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rodwha 11-03-2012 03:23 AM

Strong Alcohol Smell
I have a similar strong alcohol smell in many of my beers. I ferment them in storage bins with a water temp of ~ 62-67* for the majority of their time (3-4 wks). They taste good to me, but then again I love strong coffee, hot sauce, and IPA's...
I've been using washed yeast (WLP 001 and a mix of WLP 001/1272)
I've been noticing this with varying styles from one side to the other.
What could be causing this?

runningweird 11-03-2012 04:22 AM

Try dialing down your temperature. Fermentation temps at the center of the carboy can be ten degrees warmer than the water bath. To ferment at sixty five keep your water at fifty five.

Also, check your water. Is there chlorine? Chloramine?

Sounds like it's fermenting too hot.

basilchef 11-03-2012 04:52 AM

" but then again I love strong coffee, hot sauce, and IPA's... "

HAHAHA I love it.

but seriously, could be the temp you are pitching and fermenting at. also does the smell fade?

rodwha 11-03-2012 12:49 PM

"Also, check your water. Is there chlorine? Chloramine? "
It smells like chlorine so we have a water filter.

"To ferment at sixty five keep your water at fifty five."
Maybe this is the problem. It's not overpowering, but it is noticeable.
I figured that with the thermal mass of the water it would keep the temps much closer to the temp of the water, that it wasn't getting more than a few degrees warmer. So I've been trying not to get the water temp below 62* or so. I'll have to drop that temp a little more next go around. Having to leave the 3 that are fermenting to sit (it's been 9 days since the last was brewed, and they were brewed one after the other). Hope that was long enough...

"...could be the temp you are pitching and fermenting at. also does the smell fade?"
I'm pitching around 70-75* and often placing in a bin of cold water.
My beer doesn't stick around too long. Maybe a month or so, but I haven't noticed it decreasing.

"They taste good to me..."
I only smell the alcohol. And it's not an overpowering smell. It tastes good to me. But SWMBO said she tasted it in my brown ale last night. She felt like it tasted as though I added a little Everclear. We are both getting a cold now though, so I'm not sure how that may be messing with our senses.

rodwha 11-07-2012 08:15 PM

Is it likely I created some fusel alcohol?
If my water temp was kept ~65* I don't see how it could have reached 70*. I would think that the thermal mass would be enough to keep it from running away...

trumpetbeard 11-07-2012 09:38 PM

May seem like an obvious thing but what was your OG and estimated FG? If you're making really big beers it could just be a natural by-product of high gravity brewing.

+1 on keeping your ferm temps a little lower than you may think, and waiting until the wort is ~ or <75 before pitching.

Perhaps keep one bottle of each batch as a test (this is way easier said than done) and taste after 2 months or so. I recently kept a 6er of a 10% tripel I brewed in June and each month the alcohol recedes further and further into the background.

TopherM 11-08-2012 04:52 PM

Post the recipe and process of a recent batch that had this problem, and it'll be much easier to diagnose.

rodwha 11-12-2012 03:12 PM

Sorry about the delay. Just got back home from visiting family.

I drank a couple of them with the ole lady and no smell or taste of grain alcohol. Hmmm... Either time fixed it or it had something to do with the bottles I guess.

My beers are generally moderate gravity (5-6.5% ABV), though I typically hit higher OG numbers than planned.

My fermentation temps are generally the same and I've only noticed this smell with a few of the brews. I use WLP 001 and 320, and 1272 mixed with 001 (Grrrr!).

5 lbs Briess pilsen LME
1 lb Briess Bavarian wheat DME
3/4 lb pale chocolate 200
1/2 lb crystal 60
1/2 lb crystal 120
1/2 lb Briess extra light DME (starter)
1 1/2 oz Liberty @ 60 mins
1 1/4 oz Liberty @ 15/5 mins
WLP 001/1272 mix

Grains steeped for 30 mins @ 150-158*. Added that to 1 lb DME for 60 min boil. At flameout I add LME.

OG was targeted for 1.051, but got 1.057 @ ~75* (1.059-1.060). I forgot to take an FG reading. It fermented for 3 weeks primary, and conditioned another 3 weeks.

I use filtered tap water.

I chill tap water to help chill wort after boil along with ice and get to ~75* within 20 mins, and then add chilled filtered tap water.

I'm thinking I'll try to maintain a 60-63* water temp for the first week from now on.

TopherM 11-12-2012 04:14 PM


OG was targeted for 1.051, but got 1.057 @ ~75*
Yup, high ferm temps is definitely your problem. The internal temp of the fermentation can easily be 3-8 degrees warmer than the ambient temp even, you were really fermenting at closer to 78-83F. At those temps, the yeast produce fusel alcohols as well as esters that are undesireable in most beer styles.

If you can keep the fermentation temp closer to the lower end of the ideal range listed on each yeast packet/vial (around 59F for an ale), you'll not only solve your fusel alcohol problem, but you'll have cleaner beer without the off flavors.

Good luck!

rodwha 11-12-2012 04:35 PM

"OG was targeted for 1.051, but got 1.057 @ ~75*"

That's the temp I took my OG reading at before I added the yeast.

The "ideal" temp I should keep it at is in the mid to high 60's according to them. For WLP 001 is states:
"Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-73F"
And for 1272 it states:
"Temperature Range: 60-72F"

My understanding is that the thermal mass of water should keep the wort really close to the water temp, that it isn't like keeping it at ambient air temps. Is this not true?

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