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Old 12-10-2012, 03:28 PM   #1
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Default Why on earth does my beer taste like metal??

Hi Folks,

I brewed a partial mash mint chocolate stout for Christmas this year. It spent 3 weeks in the primary and 4 weeks bottle conditioning at 68-71 degrees.

I popped one open last week and it was most definitely still green. I tried one again yesterday and the greenness had dissipated, only to be replaced by a horrible rusty metal flavor. It was absolutely disgusting.

Where this flavor came from is a mystery to me. My tap water tastes fine and I use starsan at the proper concentrations. This batch was boiled in an aluminum kettle, but I have made at least 10 other batches in said kettle and never had a hint of metal before. I thought for a second it could have been the caps, but there was no hint of rust or corrosion on the caps of the ones I tried.

When reading past posts about metallic off flavors, it was never mentioned when they became apparent. What is especially confusing to me is that this beer tasted pretty darn good going into the bottles. It wasn't my best ever, but I was satisfied that it was going to be a better than average Christmas beer.

What could have happened between bottling and now that would have contributed such terrible flavor? It is incredibly strong, completely overpowering any other flavor of the beer.

Is there an infection that causes metallic taste? I saw it mentioned that oxidation combined with roasty grains can give a metallic flavor; does anyone have experience with this? When this happens is it an overwhelming flavor?

I try to minimize introducing oxygen to the beer during the bottling process, but I am far from perfect.

In any case, I hope some of the more experienced brewers will be able to give me an idea of how my pretty decent beer went into glass bottles and transformed into something I wouldn't give my worst enemy.

Thanks!



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Old 12-10-2012, 03:34 PM   #2
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:46 PM   #3
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I have read those and several other sources about where metallic beer generally comes from.

However, as I explained in my original post, I don't believe that the normal causes for metallic off-flavors are the cause for mine. I used fresh ingredients, my kettle has been used for 10 batches without any hint of metal, and most importantly (in my view), if the metallic flavor was caused by one of the reasons listed in those references, it would have shown up when I tasted the beer before bottling.

I could be wrong about that, but please don't assume that posting here was my first action after discovering this taste in my beer. I have read all of the standard references on line as well as several discussions on this and other homebrewing forums.

And I'm still confused.

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Old 12-10-2012, 03:56 PM   #4
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Do you have a aluminum boil kettle or brass fittings anywhere in your system?

Both of these leech metal if they are not properly treated to create a passive oxygen layer. Even after the passive oxygen layer has been established, cleaning them with any sort of caustic cleaner, heavy acid based cleaner (or soaking in an acid-based sanatizer, like starsan), oxyclean-type oxygen based cleaner, or flat out scrubbing them with anything coarse will also remove the passive oxygen layer.

If everything in your system isn't stainless steel, you could have accidentally leeched metal into your wort.

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Old 12-10-2012, 04:04 PM   #5
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No brass fittings. I do have an aluminum boil kettle, but I would be a little surprised if that is the culprit since:

  1. I have brewed several other batches in this kettle with no resulting metallic flavor
  2. Palmer says that aluminum won't contribute to a metallic flavor unless your water has a PH of around 9, and mine does not, and
  3. If it was the kettle, wouldn't the flavor have shown up before I bottled?

I think the last point is my big question. I'm having trouble with the general reasons for metallic flavors because it seems to me that all of the standard causes should have shown up after fermentation and before bottling. But my beer tasted good going into the bottles.

I'm stuck on the idea that something happened during conditioning, but I can't figure out what.
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:24 PM   #6
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Did you try more than one bottle containing this "flavor"?

To the point of the others, the more you use your aluminum kettle, the more you clean it, the higher the chance of the aluminum breaking down and contributing off flavors.

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Old 12-10-2012, 04:46 PM   #7
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So far, I've tried two bottles and both had the metallic taste. But I have a couple more in the fridge that I wil try in a day or so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by meis1212 View Post
To the point of the others, the more you use your aluminum kettle, the more you clean it, the higher the chance of the aluminum breaking down and contributing off flavors.
This makes sense to me, but do you think if the flavor was coming from the kettle I would be able to taste it before bottling?

I ask this partially because I just bottled another batch yesterday that was brewed in the same kettle. It was the best beer I've ever made going in to the bottles. Should I be worried that this new batch is also going to develop a metallic taste?
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:52 PM   #8
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I doubt it was the kettle, unless you were scrubbing it while the wort was in the pot.

Aluminum oxidizes the instant it touches oxygen to form the protective layer.

Unless you scrubbed the hell out of it and didnt rinse it out at all before putting your wort in i doubt its the kettle. To get enough metal into the beer to actually taste it, you would have needed a good amount to have made it into the fermenter.

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Old 12-10-2012, 06:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TopherM View Post
Do you have a aluminum boil kettle or brass fittings anywhere in your system?

Both of these leech metal if they are not properly treated to create a passive oxygen layer. Even after the passive oxygen layer has been established, cleaning them with any sort of caustic cleaner, heavy acid based cleaner (or soaking in an acid-based sanatizer, like starsan), oxyclean-type oxygen based cleaner, or flat out scrubbing them with anything coarse will also remove the passive oxygen layer.

If everything in your system isn't stainless steel, you could have accidentally leeched metal into your wort.
I didn't know brass was bad for brewing. I have three brass fittings on my SS pot, it holds the SS Blichmann temperature gauge (see pic). Sounds like I need to get rid of it. How bad do you think that is?

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Old 12-10-2012, 06:06 PM   #10
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How did you get the mint flavor? Real mint or a flavor extract? I find extracts can leave funny tastes in the beer, especially as an aftertaste.



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