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Old 10-10-2012, 06:00 PM   #1
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Default Something off in my Oktoberfest

I made a critical error somewhere along the lines in my lager Oktoberfest (And this is actually the fourth time I've made it, so it should've been fine..) and it has a weird chemicalish taste undertone to it. I noticed it a bit before I lagered it and it was still there when I bottled and now again 4 weeks later I tried two bottles and couldn't even drink them. It seems like all the flavor is there, but the acrid chemical taste just cuts through it all.

This is the first batch I've ever brewed that's been actually bad and I'm at a loss as to what it could be or what I did wrong, especially since besides tweaking the recipe a bit, I did everything pretty much the same as I always do. I brewed a different beer right around the same time (actually at the same time) and that one's delicious so it doesn't seem like it's something unsanitary with my equipment..

So what'd I do wrong?

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Old 10-10-2012, 06:12 PM   #2
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When you say "chemical", is it like a solvent or more like a band-aid/plastic flavor?

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Old 10-10-2012, 06:22 PM   #3
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When you say "chemical", is it like a solvent or more like a band-aid/plastic flavor?
I'd go more with solvent. the taste brings up images of a coating of oil on a liquid. (although it doesn't look like that, seems to have bottled-carbonated fine)
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Old 10-10-2012, 06:42 PM   #4
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Diacetyl?

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Old 10-10-2012, 07:25 PM   #5
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Solvent flavors are caused by any number of problems. Solvent is best described as having a pungent or acrid aroma that is acetone, paint thinner, or turpentine-like. Taste-wise it is a harsh, burning sensation on the back of the tongue and throat. It is often caused by a wild yeast contamination, underpitching yeast (use mrmalty next time), under oxygenating (aerate better), or too high of fermentation temp (remember that fermentation temp is often higher than room air). I would review your process and see if any of those fit your situation, then adjust accordingly.

Diacetyl would remind you of buttered popcorn or butterscotch... and has a slickness on the tongue... but generally not "chemical-like."

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I love the sound of an airlock bubbling in the morning. It sounds like.....VICTORY.

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Old 10-10-2012, 08:53 PM   #6
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Solvent flavors are caused by any number of problems. Solvent is best described as having a pungent or acrid aroma that is acetone, paint thinner, or turpentine-like. Taste-wise it is a harsh, burning sensation on the back of the tongue and throat. It is often caused by a wild yeast contamination, underpitching yeast (use mrmalty next time), under oxygenating (aerate better), or too high of fermentation temp (remember that fermentation temp is often higher than room air). I would review your process and see if any of those fit your situation, then adjust accordingly.

Diacetyl would remind you of buttered popcorn or butterscotch... and has a slickness on the tongue... but generally not "chemical-like."

yeah, wasn't diacetyl. I think the beer was oxygenated and I had it in a temp controlled fridge, which granted isn't perfect, but I doubt it eclipsed 60 even.

So yeah, underpitching could be it. sucks. I wouldn't have expected it to have that harsh an effect. I don't brew at home so it makes it tough for me to manage things that have to be done, like starters, before hand. I've always been fine with this one before, bleh. Probably should lay off the lagers then.

thanks.
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:01 PM   #7
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yeah, wasn't diacetyl. I think the beer was oxygenated and I had it in a temp controlled fridge, which granted isn't perfect, but I doubt it eclipsed 60 even.

So yeah, underpitching could be it. sucks. I wouldn't have expected it to have that harsh an effect. I don't brew at home so it makes it tough for me to manage things that have to be done, like starters, before hand. I've always been fine with this one before, bleh. Probably should lay off the lagers then.

thanks.
Don't give up on lagers yet, just because you can't make a starter. Other options would be to buy two packets of yeast or go with a dry lager yeast like W34/70 (Which is one of my all time favorite yeasts BTW).

Lagers can be picky. If you have a temp controller for your fridge you should be fine, but massive temperature swings really pisses off the yeast. If you can keep air temp between 50-52, you should be fine, but I wouldn't want to ferment much warmer than that. Also, oxidation can sometimes come across as chemical like... you can get that from simply aerating the wort before it is cooled off... something else to watch for.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:16 PM   #8
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Don't give up on lagers yet, just because you can't make a starter. Other options would be to buy two packets of yeast or go with a dry lager yeast like W34/70 (Which is one of my all time favorite yeasts BTW).

Lagers can be picky. If you have a temp controller for your fridge you should be fine, but massive temperature swings really pisses off the yeast. If you can keep air temp between 50-52, you should be fine, but I wouldn't want to ferment much warmer than that. Also, oxidation can sometimes come across as chemical like... you can get that from simply aerating the wort before it is cooled off... something else to watch for.

I doubt the oxidation thing. My process is usually to move the pot from the stove to the sink and cool it in there to at least 100 or so before pouring it into the fermenter. The other possibility would be that I left the carboy out overnight, figuring maybe it'd jump start the yeast a little bit and make up for the small size. I got nervous about the no starter thing, when I should've just trusted what I did for the other three lagers and shoved it in the fridge. Sloppy of me.

the Oktoberfest Yeast says 48-58, so I set the fridge at 55 for three weeks then turned it down to 48.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:33 PM   #9
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Probably your fermentation temp then. Simply setting the fridge at 55F isn't good enough... you could have a several degree error depending on accuracy of whatever you set (you didn't say), plus 2-3F since active fermentation runs a bit warmer than ambient. So you could have been way over. And 55F is already on the high side.

Otherwise, tell us about your water. Did you filter it? Does your supply use chloramines? Did you make any mineral additions, and if so, what's the resulting water profile?

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Old 10-11-2012, 01:44 PM   #10
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Probably your fermentation temp then. Simply setting the fridge at 55F isn't good enough... you could have a several degree error depending on accuracy of whatever you set (you didn't say), plus 2-3F since active fermentation runs a bit warmer than ambient. So you could have been way over. And 55F is already on the high side.

Otherwise, tell us about your water. Did you filter it? Does your supply use chloramines? Did you make any mineral additions, and if so, what's the resulting water profile?

The thermometer I put in there suggested it was pretty accurate. I have one of those temp controller boxes that turns the fridge on and off. I figured 55 for wyeast 2633 was within the 48-58 range and it from what I was reading it seemed like doing the initial fermentation higher was the way to go and lagering in the colder bits. I set the fridge for 58 the previous 4 times I made the Oktoberfest. It was my understanding that the Oktoberfests are fermented a wee bit warmer than other lagers.

Water gets filtered as it goes into the house, and then additionally through a sink-top device. same water I always use for everything. I don't make any additions and I have no idea about the profile. It's on Long Island, I think we get NYC water.
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