TROUBLESHOOTING AND IMPROVEMENT

Facing a Brew Dilemma?

From unexpected flavours to fermentation hiccups, brewing can sometimes throw a curveball your way, even more so when you're starting out.

Whether you're baffled by a sudden change in your beer's appearance or puzzled by an off-note in its aroma, we've got you covered.

Dive in to identify, understand, and resolve the most common homebrewing challenges. Let's get your beer back on track!

beer in clear glass mason jar on table
beer in clear glass mason jar on table

Stuck Fermentation

Symptom: Yeast activity seems to have stopped prematurely, and the beer hasn't reached its expected final gravity.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Ensure yeast was healthy and viable when pitched.

  • Check fermentation temperature; it may be too cold. Consider warming the fermentation vessel gently.

  • Consider rousing the yeast by gently stirring.

  • Re-pitching with a fresh, active yeast starter might be necessary.

Over-Carbonation

Symptom: Bottled beer is too fizzy, leading to "gushers" when opened.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Ensure priming sugar calculations were correct.

  • Confirm fermentation was complete before bottling.

  • Check for possible infections that may produce extra CO2.

Under-Carbonation

Symptom: Bottled beer lacks the expected level of carbonation.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Give bottles more time to carbonate.

  • Store bottles at a warmer temperature to encourage yeast activity.

  • Ensure the correct amount of priming sugar was used.

Off-Flavours

Symptom: Unpleasant flavours in the finished beer, e.g., metallic, skunky, buttery.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Check fermentation temperatures.

  • Ensure good sanitation practices to prevent infections.

  • Investigate water quality and composition.

  • Store beer away from light to prevent skunky flavours.

Infections

Symptom: Visible signs like mould, unexpected haze, or off-flavours.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Ensure all equipment is thoroughly sanitised.

  • Check seals on fermentation vessels.

  • Minimise exposure of beer to open air during transfers.

Chill Haze

Symptom: The beer appears clear when warm but becomes hazy when chilled.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Consider using fining agents like whirlfloc or Irish moss during the boil.

  • Ensure proper cooling methods post-boil.

  • Cold crashing before bottling can help reduce haze.

Low Original Gravity

Symptom: The starting gravity of the wort is lower than expected.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Ensure accurate measurements.

  • Check the crush size of grains; it may be too coarse.

  • Confirm mashing temperatures and times.

High Original Gravity

Symptom: The starting gravity of the wort is higher than expected.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Ensure accurate measurements.

  • Consider diluting wort slightly with water to achieve target gravity.

Poor Head Retention

Symptom: The foam on the beer dissipates quickly after pouring.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Check grain bill; consider adding grains that enhance foam stability.

  • Ensure glasses are clean and free from residues.

Overly Foamy Beer

Symptom: Excessive foam forms upon pouring and doesn’t subside.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Ensure fermentation is complete before serving.

  • Check for over-carbonation issues.

  • If kegging, confirm correct CO2 pressure.

Boil-Overs

Symptom: Wort spills over the top of the brew kettle during the boil.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Ensure the kettle size is appropriate for the volume of wort.

  • Watch heat levels and reduce when necessary.

  • Use anti-foaming agents or stirring to reduce foaming.

Incomplete Conversion

Symptom: After mashing, not all of the starches have been converted to sugars.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Confirm mashing temperatures and times.

  • Check the freshness and activity of enzymes in the malt.

  • Ensure the correct pH levels in the mash.

Clumpy or Poor Yeast

Symptom: The yeast does not disperse well in the wort, or it appears unhealthy.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Ensure yeast is fresh and stored correctly.

  • Rehydrate dry yeast properly before pitching.

  • Consider using a yeast starter for liquid yeast.

Thermal Shock

Symptom: Yeast exposed to temperatures too cold or too hot, affecting their health and fermentation capability.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Ensure wort is cooled to an appropriate temperature before pitching yeast.

  • Avoid drastic temperature changes during fermentation.

  • If yeast health is compromised, consider re-pitching.

Astringency

Symptom: A puckering, dry sensation in the mouth unrelated to hop bitterness.

What to Check/Resolution:

  • Check sparging temperature; too high can extract tannins.

  • Ensure grains are not over-crushed.

  • Investigate water chemistry, especially high pH levels.


clear glass mug with brown liquid
clear glass mug with brown liquid