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Old 03-29-2013, 08:11 PM   #1
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Default Help With Phenols (I Think)

I have another thread currently on the beginning forum, but I have a feeling my answers my lie in this forum.

I started brewing 1 Gallon All Grain batches back in February 2012. I have my process down and pretty much hit my numbers like clockwork. In the time I've been brewing, I have brewed everything from IPA's, to Stouts, to Porters, to Belgian Christmas Beers, to Pumpkin Ales, to Apfelwein. I started out using Poland Springs Spring water as my base. The first bunch of beers I made, I used this water. I noticed that there was a very sharp flavor in my beer, that I noticed especially when I burped. It was sort of tart, plastic-y, and just not a good flavor at all. It was somewhat apparent on the tongue, but very apparent in each burp.

I tried to alleviate this off flavor for some time. Some said I was overcarbonating, some said I had infections, and some blamed my water. Using some tips from Yooper and this forum (Brew Science), I decided to move forward with using distilled water only, and adding some calcium chloride to my water. I also was told that my mash (I was doing full volume BIAB) might have been too thin, and I may be screwing up my pH. So I changed to distilled water with calcium chloride and I lowered my BIAB water volume by about 25% (I added the water to a separate pot and now mash with less water, causing a thicker mash. I then dunk sparge in the separate pot and then combine everything).

Still, I have this taste. I took a break from brewing in October because of it. Every beer I made had this taste to it, and it literally has left me not wanting to pursue this hobby anymore. I haven't made 1 beer that I've been proud of. Even the apfelwein has an odd flavor tinge to it. Not really the burps though.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong, and I don't know how to fix it. Distilled water, I'm told, does not have chlorine or chlorimines in it, and the flavors I've been describing are often linked to that. I'm really quite focused on my santizing procedures, so I really don't imagine how that could be it either. My starsan is made with distilled water as well. The only time my brewing gear comes in contact with my (hard) tap water is when I clean everything.

To clean carboys, I fill up the carboy with some hot tap water and add some b-brite. I let it soak to remove all the gunk. I then rinse with hot water and use some unscented dish soap if any gunk remains.

I also clean my bottling wand, autosiphon, hydrometer, hydrometer test tube, turkey baster, tubing, airlocks, caps, etc. with the unscented dish soap and hot tap water.

When I dry hop, I boil my hop bag in tap water for approx 3 minutes, then I take it out, shake it dry, and let it soak in starsan and distilled water for a few minutes before I fill it with hops and drop it in my fermenter.

I use distilled water when bottle priming.

When I bottle, I fill my sink with about 3 gallons of hot water. I add 3 tablespoons of b-brite and mix it all around until it dissolves. Then I put my bottles in there and let them soak for about 2-3 hours. Afterwards, I rinse each bottle for approx. 1 minute with cold water, then I put them upside down in a 6-pack holder. When I'm ready to bottle, I fill them about halfway with starsan and distilled water.

Please help me. I'm at the end of the line here. If I continue to have these issues, I feel as though I may not want to pursue this hobby any longer.

Jeff

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Old 03-29-2013, 08:31 PM   #2
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Wow, this is an odd problem. I had a similar issue and found out I was scorching the wort, especially when I used to extract brew. I wasn't stirring vigorously enough when I added the extract. I've since switched to all grain and my first couple of batches had that same 'homebrew' twang to it. I figured out that scorching was probably my problem by reading posts on this board and taking a good hard look at my method. Now when the wort is heating to boil I constantly stir it. Once it reaches a boil I let it go since the wort is really moving at that point. Ever since I changed my method the 'twang' has significantly been reduced and it's non-existent in the Helles I brewed 2 months ago (a good thing). Now, I say this is an odd problem because your also tasting it in your apple wine, which normally isn't boiled, so scorching should not be the problem. The only thing I see in common is the dish soap. I never use dish soap on any of my beer/wine equipment. Hot water, STARSAN, BLC, OxyClean, are all fine, but I never use dish soap. If I could get my wife to stop using soap on my beer mug I would! I'm not saying this is your issue, but it might be worth investigating.

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Old 03-29-2013, 09:21 PM   #3
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I know when I first started brewing I was using starsan and such but noticed a weird twang in the aftertaste of my beers. I wasn't sure what it was until a more experienced brewer tasted it and said it might be the starsan. Out of curiosity I switched to iodine for all my sanitizing and haven't had a problem since. Not not saying this is your issue for sure, but I'd give it a shot if you haven't yet. Keep me posted and I'll ask my fellow brewers anything you got. Nothing's worse than losing a homebrewer!

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Old 03-29-2013, 10:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffoC6 View Post
I have another thread currently on the beginning forum, but I have a feeling my answers my lie in this forum.

I started brewing 1 Gallon All Grain batches back in February 2012. I have my process down and pretty much hit my numbers like clockwork. In the time I've been brewing, I have brewed everything from IPA's, to Stouts, to Porters, to Belgian Christmas Beers, to Pumpkin Ales, to Apfelwein. I started out using Poland Springs Spring water as my base. The first bunch of beers I made, I used this water. I noticed that there was a very sharp flavor in my beer, that I noticed especially when I burped. It was sort of tart, plastic-y, and just not a good flavor at all. It was somewhat apparent on the tongue, but very apparent in each burp.

I tried to alleviate this off flavor for some time. Some said I was overcarbonating, some said I had infections, and some blamed my water. Using some tips from Yooper and this forum (Brew Science), I decided to move forward with using distilled water only, and adding some calcium chloride to my water. I also was told that my mash (I was doing full volume BIAB) might have been too thin, and I may be screwing up my pH. So I changed to distilled water with calcium chloride and I lowered my BIAB water volume by about 25% (I added the water to a separate pot and now mash with less water, causing a thicker mash. I then dunk sparge in the separate pot and then combine everything).

Still, I have this taste. I took a break from brewing in October because of it. Every beer I made had this taste to it, and it literally has left me not wanting to pursue this hobby anymore. I haven't made 1 beer that I've been proud of. Even the apfelwein has an odd flavor tinge to it. Not really the burps though.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong, and I don't know how to fix it. Distilled water, I'm told, does not have chlorine or chlorimines in it, and the flavors I've been describing are often linked to that. I'm really quite focused on my santizing procedures, so I really don't imagine how that could be it either. My starsan is made with distilled water as well. The only time my brewing gear comes in contact with my (hard) tap water is when I clean everything.

To clean carboys, I fill up the carboy with some hot tap water and add some b-brite. I let it soak to remove all the gunk. I then rinse with hot water and use some unscented dish soap if any gunk remains.

I also clean my bottling wand, autosiphon, hydrometer, hydrometer test tube, turkey baster, tubing, airlocks, caps, etc. with the unscented dish soap and hot tap water.

When I dry hop, I boil my hop bag in tap water for approx 3 minutes, then I take it out, shake it dry, and let it soak in starsan and distilled water for a few minutes before I fill it with hops and drop it in my fermenter.

I use distilled water when bottle priming.

When I bottle, I fill my sink with about 3 gallons of hot water. I add 3 tablespoons of b-brite and mix it all around until it dissolves. Then I put my bottles in there and let them soak for about 2-3 hours. Afterwards, I rinse each bottle for approx. 1 minute with cold water, then I put them upside down in a 6-pack holder. When I'm ready to bottle, I fill them about halfway with starsan and distilled water.

Please help me. I'm at the end of the line here. If I continue to have these issues, I feel as though I may not want to pursue this hobby any longer.

Jeff
While many homebrewers are always quick to blame phenolic off flavors on an external source the most likely cause is typically an infection or high fermentation temperatures.

Do not use kitchen dish soap, unscented or otherwise, on brewing equipment. The powdered products sold by all homebrew suppliers are what you should be using. Clean everything thoroughly. That means taking apart the valves and separating the tubing junctions. If there is any doubt on any plastic parts, replace them. On any component that can take the heat, rinse with hot rather than cold water. And don't over-rinse, a full minute seems much too long. If your components are truly clean and then sanitized with an appropriate dilution of Star-San your risk of infection should be low.
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Old 03-29-2013, 10:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigEd View Post
While many homebrewers are always quick to blame phenolic off flavors on an external source the most likely cause is typically an infection or high fermentation temperatures.

Do not use kitchen dish soap, unscented or otherwise, on brewing equipment. The powdered products sold by all homebrew suppliers are what you should be using. Clean everything thoroughly. That means taking apart the valves and separating the tubing junctions. If there is any doubt on any plastic parts, replace them. On any component that can take the heat, rinse with hot rather than cold water. And don't over-rinse, a full minute seems much too long. If your components are truly clean and then sanitized with an appropriate dilution of Star-San your risk of infection should be low.
That was my first thought as well. Are you fermenting on the cool side of the fermenting range?
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Old 03-29-2013, 11:01 PM   #6
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I suggest finding an experienced taster to evaluate the off flavor. Enter a homebrew contest perhaps? Hopefully this will narrow the cause of the off flavor to a more manageable list.

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Old 03-29-2013, 11:09 PM   #7
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@BigEg and Cyclman- I have a temp controlled fermentation chamber and always ferment on the lower end of the yeast range (62 with US-05 on my last IPA).

Point taken about "dish soap." I definitely always take everything apart to clean.

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Old 03-30-2013, 01:33 PM   #8
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Yeah, missed the thing about cleaning with soap. But having an experienced taster is a very good idea. They can help narrow the problem down for you and maybe have some suggestions to what to change in your brew process to eliminate it.

But I'd still try switching to iodine to sanitize because it sounds like you're pretty thorough with your cleaning and sanitizing. Like I said, I had an 'off-flavor' issue for several months when I first started brewing and it disappeared when I switched to iodine. I was equally as thorough in my sanitizing procedures with the starsan and iodine. Plus you don't have to stand there and stir the starsan for a while to get it to dissolve with iodine

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Old 03-30-2013, 02:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spamman1368 View Post
Yeah, missed the thing about cleaning with soap. But having an experienced taster is a very good idea. They can help narrow the problem down for you and maybe have some suggestions to what to change in your brew process to eliminate it.

But I'd still try switching to iodine to sanitize because it sounds like you're pretty thorough with your cleaning and sanitizing. Like I said, I had an 'off-flavor' issue for several months when I first started brewing and it disappeared when I switched to iodine. I was equally as thorough in my sanitizing procedures with the starsan and iodine. Plus you don't have to stand there and stir the starsan for a while to get it to dissolve with iodine
Can you fill me in a little more about using iodine instead of starsan?
Where can I buy it?
How do you use it?
Is it no rinse? Or do you have to rinse with it?

Would appreciate any details...Thanks!
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Old 03-31-2013, 02:05 PM   #10
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Sorry to hear about your troubles and I hope you can find a solution!

I would agree with having other folks taste your beer and get their opinion of the flavor. If you have access to a homebrew club maybe you can ask if you can bring some to a meeting. This will also give you an opportunity to taste some other homebrews in the area too compare.

So many people use Star-San, I just don't see the problem being there. What about the bag material? Just guessing.

Maybe try an extract batch and see if the taste remains.

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