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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > Inconsistent problem (smell and flavor) with beers.
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Old 10-09-2013, 05:08 PM   #1
Smithy
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Default Inconsistent problem (smell and flavor) with beers.

So I have this flavor show up in my beers inconsistently. In 25 brews, this has happened 4 times. The first 2 times it showed up in the same beer recipe. Made me believe that it was the ingredients that I was using just didn't work well together. I brewed something completely different at a later date (Other brewing in between) and it showed up again!

Recently it showed up in my "house beer". I always have this beer on hand and was my first successful recipe. Two weeks ago I brewed my house beer and then I brewed my pumpkin spice beer. All in the same day. Pumpkin spice is perfect, the house beer (brewed first) has this strange smell and flavor. First time this has shown up in my house beer.

I use pellet hops. My house beer uses Matueka hops. Very citrusy like limes or grapefruit but gentle to drink. Its a hop that is seldom used by brewers (at least from my brew store where I buy them. Hopunion brand). 3 of these beers had this very hop added in conjunction with another hop. House beer is only this hop. The fourth beer used cluster hops. So the fourth beer removes that it could be this hop (Matueka).

The flavor is difficult to describe. I would say bitterly sour. Tastes the same as it smells. Like what you would think a bad grapefruit would taste like. One brewer thought it was "band aid". Read up on that one and I don't think so. I personally believe it to be old hops but I have never first hand experienced what old hops would do. One reason I say this because it's a seldom used hop (except for the one beer hop that was not Matueka). How long have they been in the store I buy from? The house beer that I recently brewed, I used hops that had been sitting in my refrigerator for at least 4 weeks. Not too much more time than that. Bag was never opened. No idea how long it had been in the store before that.

Question is, does a place exist that you can send in a sample of your beer and they can tell you what the potential compound is that is adding this flavor and smell and that doesn't cost a ton?

My processes are consistent as well as my equipment is always sanitary. Empirical opinions, thoughts and discussions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance.

Lee...

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Old 10-09-2013, 05:25 PM   #2
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Go to your homebrew store and buy a bag of those hops, open it up and if it has a cheesy smell then the hops are old and bad. You will know right away when they aren't right.

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Old 10-09-2013, 09:16 PM   #3
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Cheesy, old hops will not really give you a 'bitterly sour' flavor and aroma. Dirty feet, yes. But sour, no.

Assumptions I'm making here: by Matueka you mean Motueka - unless I am missing a new variety of hops. Also, you say "had been sitting in my refrigerator"... you should store hops in the freezer, not the fridge. The colder, the better!

If you take the ingredients out of the equation, the next step is to look at process faults. Do these batches share any of the same equipment that the other batches do not? I mean, like a transfer hose, a plastic secondary, a carboy cap even?

To be honest, "bitterly sour" sounds like an infection, so I'm trying to help from that aspect.

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Old 10-09-2013, 11:27 PM   #4
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I have one bag of "Motueka" (Yep, spelled it wrong) and I opened it and I believe it smells pretty normal so maybe that isn't old.

My refrigerator is pretty cold and my brew store puts them in a fridge so I have been doing the same. Maybe I should change my ways with that.

All beers go through the same equipment with the exception of carboys and blow off caps. That is pretty random and the only pieces that not all beer touch, but I have had four beers fermenting at a time several times without a problem. It rears its ugly head when primary is done. Never any hint of it otherwise. This strange aroma and flavor is VERY random! Driving me nuts.

I think infection too but I absolutely do not know. I will be putting this beer in front of Julius Hummer (Gravity Brewing Brewmaster and Son of Co-Founder of Boulder Beer, one of the nations first micro-breweries) after GABF is over here in town, see if he knows what it is. He has been around and masters in beer! Was hoping someone might have experienced something similar or knows of a scientific approach I could send it to.

There is not one thing in my process that I can question where this may be coming from. I am very good at repetition processes and cleanliness. But you all know how that goes!... At least I can distill it. That's what I do when this happens but what a pain.

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Old 10-10-2013, 02:09 PM   #5
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If he can identify the flavor more accurately, then that will be a huge help in trying to troubleshoot from a couple of states away. Let us know what he says!

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Old 10-10-2013, 02:18 PM   #6
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Do you dry hop? How long? Any chance you're getting some off flavors from extended dry hopping?

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Old 10-10-2013, 02:29 PM   #7
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"Bitterly sour" makes me wonder about water, particularly a higher magnesium level (although some people like that "enhancement" of the hops and add epsom salts on purpose to that end). I find that a higher magnesium level has this dry bitter, almost sour but not quite, taste to it that I find that I do not like.

Is it possible that the water supply changed in some of those batches, or that some epsom salts were added?

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Old 10-10-2013, 05:49 PM   #8
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I don't dry hop at all currently or in the past with these batches that became a problem.

It is possible that my municipality water changed slightly, however the water quality report (Sampled in 2012) does not state magnesium levels. They do have the following statement in the report:

The state requires us to monitor for certain substances less often than once per year because the concentrations of these substances do not change frequently. In these cases, the most recent
sample data are included, along with the year in which the sample was collected.


Leads me to assume the levels are low or non-existent. Total assumption. Could be wrong. I do run my water through a carbon filter. Nothing more. The municipality states that my water is alkaline (PH is 8 average).

This last two batches run on the same day and water taken from the same source (Storage after carbon filter less than 4 hours old) only one batch has this issue.

The smell is what I would guess from an old grapefruit. Very sour. Taste I would describe as being the same. Very sour grapefruit. It's not strong like disgusting, but it is most certainly there. Best I can describe it.

I would send a sample to anyone if they are interested!... Some people have curiosity and want to try. LOL...

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Old 10-11-2013, 01:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithy View Post
I would send a sample to anyone if they are interested!... Some people have curiosity and want to try.
Not gonna lie, I'm half tempted.

But you wanna talk crazy? I led an off-flavor class last night with 13 other crazy people who sat around drinking intentionally bad beer. Now that's a bit off!
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Old 10-11-2013, 08:52 PM   #10
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One thing to note is that the source could be several things. For instance, the taste is described as "bitterly sour". The bitter portion could be astringency caused by mash pH issues and/or temperature issues. The sour portion really sounds like contamination.

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