor is gone or less. If odor gone then degas before bottling, if not carefully repeat splash rack again so not to put in to much oxygen but to remove odor.

TXWineDuo

P_20160817_200024.jpg

P_20170202_210918.jpg
 

meadmaker1

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Ive often commented to fermenter friend of mine that my wines had a beer taste to them early on but it always goes away with time. Splash racking and time. Then time. Then it probly still needs vacuum degassing and more time. For me its the bubbles that give the beer taste.
 

Arne

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I am betting at least part of your problem is nutrients or lack thereof. Montrechet is a good yeast, but it needs to be used with a good nutrient program or it tends to give off oders. Step additions of the nutrients will help keep the odors down, but I ususally step the nutrients in no matter which yeasts I use. Arne.
 

Floandgary

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I'm thinkin' that there are a lot of (newer) folks in this hobby who have expectations of bottling/drinking a worthy wine as soon as fermentation is done. However, being here seeking answers will put them on the right trail!! :ft
 

Turock

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Temp is not such a big deal that it would cause such a flaw. We don't even bother controlling the temp when we make peach wine and we have very good success with this wine.

Your problem probably stems from not enough attention to yeast nutrient additions. Especially when using Montrachet. The best way to add nutrient is half the dose when the yeast takes off, then the other half at 1/3rd sugar reduction.
 

bcolbyb

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Last night I splash racked into my 5 Gal carboy. I should note that the process of splash racking wine shouldn't be taken lightly. The words splash and wine in the same sentence just can't be good.

After spending some time with the primary open, I started feeling like the smell really wasn't that bad. I continued with the recipe, and it's sitting in the carboy with an airlock for at least the next week.

For the future, I've learned (in this thread), not to use tap water and 80 degree temps are probably ok for Montrachet yeast.

Thanks for all the advice...

Brian
 

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