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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Plastic cooler gave my beer plastic flavor, will polyclar help?

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Old 01-19-2013, 03:18 PM   #1
dmorrison
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Default Plastic cooler gave my beer plastic flavor, will polyclar help?

I used 180F water to pre-heat my mash tun (a square plastic cooler with CPVC manifold), and apparently that was hot enough to let tons of plastic flavor into my mash. Now I have a couple kegs of plastic-tasting beer.

I had always read that plastic coolers add no off-flavors, but I suppose that's contingent on not going above mashout temperatures. In hindsight, I should have used baking soda to leech the plastic flavor out of the mash tun (like the way people get the plastic flavor out of a plastic coffee cup).

Does anyone have experience with this? Can anything get rid of the plastic flavor in my beers? I've already tried a month+ of cold conditioning, which made only a very small improvement. Might a fining agent like polyclar grab those plastic molecules (or whatever they are), and drop them out of my beers? Thank you for your suggestions!

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Old 01-19-2013, 03:21 PM   #2
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Not sure about removing the flavor, but it could be that it's coming from your manifold not the cooler. Did you run hot water through the system before actually mashing in it? I use a cooler mash tun and haven't noticed any off flavors. What type if cooler?

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Old 01-19-2013, 03:54 PM   #3
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The plastic flavor is much more likely to be from phenolics due to infection or temperature problems during fermentation.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-2.html

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Old 01-20-2013, 04:51 AM   #4
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I stayed away from plastic mash tuns after the manufacture said not to use it specifically for home brewing. On their website they it has not been tested for hot liquids. They also won't release there plastic composition because "of the competitive market for plastic coolers." So we don't know if they use night heat stable materials. Spend the extra $200 and get a metal mash tun. You can also use direct fire method with it, which is nice.

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Old 01-20-2013, 05:00 AM   #5
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I've made 500 gallons of beer in a coleman plastic cooler and have never had any plastic off flavors from it. I've had boiling water in it a few times as well with no problems. Unless your cooler is 30 years old or something the plastic taste isn't coming from your mash tun. It could be the PVC I suppose, but it's more likely due to chlorophenols due to chlorine in your brewing water. Try a campden tablet next time.

As far as removing the plastic taste I doubt there's any way to do that. Dump it and move on. As the hop profile fades the plastic taste will get worse and worse.

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Old 01-20-2013, 05:17 AM   #6
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plastic + more plastic = less plastic

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Old 01-21-2013, 04:58 PM   #7
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I checked with the cooler manufacturer (Igloo), the cooler is food-grade, but not designed for use with hot liquids. Whoops...

The flavor nearly disappears with cold conditioning, only so long as the keg is not jostled whatsoever (moving the keg seems to stir the flavor back up into the beer. I never did trim the liquid spouts in my kegs, and I usually don't crash my beers before they enter the serving keg, so there's always some trub stirred up if I have to move a full keg around). I think I'll let it settle until it can't be tasted, and then verrrry carefully transfer to a different keg.

I did at first suspect that the plasticy taste might be caused by grain husks mashed thinly/hotly/lengthily, especially since the flavor is most noticable in beers with roasted or toasted malts. I am confident that the cooler is the culprit, because I detected a revoltingly large amount of the same flavor in plain water which had been left to soak in the cooler at 180 degrees for 5-10 minutes. I think I'll try the same experiment, but with the manifold taken out, to narrow it down.

I have heard of chlorophenols described as "plasticy" (and especially as "band-aidy"). I have encountered an infection-created phenol flavor before (probably from a Brett infection, due to the horse flavors also present). It's not what I am tasting today, and there are no other infection flavors present, so I doubt there is an infection problem. I'm not sure if I've tasted chlorophenols, so I can't rule them out, but I think it's safe to finger the cooler as the source.

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Old 01-21-2013, 08:00 PM   #8
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There are thousands of home brewers using plastic. If there was some sort of inherent problem with plastic it would have shown up years ago.

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Old 01-21-2013, 08:19 PM   #9
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It might be your water. Taste your water supply unfiltered. It took me about 4 batches to realize my water was causing the plastic taste in my beer and I had to find a new source of water.

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