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Old 10-03-2012, 10:54 PM   #1
geef24
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Default Phenolic taste and smell

Recently I have experienced a phenolic taste in my beer two to three weeks after carbonation occurs. The flavor is not there in secondary or at time of bottling. I scrub all bottles soaked in one step then bleach then blasted out under high pressure then starsan before a antibacterial wash cycle. My hoses and siphon and bottles are all used by a friend at the same time that does extract brewing. I do all grain but I have the problem. It is odd that usually the beer starts out fine and increases in bad flavors. Always phenolic. Any ideas

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Old 10-03-2012, 11:00 PM   #2
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Recently I have experienced a phenolic taste in my beer two to three weeks after carbonation occurs. The flavor is not there in secondary or at time of bottling. I scrub all bottles soaked in one step then bleach then blasted out under high pressure then starsan before a antibacterial wash cycle. My hoses and siphon and bottles are all used by a friend at the same time that does extract brewing. I do all grain but I have the problem. It is odd that usually the beer starts out fine and increases in bad flavors. Always phenolic. Any ideas

"Phenolic" generally comes from two places- either chlorine or chloramine in the brewing water or in the equipment, or infection.

If you are using bleach, then stop. See if it fixes it. Then you know it was the bleach.

If you're using tap water, treat the tap water with 1 campden tablet per 20 gallons of water in the morning before brewday. (1/2 tablet for 10 gallons). That will remove the chloramine and/or chlorine in the brewing water.

Make sure your yeast strain is pure, and the sanitation is good. My one really phenolic batch came from a contaminated yeast starter. I called it my "band-aid beer", and had to dump it.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:36 AM   #3
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I use only bottled (jug) spring water or if I am doing water salt additions I use distilled. I use bleach only in one step of the process, in my bottles. After the bleach I power wash the inside with hot water, soak them in Star-San for 20 minutes, and wash on an anti-bacterial dishwasher cycle.

I use that bleach step because I THOUGHT the issue was with my bottles, I did not taste or smell the issue when moving to secondary or when tasting the bottling sample. It was only after it carbonated. I contributed it to bacteria and having some type of exponential growth rate where at first it is not noticed then later it is.

You mention yeast starters. That seems to be an issue in the cause. I use a 10/1 ratio of water to malt extract (ml/g) in the starter and usually make them in a 1 Liter Erlynmeyer flask on a stir plate. I do pitch the entire thing usually with no decanting. I am not getting an oxidized taste however or poor shelf life, I am getting a phenolic taste plastic in particular as opposed to clovey. Oddly if I use NO yeast starter and perhaps Safale-05 it does not happen. If I direct pitch from the vial, it does not happen.

I would blame tubing or poorly sanitized carboys for the infection but I use the same tubing as my friend at the same time, and I sanitize all of his equipment for him in the same way as mine. Same airlocks, same wort chiller. He has not had an infection.

If we take sanitation and chlorine out of the replies is there any other cause of phenolics? Anything specific to PH of the water or hot side aeration. Any issues with yeast starters in general that could cause this? I always buy a fresh tube of yeast to make the starter. It seems to be around all-grain technique because he does not get that phenolic flavor/smell and in almost 40 extract beers before I went all-grain, I only had it once. I direct pitched then as well so maybe focus on yeast starters. If I am sanitizing them properly (I use no bleach, but clean well with brush and lightly soapy water, one-step for an hour, followed by star-san for maybe 30 mins filled completely with each) what could be other possible sources of phenols there?

It is possible it is the bleach, I added that step because I thought it was my bottles but I no longer think that so will remove that step.

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Old 10-04-2012, 01:21 PM   #4
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If we take sanitation and chlorine out of the replies is there any other cause of phenolics? Anything specific to PH of the water or hot side aeration. Any issues with yeast starters in general that could cause this? I always buy a fresh tube of yeast to make the starter. It seems to be around all-grain technique because he does not get that phenolic flavor/smell and in almost 40 extract beers before I went all-grain, I only had it once. I direct pitched then as well so maybe focus on yeast starters. If I am sanitizing them properly (I use no bleach, but clean well with brush and lightly soapy water, one-step for an hour, followed by star-san for maybe 30 mins filled completely with each) what could be other possible sources of phenols there?

It is possible it is the bleach, I added that step because I thought it was my bottles but I no longer think that so will remove that step.

Hmmmm. If you get this with distilled water also, then I would say no, that it's not pH related.

But the other thing in my mind is contamination somewhere. I had a terrible "band aid" beer that I know came from a contaminated yeast starter.

And, if you're using S05 and not getting this then it's got to be the yeast starter. Do you boil the stir bar? I'm really at a loss.

What I'd so is use reverse osmosis water next time, and not add anything at all (unless 1 teaspoon of calcium chloride if you really really want to add something) and use dry yeast. If that fixes your problem, then we have a point of reference.
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:09 PM   #5
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What about possible chlorine contamination of the starter flask from bleach or tapwater?

Yooper, I scored a six of Founder’s Red Rye P.A. It’s now in my top 100, probably about a ten.

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Old 10-06-2012, 02:27 AM   #6
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For the starter I used filtered tap water and no bleach in the flasks. I am wondering if my filter is underperforming. It is one from my GE fridge I replace every 3 to 6 months. Could the fact that I do not decant the liquid from the starter prior to pitching be the problem? Additionally I usually do not boil for a lengthy time, maybe like a minute. Could that be an issue?

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Old 10-06-2012, 02:05 PM   #7
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It’s possible that your water dept has switched from free chlorine to chloramine. Your carbon filter does a good job with chlorine, not so much with chloramine.

I’d probably go dry yeast as Yooper suggests and if that works, you know where the problem is. After that use RO for your starter. If you hydrate the yeast use RO for that.

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Old 10-06-2012, 02:11 PM   #8
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It’s possible that your water dept has switched from free chlorine to chloramine. Your carbon filter does a good job with chlorine, not so much with chloramine.
That occurred to me too. Try using a campden tablet (1/2 a tablet for 10 gallons of brewing water and let it sit for a while before brewing. That would get rid of chlorine and/or chloramine.

Crush the tablet and dissolve in a little water, stirring well. Then mix it into the brewing water, and let it sit while you get ready to brew.

Also, try dry yeast just to make sure it's not in the starter someone.
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Old 10-06-2012, 04:07 PM   #9
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Yooper, if you check post #3, he’s using spring water or distilled. The only tapwater is in the starter. I wouldn’t recommend trying to treat such a small volume with campden, it would be really hard to measure out a few milligrams. Too much will kill the yeast.

Your advice of course is valid for treating the whole batch. Let’s not introduce new variables at this point.

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Old 10-06-2012, 06:14 PM   #10
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I really appreciate the thought on this one. I will switch my water I use for the starters.

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