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Old 10-27-2011, 01:05 AM   #1
mthelm85
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Default Mystery Off Flavor......Can You Diagnose It?

I've been posting in the past few days about this problem that I've had on two batches now, a Saison and an IPA. Both beers tasted great on bottling day but, after 7 - 10 days carbing, they had this really bad, indescribable off flavor that is really noticeable when you exhale. Other posters have mentioned that they've had the same mysterious off flavor and people have suggested the usual: green beer and an infection.

I'm convinced that it's not either of those two. I decided to take a bottle of the IPA and pour it into a glass and then swirl it around for about 15 minutes straight, until there weren't many bubbles coming up and it was much warmer. After tasting it, this mystery off flavor was barely noticeable. It's still there, but just as a hint rather than a kick to the nuts. In fact, my wife said she couldn't taste it at all in the flat warm beer that just 20 minutes earlier tasted like ****. She was amazed that it was the same beer.

These two beers are the only two that I've aimed for relatively high levels of carbonation (2.5 and 3.0 volumes) and overshot the desired carbonation level on both. I'm thinking that maybe the off flavor is from carbonic acid?

Or maybe it's some other flavor that's just not as noticeable in flat, warm beer?

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:40 AM   #2
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Usually when you warm beer the flavors become more obvious, not less. I don't think your carbonation is the issue. I have sparkling mead carbed to 6.0 volumes and it does not have an off-flavor. Carbonic acid will make it bitter but I would suspect the carbonic bite is making the off flavor more obvious, especially with a colder beer where some other flavors are suppressed by the temperature.

Personally I think you still need to wait another week or so and see if the flavor persists.

Can you give some description of what the flavor is like?

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Old 10-27-2011, 03:41 AM   #3
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No, unfortunately it's one of those flavors that you just have to taste, it doesn't taste like anything else I've ever tasted....

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Old 10-27-2011, 04:44 AM   #4
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Your off flavor definately might be "green beer"...and you also said that after 7-10 days of carbonation you overcarbed the beer. Those two statements(7-10 days + overcarbing) generally do not fit in the same sentence unless you are force carbing. It takes 3 weeks at room temp to sufficiently prime a beer using the traditional method so after 7-10 days I doubt they were overcarbed (even if you mis-measured priming sugar).

Can you post any more info about the beer? Ferm temp, mash temp the likes. Was it a AG or Extract/PM brew. Did your grain mash/steep temp exceed 170 degrees? Etc.

And all off flavors can be described, you just have to think about it and write down all the adjectives that come to mind. Im not saying describing off flavors is easy, but to reach a sufficient diagnosis over the internet you will need to be as descriptive as possible. Describing something as "you just gotta taste it" will not help anyone on HBT figure out your problem.

All in all, we are all here to help but more info is required
-Jefe-

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JefeTheVol View Post
Your off flavor definately might be "green beer"...and you also said that after 7-10 days of carbonation you overcarbed the beer. Those two statements(7-10 days + overcarbing) generally do not fit in the same sentence unless you are force carbing. It takes 3 weeks at room temp to sufficiently prime a beer using the traditional method so after 7-10 days I doubt they were overcarbed (even if you mis-measured priming sugar).

Can you post any more info about the beer? Ferm temp, mash temp the likes. Was it a AG or Extract/PM brew. Did your grain mash/steep temp exceed 170 degrees? Etc.

And all off flavors can be described, you just have to think about it and write down all the adjectives that come to mind. Im not saying describing off flavors is easy, but to reach a sufficient diagnosis over the internet you will need to be as descriptive as possible. Describing something as "you just gotta taste it" will not help anyone on HBT figure out your problem.

All in all, we are all here to help but more info is required
-Jefe-
All of my beers are usually fully carbed in 10 days. I store them at a constant 75 degrees and it's only taken longer than that for my Scottish Ale that was in secondary for 1 month.

Here's the info about my IPA that has this problem: All Grain, Mashed @ 154, Fermented at 67 degrees until the krausen fell off, then slowly bumped it up to 72, didn't do a mashout, double-batch sparged with 165 degree water. Primary for 8 days, then moved to secondary for 3 weeks, dry hopped the last week of secondary with 1 oz. whole dried EK Goldings.

The off flavor could best be described as bitter, almost tastes like warm cheap malt liquor (Colt 45), it's really noticeable when you exhale, and it covers up the other flavors. As I mentioned in the OP, when I warmed the beer up and shook it until it was flat, the flavor nearly disappeared. Crazy, huh?

I was convinced with the Saison that it was just green beer because the flavor subsided significantly after 3 weeks but never went away (the beer didn't last much longer than that). I do 2 - 4 week secondaries with all my beers and I've never had this issue with any other beer. Usually after 1 - 2 weeks in primary, then 2 - 4 in secondary my beers all taste good as soon as they're carbed up. I've only had this issue with these 2 beers and I don't get it. This is my first IPA though and the Saison was my first as well so maybe these styles just need longer than the malty beers I usually brew. The part that has me so stumped is that the beer tastes great when it's flat. That tells me that the off flavor is either being produced by the carbonation process, or it's already there just not noticeable until carbonated. My process is the same for all my beers though, hasn't changed. The only difference is that these two beers are the only two non-dark beers I've made. It has me scared to make any more non-dark beers which sucks because I like a good IPA and Saison every now and then!
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:58 PM   #6
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They likely needed more time in primary after a stable FG is reached to clean up off flavors & settle out more. I always do this,& those sort of flavors are gone. don't be in too much of a hurry to rack to secondary. Off flavors will likely persist when doing so. That's another reason many of us don't secondary.
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Old 10-27-2011, 02:27 PM   #7
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They likely needed more time in primary after a stable FG is reached to clean up off flavors & settle out more. I always do this,& those sort of flavors are gone. don't be in too much of a hurry to rack to secondary. Off flavors will likely persist when doing so. That's another reason many of us don't secondary.
I'm glad you brought that up because I hadn't really considered that. By far, my Scottish Ale is the best that I've made to date and I left it in primary for 2 weeks and secondary for 4 weeks.

I assumed it didn't really matter though because after 1 week there is still plenty of yeast in suspension so it all gets sucked through to the secondary and should be able to continue cleaning up, right?

I just like secondaries because I get clearer beer that way. I leave most of the trub/yeast cake behind in the primary and then more settles out in the secondary so when I rack to the bottling bucket I get the clearest beer possible. For that purpose though it wouldn't matter if I did 3 week primary, 1 week secondary, etc., so I think I'm going to try that to see if it makes any difference.
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Old 10-27-2011, 02:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
They likely needed more time in primary after a stable FG is reached to clean up off flavors & settle out more. I always do this,& those sort of flavors are gone. don't be in too much of a hurry to rack to secondary. Off flavors will likely persist when doing so. That's another reason many of us don't secondary.
+1
I think that would be a good place to start. And you (OP) must have magic bottles to carb so fast, mine never take less than 3 weeks no matter what the temp. Can you send me some?
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Old 10-27-2011, 02:46 PM   #9
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My ales are typically 3-4 weeks in primary,since it takes up to 3.5 weeks to get down to a stable FG. Then 3-5 days extra to clean up & settle out more. A look in my gallery will show you how clear they are when I bloody poured it right. Or it's not super hoppy. No clearing agents either...all natural.
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Old 10-27-2011, 03:46 PM   #10
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How did you measure the temp of your fermentation?

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