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Old 10-14-2013, 03:49 PM   #1
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Default Sweet taste at end of fermentation

I’ve continued to try to figure out a ‘house’ flavor in some of my lighter beers and I continue to try to put more information together for this mystery taste that isn’t unpleasant and not noticeable in darker/heavier beers.

The taste is hard to define, I don’t want to use the word ‘buttery’ because its not, but it’s a sweetness taste.

I am an AG brewers, I have tried changing base malts and companies and I always make a yeast starter and pitch at .75 rate. I use servomyces for yeast nutrient. I ferment in 15.5 G sanke kegs under pressure (2-7 PSI). I hit my numbers right on at 1.048 and pitched the yeast last Sunday around 74 F. Overnight it cooled down to around 70 F. All of my temperatures are through a thermowell, so we are getting the actual internal readings. I hooked up my heating pad to ensure and made sure it never got too cold. My pressure built it right away overnight and I knew fermentation had started. I tasted the beer 3 days into fermentation and there was no off flavors and the it was right on. There was a slight sweetness to it, but I accounted that as having extra ‘sugars’ left for the yeast to continue to eat up and that would go away. I should clarify though that this sweetness taste is different than the problem I am talking about. I just took a hydro sample yesterday and it finished at 1.011 right on target and right away that ‘house’ taste is there. It consistently develops in the last phases of fermentation. I am trying at this point to give the yeast a d-rest and heating it up to 75 to see if I can get the yeast to clean up things and we’ll see. But this issue continues to haunt me.

The taste is not consistent to yeast brands or strains. It happens with US-05, Wyeast 2565, etc. No matter the recipe the same taste shows up, it all depends on how light of a beer it is for it to be noticeable.

I’m getting to the point where I’m extremely frustrated and ready to throw in the towel and sell my equipment, because I can’t make what I consider good beers or differentiate my beers.

My water is excellent for brewing and several people locally have great success with it. I have also tried RO water in the past with the same result.

I appreciate any insight people can offer.

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Old 10-14-2013, 04:16 PM   #2
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I had the same problem early on. I've pretty much eliminated the problem over the last year.

For me fixing the problem involved:

  • Controlling Mash Temps - I got a much better thermometer and really started paying attention to a few degrees during the mash. I was mashing too high in many cases.
  • Adding O2 prior to pitching - Made a huge difference in my fermentations. They started sooner, were much stronger, and ran longer.
  • Making Starters - I generally do a 2L for most beers. More if required.
  • Aging - For most beers I age for up to 1 month in the keg after 1 month in primary. This makes a difference in my opinion.
  • Water Chemistry - I'm still figuring this out. Acid Malt is almost always added in my batches now.
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by b-boy View Post
I had the same problem early on. I've pretty much eliminated the problem over the last year.

For me fixing the problem involved:
  • Controlling Mash Temps - I got a much better thermometer and really started paying attention to a few degrees during the mash. I was mashing too high in many cases.
  • Adding O2 prior to pitching - Made a huge difference in my fermentations. They started sooner, were much stronger, and ran longer.
  • Making Starters - I generally do a 2L for most beers. More if required.
  • Aging - For most beers I age for up to 1 month in the keg after 1 month in primary. This makes a difference in my opinion.
  • Water Chemistry - I'm still figuring this out. Acid Malt is almost always added in my batches now.
(1)I built an electric brewery so my mash temperatures are right on to the degree.

(2)I forgot to add that I give my wort about a 60 second burst of pure o2 with a diffusion stone

(3)I also always make a 2L starter at a minimum

(4)Aging seems to help, but many times its a ridiculous amount. I had a lager with this taste that I was frustrated with and let it sit for 7 months, and the taste was gone.

(5)I use water chemistry tools associated with www.brewersfriend.com and add lactic acid (always under 2% of the total recipe), to get my pH to around 5.3 range.
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:55 PM   #4
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Sounds like you've got everything pretty much covered.

I do about 1-1/2 minutes of O2 for a 6-gallon batch. I run it very low, so very few bubbles break the surface of the wort.

I re-read your post and you mention fermentation tempuratures. I have a fermentation chamber, but I generally only use it for the first 2 weeks of fermentation. I ferment pretty cold - usually around 59F for most of my ales. I use PacMan for the most part, though I've also used Nottingham on a few occasions.

After 2 weeks I move the carboy to the basement (~65F-70F) to dry hop, or until I keg. That does give my beers a few weeks at warmer tempuratures to 'clean-up'. I've never tested my wort to see if there is a noticable difference after the warm phase. I don't take any gravity readings until I'm ready to keg, so I can't comment on what happens during the warm-up period.

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Old 10-14-2013, 08:09 PM   #5
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You really want to pitch most American ale strains at roughly 62-64F and let the fermentation take the temperature up to 66-68F. A lot of popular strains at 70F are no longer going to be "clean." My assumption is going to be the higher temperatures making your brews (especially lighter ones) seem less clean.

You mentioned Wyeast 2565 which is especially suited for cold ale temperatures (56-62F) and that's where it's going to be at it's best.

Also some hop varieties definitely add a perceived sweetness if you are making hoppy brews.

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Old 10-14-2013, 08:45 PM   #6
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I was fermenting in the winter/spring when ambient temps in my basement were 64-65 degrees so and someone commented to me maybe that was too cold and maybe the yeast weren't cleaning things up.

Most of the brews I have made are not hoppy, when i make an IPA the taste is gone or hidden due to all the flavor the hops add. It's the lighter beers that this off flavor shows its face.

One benefit of fermenting under pressure it that is suppresses quite a few off flavors like esters from forming. I should note I have made test batches in buckets as well and the same flavor continues to plague me.

I wish there was a place I could send this beer off to that could tell me what is exactly the flavor and how to get rid of it.

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Old 10-14-2013, 09:39 PM   #7
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When you say lighter beers are you talking about ales or lagers and are you using ale strains or lager strains. Also are you using a lot of pilsner malts?

If lagers it sounds as though your fermentation temperatures are a little high, then you need the D-rest to finish and cleanup and then you need to lager at cold temperatures for a good period of time. If you are not following good fermentation practice then it's possible that is why your lighter beers are suffering.

Otherwise it seems as though you have hit all the variables pretty well and for ales, which are more forgiving, your temps and process seem fine. I find that lagers really require good temperature control for great beer. Light beers show flaws extremely easy.

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Old 10-15-2013, 02:08 AM   #8
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Unfortunately for me I'm talking about ales.

I've tried varying the different base malts from 2-row to pilsner as well and get similar results.

Lagers I don't recall the flavor as much.

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Old 10-15-2013, 02:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
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I wish there was a place I could send this beer off to that could tell me what is exactly the flavor and how to get rid of it.
start entering your beers into competitions. the feedback those BJCP guys give is really helpful in identifying off flavors. Sometimes they will even give you homebrewing/fermentation/etc tips on how to eliminate the bad flavors. If every beer is getting knocked for a particular problematic off-flavor, then you know what is going wrong.

Or better yet... find someone local with BJCP certification and invite them over for a "sampling." Call your LHBS or email the contact for a local competition..they can probably hook you up with some BJCP judges.
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Old 10-15-2013, 02:09 PM   #10
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start entering your beers into competitions. the feedback those BJCP guys give is really helpful in identifying off flavors. Sometimes they will even give you homebrewing/fermentation/etc tips on how to eliminate the bad flavors. If every beer is getting knocked for a particular problematic off-flavor, then you know what is going wrong.

Or better yet... find someone local with BJCP certification and invite them over for a "sampling." Call your LHBS or email the contact for a local competition..they can probably hook you up with some BJCP judges.
Thanks for the tip. I'll look into doing this. I tried including some members of my local club, but we were unable to identify the problem.
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