Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > off flavor - medicinal/band-aid - i know chlorine BUT help me solve the puzzle
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Old 07-29-2009, 06:05 PM   #1
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Default off flavor - medicinal/band-aid - i know chlorine BUT help me solve the puzzle

So this is the 4th time I've had this band-aid, medicinal flavor in one of my beers. First two times were long ago, in a brown ale and a pale ale. I originally attributed them to an infection as I don't think it's chlorine, which seems to be the popular culprit for this flavor. I use chlorinated water but never use bleach. None of my hundred or so other batches ever had the off flavor including lighter beers and lagers.

Now I've moved to a 1 bbl semi-pro system and 2 of my first 4 batches of beer have the same friggin' band-aid off flavor. My stout and brown ale were fine but BOTH batches of APA had the off-flavor. Same yeast, similar ingredients (with overlap) so it's not ingredient-based. I don't think it's a sanitation issue any more as I was super anal with the last apa as the first one went south. I also don't suspect it is yeast as I repitched the brown ale yeast to the second apa.

After painstaking detective work via my notes, the only thing I can come up with is dish soap.

For both batches of apa, and neither of the brown or the stout, i used a spray bottle to mist the boil to prevent a boil over. In my detective process I smelled/tasted the spray bottle water and it smelled a little soapy. Not much taste, but still a bit. I remember using this same bottle once to detect leaks in my kegging system and put a bit of dish soap in it. I guess I assumed it was gone by now. The soap contained something called triclosan"

"This organic compound is a white powdered solid with a slight aromatic/phenolic odor. It is a chlorinated aromatic compound which has functional groups representative of both ethers and phenols. Phenols often show anti-bacterial properties. Triclosan is only slightly soluble in water, but soluble in ethanol, diethyl ether, and stronger basic solutions such as 1 M sodium hydroxide. Triclosan can be synthesized from 2,4-dichlorophenol." -wikipedia

which looks like it could induce some of the same reactions as chlorine. Now, it was a crazy trace amount but could this be it? Anyone have any experience with this stuff or know about organic chemistry?

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Old 07-30-2009, 03:19 AM   #2
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Default a little more . . .

more research on my part leads me back to the obvious: chlorine. My local water has between 0.4 and 2.7 ppm chlorine and it is likely that concentrations are higher this time of year (low water, high temps, more bacteria = more chlorine). I recently moved locations so proximity to source could be an issue and thus concentrations higher (nearer to treatment plant). From what I've read, chlorine can react with organic compounds to produce chlorophenols. I'm guessing chlorinated hot liqour contacts grains in the mash at dough-in and begins this process with my apa. Possibly, the lack of buffering capacity of my all light grain apa (pale, malt, munich) relative to the brown and stout (dark crystals, chocolate, rb) provide a better environment for the reaction of chlorine with organic compounds and produce this off-flavor in my apas.

Anyone have any comments on this potential explanation?

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Old 07-30-2009, 04:00 AM   #3
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Are there threaded connections on the cold side of the system?, and how do you oxygenate the wort when pitching. Did you check on the other components in the dishwashing soap, I belive most use sodium lauryl sulfate as the detergent component with various metasilicates as wetting agents. The bandaid taste and smell sounds like a slow start infection though, sometimes material can slough off and leave an infected surface exposed to give you grief later, like in ball valves between seats and body.

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Old 07-30-2009, 12:31 PM   #4
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yeah, my first thoughts were infection and cold side there is therminator and hoses that I 'try' and thoroughly clean but could be. However, i have had several successful brews in between and since these. SLS isn't even an ingredient in the soap I used but there are a ton of other big chemicals in there. Fermentations all started about 24-30 hours with 30 min aeration using pump and SS air stone.

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Old 07-30-2009, 12:53 PM   #5
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How are you filtering/treating your brewing liquor?

I wonder if the culprit is chloramine and not chlorine.

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Old 07-30-2009, 01:18 PM   #6
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according to our water source they do not use chloramine so I am not considering that. Although, I am going to call them today and make sure they didn't start using it this week or something.

I am not treating the water only b/c I haven't yet. Our water source reports 0.4-2.7 (mean 1.7) ppm chlorine and we're a good 10 miles from the treatment facility so I have been 'assuming' chlorine levels are low but maybe that's wrong.

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Old 07-30-2009, 02:06 PM   #7
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Only thing that is a possibility is the wort PH of the darker styles may have been lower than the pale styles and that helped slow a bacterial problem. I have had the same type of problem that was traced back to infected material trapped in swagelok fitting on CFC. How are you sanitizing the therminator chiller?, chemical or heat.

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Old 07-30-2009, 02:12 PM   #8
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i backflush the therminator with hot water, both ways, about 5 times immediately after chilling. THen I soak it in pbw and then let it dry. I sanitize the whole line with star san just before chilling.

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Old 07-30-2009, 02:53 PM   #9
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called the water folks and found out something interesting that may or may not be true. Guy says they don't add chloramine but that it can form in the pipes through a reaction between the cholorine they do add and the nitrification process and the evolution of ammonia. Wouldn't doubt it.

Guys on probrewer site suggest, too, that the darker beers may be covering up the chlorophenol in those beers which makes sense although I cannot and have not detected it on my pallate.

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Old 07-30-2009, 04:46 PM   #10
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Campden tablets would be an easy cheap fix for chloramines.

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