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Old 02-22-2009, 03:26 AM   #1
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Default 8 batches and I still can't shake this off flavor...

I'm pretty sure its phenols or chlorophenols. It has kind of a burnt plastic or burnt rubber taste and it is most noticeable when I burp. I have compiled my notes into a chart shown below so that someone can maybe help me with what to do next. Every single batch has the flavor, with the exception of batch #1 (which tasted bad anyways being a Mr. Beer kit). I would say the off flavor has gotten slightly better along the way but is definitely there still. I sampled one bottle from batches 3 through 8 just today to make sure and they all have it – and they do. Now that I am familiar with this off flavor, even the slightest hint of it ruins the experience for me. In batch 8, an IPA, I can almost (but not quite) tolerate it because the hops disguise it somewhat. I would suspect all of my brews would taste excellent if it were not for that dreaded flavor. I can say for certain that I have never tasted this flavor in a commercial brew.

A few additional notes: All batches were primed with corn sugar (1oz / gal) that I bought bulk at the LHBS boiled in 2 cups tap water for 10-15 min. All worts were cooled by either ice bath or IC within 45 min. I am anal about sanitation. For the last batch as an extra precautionary measure I boiled all bottling parts – spigot, wand, etc – for 20+ min before using them.

I am in desperate need of advice on what to do next. On batch #8 I intended to use bottled water for my priming mixture but forgot. Could that be it? Also the corn sugar is another common denominator, I bought this bulk at LHBS and wondered if it might be tainted. I was going to buy the prepackaged stuff next time. My other thoughts are to try a completely different yeast – like a liquid yeast, or maybe even try going AG since I have built a MLT. I haven’t gone this route because I wanted to make a good extract brew first. Unfortunately the off flavor does not rear its ugly head until AFTER about 2 weeks in bottles so I have no idea before that point if the flavor will appear or not. This makes diagnosis all the more difficult.

Can anyone help me?

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Old 02-22-2009, 03:35 AM   #2
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Phenolics are most likely from the fermentation and caused either by bacterial/wild yeast contamination or a ferment at too high a temp. Another culprit can be chlorinated water. Since your problem is coming up late in the process I'm thinking contamination. I would double check your cleaning and sanitation procedures. Disassemble any valves, siphons, bottling bucket spigots and wash them all well in a good brewery detergent like PBW followed by a santizing with an iodine based product prior to use.

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Old 02-22-2009, 03:41 AM   #3
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The fact that it takes a while to show up makes me think yeast or sanitation. Dry strains tend to have a hard time keeping the contaminants as low as the liquid strains. Liquid yeasts can be cleaner than the dry yeasts. You may want to try a batch with wyeast or white labs and see the difference that makes. Just make sure you make a proper starter first.

If it's not that, it could be a persistant infection in your plastic equipment. The only solution to this is replace EVERYTHING plastic, happened to me once.

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Old 02-22-2009, 11:11 AM   #4
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Chlorophenols needs chlorine as far as I know. You might want to try bottled water or crush half a campden tablet into your brew/top up water.

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Old 02-22-2009, 12:03 PM   #5
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Default It is Chlorine

It has to be your tap water. I would make sure not to use it in the priming stage either. Either way I think you will solve the problem by making things simpler, not more complicated. Keep everything very simple until you find the culprit. I think you will have the same experience I did and find that when you completely eliminate your tap water from your process, you will remove the burnt burps. I know, it is disgusting!

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Old 02-22-2009, 12:44 PM   #6
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Tap water is a good guess. You should be able to get water chemistry information from your utility. If they're using chlorine, it can be easily removed. If they're using chloramine, not so easily.

Why not try a batch with bottled spring water? Taking the city water out of the equation may help you track down the off-flavor. I also recommend double-checking your iodophor usage. 3 ml iodophor per gallon of water is all you need.

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Old 02-22-2009, 12:53 PM   #7
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For whatever its worth... I had a similar deal a year or so ago. 4 or 5 bad batches. Tried all manner of remedies, but the one that worked was doing away with the plastic ale pail. Went to glass for primary and secondary and no problem since.

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Old 02-22-2009, 07:55 PM   #8
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As you can see from the chart, things that varied among batches (so I can probably rule out) were:
Sanitizer - From bleach to no-rinse to iodophor
Ferm temps - Built a ferm chamber to control temps
Malt extract - From LME only to LME+DME to DME only
Water - From tap water to bottled drinking water (except priming solution)
Pitching method - From rehydrated to dry
Fermentation Vessel - No single vessel was used in ALL batches. However, all my ferm vessels are plastic.
Boil Kettle - From SS to Alum.

The only items that are consistent among all batches (that I can think of) are:
Cleaner - I've used OxyClean Free from the start.
Priming sugar/solution - Corn sugar purchased in bulk, boiled in tap water.
Yeast - Fermentis dry, either S-05 or US-04.
Bottling bucket/spigot/bottle wand.

I can't believe its the cleaner since it is so popular. I'm thinking about changing all of the remaining three. However if I fix the problem, I want to know which one it was. Therefore I'm thinking about splitting my next batch into three 1 gal fermenters and doing a little experiment.

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Old 02-22-2009, 09:05 PM   #9
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Start with water and then go away from the plastic fermenter. I had that taste in my first two beers and thought that it was from using nylon hose.

Then I changed my whole process. I stopped using plastic for fermentation (though that isn't the problem most likely as I have fermented many things in plastic), I stopped using Idophor, but most importantly I stopped using city water. My first brew had a plastic burp flavor and medicine (which I chalked up to Idophor), my second brew had plastic burp and no medicine (even though I tried the campden tablet), my third I switched water and haven't had the problem since.

good luck

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Old 02-22-2009, 09:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Up North View Post
Start with water and then go away from the plastic fermenter. I had that taste in my first two beers and thought that it was from using nylon hose.

Then I changed my whole process. I stopped using plastic for fermentation (though that isn't the problem most likely as I have fermented many things in plastic), I stopped using Idophor, but most importantly I stopped using city water. My first brew had a plastic burp flavor and medicine (which I chalked up to Idophor), my second brew had plastic burp and no medicine (even though I tried the campden tablet), my third I switched water and haven't had the problem since.

good luck
he already switched up the water
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