I am just trying to make sure I am thinking this through correctly. I have some friends that have tried brewing several times and typically end up with a boozy aftertaste/flavor in their finished beer. I have gone out and helped them brew and thought it may have to do with either their chiller not being properly cleaned or letting it ferment too hot.
I have had them come down to brew double batches with me three times. The first time they forgot about the beer and let the airlock go dry once they realized it he got depressed and never sampled the beer and ended up dumping it 8 months later. The second time we brewed Zombie Dirt from our hosts. I mashed it and we split it between our two kettles and they took their 5 gal batch home. This beer turned out fantastic for them and they were really excited.
I just did a double batch of Hops Lamb with them in January. Again, I mashed it and we split it into our two kettles for the boil. I used my CFC for both batches and they took it home to ferment. Mine turned out great, they used US-05 (made a starter for it, which I was curious about), monitored the temp with a laser thermometer throughout fermentation and it never went above 66. He said the sample had “their” flavor in the background but the beer tasted pretty good. Once they got it carbed, they say it’s drinkable but has that boozy flavor they have always gotten.
I am going through in my head any possible variables to help them diagnose their issue. They took the beer home in a plastic BMB and fermented in the same vessel in their basement. We brewed January 8, I was serving February 18. They still had it in the primary at that point. They didn’t get it out of the primary and dry hopped for another 2 weeks so it was in primary for 7 weeks (this may be a part of the problem). We used Star San in it just like in mine. Initially I thought it might be something in their kegerator lines or kegs but somehow it seems to me they’ve got an undiagnosed infection somewhere. Maybe the siphon? This is the same BMB they used to transport and ferment the Zombie Dirt that turned out well. Maybe it just simply comes down to fermentation temp again?
I’ve asked them to save me two bottles so I can taste it and see what I can figure out. What am I missing? Any ideas? They really want to brew and love it but are getting very discouraged.