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Old 05-14-2008, 03:14 PM   #1
maltMonkey
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Default Soapy flavor

I have a problem plaguing all my pale ales--I'm getting a soapy, floral flavor that is not good. I have not noticed the flavor in my brown ale, stout, hefe, or strong scotch ale.

There are 5 problem beers: 1 extract (with steeping grains) and the rest AG. I don't have all my brewing notes in front of me, but here are all the possible causes of the problem that I can think of:


1) I left the beer in the primary or secondary too long. On average I believe all beers spent 10 days in primary and 1-3 weeks in secondary. I wouldn't think this would be a problem but in my search I came across this from How to Brew.

2) Using Galena for bittering. I know that at least 4 of the 5 used 1/2oz of 13.1%AA Galena for bittering. I think the 5th beer did too, but like I said I don't have my notes in front of me right now. I only found a couple scattered references to Galena having a soapy flavor across the internet, but this was one of the few things all beers had in common. However I've used Galena in most (if not all) of the beers mentioned above that do not have this problem.

3) High bicarbonate water. My water here has 121ppm HCO3 and I've found some references to excessive bicarbonates creating a soapy flavor.

4) Beers are green? I haven't found any references to green bottle conditioned beer having a soapy flavor but I'm still considering it, mostly because the most recent beer I tried (a Belgian pale ale that was bottled 3.5 weeks ago) has the most noticeable soap flavor out of all of them. I just threw one bottle in the fridge the other night to see how things were progressing and this thing is very soapy.

5) Soap in bottles. I use my dishwasher to sanitize my bottles but I never put any soap in the cycle. I wonder if there could still be some soap residue from a previous cycle. This only occurs to me because I never recall tasting the soapy flavor when I taste hydro samples.


Possibilities I've eliminated:
-- Soap residue on equipment--I don't use any kind of soap to clean any of my equipment. All equipment is hosed off with hot water after use and sanitized prior to using.
-- Sanitizer. I've used Star San and One Step on at least a couple different batches
-- Yeast -- used 3 different kinds across the batches.


Anyone have any kind of idea what would be causing this?



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Old 05-14-2008, 03:19 PM   #2
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IMO it is the Galena. The other beers you mention didn't use as much Galena and they didn't showcase the Galena as much as the Pale would. I also read about some hybrid hop that was created from Nugget and Galena. "Soapy" was one of the terms used for describing its aroma...



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Old 05-14-2008, 03:21 PM   #3
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Until I read #3 I was going to ask you if you had checked on your water. We have the same problem with Houston water. You can dilute your water with distilled or RO water, or you can boil your water (or some portion of it) the day before you brew, let it sit overnight, and then siphon the water off the sediment (leaving about an inch).


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Old 05-14-2008, 03:25 PM   #4
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I'd vote for number three or four. If you let it age a while and it's still soapy, then mess with water chemistry. I've heard of people just adding a little bit of gypsum to start of the boil to alleviate this problem.

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Old 05-14-2008, 04:08 PM   #5
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I sure hope it's not the water--distillers are pricey but probably cheaper in the long run than buying distilled water for every batch. I almost have to start with 100% distilled water and throw in a bunch of mineral additions to get the bicarbonates down to where they probably need to be....this is going to add a lot of $$$ to every batch of pale ale I make

I guess I know what I need to do--just brew 3 or 4 different batches eliminating possibilities one at a time....kind of sucks though because I won't know for sure what the problem is until a few months from now.

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Old 05-15-2008, 12:38 AM   #6
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My 2 cents:

1) Highly unlikely. If anything, your beers will be better with a month in the primary, no secondary, and going straight to bottle/keg.
2) Probably this. Use a different hop, for Pete's sake Try centennial/cascade for starters, you pretty much can't go wrong.
3) Either get a PUR filter on the sink or put an inline filter on your hose. This will even out your water profile, and has been shown to remove chloramines if you do it slowly. Cheap insurance IMHO.
4) Your beers are also probably green in addition to your hops. Ya gotta let them mature longer....just brew more often and don't interrupt the "supply chain" and you'll always have beer.
5) If you didn't use soap, it's probably not soap.

Hope this helps.

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Old 05-16-2008, 01:40 PM   #7
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Distilled or RO water does not have to be terribly expensive. We have kiosks around here that dispense the stuff for $0.35/gallon, and I've seen some cheaper than that. I fill a couple Better Bottles for a few bucks.


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Old 05-16-2008, 03:08 PM   #8
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Well this is interesting --I pulled a couple bottles of really green ESB out the other night and tried those. They didn't have a soap flavor whatsoever. This is basically the same recipe as I've made 2 times in the past. The only things I did differently between this batch & the previous noted batches (that did taste soapy) were that I only left them in primary 9 days and went straight to bottles, and I had 2.5 oz of chocolate malt in there (9 gallon batch). Galena was still used for bittering, I bottled the same as usual, etc.

So (assuming there isn't some other anomaly) this reduces my suspect list to either #1 or #3. I know I've read about how having some dark malts in your mash can really change the water pH and chemistry, so maybe that's what made the change.

I can't eliminate suspect #1 yet--I checked my records and the beer that suffers the most from the soapy problem was in primary for 10 days and secondary for 3 weeks--I had a note on my spreadsheet that when racking to secondary I did not do it as cleanly as I would have like and ended up with a 1/4" layer of floculated yeast in the bottom of the secondary, so maybe the yeast literally did make soap as explained in the "How to Brew" link in my first post.....

I've also thought about this some more and there IS actually once piece of equipment that is washed with soap. When I bottle, I boil my corn sugar in a small teflon-coated pan that we use for cooking. This pan is always hand washed (with soap) or thrown in the dishwasher. This would actually explain why I never taste the soapy flavor when pulling samples.

I'm going to start using a dedicated, rinsed-only pan for boiling my corn sugar, take more care to avoid sucking up yeast when racking to secondary, and see if the problem goes away. I'm also going to do some back-to-back comparisons with some tap water vs. doctored distilled water and see how much of a difference this is making.

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Old 05-23-2008, 12:41 AM   #9
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The fermentation temperatures on one of my stouts got really high, ~80 and it had a really soapy taste. I think it was the yeast cells exploding and realeasing the fat from inside the cells.

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Old 01-08-2011, 04:23 PM   #10
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So - resurrecting an old thread here - but I've got a real issue with soapy flavors and I simply cannot identify the source of the problem. I have not had this issue with my recent darker beers - specifically my last amber and my last stout - but my wheat and my honey ale have both had soap flavors.

My wheat fermented for 2.5 weeks and was bottled for two months - throughout the entire bottle conditioning phase the beer exhibited what I can only describe as a soap flavor - one person today described the flavor as almost having a light dish soap flavor. My honey beer has only conditioned for a week so I was expecting plenty of greenness today, yet I wasn't expecting the soap flavor. It's not nearly as defined as the soap flavor in the wheat, but it is definitely there.

Some factors...
1. All of my beers are primary only - no secondary
2. All of these beers were dry yeast (the four beers mentioned) - of different varieties
3. I clean with Oxyclean and sanitize with Iodophor
4. I have not checked my water profile and I use store bought ice to top off - perhaps an issue, but this has not affected earlier batches, including the two recent darker beers.
5. These flavors are not present in the post-boil wort, during fermentation, or at the conclusion of fermentation. These flavors are also not existent when I rack to my bottling bucket - only once they come out of the bottles.

I haven't changed my processes in any way - be it cleaning/sanitization or brewing and thus I'm confused why I haven't had this problem in earlier beers, unless the rich/darker beers had the flavor too but were masking it.

I did question at one point whether it's the iodophor causing this (recognizing that it is no rinse solution I drank a little at 12.5ppm and it does indeed have a slight flavor that is reminiscent of what I'm finding in the bottles). I've also read that perhaps it's a version of yeast bite and that I need to cold crash (I do not cold crash my primary - no easy way for me to do this in my smallish apartment, but I do cold crash bottles for roughly 48 hours before drinking) to knock more of the yeast out of suspension. I have a small tester bottle in the fridge now that I'm cold crashing for the next week to see if there's a difference in flavor profile. I do not use any clarifying agents - might be something I start to do soon.

All of these batches were partial extract - I'm moving to partial mash now but don't want to spend the extra time moving to a mash only to spoil each batch made.

Anyone have any recommendations at all? I have 10 gallons more sitting in primaries now and I'm hesitant to bottle those until I've got an idea of what is going on here.

Many thanks everyone!
-Jess



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