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Undrinkable Periods....not just for sours anymore

I have heard of this before, but just recently experienced it. I know most sours go through a really undrinkable phase, where some of the intermediate bugs have not yet been consumed by the Brett, and it just tastes nasty. That is during ‘active’ fermentation though…this seems to have happened after fermentation has finished.

Made a version of Jamil’s Amber, but with Caliente hops and some Centennials at the end ("Rojo Caliente). Brought the keg to AHAC in June, and it was…meh. Good…no off flavors, but just tasted a little muddled. The beer was about 4 weeks old, grain to glass, with a healthy ferment and about 3 oz of dry hops.

Then I ran into a guy from my old club. He said he was so obsessed with the IPA I brewed with Caliente’s that won a local comp, that he brewed a saison with them. However, he said the beer went through an ‘undrinkable’ period, where it just tasted weird.

Didn’t think anything of this until I tasted the Rojo Caliente last weekend. It was awesome. The caramel malts came through really well, and the red fruit of the Caliente hops just seemed much more apparent.

I typically don’t make that many ambers, but has anyone experienced this that they just might need some extra conditioning for tannins to drop out? Or could it be this mystical bizarre (yet delicious) hop that is causing the ruckus?

Especially weird for a beer as hoppy as it is.

All I know about this is that I made one of the best IRAs on mother earth using caliente hops. It’s a shame they’re not more popular.

Pietro, My experience has been that beers need to sit and age a little before being drank. I haven’t drank too many beers that I though didn’t need more aging. I feel this is especially so when it comes to Porters, stouts, and complex ales. The only thing that haven’t experienced this so much with is IPAs. This is because I want the hops as fresh as possible, though I bet the malt side of that house probably is a tad green still, it is just that you can’t taste it because the IPA taste blows it out the door. This is just my personal take and i’m sure someone will violently disagree.

Mike

That’s the weird thing, I certainly appreciate it with bigger, more complex beers, but it seems to be so with ambers as well (at least in this case)…could also be something with the hops (that I can’t pinpoint), as my buddy said it happened with his Caliente saison.

If you were drinking it at 4 weeks old, IMO it was still green - “too fresh”
As someone else said, many beers need a little bit of time for flavors to really meld and come out, and yeast to really finish their work.
I will almost never drink my beers before 6 weeks - 3 weeks of primary ferment (not counting anything needing secondary) and then 2 - 3 weeks, normally 3 in conditioning and carbing (I bottle, not keg, so that may be long if you do keg and force carb, though I still think it needs some time.

Red is “rojo” in Spanish. :wink:

[quote=“jaygtr”]If you were drinking it at 4 weeks old, IMO it was still green - “too fresh”
As someone else said, many beers need a little bit of time for flavors to really meld and come out, and yeast to really finish their work.
[/quote]

Yes, young beers will mellow and become better with some aging, but I don’t think they would be described as undrinkable like the original poster has stated. Even a slightly under-attenuated beer is drinkable.

Breslip, what I’m describing has nothing to do with attenuation. A fully attenuated beer can still be green. What I am describing and what others are as well is a description of the process of yeast cleaning up off flavors and the beer further aging so as to allow the beer’s ingredients to meld together.

This is the reason why a russian imperial stout will taste rough and alcoholic at 3 months but smooth and having a lesser alcohol bit after a year of aging. It hasn’t attenuated more, the ingredients just have finally come together.

Atleast this is my thinking.

[quote=“mppatriots”]Breslip, what I’m describing has nothing to do with attenuation. A fully attenuated beer can still be green. What I am describing and what others are as well is a description of the process of yeast cleaning up off flavors and the beer further aging so as to allow the beer’s ingredients to meld together.

This is the reason why a russian imperial stout will taste rough and alcoholic at 3 months but smooth and having a lesser alcohol bit after a year of aging. It hasn’t attenuated more, the ingredients just have finally come together.

Atleast this is my thinking.[/quote]

I believe there are a few processes typically at work with ‘aging’ or ‘conditioning’ or ‘secondarying’ or ‘brite-ing’ mainly including:

  1. esterification of alcohols - the reaction between alcohols and carboxylic acids to make esters. THIS is largely what makes a boozy RIS/old ale/tripel taste AWESOME after a few months and not so great after a month. To your point, it can even improve a sessionable APA.

  2. precipitation of polyphenols/tannins - my understanding of what ‘lagering’ really does. By storing the liquid at near-freezing temperatures, the polyphenols, including tannins drop out or otherwise degrade.

Denny and I actually had this ‘discussion’ a few months back. I said that one of the reasons a bottle-conditioned beer might take longer to be ready to drink/serve is that there is another mini fermentation going on with the simple sugar…a fermentation that produces all of the same intermediate compounds as any fermentation: diacetyl, acetaldehyde, etc., all of which need to be reabsorbed. He didn’t necessarily agree, but he’s entitled to his opinion.

FWIW as mentioned in my original post, this beer had a very healthy fermentation and is plenty dry (I want to say around 82% attenuation)

My question is more to why this is happening with this particular hop. My friend who brewed the Caliente saison said it was great at first, then not great, then great again. I know some hops have some tannins in them/more than others. The mysteries of our fine hobby…

Beer is very much a living thing. Much like wine. Age changes some of the compounds present. The more you put into the beer (malt hops etc.) the more material that has the potential to change.

Some of the big red wines (cab. Sauvignon for example) have a period where they just suck. Usually a year of bulk aging and a year in the bottle fixes things like that. Of course, Cabernet Sauvignon is much more complex than most beers.

A) The title of this post just gave me some horrible, disgusting thoughts.

B) Caliente hops are insanely good. I really hope they catch on because they taste so damn good.

C) I don’t know if I’d say undrinkable, but with rare exceptions most beers need at least a little time to really hit their stride. Some much longer than others.

The way you read the title, it would imply that some periods, are in fact, drinkable.

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