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Old 06-02-2013, 08:16 PM   #1
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Default Identifying an off-flavor, coming up short on ideas

I'll apologize if my post is like reading War and Peace, but in the sake of leaving no stone unturned, I'm trying to identify an off-flavor I have in my beers.

I've been brewing since Christmas 2010. All throughout 2011, I brewed beers for bottling, and generally speaking, thought I was getting good at it. In early 2012, I bought a fridge and a keg setup, and started kegging. Since kegging, I can't seem to nail a beer right, without an off-flavor present in the background. it's slight, but enough to make me want to get rid of it, and it's in most of the beers i brew, with no exception that I can think of.

The off-flavor is hard to describe; I'm sitting here typing as I drink a Maibock I made in the fall of last year, and which lagered for months. It tastes malty and sort of hoppy, like I like it, but there's also a background.....'sweetness' or 'tartness' to it. It's by no means hugely apparent. it comes out more in the aftertaste of the beer, too.

My sanitation is as such: I sanitize boil keg and fittings with PBW, then follow up with Star San. I also do this with my kegs; get water as hot as I can stand it, load it with PBW, let soak and scrub, then pressurize kegs with a compressor and slowly flow it out of the fittings. then I rinse and flow out of the kegs, then sanitize and flow out of the kegs. I also sanitize all the tubing i use post-boil as well, along with the plastic carboys i use.

My suspicion is in how I handle my yeast. historically, even on high gravity beers, I wouldn't do a yeast starter. I would do a smack pack from Wyeast, let it swell on up, and pitch it. Then I'd agitate it for about 20-30 seconds. that's it.

in reading, it seems that most people do a starter even for a modest gravity beer (1.050 - 1.060). and it also seems that people really like to aerate the heck out of their beer. though I've never done this with any of my beers, the beer I brewed to be bottled never seemed to show this off flavor.

I recently brewed an Altbier that I did a starter for, and which I aerated using a filtered aquarium pump and stone for about an hour. I'm attempting to give the yeast ideal conditions in which to thrive, to see if this problem goes away.

Your thoughts would be appreciated, and likely tried, especially if this Altbier comes through with this flavor.

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Old 06-02-2013, 09:50 PM   #2
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Simple question: did you replace all the o-rings on any kegs you have? If they had been used for soda syrup previously, I'm told that flavor lingers quite terribly.

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Old 06-02-2013, 09:55 PM   #3
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Simple question: did you replace all the o-rings on any kegs you have? If they had been used for soda syrup previously, I'm told that flavor lingers quite terribly.
I did. When I bought my kegs, I completely disassembled them, soaked the steel in PBW for an hour, rinsed, replaced O-rings, and sanitized. I scrubbed out the inside and soaked with PBW for a half hour as well. I soaked the dip tubes in PBW.
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:15 AM   #4
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Force Carb or Set and Forget? AG/PM/Extract? Age of ingredients?

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Old 06-03-2013, 02:33 AM   #5
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Since this off-flavor seems to be across all beers, we need to consider the common ingredients and/or techniques.

The very first thing I think of is water. Is your water source the same in all the batches?

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Old 06-03-2013, 12:45 PM   #6
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Force Carb or Set and Forget? AG/PM/Extract? Age of ingredients?
I've done both. Usually prefer set and forget, only because force carbing, for me, ends up in a foamy mess.

always all-grain. I've had the LHBS guy have to open bags, and his inventory moves pretty fast. I'd be surprised if the grain sits three weeks. I'm usually using standard two-row stuff.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:49 PM   #7
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Since this off-flavor seems to be across all beers, we need to consider the common ingredients and/or techniques.

The very first thing I think of is water. Is your water source the same in all the batches?
Yes, standard Toledo Tap Water. The thing of it is, I've looked into the water at the LHBS, and they say that Toledo water is actually pretty reasonable. That said, it's reasonable to suspect that my water (in my neighborhood or whatever) has something going on with it.

My Altbier experiment used all bottled mineral water. couldn't find RO water anywhere, so went with bottled mineral water.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:50 PM   #8
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Since this off-flavor seems to be across all beers, we need to consider the common ingredients and/or techniques.

The very first thing I think of is water. Is your water source the same in all the batches?
and if the issue were biological, I'd think that an hour boil would resolve that, wouldn't it? Or are you thinking of a mineral presence or something?
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Old 06-03-2013, 01:04 PM   #9
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... then pressurize kegs with a compressor and slowly flow it out of the fittings. then I rinse and flow out of the kegs, then sanitize and flow out of the kegs.
Is this a standard compressor used for tools? Most of these (not all) use oil to lubricate the tools/compressor head. Also, the humidity in the compressed air can easily harbor bacteria.

If you want to do a pressurized flush out, use CO2, not compressed air.

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Old 06-03-2013, 01:09 PM   #10
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Some one already posted my thoughts on this... Too late to the keg party.

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