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Old 10-14-2009, 08:51 AM   #1
justflow1983
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Default Stout smells of paint thinner?

I think my stout (brew #5) that I brewed last week has an infection but I'm not sure. I took a sample to get the OG and it smelled very "boozy" with almost a chemical smell to it. It tasted alright, sort of like flat guiness with instant coffee added.

The beer was underpitched and took a few days to get going (I think I left too much yeast in the proofing jar when I pitched), but now its 8 days after brew day and the airlock is still bubbling pretty frequently. OG was 1.043 and the current gravity is 1.020, using SO-04 yeast. Fermentation was a little cold for the first couple of days, low 60s, but other than that nothing unusual.

Any thoughts?

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Old 10-14-2009, 08:56 AM   #2
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http://www.homebrewzone.com/fusel-alcohols.htm

Does that sound about right?
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:19 AM   #3
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Yea, could be. Would pitching more yeast on top maybe clean that up?

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Old 10-14-2009, 09:51 AM   #4
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The thing to remember though is that if you are smelling 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,) when you should consider using this or the off flavor charts to diagnose the beer.

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.

As good as this info is, taken out of its proper context (meaning fully matured, carbed and conditioned beers) these threads/lists often produce the new brewer's version of hypochondria.

Fementation is often ugly, smelly and crappy tasting in the beginning and perfectly normal. The various conditioning phases, be it long primary, secondarying, D-rests, bottle conditioning, AND LAGERING, are all part of the process where the yeast, and co2 correct a lot of the normal production of the byproducts of fermentation.

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.

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 http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/never-dump-your-beer-patience-virtue-time-heals-all-things-even-beer-73254/:

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.

The thing is, you can't really do anything to the batch you have, you can only learn from your mistakes by looking at those charts, to know what to do next time.. If it says for example that "x off flavor is a result of high fermentation temps" then you no know for the next batch with that yeast, or all batches that you need to do something to control the temps where you ferment, be it a fridge, or a swamp cooler. If it say "y flavor is a result of an infection." Then you know that you have a sanitization issue that needs to be addressed.

But you can't really do anything to the batch you have. Except perhaps long term aging to see if it will clear, OR consuming fast if it is an infection, or dumping.

So honestly, there's no point in even dragging out these charts in mid stream. As I say often, your beer has a huge journey to go through from grain to glass, and a lot of changes are going to happen.

Long story short....I betcha that "paint thinner" smell will be long gone when the beer is carbed and conditioned.

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Old 10-23-2009, 09:36 AM   #5
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Well Revvy, you were right as always. I let it sit another 2 weeks in the primary and its mostly cleaned up, although I don't think it'll ever be that good as theres still a "hot" taste to it. Will be bottled monday and conditioned at least a month.

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Old 12-12-2012, 12:42 AM   #6
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Thank you revvy.... This post was necessary for me to continue on my batch. For an ale it was definitely fermented at to high a temperature and has rank paint thinner taste during the transition from first to second fermenter. However, I saw it through and added my beautiful citra hops for dry hopping anyway. I am, however, a person how has tossed a batch. It happened to be my first batch and I did so out of the feremeter because of a cidery smell and taste. I knew it was because I had used pure cane sugar, but I still should have bottled it out. I wish I could taste it now.

I have a different perspective on the matter now. I think back to the times when our founding fathers were brewing their homebrews. They could not have had the abilities to control circumstances such as temperature, sanitation, etc. However, they produced beer that was drinkable and enjoyable. This is one reason I will always see a brew through.

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