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Old 10-27-2008, 03:56 PM   #1
wheeliechicken
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Default Newer brewer looking for advice about “burnt plastic” taste – chlorine/chlorophenols?

I’ve brewed 4 batches so far, the first 2 are bottled and ready to drink. Batch #1 was a mr. beer kit, I followed the directions, except I did a full boil. It turned out ok, but somewhat cidery (as I would expect due to the ingredients). Batch #2 I brewed my own recipe, still using the Mr. Beer fermenter. I did have to top off with almost 1 gallon of tap water when I put the wort into the fermenter. For batches 3 and 4, I did full boils in a turkey fryer, and they are now fermenting in a bucket and a carboy.

Here’s my problem: I have a significant “burnt plastic” taste in batch #2 (especially noticeable when burping). I’ve been sampling bottles over the last few weeks and the taste has not gotten better. After searching around here it sounds like it could be chlorophenols due to chlorine. I didn’t notice the taste when I sampled the beer prior to bottling (although I wasn’t looking for it either). I sanitized my bottles in bleach solution then rinsed lightly with tap water. My tap water does not smell like chlorine (that I can tell). Water company publishes an annual average of 0.83 ppm chlorine.

My future plans are: a) Never add tap water to a batch unless its boiled first, b) Use something other than bleach to sanitize. Will this be good enough? Also, is there any way I can salvage the affected batch or do I have to dump it? I’m really bummed because it tastes so good otherwise but I just can’t block that bad taste out of my mind enough to drink it all. The next batch (#3) won’t be ready to drink for 4 more weeks so its going to be a long wait. The samples I’ve tasted of batches 3 and 4 taste excellent so far.

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Old 10-27-2008, 04:19 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by wheeliechicken View Post
Here’s my problem: I have a significant “burnt plastic” taste in batch #2 (especially noticeable when burping).
Chlorophenols. It won't go away. Sorry. In fact it seems to get more noticeable with age.

For sanitizing, use Star San or a similar no-rinse sanitizer. I drop 6 bottles into a bucket of Star San, shake some Star San around in each bottle, drain, and then stick them upside down in 6-pack carriers until filling. Bleach is OK to disinfect equipment, but it needs to be rinsed very thoroughly until you can detect no chlorine smell at all, and then the equipment needs to be re-sanitized with a no-rinse sanitizer before use.

Your nose is very sensitive to chlorine. If you stick your head into a pot full of hot tap water and cannot detect any chlorine smell, your tap water should be fine to use as is. Mine has a noticeable swimming pool odor from chloramine (3-4ppm according to my water report), so I slowly filter my water through a carbon filter to remove it.
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Old 10-27-2008, 05:09 PM   #3
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I have notice beers done in my Mrbeer femeters have a weird smell to them. It takes a lot longer for them to clear out and age too. I usually boil 3 gallons of water with 1.5lbs of dme and whatever Mrbeer kit I have on hand. I boil it down to 2.5 gallons and use a wort chiller. I pour it in and pitch my yeast (I use Muntons).
I did one that sat in the fermemtor for 12 days, and I used a bottling bucket to bottle into 12oz glass bottles. After 3 weeks the beer was still very green, its cleared up a lot, but it does have an off smell to it.

I filled it up to the top with water and used a full tsb of idophor after washing it out. I then drained the idophor out of the spigot. I used a racking cane to go from Mrbeer to the bottling bucket.

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Old 10-27-2008, 07:14 PM   #4
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I use bleach on my bottles to clean them up and get the labels off, but they get rinsed at least 3-4 times before filling and that's not my final sanitizer. They get dunked again in Iodophor before filling. Bleach is a good sanitizer, but they need a good rinsing to avoid the taste problem, and that kind of defeats the sanitation process. Much better to use a no-rinse.

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Old 10-27-2008, 07:56 PM   #5
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that's, like, a bummer, man.

i don't use chlorine for sanitizing. ever. start using a no rinse sanitizer like recommended above for anything that will touch beer/wort. One Step no rinse is my weapon of choice and i have a pitcher of it sitting on my kitchen counter at all times. others seem to like the starsan but that stuff needs to be mixed accurately. with the one step i can just put "some" into some water. it doesn't have to be exact. also, i know the foam from starsan is harmless, but it would bug the crap out of me.

as for the chlorine in the water you have 2 options that don't require boiling. boiling works, it's just a waste of energy unless you're boiling it anyway. first is to let the water sit. the chlorine will gas off on its own after a couple days. i do this with my HLT. the first 14 gallons of water that run through my IC during cooling go straight into my HLT. at most i'll brew twice in one week, but usually every 7-10 days, which is plenty of time for the chlorine to go away.

the faster option is campden tablets. they're used by wine makers to sanitize the must (fancy name for grape juice, same as wort) to get rid of bacteria and wild yeast because it's not boiled, but also reacts with the chlorine to remove it from solution. your LHBS should have them. never used them, but i'm pretty sure you need to wait about 24 hours.

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Old 10-27-2008, 08:17 PM   #6
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Half a Campden tablet will remove chlorine from 5-10 gallons. Let it sit 5 minutes, then stir vigorously for a few minutes. I have a sensitivity to sulfites so I don't use this method myself.

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Old 10-27-2008, 09:29 PM   #7
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I use bleach heavily whenever possible (particularly bottles, and anything made of glass like carboys). It's simple and effective (and cheap!). I've never had off flavors as a result, and that's some 30+ batches later. I'm not expert, but it works for me.

My method: I use a vinator to spray the insides with bleach. After I've done about 30, I'll rinse them with hot water using a faucet rinser. Rinse well. Let them sit for 30-60mins, then I give them a smell. They should be odorless at this point and ready for use.

That particular model of faucet rinser shoots out a spray strong enough to clean out an elephant's rear with (if you could hold him in place long enough). Works well on carboys as well!

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Old 12-27-2008, 05:09 PM   #8
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I've had the same problem. The answer is OXYGEN

Make sure you add your priming sugar gently, and transferring your beer to your spigot bucket gently, without splashing, (down the side of the spigot bucket).

I barked up the chlorophenol tree also; but trust someone who interns at a brewery and had the same problem.

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