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Old 12-09-2010, 03:04 PM   #1
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Default Homebrew Off-flavor: Medicinal, Phenolic, Chemical

I entered my Oktoberfest into a local brewing contest.

I got good scores and would have placed if I showed up for the meeting where they announced the winners (I got hosed......damn thesis dominating my life!)

Here are the score sheets: #1, #2, #3

So, the issue is in the flavor, with a "medicinal/phenolic" aftertaste in the beer. (NOTE: these are 3 judges sitting in a room together drinking, not really independent observations, but still........)

Question: Where does this come from in y'alls opinion?

I either Brita filter my water or let it sit out overnight in the brew pots to volatilize the chlorine.

I batch sparge most of the time (I did for this beer)

I made a 1-gal starter (2-step, ea 1/2 gal steps)

I use vinyl tubing when I autosiphon (only use it on beer that is at pitching temps or lower)

I use Star San (I rinse the SS foam at kegging time from the kegs with hot tap water. This is a quick rinse with no more than 1/2 gal of hot water, and is done right before kegging, i.e. the keg is rinsed quickly and filled with beer within minutes)

I mash in a plastic cooler (?)

I use Bevlex 200 tap lines and flush the lines before filling up bottles.

I have used Oxyclean in the past to clean the kegs (not Oxyclean FREE, just the regular, but with onlt 30 min contact time and thorough rinsing)

I use an Immersion Chiller (IC).

Brew notes from the day:

Quote:
Brew Day. Mashed at 151 F for 60 min. I was able to cool it down to ~70 F before moving it to carboy. I let it get to below 60 F before pitching the yeast starter.

*Yeast Starter: I did a two-step starter to build up my yeast cell count. I used the WYeast yeast calculator to figure out my process. In a 1 gal container I added 0.5 gal wort (DME boiled and cooled) and the yeast packet (propogator), let it ferment for 24 hrs @ ~62 F. At this point it was high kraeusen, and I added another 0.5 gal of wort to the container, resulting in my 1 gal starter. I let that ferment out for another 36 hours or so, then I flocculated out the yeast by placing the starter in the fridge for ~8 hrs. I decanted off most of the liquid and added the rest to the carboy at pitching time. I don't use a stir plate, but I do swirl the bottle every time I walk by it to keep them yeasties reproducing.
Anything else I should let you know about?

This link states that it is either chlorine or over sparging. I just don't think its either one of those, BUT chlorine can be in issue with my tab water (but I filter or let sit overnight before brewing with it)

Thanks,
funk
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Old 12-09-2010, 03:09 PM   #2
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Hmmm... Well you seem to have ruled out a couple things already, meaning chloramine, not using bleach or too much plastic.

But I do see you are rinsing your starsan away with tap water. That could be either chloramines or an infection since you are rinsing away your protection. No rinse sanitizers are that, NO RINSE....Most of the sanitzers we use, especially Starsan and iodophor are No rinse/wet contact sanitizers. They are literally double edged swords. They kill two ways. They kill everything on the object prior to sanitizing, and then as long as they are still wet they form a sanitizer barrier that kills everything that comes into contact with object.

If you let the sanitizer dry, or rinse it away any micro organism that comes in contact with the sanitized object, rather than being killed by it, makes the object no longer sanitzed.

If you let it dry or rinse it you are reducing it's efficacy by 50%, so you could be leaving your self vulnerable to one of the two other possibilities, infection. Or by using tap water you are getting some chloramines.

The other option is fermentation temp....how high did the beer get?

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Old 12-09-2010, 03:15 PM   #3
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Revvy - (how's it going ) I control the fermentation temps. This was at 50-52 F and I pitch cold.

Its got to be a water thing or perhaps over sparging (but I batch sparge.....).

So, when you sani a keg with StarSan, you just let it drip dry? Or you fill it with some sani soln still in the keg? When I use it I end up with a lot bubbles in the keg (which doesn't bother me so much before fermentation). But adding a finished beer in a keg with some sani soln let over in it doesn't seem right to me. Its not going to be "scrubbed out" by fermentation and just mix with the beer I drink.

I know its a hot topic, do you rack to a keg with StarSan bubbles in it? Then serve that keg up?

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Old 12-09-2010, 03:18 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by funkswing View Post
Revvy - (how's it going ) I control the fermentation temps. This was at 50-52 F and I pitch cold.

Its got to be a water thing or perhaps over sparging (but I batch sparge.....).

So, when you sani a keg with StarSan, you just let it drip dry? Or you fill it with some sani soln still in the keg? When I use it I end up with a lot bubbles in the keg (which doesn't bother me so much before fermentation). But adding a finished beer in a keg with some sani soln let over in it doesn't seem right to me. Its not going to be "scrubbed out" by fermentation and just mix with the beer I drink.

I know its a hot topic, do you rack to a keg with StarSan bubbles in it? Then serve that keg up?

You don't fear the foam, you rack on top of any starsan foam on any surface. The foam breaks down into pretty much the same compounds as are in coca cola.....

If you let the sanitizer dry any micro organism that comes in contact with the sanitized object, rather than being killed by it, makes the object no longer sanitzed.

If you let it dry you are reducing it's efficacy by 50%

You really want to sanitize right at the time you are using the thing you are sanitizing. And let the wort/beer flow on top of it.

I put a lot of good info and tips of effectively using sanitizers in here. Including the podcast from Charles talley who created starsan about how safe it is and how good it is for our beer ;

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/sani...uestion-54932/

In starsan's case it becomes yeastfood which is really good for fermentation.

Plus it is fun to look at.

"Stupid Starsan Tricks" or why you shouldn't fear the foam...

More like this in there;

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Old 12-09-2010, 03:19 PM   #5
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Do you use a garden hose to get your water? Do you use bleach at any point in the process?

Chlorine is easy to get rid of but cholramine is VERY hard to get rid of. So maybe you have an issue with cholramine but I doubt it. As I understand it cholramine will not have a big impact on beer flavor.

Could be a fermentation by product. Could be a minor infection. If this is a one time thing then RDWHAHB. If it's every batch then you have a problem.

PS: Don't rinse the SS foam. The foam is good for your beer.

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Old 12-09-2010, 03:20 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by funkswing View Post
Revvy - (how's it going ) I control the fermentation temps. This was at 50-52 F and I pitch cold.

Its got to be a water thing or perhaps over sparging (but I batch sparge.....).

So, when you sani a keg with StarSan, you just let it drip dry? Or you fill it with some sani soln still in the keg? When I use it I end up with a lot bubbles in the keg (which doesn't bother me so much before fermentation). But adding a finished beer in a keg with some sani soln let over in it doesn't seem right to me. Its not going to be "scrubbed out" by fermentation and just mix with the beer I drink.

I know its a hot topic, do you rack to a keg with StarSan bubbles in it? Then serve that keg up?
Don't Fear The Foam!!! http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f85/stup...44/index2.html
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Old 12-09-2010, 03:21 PM   #7
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But, do you think that this is really causing the aforementioned off-flavors?

I know that the added "rinse" water could be adding some chlorine (So I will ponder that technique).

But I do that for all my beers, and its not always a problem. Just fishing for more possibilities.

Thanks.

P.S. - Revvy, you have no respect for your floors!!! (citing the racking on top of the foam pics in the link).

Oh, and did you dump most of the liquid, then rack on the foam in that pic (the beer is pushing out only foam, not sani soln?)

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Old 12-09-2010, 03:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkswing View Post
But, do you think that this is really causing the aforementioned off-flavors?

I know that the added "rinse" water could be adding some chlorine (So I will ponder that technique).

But I do that for all my beers, and its not always a problem. Just fishing for more possibilities.

Thanks.
Well, all the other things you posted in your first thread leads me to believe this is the weak link in the chain. And rinsing in this batch bit you in the butt. There's really no way for us to know, except our experience.

Looking at what you are doing, the one potential threat point is rinsing the starsan with tap water. Like I said EITHER you are opening up your batch to an infection, OR you actually ARE introducing chloramines/chloraphenols at that point.

So the first thing to do is to eliminate that step from your process.

If you do that, and you never get this problem again, then you know...if not we'll have to go deeper.

But since starsan shouldn't be rinsed, stopping that is a good practice either way.

But a shotgun approach is not a good way to isolate a problem, changing to many variables, or exploring too many variables won't help narrow it down.
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Old 12-09-2010, 03:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkswing View Post
But, do you think that this is really causing the aforementioned off-flavors?

I know that the added "rinse" water could be adding some chlorine (So I will ponder that technique).

But I do that for all my beers, and its not always a problem. Just fishing for more possibilities.

Thanks.

P.S. - Revvy, you have no respect for your floors!!! (citing the racking on top of the foam pics in the link).

Oh, and did you dump most of the liquid, then rack on the foam in that pic (the beer is pushing out only foam, not sani soln?)
Yeah, I doubt a little rinse water would make a big difference. I doubt you could reliably say that this is what caused the flaw in your beer. Now if you had been using bleach to sanitize your fermenter. Or cleaned out your mash ton with some bleach based cleaner then we'd have a good idea that was the cause.

With the star san, the point is that it's better left un-rinsed. Next time your brewing have a taste of the mixed up star san solution. It's completely safe to drink. It has a sour flavor like citric acid but that's it. In huge amounts it may lower the pH of beer but you'd need to add quite a bit before you'd notice.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:03 PM   #10
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Do you know what your local municipality uses to treat the water? If they use chloramine instead of chlorine, letting it sit out overnight won't help at all, and filtering will only reduce the chloramine, not remove it. Campden tablets would be a cheap and easy fix if that's the problem.

And +1 to not rinsing the star-san. It's unlikely that it's the issue, but if you live really close to a water treatment point in the sytem you could have enough chlorine present that the residual from a rinse would cause a problem. The taste threshold for chlorophenols is very low.

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