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-   -   Tainted batches - what is wrong? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/tainted-batches-what-wrong-418321/)

Brewsit 06-25-2013 05:10 PM

Tainted batches - what is wrong?
I have had the same thing go wrong in three out of four of my last four batches, and I can't figure out what it is. They all have had the same overpowering ester (banana-ish) flavor, and a hot, almost burning sensation that makes the beer undrinkable. I thought it might be an infection in my equipment somewhere, but I wanted to get some other opinions.

I used the same equipment, and I'm good about sanitation, and use an oxyclean soak, thorough rinse and starsan soak. All of my equipment is very new, and I keep it clean, dry and indoors.

I ferment in a home-made fermentation chamber, insulated and controlled with an ebay temp controller, and temperature probe inside the fermenter, everything sealed well.

It happened in the first batch, a pale ale fermenting at 70F. The second batch it did not happen to, but it was a California Common fermented at 58F.

It happened to the third batch, a Best Bitter at 68F, and again a Saison, fermented at 74, raised to 77 through the fermentation (I used the AHS Saison blend yeast which calls for about 72-78). This one is still in the fermenter after three weeks, and I drew a sample, and that same smell of bananas is back again, along with the hot/burning sensation.

What the heck am I doing wrong here, and is this last batch salvageable? I have thrown out the first batch, and the Best Bitter is in kegs at room temperature, I'm hoping maybe there is something that can be done.

brown_dog_brews 06-25-2013 05:14 PM

I think it's all in the temperature control. I'm convinced that for most ales you need to ferment between 60-65 and not much higher. Your Belgians are different obviously and are supposed to have that phenolic taste so the saison doesn't surprise me.

Brewsit 06-25-2013 05:16 PM

But am I really going to get the same off flavor in three completely different yeasts? I forgot to mention the first yeast was AHS Persica, the third was Burton Ale.

Pratzie 06-25-2013 05:21 PM

hot/burny are fusol alcohols. There are a few reasons for that, most likely high fermenting temps.

Have u calibrated your thermometer?

brown_dog_brews 06-25-2013 05:25 PM

Yep. Each strain of yeast is designed to impart different flavor profiles...it makes sense that each one will react differently to temperature.

Brewsit 06-25-2013 05:26 PM

I haven't calibrated the temp controller, I guess I figured it would be pretty close as it's digital. I didn't really have any reason to believe it was off, either, as I had an analog one there for a while that I knew was accurate, and it was good.

brown_dog_brews 06-25-2013 05:27 PM

Oops, wrong answer...I see what you're saying. On the flip side, most of my ale yeast strains get that way when fermented too high. Honestly, a lot of that might age out also.

Brewsit 06-25-2013 05:33 PM

Yea, I just don't get it. It's very prevalent, and I don't know what the heck is wrong. Very frustrating.

duboman 06-25-2013 05:38 PM

You don't list any of the yeast strains but aside from the Saison it all points to high ferm temps which will cause a lot of fruity esters and fusel alcohol production.

The fuselage should diminish as the beer conditions but the esters probably won't that much, although they may mellow.

If you go to the manufacturers website you can look at the temp ranges for each strain. Assume that if you are at the higher end you are fermenting hotter than ideal, being more mid range to low for less water/fusel production.

Hopper5000 06-25-2013 05:45 PM

Ya +1 on the temp, also sometimes even if you are fermenting within the manufacturers recommendations for temp, if you go on the higher end it can produce some of the flavors you are talking about. I got between 66 to 68 for my ales in the first few days and then try to kick it up a bit if I can towards the end to help attenuation.

The first 72ish hours of fermentation are very important for ester production and I believe the first 24 are some of the most crucial. So, if your beer is cooling down from say 80ish degrees (what tempdo u pitch?) to what you set your temp at for the first 24 hours then that might be your problem there.

The CA common probably didn't have as much of a problem due to lower temps and lagering.

The bitter is a little surprising but if you do what I mentioned above then that would make sense.

If you don't like the beer then you could make a second batch and blend them which would probably lessen the flavors.

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