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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Off flavor three batches in a row.. so confused!
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Old 12-02-2011, 05:43 PM   #1
kyle6286
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Default Off flavor three batches in a row.. so confused!

Hello,

I've been brewing a little less than a year now. I've made a little less than 10 batches, but a good portion of them have been great. Lately, though, my last three batches have had the same off flavor that I can not identify. I even brought it to a LHBS and they couldn't identify it.

It started in the summer when I bought a nice kegerator system. The first batch had a weird taste that I never experienced. I attributed it to the high fermentation temps (maybe mid 70's). I decided to go with the swamp cooler method for the next batch to prevent the fluctuation of ferm temps. The swamp cooler worked well, but when I kegged it, it had the same taste. I then thought it was a flavor coming from either the keg (picked up from a local soda distributor) or the Co2 tank. I asked a bunch of people for any solutions and they all said the same thing - it's either a root beer keg or the Co2 gas isn't food-grade or something like that. Instead of spending more time and money trying to diagnose the problem, I impulsively sold everything for about what I paid. My reasoning behind this was that I was making great beer before the whole kegging system, so I assumed it was something in the kegging process that was the catalyst.

Fast forward a month, and I made a new batch and bottled it. I was very excited for this one. Finally, a drinkable beer. All my other bottled beers have been great, so I was really hoping to redeem myself for the previous two batches. I just opened my first bottle two weeks ago, after three weeks carbonating, and a few days in the fridge, and it has the same damn tatse. WTF!

I can't exactly describe the taste, but when I brought it to my LHBS, I was given the taste of metallic/band-aid. I looked through Palmer's description of off flavors, and these don't seem to fit. From looking on this forum at pictures of infections, I'm fairly confident that an infection isn't my issue. My sanitation process is very good, and I've never noticed anything odd during my fermentation. What's more confusing to me is I don't recall this taste at any off the kegging/bottling times. It's almost as if something is happening after leaving the primary. What I've also discovered is whatever is happening is masking my hop flavor significantly. My second to last batch, a Centennial Blonde, and my most recent, an Amarillo Pale, should definitely have a noticeable hop flavor. However, I can hardly detect it.

To hopefully answer some questions, all of my batches have been extract with speciality grains. I plain to go AG next summer, but if I can't figure out what's wrong, forget that idea. I've used tap water for all of my batches (even the good ones). I use oxiclean free for cleaning my equipment and then star san to sanitize. Thinking back, I really haven't changed my process much, if at all, when brewing. I wish this were an easy fix, but I just can't nail it down. I am probably going to bring a bottle to another LHBS this weekend (I'm told this guy is incredible and knows a ton about homebrewing).

Sorry for such a long post. I really would appreciate any ideas as to how to resolve this.

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Old 12-02-2011, 05:47 PM   #2
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Oh yea, and after really analyzing my process, my next guess is the auto siphon. As I mentioned, I don't recall this taste when checking gravity readings and kegging/bottling. I'm wondering if, months ago, before I made these three batches, I either forgot to really clean the auto siphon or I just didn't clean it well enough and there's junk or residue on the bottom of the siphon. I already threw the siphon out and I plan on getting another one. I really hope this was the problem, but the only way I'll find out is to make a new batch I guess. Sigh

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Old 12-02-2011, 05:49 PM   #3
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Post your local water report, you could be tasting chlorophenols. There could have been an adjustment to your water supply, without you seeing the notice.

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Old 12-02-2011, 05:54 PM   #4
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Post your local water report, you could be tasting chlorophenols. There could have been an adjustment to your water supply, without you seeing the notice.
Not bragging at all, but I've read that Rhode Island has the second best water in the country (according to Providence Water). Of course, this may mean nothing at all when it comes to making beer. Is there an easy way to obtain this, or do I have to pay?
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Old 12-02-2011, 05:56 PM   #5
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Never mind, I looked it up for you. You have a lower amount of chlorine in your water there in north providence, but it can still cause problems. Especially since it is allowed to fluctuate within a certain range. Filter your water through a carbon filter or drop a half a campden tablet in 5 gallons of brewing water to eliminate the chlorine and then try another batch. Make a small one if you want to just see if this is the issue, but band-aid matches chlorophenols (as well as stressed yeast)

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Old 12-02-2011, 05:59 PM   #6
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I really hope this was the problem, but the only way I'll find out is to make a new batch I guess. Sigh
I'd suggest you make small batches until you figure out what's up. Maybe 1 gallon at a time?

I'd also bleach-bomb and/or boil everything to sanitize/sterilize as best you can.

Above all, though, hang in there. I had to toss 2 5-gal batches over the summer and it nearly drove me out of brewing b/c I was so disappointed by the wasted time & effort. Ended up being some nastiness in my CFC that took a LOT of cleaning/sanitizing to finally clear out. And nobody could really help me (it's hard to diagnose from a distance!), so I had to isolate every step in my process and test it out.

But now my beer is back making me happy, so keep the faith!
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Piratwolf: "I've heard that Belgian Blondes can be "panty droppers" but they're not particularly high IBU nor cheap."

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Wait. You're not talking about beer, right?
You're talking about beer. That could have been a whole lot more fun.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:01 PM   #7
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Post your local water report, you could be tasting chlorophenols. There could have been an adjustment to your water supply, without you seeing the notice.
This is exactly what I was thinking. You have no control over the municipal water supply and they could have chosen to start adding more chlorine or other chemicals with out your knowledge. I would try brewing a batch from a different water supply and see if that corrects the issue.
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wait....what do you mean all the beer is gone!
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:02 PM   #8
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Never mind, I looked it up for you. You have a lower amount of chlorine in your water there in north providence, but it can still cause problems. Especially since it is allowed to fluctuate within a certain range. Filter your water through a carbon filter or drop a half a campden tablet in 5 gallons of brewing water to eliminate the chlorine and then try another batch. Make a small one if you want to just see if this is the issue, but band-aid matches chlorophenols (as well as stressed yeast)
Wow, you got that quick. I couldn't find it on the site. Thank you for the advice. It could be the water, but my buddy who lives in the same town, who has brewed much less than me, just made a batch that tastes fine. He too uses tap water.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:08 PM   #9
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I'd suggest you make small batches until you figure out what's up. Maybe 1 gallon at a time?

I'd also bleach-bomb and/or boil everything to sanitize/sterilize as best you can.

Above all, though, hang in there. I had to toss 2 5-gal batches over the summer and it nearly drove me out of brewing b/c I was so disappointed by the wasted time & effort. Ended up being some nastiness in my CFC that took a LOT of cleaning/sanitizing to finally clear out. And nobody could really help me (it's hard to diagnose from a distance!), so I had to isolate every step in my process and test it out.

But now my beer is back making me happy, so keep the faith!
Thanks for the support. I told my wife if this continues, I'm only going to make Edwort's Apfelwein. Of course, it was in the news this week that apple juice contains high levels of arsenic. Oh well.

I already dumped the two prior batches. I've read Revvy's thread about not dumping the beer, but I waited over a month and a half in the keg and no success.

In terms of isolating everything, I've tried to do it. I really have it narrowed down to the auto siphon. If it's not that, or the water, I'm SOL.

Is Oxi Clean free plus Star San not enough? If necessary, I can bleach everything that comes into contact with the wort after the boil.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:17 PM   #10
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Is Oxi Clean plus Star San not enough?
Thats all I ever use, so that is not the problem.
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