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Old 07-12-2010, 02:05 PM   #1
WVBeerBaron
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Default Damn hard-to-describe reoccurring off-flavor!

I keep getting this tough-to-describe off flavor in my AG brews. A medicinal, sulfur, sour, cardboard flavor. It can either sit in the background of the brew or dominate it (making it undrinkable).

I do not use bleach to sanitize, I use one-step and sanitize everything.
I mash at 1.25q per pound of grain at 155 degrees.
I batch sparge for 10 minutes at 168 degrees.
The LHBS crushes the grain for me.
I siphon everything, no pouring.

I'm not sure what the cause is, I am about to take a bottle in to my local shop and ask them to taste it.

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Old 07-12-2010, 02:24 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WVBeerBaron View Post
I keep getting this tough-to-describe off flavor in my AG brews. A medicinal, sulfur, sour, cardboard flavor. It can either sit in the background of the brew or dominate it (making it undrinkable).

I do not use bleach to sanitize, I use one-step and sanitize everything.
I mash at 1.25q per pound of grain at 155 degrees.
I batch sparge for 10 minutes at 168 degrees.
The LHBS crushes the grain for me.
I siphon everything, no pouring.

I'm not sure what the cause is, I am about to take a bottle in to my local shop and ask them to taste it.
what yeast strain are you typically using...

cardboard typically = oxidation but I also get medicinal from certain hops (argentine cascade).

It is likely your process introducing oxygen to the finished beer....
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Old 07-12-2010, 02:46 PM   #3
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With your description it could be a number of things so I'll start with the water.

How do you get your water(sink, spigot) and do you treat it (filter, 5.2, brewing salts, campden tablets, let it sit for 24+ hrs....)? Also, does your water have a chlorine smell?

Just trying to get the full picture before pointing a finger or moving to the next possible problem.

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Old 07-12-2010, 03:56 PM   #4
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If it's something that only happens with your AG brews, I'd look closely at the mash chemistry first. What kind of water do you use? Do you have a water profile for it? Is it treated with chlorine or chloramine? Do you treat it with anything? What are your fermentation temps and timelines? We really need a lot more info to be able to point to possible causes.

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Old 07-12-2010, 06:26 PM   #5
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I had a similar problem. Every batch had the flavor. Turned out to be hard water (I knew I had hard water, but nowhere I searched mentioned any off flavors from hard water). Now that I use 1/5 regular water 4/5 RO water, my beer is awesome!

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Old 07-12-2010, 06:45 PM   #6
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Medicinal / bandaid taste could also be overstressed yeast.

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Old 07-12-2010, 07:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewNinja1 View Post
I had a similar problem. Every batch had the flavor. Turned out to be hard water (I knew I had hard water, but nowhere I searched mentioned any off flavors from hard water). Now that I use 1/5 regular water 4/5 RO water, my beer is awesome!
This. Except this is only for light colored beers for me. From Reds to Stouts I use tap (it makes for some amazing Stouts). All my light beers were terrible. I change to RO water, now they are fantastic.
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Old 07-12-2010, 10:36 PM   #8
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...medicinal, sulfur, sour...
This to me indicates a contamination. Try a different sanitizer.

EDIT: I forgot to say. Even if you're not a fan of bleach, I'd bleach all your gear just to make sure you don't have a contaminating substance hidden somewhere in a crevice.
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Old 07-12-2010, 10:44 PM   #9
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I have only ever used bottled water with no fiddling with the chemistry. I do not boil or sanitize the bottled water.

As far as yeast goes I use white labs, usually WLP001 depending on the style and I use a new tube each time.

Fermentation temp are usually around 65 degrees. I use my basement because its pretty constant all year.

80% of the time I rack to a secondary after primary fermentation settles down.

I also wonder if i am not aging long enough, though I've had this flavor remain in a beer for 1 year plus.

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Old 07-13-2010, 01:58 AM   #10
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I would think maybe a sparging problem, but I don't see a problem in what you've described. Maybe you're not recirculating enough and you're getting a lot of grain pieces in the kettle and boiling them?

I don't trust One-Step but I do like Iodophor and StarSan...but if the One-Step has worked for all your extract batches, that might not be the problem. Though you could try a different sanitizer for one batch and see if it makes a difference.

You should definitely bring a bottle to your LHBS for feedback if they'll provide it. Also ask your friends what they think it tastes like. I find others pick out off flavors better than I do sometimes (even if they don't realize it's an off flavor: "wow this tastes good, sort of like green apples!")

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