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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Stout smells like old urine and burnt rubber - tastes solventy! Dump it, I guess?

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Old 09-13-2011, 11:14 PM   #1
LowerMillHillBackyardBrew
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Default Stout smells like old urine and burnt rubber - tastes solventy! Dump it, I guess?

Hi! I have 9 batches under my belt before this one; kits, partial mash and one all grain - and all have turned out pretty good. Except this one, my first stout.

Let me first describe the off flavors from hell: I took a hydrometer reading today (after 20 days in the primary). It was 1.026, which is a bit higher than the anticpated 1.018. The smell of the beer can only be described as "public toilet which hasn't been cleaned in years", with hints of burnt rubber. Harsh, old, dried urine, is what I smelled. Incredibly horribly disgusting! Despite that, I decided to give it a taste. My first thought was "solvents!", then I felt the beer "burning" my tongue, then I spit it out, then my mouth was all "puckered", like when drinking a really dry wine, only much worse. Aka astringency, if I'm not mistaken.

Please help me decide if this batch is doomed to haunt the sewer pipes, or if it can be rescued! I'm guessing it will go down the drains, but I'll spell out the details in case it's just a temporary problem. Thanks a lot if you take the time to read everything and give me some feedback!

I recently had to move to a temporary apartment, but have now gotten a new place of my own. But, 3 weeks ago, I brewed a couple of kit&kilo batches with a friend, to show/teach him about homebrewing. One was a "Muntons Stout", to which I added light DME instead of sugar, 1 lb of dark dme, and I also boiled some Fuggles for 15 minutes with the DME. And I also added 1 lb of plain sugar (boiled with dme & hops). Hydrometer sample before pitching yeast tasted pretty good. I aerated quite well.

Here comes what I guess is part of the problem: I pitched a vial of WLP023 which was past its expiration date! I got it for free at a LHBS, intended to make a starter, but time & space didn't allow the starter to happen, so I hoped for the best and pitched the vial of old yeast. Threads on various forums indicated that it might work.

All this happened at my friend's place, so I left the buckets of beer (btw, I also did a Mild, no off flavors in that one) there and went home. I'm not sure where my friend put them, but I told him 15-20 C was good. A day or two later my friend called me, worried that there was absolutely no activity in the airlock on my stout (but it was lots of activity in his stout, and my mild). I hastily concluded that the yeast I pitched was either quite dead or at least struggling very hard with the wort, so I went over the next day to add some Munton's premium (dried) yeast. When I got there, I found out that my friend had gotten drunk the night before, fallen asleep with windows closed and computers running, leaving the buckets of beer in a temperature which felt like 25 C (77 F) (!) (yeah, he had put the fermenters in his bedroom, even though I told him to keep them closer to 15 C than 25....). We quickly opened windows and got the temperature down, but I guess these 8-10 hours of high temperatures might have been really bad for the yeast!?!

Anyway, I continued to relax, don't worry and hope for the best, and pitched a packet of dried Munton's premium yeast. Fermentation took off after some hours, and at some point (I don't know when) my friend moved the fermenters to his basement, which has a very nice ambient temperature of 15 C or so.

So, probable main problem: I underpitched and fermented too hot (and temps varied, probably a lot). I guess I might just end this tale here and dump the beer - but my last hope is one last detail which might be relevant.

Today, since I have finally gotten my own apartment, I moved my two fermenters from my friend's basement to my new apartment, via car. Now, during the ride it was impossible to not make the beers splash all around in the buckets, which made a lot of the krausen goo around the sides get disolved into the beer! And I've read in "How To Brew" that this goo can be pretty astringent and bitter.

So, could what I'm tasting/smelling be the krausen goo? And if so, will that settle out over time? Or is it the bad fermentation regime which has produced the above described flavors/aromas?

Thanks for any help!!

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Old 09-13-2011, 11:29 PM   #2
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Depends if you have the extra bottles. If I had plenty of extra bottles I would bottle IR what the heck.

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Old 09-13-2011, 11:33 PM   #3
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Sounds like too high of ferm temps. A friend has the same burnt rubber smell in a recent batch that he forgot to unplug the heater in the ferm chamber

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Old 09-14-2011, 12:27 AM   #4
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Agreed with the above, if you have the spare glass, bottle it. I'd let it sit for at least a couple weeks for everything to settle back down to the bottom though.

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Old 09-14-2011, 12:46 AM   #5
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Hold onto it and it might taste better next month. If not wait another month, have a party, serve decent beer + shots and bring it out after everyone is sh1tfaced. They'll love you for it and you can rest on your laurels as the brewer da jour. Or something.

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Old 09-14-2011, 01:50 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone! I'll bottle it and give it a second chance and see what happens

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The Primaries: Apfelwein | Liquid Light IPA | Dark Star Stout
On tap[-a-draft]: Liquid Light (Aurora)
Aging: The Eleven [Barley Wine [normal+oak'd]] | In The Court of the Crimson King [Raspberry Apfelwein] | Lighthouse Girl [Orange Mead]
Planning: Wit, Porter, more apfelwein and mead.
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:13 PM   #7
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If after a few weeks it still doesn't taste right then stick a few back and let it age for another 6 months and see where it is.

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Old 09-14-2011, 02:41 PM   #8
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If the gravity is that high, bottling now could be disastrous. Bottle bombs are no fun. If it were me, I'd rack it to a secondary to stir up the yeasties a bit and possibly pitch some more yeast ( dry should be fine, and cheap). Wait at least another week or two for the gravity to finalize, and then evaluate and bottle if you think it's drinkable.

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Old 09-14-2011, 03:37 PM   #9
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Default Stouts and aging

In my experience, stouts change the most dramatically in aroma/flavor with aging. I agree with the above. The "toilet" and/or burnt rubber smell might just be the un-mellowed roasted malt.

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Old 09-14-2011, 11:14 PM   #10
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Ah, thanks! Yeah, I had already decided to let it sit in the primary 2-3 weeks more and see what happens before bottling

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Aging: The Eleven [Barley Wine [normal+oak'd]] | In The Court of the Crimson King [Raspberry Apfelwein] | Lighthouse Girl [Orange Mead]
Planning: Wit, Porter, more apfelwein and mead.
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