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Old 11-18-2009, 03:08 AM   #1
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Default Apple Cider tastes like BANANAS? [What went wrong!?]

Here's the story, my Hard Apple Cider tastes like Bananas. And I have no idea why.

I started my Hard Apple Cider on October 31, 2009 at 10:30 PM. That is when it went in to the primary fermenter. My recipe is as follows:

6 gallons cider [pasteurized, organic, local, really yummy but tart start]
4 ounces American Oak Chips, Light Roasted
11.5g Safale S-04 Dry Ale Yeast

Since the cider was pasteurized and fresh, I did not do a boil. Everything was thoroughly sanitized as always. I added the ingredients straight to fermenter, capped it, and left it alone.

My starting conditions were cider at 66F; OG 1.053; pH 3.43.

After two days it started fermenting crazily and steadily fermented for a week. I do not have a setup with which to cold crash it or force carbonate, so I was leaving it to do its thing.

My temperature meter shows that the average temperature has been 68F the whole time, with a max of 74F and a low of 63F. I have checked it at one week, it was still fermenting, so I left it for another week, which brought me to today.

Today, I tested my cider, it was 71F, pH 3.74 ... and I could not get a good read on the SG. At first it read 1.006, then 0.998, then 0.992. I did another pull, got the same three readings, but in reverse. I really have no idea why - I think my hydrometer might be messed up somehow -- I tested it in straight water at 70F and it read 1.015 :\ ....

That said, I went for a taste test. Smell? Smells like hard cider. Taste? At first, clean, crisp, pretty good ... and then it hits you like a wall, it tastes like a mix between green and overripe bananas. That flavor absolutely dominates the experience. So I ask, WHY? And is there any cure for this?

I am going to go with the "just wait" theory. Rack it when I have time on Saturday, and let it sit for another month. Then bottle it.... However, I have no clue at all as to why this is coming out tasting like bananas.


My understanding is that beer tastes like bananas when there is a high presence of fusel alcohols, caused by brewing it too warm or with a low oxygenated wort ... or, if you leave it on the trub too long - but my understanding of too long was in the category of months not days.

Thoughts and suggestions on how to cure this are appreciated.

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Old 11-18-2009, 03:16 AM   #2
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My guess would be the oak chips, but I'm a newb!

(I just tasted a cider that was oaked with american oak and it had some weird after taste flavors. It ranged from really green apple flavor to over ripe. It was also a bit on the hot side.)

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Old 11-18-2009, 03:16 AM   #3
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the banana flavor is from esters caused usually by stressed yeast. Could be a variety of things as far as how you stressed them.

Leaving it on the trub to long does not cause esters, and neither do fusel alcohols. Those taste hot(alcoholic) and possibly somewhat spicy. However, hot fermentation can lead to both fusels and esters.

And oak certainly does not taste like banana.

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Old 11-18-2009, 04:05 AM   #4
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I agree with z987k, stressed yeast will make your cider taste like bananas. Most commonly people dont take the cider off the yeast fast enough and allow it to dip to low on the grav scale REALLY stressing the yeast causing this to happen. There is a scientific term for it but im kinda drunk and cant remember what it is, however I would just let your cider hang in secondary for a while and let it fix its self. But yea, based on your low gravs thats what happened, I try to stop my cider right at 1.000.

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Old 11-18-2009, 04:18 AM   #5
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Thanks, I guess that must be what occurred.

How long do you think I should let it hang in the secondary, and is there anything else that can be done to clean up this flavor?

Thanks!

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Old 11-18-2009, 04:21 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Brewin_CRAZY View Post
I agree with z987k, stressed yeast will make your cider taste like bananas. Most commonly people dont take the cider off the yeast fast enough and allow it to dip to low on the grav scale REALLY stressing the yeast causing this to happen. There is a scientific term for it but im kinda drunk and cant remember what it is, however I would just let your cider hang in secondary for a while and let it fix its self. But yea, based on your low gravs thats what happened, I try to stop my cider right at 1.000.
I don't make much cider so I'm not entirely sure than sub 1 gravities stress yeast, but I would say they don't. I have never heard of this before, but can think of no documentation either way.

I know that simply leaving them on the lees does not cause off flavors, quite the opposite in fact.
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Old 11-18-2009, 02:01 PM   #7
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Addressing the gravity problem. Shake the sample for 60-90 seconds, let it settle, then measure. Varying gravities as you've reported are almost always due to CO2 build-up on the hydrometer.

Banana esters can also just be the product of high fermentation temperatures. They do tend to dissipate over time.

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Old 11-18-2009, 02:07 PM   #8
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Addressing the gravity problem. Shake the sample for 60-90 seconds, let it settle, then measure. Varying gravities as you've reported are almost always due to CO2 build-up on the hydrometer.

Banana esters can also just be the product of high fermentation temperatures. They do tend to dissipate over time.
Yes, I think S04 at 74 degrees would taste banana-like. That's not a great yeast for over 70 degrees if you want a "clean" taste. It should fade some.
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Old 11-18-2009, 03:08 PM   #9
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Agreed with Yooper. I've made quite a few ciders and meads.....S04 imparts a pretty dominant banana flavor when fermented in the 70-74F range. I've used SO4 when I've wanted that banana taste in there, but otherwise I'd stay away from it for Hard Cider making, or keep your fermentation temp down under 68F

Dan

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Old 11-18-2009, 04:04 PM   #10
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Yuck, glad I have a basement that stays cool.

Bubbachunk should use S-04 for his banana mead and keep it in the garage over the summer Talk about funk!

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