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Old 05-13-2009, 04:15 PM   #1
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Default Yeast Phenols vs. phenolic flavors in beer

I thought 'phenolic' flavors were plastic-like or band-aid-like and thus were bad flavors to have in beer. But in reading some style guidelines from BJCP they mention 'peppery, spicy phenols' or 'Yeasts prone to moderate production of phenols' (these are both from the Belgian Pale Ale style guideline).

Are they referring to the plastic-y/band-aid flavor or something else?

I'm not very familiar with Belgian beers but I did brew a BPA (or sorts) with WY3787 and it does have a flavor that I have been calling 'spicy' and I think it's from the yeast (at least I hope so...otherwise it's a very prominent off-flavor that I've never tasted before). Is this the 'phenol' flavor? It doesn't taste like plastic or band-aids to me though...peppery/spicy is a better description.

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Old 05-13-2009, 04:31 PM   #2
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I've never tasted a bandaid. But in all seriousness...I find it to be more of a medicinal smell. Don't think I would consider it as spicy or peppery.

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Old 05-13-2009, 04:35 PM   #3
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There are a few different phenols in beer. The medicinal/bandaidy ones are typically the chlorophenols, which occur when chlorine from the water or from bleach chemically bond with the normal phenols produced by the yeast. Some people also perceive phenols from smoked malts as bandaidy/medicinal, particularly when they are young.

The main "good" phenol (in certain beers, such as many belgians and hefeweizens") has a clove flavor. In many beers it is a flaw, but it is indeed often intentional.

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Old 05-13-2009, 04:58 PM   #4
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I recently brewed a beer using Wyeast 9093 Imperial Blend. The resulting beer tasted of yeast based phenolics and it was overt, not subtle. Initially, I thought my beer might be contaminated, but some of my friends using this yeast had nearly identical results. What I found to be rather odd was that Wyeast mentions nothing about this in the description for this yeast. I won't be using it again, except maybe in a Belgian where the phenolic attributes might be desirable.

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Old 05-13-2009, 05:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catt22 View Post
I recently brewed a beer using Wyeast 9093 Imperial Blend. The resulting beer tasted of yeast based phenolics and it was overt, not subtle. Initially, I thought my beer might be contaminated, but some of my friends using this yeast had nearly identical results. What I found to be rather odd was that Wyeast mentions nothing about this in the description for this yeast. I won't be using it again, except maybe in a Belgian where the phenolic attributes might be desirable.
Are you confusing phenolic with esthers?

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This unique blend of strains is designed to ferment higher gravity worts used in producing any style of Imperial beer. The results will be a rich, malty, full bodied beer with notes of citrus & fruity esters. Even with a high starting gravity your Imperials will have a relatively dry finish.
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Old 05-13-2009, 05:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olllllo View Post
Are you confusing phenolic with esthers?
Phenols can present themselves as anywhere from a band aid to clove-type spiciness. They are desirable in Belgian style beer at the spice-end of the spectrum.

And so you know, phenolics are phenols. They're the same thing. The proper term is phenols, and a beer can be phenolic.
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Old 05-13-2009, 05:18 PM   #7
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Sorry, poorly worded.

Wyeast 9093 Imperial Blend is known to be estery.
Esters and Phenols are different.

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Old 05-13-2009, 05:23 PM   #8
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I associate phenols to Belgian yeasts but the typical bandaid off flavor is probably more specifically a chlorophenol that is sometimes derived from chloramine in the brewing water.

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Old 05-13-2009, 05:24 PM   #9
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Someone else correct me about this, but my understanding is that Phenols and Esters are detected by smell and cannot be tasted per se. Smell influences taste, but you are really tasting something else and the smell influences your perception.

Certain artificial flavorings use esters, but I'm not sure that esters are used exclusively. There are other flavor compounds at work.

Or am I reading the flavor wheel incorrectly.

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Old 05-13-2009, 05:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olllllo View Post
Someone else correct me about this, but my understanding is that Phenols and Esters are detected by smell and cannot be tasted per se. Smell influences taste, but you are really tasting something else and the smell influences your perception.

Certain artificial flavorings use esters, but I'm not sure that esters are used exclusively. There are other flavor compounds at work.

Or am I reading the flavor wheel incorrectly.
I believe that is correct.

People tend to confuse taste with flavor a lot. Flavor is the confluence of odor and taste.
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