Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

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Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby Strongarm » Wed Apr 05, 2017 09:47

In my last 4 brews I've attempted a couple of NE IPAs, so basically heavily hopped, all late addition brews using Vermont Ale yeast. These have had 200gr of hops at flameout, then dry hopped with 200gr of pellets for 20 litres, so fairly high hoppage.

The first one went into the bottle golden but I poured one a week later and it was a dark, murky brown. A couple of months on it's still the same. I thought this was oxidation and blamed this on the auto-siphon, which when I racked to secondary was dragging up loads of bubbles.

I tried again with a similar recipe. This time I didn't rack to secondary and used my old siphon, so no bubble issues and nowhere I could think oxygen would get in in any quantity. Again it went into the bottle golden but I poured one last night, 8 days after bottling, and was gutted to get another dark, murky brown brew.

Anyone know what could be going on? It's annoying and bloody expensive, as the brews are getting on £40 of ingredients for 20 litres.

Does it sound like oxidation (I've read stuff saying oxidation causes darkening, although not normally in a week)? Could it be something to do with the large amount of hops, either in boil or dry hopping? Could it even be the yeast? Between these brews I've made a sour using the same yeast, which seems fine but has crystal in so maybe this is covering the colour change and a 3rd pale ale, which had a similar hop bill (250gr at flameout), but differed in the fact the dry hops (150gr not 200gr) were whole hops not pellets and it was US-05, not vermont ale. This is a lovely golden colour.

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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby Saccharomyces » Wed Apr 05, 2017 15:25

Beer with a lot of particulates will look darker, as will oxidised beer.

You are getting variable results so that suggests it could be process related - the sour being ok is a potential clue, it could be an infection in your bottling gear that doesn't like low pH or perhaps it is a pH-related colour change. That might suggest a problem with the mash/post boil pH or something nasty in a bottling wand.

You could try and find the differences between each beer but it might be easier to eliminate all sources of particulates - give everything, including immersion coils a good clean until they are bright, bleach anything that sees wort or beer post-boil, be careful with your water treatment and use finings.

If you can try some gelatin on a bottle of beer and it goes clear and yellow it probably indicates microbes. Just remember the beer needs to be fridge cold for the finings to work.
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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby jkp » Thu Apr 06, 2017 01:44

Was the Vermont yeast new or reused from an old batch?

Maybe you could try splitting a PA batch between US-05 and Vermont to see if there is a difference.

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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby serum » Thu Apr 06, 2017 06:29

Those beers are hazy on purpose and it'll be hard to know the true colour unless it's clear. The gunk floating around will colour the beer. I make a lot of amber beers and before they're clear they look a real manky brown but then go to a really nice lighter amber when they clear.

If it's oxidation you'll taste it. It'll be like sherry. I'd imagine hop pellet gunk floating around would darken the beer.

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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby Strongarm » Thu Apr 06, 2017 07:13

Cheers all.

Saccharomyces - I have had the one non manky brown US-05 beer between them, so don't think it's the equipment, but no harm in me giving everything a solid clean so will give it a try.

jkp - Vermont yeast was new each time for the IPAs, the sour yeast cake of the 1st IPA.

Serum - I'm not going to chuck them so will find out with time whether the colour improves. Will keep you posted. Does it seem a bit strange that they were golden in samples though, even the the last glassful leftover when bottling, but then manky after a while in the bottle?

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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby serum » Thu Apr 06, 2017 08:33

Strongarm wrote:Cheers all.

Saccharomyces - I have had the one non manky brown US-05 beer between them, so don't think it's the equipment, but no harm in me giving everything a solid clean so will give it a try.

jkp - Vermont yeast was new each time for the IPAs, the sour yeast cake of the 1st IPA.

Serum - I'm not going to chuck them so will find out with time whether the colour improves. Will keep you posted. Does it seem a bit strange that they were golden in samples though, even the the last glassful leftover when bottling, but then manky after a while in the bottle?


I put a batch of mine in a load of demijohns in secondary for 3 or so weeks and one had quite a bit of headspace and there was some splashing around. It looked totally different to the others, a lot darker! That happened in a fairly short space of time and I was quite surprised by it.

I think oxidation is pretty easy to end up with and it seems to be one of the main reasons why my own beers taste different to commercial beers. The same can be said for most homebrew I've tried when I've tested against the pros.

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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby robwalker » Thu Apr 06, 2017 09:03

If it's not oxidation id vote for suspended matter settling out over a few weeks. The yeast will floc slowly in the bottle eventually forming clumps that drop out - which will change the appearance of the beer - for better or worse. Incidentally my core IPA at work looks like an NEIPA going into cask, then a lager on serving - I think the true colour of your beer is being hidden.

I would look at base grain and whether you're boiling too hard and creating melanoidins first off.

Have you tried shaking gently, chilling for 3-4 hours maybe and pouring off then?
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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby Strongarm » Sun Apr 09, 2017 07:08

Seems I'm not the only one having this problem with this style

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=597557

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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby Bad 'Ed » Sun Apr 09, 2017 18:17

If it's oxidised hop particles then can't you just pour some through a coffee filter or something to remove the organic matter?

Never enough time....
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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby Strongarm » Sun Apr 09, 2017 20:51

I have enough bottles so no harm in trying it once.

I'm starting to think it's the yeast and heavy hop combination. I've made 4 beers recently using all pale malt all 200 gr 0 min hop addition then 200 gr dry hops. The two using Vermont Ale have gone dark rapidly in the bottles and the two not using it (WLP644 and us-05) have been fine.

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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby blinky » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:57

I have this issue as well - made a punk IPA clone type of thing that went brown. Tried again, this time only pale and caramalt, lovely golden colour that gradually changed in the bottle. I have not got to the bottom of it either - I even went so far as to contact the local university who run a brewing course. They took some samples away and confirmed there was no infection in the bottle but dont have equipment (or it was not easy to setup or something) to check for oxidisation. I have went out and binned all the plastic and now have new fermentors but TBH I'm still not happy with the colour of my pale ales. I have been putting in more and more hops, later and later in the boil but have to also say that the hop flavour is not coming through that strong either!
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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby jkp » Tue Apr 11, 2017 06:03

If it's oxidized to the point of turning brown, surely you're able to taste it, no? The only experience I've had of that sort of thing was with a pear cider, it got neglected in a PET bottle and over months turned quite dark. In that case it was also very noticeable on the aroma and flavour too.

I'm also quite interested in testing the levels of dissolved oxygen at each stage of my brewing process. Does anybody know if something like this would useful for brewing purposes? It measures from 1-20 ppm.

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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby Strongarm » Tue Apr 11, 2017 09:16

I'd say one has an off flavour, the other not. Maybe hard to tell with 400gr of hops in 20 litres though, could cover a lot of sins.

The more I look online, the more I find lots of mention of it happening to people when brewing this style. I'm going to hold off brewing again till I have some kind of keg arrangement.

I'm not fussed about murk as an end game, which a lot of people aim for this style, so I will stick to 644 and a similar hop profile, which gives a great fruity and juicy IPA but doesn't seem to suffer from the same problems.

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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby Bad 'Ed » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:24

What do you mean stick to 644? WLP644?

Does that mean the issue is particular to the Vermont yeast rather than the quantity of hops?

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Re: Brews darkening rapidly in the bottle

Postby Strongarm » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:33

Yeah, WLP644. I've done 4 brews recently with very similar malt and hop profiles (no bittering, 200gr at 0 min, 200gr dry hop) and the 2 with vermont have done this and the 644 and US-05 didn't. Order was 644/vermont/US-05/vermont so I'm not thinking an equipment infection.

Reading the 13 pages of the thread I linked to above, the cloudiness and hop combination seems to be common to folk who are having the same problem.

That's enough for me to blame vermont for my troubles.

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