So, I currently have my first ever brew, a caribou slobber in it’s second week of fermentation. As I’m nearing bottling, I was just wondering how can one tell if the beer has gone south? Are there any visual cues or would it just taste bad?
Unless you see something growing on top, you won’t know till you taste it. And I don’t mean krausen or yeast, I mean bacteria which is white. Having said that, it can take some time for things to start growing on top. I’ve only had that problem (some people would call it a blessing) once and I can contribute it to the airlock blowing out and the fermentor bring open for a day or two.
Taste is really the only way - especially when you start out. Fermenting beer can look a little scary, and beer that is only a couple weeks old, might not “taste right.” 4-8 weeks of time, depending on style, will help smooth out the taste of beer.
I would not expect it to taste perfect, or look perfect if it is your first beer. If it tastes really, really horrible, acidic, stinks, etc. then you might think twice about there being a problem.