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Old 06-04-2012, 04:17 AM   #1
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Default Strong (off?) flavor from US-05?

I'm having a hard time figuring out where a strong flavor that has occurred in two very different beers is coming from.

I'm not even sure it's an "off" flavor to be perfectly honest. I can't seem to match it with any of the off flavor charts I've looked at. It's hard to explain exactly what it tastes like. It sort of reminds me of the way my bucket smells after I rack a beer off of it...that residual hop aroma you sometimes get.

I'm hesitant to say there a very slight plastic/rubber taste that comes along with it. "Hesitant" because it's not quite right, but It's as close as I can explain.

I've tried to identify the source of this flavor, and therein lies the problem.

First of all, one was an American Wheat, and the second was a Cream Ale. They had NO INGREDIENTS in common except that they both used US-05 Yeast.

The American Wheat was all DME. The Cream ale was a partial mash.

They both used the same water source, but it is well water which has no chlorine, and I've used this same water with every other beer I've made thus far with no problems whatsoever.

The fermenting buckets used were different for each beer.

The smell/flavor appeared BEFORE racking into bottles (I tasted in the hydro readings), so it wasn't anything from those pieces of equipment.

You can see why I'm having trouble deciding what might be causing this. Today, when my brother also noted that the cream ale tasted like the American Wheat, he suggested perhaps it was from the yeast, but the flavor is so predominant, I didn't think it was the case.

The American wheat admittedly could have had better temp control
(never higher then 68 degrees though), but the cream ale was perfect temp control. A steady 63 degrees the whole time.

So that's why I'm posting. Could it actually be the yeast? Did I miss anything else, any ideas?

I'm planning on sending a couple bottles out to other brewers to see what they say, but for now, I thought I'd ask HBT!

EDIT: Also, I'm planning on making a tasting video of the cream ale tomorrow, and I'll try to better explain what it tastes like in that. I'll post it here tomorrow.

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Old 06-04-2012, 04:37 AM   #2
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Plastic/rubber is a common description of chlorophenols coming from chlorine in the water. If you are sure there is no chlorine then it is possibly from infection. How long have they been in bottle? Maybe they are just green?

Tracking down off flavors is maddening but will eventually make you a better brewer

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Old 06-04-2012, 05:08 AM   #3
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Tracking down off flavors is maddening but will eventually make you a better brewer
Oh man, that couldn't be more true!

Onipar, the beers in question are both light beers, so they're more likely to show off flavors. Have you had other light(er) beers using the same water and yeast that didn't show this 'off' flavor? Is it a yeast-y bite/young beer thing? And there's a method to the madness of this next question(s); would you describe the flavor as something in the finish? Maybe a bit dry and tart, washing the palate of the otherwise good beer? I'm leaning towards water, but let's eliminate other possibilities.
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can i drink this? I mean. Im gunna. But is it fine?
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it's not a barley wine. it's an ale.
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:23 AM   #4
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The first beer I made was a Belgian white. We used the same water and a different yeast, and it definitely did not taste like these two beers.

The last beer we made was a Honey Kolsch. That beer I brewed at my brother's house. Different water source, but the same yeast (Us-05), and though it's still too early to tell for sure (it's in secondary), I think I detected a similar flavor coming through.

So, I'm feeling like it can't be the water. I *know* there's no chlorine in it because it's well water. Comes right from the ground.

The American wheat was brewed months ago. The Cream Ale is three weeks in the bottle. So that one is a bit green maybe.

I'm not a very big beer drinker, and I've only been brewing a year, which is why I'm not entirely sure if it is even an off flavor (and why i want to send some bottles for others to taste).

The flavor is up front, not the finish. Not tart at all. It has a bit of sweetness to it
(the cream ale), which I think is part of the style. There is a bit of yeast bite now that you mention it...

Thanks for the help, I'm really hoping I can figure this out. It IS maddening!

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Old 06-04-2012, 04:20 PM   #5
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The first beer I made was a Belgian white. We used the same water and a different yeast, and it definitely did not taste like these two beers.

The last beer we made was a Honey Kolsch. That beer I brewed at my brother's house. Different water source, but the same yeast (Us-05), and though it's still too early to tell for sure (it's in secondary), I think I detected a similar flavor coming through.

So, I'm feeling like it can't be the water. I *know* there's no chlorine in it because it's well water. Comes right from the ground.

The American wheat was brewed months ago. The Cream Ale is three weeks in the bottle. So that one is a bit green maybe.

I'm not a very big beer drinker, and I've only been brewing a year, which is why I'm not entirely sure if it is even an off flavor (and why i want to send some bottles for others to taste).

The flavor is up front, not the finish. Not tart at all. It has a bit of sweetness to it
(the cream ale), which I think is part of the style. There is a bit of yeast bite now that you mention it...

Thanks for the help, I'm really hoping I can figure this out. It IS maddening!
Hmmm.... trouble shooting off flavors IS maddening. But, necessary.... so different water, same yeast, and you think the flavors crossing that boundary and likely from the yeast. Let's put the cream ale aside til it ages a bit more, the yeast bite can cover things. The other one has a sorta sweet sorta plastic/bandaid thing going on, right? That screams chlorophenols, but you've gotten it with two differing water sources. One which should have no chlorine/chloromine, right?
I'm looking past the yeast at the moment, although the yeast could be at fault or at least making the flavor more pronounced. But, could this be the cool temp ester people talk about from 05? Is it a faint peach/apricot sweetness? Doesn't sound like it, but I had to ask.
This is what I'd do if it were me; I'd brew a batch using bottled spring water, make a light low hop brew that will let off flavors show, split it and use 05 in half, and another clean, well attenuating strain in the other half (or even a liquid version of chico). Ferment them as similar as you can, and try to keep them cool (below 65). That'll put the suspects (water and yeast) out on front street. If it shows up in the 05 batch only, yeast. If both halves are good, water. If it comes through in both, it's something else. I know that isn't much help at the moment, but that's why this is so frustrating, it takes time and more brewing to get it straightened out.
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can i drink this? I mean. Im gunna. But is it fine?
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it's not a barley wine. it's an ale.
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Have you seen the price of ketchup lately? And I'm not talking Heinz.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:59 PM   #6
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NordeastBrewer77,

That's an *excellent* idea, and it's exactly what I'm going to do. My next batch will actually be my very first all grain brew too, so it should be interesting to split the batch and have this experiment on top of that.

Unfortunately, my last brew day was yesterday, and it was a nut brown with a different yeast, so that won't be any help!

The sweet flavor I mentioned is only in the cream ale (not the American wheat), and from what I've read in reviews of this beer kit (Speckled Heifer from Northern Brewer), it is supposed to be a little sweet.

Honestly, even after everything I've said, I tend to lean towards the water source as well.

There is definitely no Chlorine in either source (they are both well water sources on our properties, we live in rural Pennsylvania). HOWEVER, something I only just now remembered: I have hard water.

Now, from what I've read in some books and things, this isn't necessarily a problem, but is there anything in hard water that might cause this flavor? I never had an extensive analysis of the water (costs too much), but I think there is calcium and magnesium.

I'm going to do a tasting video today of that Speckled Heifer, and post here later. Hopefully that will help a bit too.

But otherwise, yes, in two weeks I'll do that experiment!

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Old 06-04-2012, 05:26 PM   #7
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HOWEVER, something I only just now remembered: I have hard water.
That's what I was wondering too. Wells can have a lot of minerals in them, which can affect the brew. Really hard water isn't always the best for lighter beers. If you're gonna be doing the AG thing, keep that in mind, you wanna be able to get the pH of the mash right. My tap water's generally pretty decent, if you boil off the chloromines it makes pretty decent beer. It is hard water, so for lighter beers, or at this time of year when there's a lot of runoff from rain, I use spring water (especially for the mash). I use a brand called Glenwood Springs, it's from central MN getting up towards the headwaters of the Mississippi, great clean water up there. Doubt you can find it out in your neck of the woods, but there's probably a local or regional spring water company in an area known for clean water, or great fishing lakes, etc... I've found over time that spring water always makes for a good brew, and it's not too expensive if you buy the 2.5 gal refrigerator jugs, maybe $4-5 per batch.
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can i drink this? I mean. Im gunna. But is it fine?
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it's not a barley wine. it's an ale.
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:32 PM   #8
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Yeah, being a budget brewer, I always tried to keep costs down, and paying for water seemed like an easy one. But I guess if hard water is causing the flavor I'm tasting, well, I don't have much of a choice.

I suppose I'll know for sure once I do that experiment you mentioned. I would have gotten a water analysis a long time ago, but it costs like $100 (no free testing for me since it isn't "city water."

I always thought a certain amount of minerals was a good thing in the water, but I guess when you don't know *what* is in it, or in what quantities, there's just no telling.

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Old 06-04-2012, 05:34 PM   #9
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This is not a water problem. I also brew with well water and I have made many excellent beers. I have also made a few beers with the burnt rubber/plastic off flavor. I have noticed this mostly when I first started brewing before I was making starters or if my starter was too small or took a long time to get going. I am quite sure it is due to the health of the yeast. Do you make starters? Use a stir plate if you can. Otherwise, shake the starter often. If you are using dry yeast, don't make a starter, but rehydrate the yeast properly and make sure you use the propper amount or a little more. Mrmalty.com has a lot of good info in this area. Also, how are you aerating the wort? make sure you eiter shake very well for several minutes or add plenty of pure O2. I do 2 min with pure 02 and an airstone now. I have not used an airpump so I cannot comment on that. I think improving the yeast health, cell count and oxygen will make a big difference. If this helps please post results.

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Old 06-04-2012, 05:41 PM   #10
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You can get your water tested at wardlab.com. I highly recommend it especially for well water. It is not expensive.

Also, I don't think hard water would cause burnt rubber/plastic flavor. It may give an astringent flavor. You should get the test though. I did and it is an easy way to eliminate potential causes of issues.

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