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Old 11-28-2010, 09:51 PM   #1
Ben_Persitz
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Default Help Diagnose My Beers Off Flavor

I've made a few extract batches now (going all grain on my next batch) and my last two have had a strange "off" flavor to them.

My latest is Rogue Dead Guy clone. Granted I haven't tasted it carbed up yet, and it's only been about 4 weeks, but it's still a bit odd.

Here is my process:

Sanitize and drip dry everything.

Do a 60 minute boil.

Cool covered in an ice bath for about an hour to get down to pitching temp.

Pitch sanitized (the outside) yeast. Stick in fridge and ferment for 3 weeks before kegging.

I'm not worried about my sanitation, and my recipes are good.

The off flavor is a kind of mild alcoholy (not as bad as rubbing alcohol but similar) taste. And mild fruitiness (esters).

I ferment around 63-64 degrees and it stays steady so I don't think it's a problem in fermentation.

The only thing I can think of is I have a hard time cooling my 5 gallons down to pitching temps quickly in my ice bath and I usually pitch about 80-85 degrees.

I plan to get a wort chiller to combat this on my next batch.

Do you think it's because of my slow cooling rate and high pitching temps?

If I cool down to about 65 degrees and do it quickly (20 minutes) could this help my beer?

Any other ideas as to why I'm getting this alcoholy taste and unwanted esters?

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Old 11-28-2010, 10:25 PM   #2
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The problem is that your impatient!!!!

Give it some time. The yeast will eat up those off flavors.

And if its not even carbed up yet, forget it. Thats like eating half boiled pasta! Your beer is fine!!!

Cheers!

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Old 11-28-2010, 10:38 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ben_Persitz View Post
Granted I haven't tasted it carbed up yet, and it's only been about 4 weeks,
Singljohn hit the nail on the head...The only problem is that you aren't seeing the beer through it's complete process BEFORE calling what is probably just green beer, an off flavor.

It sounds like you are tasting it in the fermenter? If that is the case, do nothing. Because nothing is wrong.

It really is hard to judge a beer until it's been about 6 weeks in the bottle. Just because you taste (or smell) something in primary or secondary DOESN'T mean it will be there when the beer is fully conditioned (that's also the case with kegging too.)

The thing to remember though is that if you are smelling or tasting this during fermentation not to worry. During fermentation all manner of stinky stuff is given off (ask lager brewers about rotten egg/sulphur smells, or Apfelwein makers about "rhino farts,") like we often say, fermentation is often ugly AND stinky and PERFECTLY NORMAL.

It's really only down the line, AFTER the beer has been fermented (and often after it has bottle conditioned even,) that you concern yourself with any flavor issues if they are still there.

I think too many new brewers focus to much on this stuff too early in the beer's journey. And they panic unnecessarily.

A lot of the stuff you smell/taste initially more than likely ends up disappearing either during a long primary/primary & secondary combo, Diacetyl rests and even during bottle conditioning.

If I find a flavor/smell, I usually wait til it's been in the bottle 6 weeks before I try to "diagnose" what went wrong, that way I am sure the beer has passed any window of greenness.

Lagering is a prime example of this. Lager yeast are prone to the production of a lot of byproducts, the most familiar one is sulphur compounds (rhino farts) but in the dark cold of the lagering process, which is at the minimum of a month (I think many homebrewers don't lager long enough) the yeast slowly consumes all those compounds which results in extremely clean tasting beers if done skillfully.

Ales have their own version of this, but it's all the same. Time is your friend.

If you are sampling your beer before you have passed a 'window of greeness" which my experience is about 3-6 weeks in the bottle, then you are more than likely just experiencing an "off flavor" due to the presence of those byproducts (that's what we mean when we say the beer is "green" it's still young and unconditioned.) but once the process is done, over 90% of the time the flavors/smells are gone.

Of the remaining 10%, half of those may still be salvageable through the long time storage that I mention in the Never dump your beer!!! Patience IS a virtue!!! Time heals all things, even beer:

And the remaining 50% of the last 10% are where these tables and lists come into play. To understand what you did wrong, so you can avoid it in the future.

Long story short....I betcha that smell/flavor will be long gone when the beer is carbed and conditioned.

In other words, relax, your beer will be just fine, like 99.5%.

You can find more info on that in here;

Of Patience and Bottle Conditioning.

Just remember it will not be the same beer it is now, and you shouldn't stress what you are tasting right now.

Our beer is more resilient then most new brewers realize, and time can be a big healer. Just read the stories in this thread of mine, and see how many times a beer that someone thought was bad, turned out to be fine weeks later.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/neve...en-beer-73254/
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Old 11-28-2010, 11:17 PM   #4
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Pitching at 80-85 could easily cause fusel alcohols or esthers. I'm guessing this is the issue as your fridge isn't going to drop the temp of the wort that quickly, and the yeast will likely be finished replicating before the wort is at a good fermentation temperature.

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Old 11-30-2010, 06:23 PM   #5
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Pitching at 80-85 could easily cause fusel alcohols or esthers. I'm guessing this is the issue as your fridge isn't going to drop the temp of the wort that quickly, and the yeast will likely be finished replicating before the wort is at a good fermentation temperature.
This is what I think too.

That being said I tasted it last night (finally carbed up a bit after about 4 days in the keg) and a lot of the fruity esters were gone. It still has a bit of a green yeast taste to it but it's getting better. I brewed it a month ago today, it had 24-25 days in primary and it's been in the keg for about 4-5 days.

The fusel alcohols are still there though (they've mellowed a tiny bit but it's still noticable). My girlfriend remarked that it was a bit like whisky (she's exaggerating, I don't notice it being like that, just a slight alcohol harshness) but that it had a nice malt finish afterwards).

I bought a wort chiller yesterday, so I think that'll help to relieve some of the harshness on my next batch.

It's so interesting to keep reading what people say about grain to glass time.
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Old 11-30-2010, 06:28 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ben_Persitz View Post
This is what I think too.

That being said I tasted it last night (finally carbed up a bit after about 4 days in the keg) and a lot of the fruity esters were gone. It still has a bit of a green yeast taste to it but it's getting better. I brewed it a month ago today, it had 24-25 days in primary and it's been in the keg for about 4-5 days.

The fusel alcohols are still there though (they've mellowed a tiny bit but it's still noticable). My girlfriend remarked that it was a bit like whisky (she's exaggerating, I don't notice it being like that, just a slight alcohol harshness) but that it had a nice malt finish afterwards).

I bought a wort chiller yesterday, so I think that'll help to relieve some of the harshness on my next batch.

It's so interesting to keep reading what people say about grain to glass time.
Sounds to me like you have diagnosed the problem and found the solution. Age will help your current beer and your wort chiller will help your future beer!
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by wonderbread23 View Post
Pitching at 80-85 could easily cause fusel alcohols or esthers. I'm guessing this is the issue as your fridge isn't going to drop the temp of the wort that quickly, and the yeast will likely be finished replicating before the wort is at a good fermentation temperature.
Exactly.

A lot of people around here will tell you to try to wait everything out, but if you're pitching at 80-85, that is likely the cause of your problem and no amount of waiting is going to get rid of fusels.
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Old 12-02-2010, 08:01 PM   #8
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Update:

I tried a pint last night and it's actually tasting a bit better. The Malt flavor is really nice, though a bit too sweet at this point. The alcohol has mellowed a lot and is barely present. Turning out to be not such a bad beer.

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