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Help! Hef has tart/sour after taste. re-used yeast

This is my 3rd batch of beer with the first two coming out really good so I’m hoping to get some troubleshooting help on my 3rd batch, a hefeweizen, which I just sampled after 11 days of fermentation at 72’ and 6 days in the bottle, and found a nice banana nose, good carbonation and first swallow tastes good, but leads to a medium tart/sour aftertaste. I’m worried the sourness if from an infection, but hoping it is just the tang of the yeast for the style.

The recipe was a simple 6.6 lbs of Breiss Wheat LME and 1 oz Hallertau, but here’s where it may get a little tricky. I am new to home brewing, but there is an experienced brewer in my neighborhood who brews about 300 gallons a year. He brewed a fantastic hef with yeast (originally White Labs WLP300) which he has re-used about 5 times and brewed with this yeast as recently as 8 weeks ago. He told me to use his yeast and save some money so I did.

I made a starter about 36 hours before and pitched room temp yeast into room temp (72’) wort and it took off after 7 hours and didn’t stop for 5 days. Possible starter infection? I waited until day 11 to bottle because of time constraints. I am pretty meticulous with cleaning and sanitizing.

I am wondering, and hoping, that I simply sampled the beer too early at 6 days and letting it sit in bottles for another couple of weeks will help mellow the tangy aftertaste. But I am also concerned that there may be an infection or that the re-used yeast mutated over time.

I am hoping to get your thoughts as my home brewer friend is out of town. Thank you.

I have heard hef yeast isn’t the greatest to reuse after more than three times.

I know holy city brewery here in town says they have had the issue of it mutating.

They will reuse their other yeast up to 8 times.

I would agree with the mutations. 6 Generations is quite a bit. I also think I might have read that this can have a slight tart flavor.

First off, don’t sweat it. The only thing you can do now is wait for the beer to age or dump it. It’s way too soon to consider the later. There are plenty of things that can contribute to a mild tart or sour flavor in young beer that have nothing to do with an infection. Primary fermentation temp is a big one, so is yeast health, pitch rate, etc.

Have you used this yeast strain before? It can lend a tart note and it isn’t very flocculant. Sure, the starter could have been tainted and/or the yeast could have mutated.

Try it again in a week. If the tartness or sourness has increased and you find this character unpleasant, drink it fast. If it has increased and you enjoy the flavor, congrats, you’ve just discovered the wonderful world of berliner weisse! ‘Infected’ beer is often the best beer in terms of complexity of flavor.

I don’t think your beer is infected though. It’s probably just green and a bit of time should improve it. It’s a lot harder for a new brewer to infect beer than it would seem. Typically we tend to go overboard with sanitation when we’re learning…it could also be that more experience leads to more beer on hand, leading to more consumption on brew day :slight_smile:

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Thank you folks for your input. I will sample again on Monday at 14 days and see where the beer is at. I’m hoping the tart/sour aftertaste mellows. If not, I’ll load up on orange slices and have at it! I appreciate your input.

You need to be fermenting at 62F, not 72F.

I live in an apartment complex so I am limited in what I can do with my fermentation temps. I keep the fermenting bucket in a dark closet and turn the AC down to what is comfortable and affordable. I’m sure temps in the 60s are much more preferable for Hefs, but I saw several posts of people in a similar situation to me brewing hefs in low 70s. That could be the problem, but I wanted to try it for myself.

I understand completely. You could always get a plastic tub and put water in it, then freeze a couple of 1L or 2L bottles and put an ice bottle in the tub each morning/evening. You’d at least be in the mid-60s and the extra water in the tub pulls some of the heat from fermentation out.

I just suggested this because my wife loves hefes and I have to brew them regularly. Tartness is something I am constantly fighting, and the temp thing really helps. Iv’e reused the hefe yeast before and I haven’t noticed it mutating but I’m sure it could.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]I understand completely. You could always get a plastic tub and put water in it, then freeze a couple of 1L or 2L bottles and put an ice bottle in the tub each morning/evening. You’d at least be in the mid-60s and the extra water in the tub pulls some of the heat from fermentation out.

I just suggested this because my wife loves hefes and I have to brew them regularly. Tartness is something I am constantly fighting, and the temp thing really helps. Iv’e reused the hefe yeast before and I haven’t noticed it mutating but I’m sure it could.[/quote]

Excellent idea! Next time I need to shoot for lower fermentation temps I’ll give that a shot. Thank you!

I just sampled at 13 days and it made a world of difference. The sour/tart after taste that was there after 6 days is all but gone. I couldn’t have hoped for more a significant change. It’s a very tasty hef that I’m excited to share with friends. Thank you for your input and ideas folks. I appreciate it.

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