Esters - can you get them out? - Home Brew Forums
Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Esters - can you get them out?
Sign-up To NEW HBT Article Newsletter - Brewing Articles Direct To You!

Thread Tools
Old 08-31-2010, 02:07 PM   #1
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 169
Liked 3 Times on 2 Posts

Default Esters - can you get them out?

So, I'm fermenting a roggenbier right now and my temp control has been poor. I'm using wyeast 3068 and the temp in the ferm room is about 72-75F. The fermenter is certainly above that. I may be able to get the ferm temp down a little bit, but I don't have a chamber set up yet. The smell coming out of the airlock is all bananas. While I would expect some of this due to the yeast strain, I'm worried that it's going to be too strong. The batch has been fermenting for just less than 48 hours.

My questions are:

1. If I continue to ferment at 72-75F, will the beer clean itself up if I give it enough time (i.e. long primary/secondary followed by long bottle conditioning)?

2. If I were to lower the ferm temp into the high 60s now, would the beer clean itself up?

3. Besides building a temp controlled chamber (which is going to happen in the near future) or using the swamp cooler method, is there anything else I can do or need to know?

I'd appreciate some help.



chicagobrew is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2010, 02:16 PM   #2
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Revvy's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: "Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,859
Liked 3138 Times on 1856 Posts
Likes Given: 3871


It's really hard to judge a beer at this stage, just because you are smelling something out the airlock, doesn't mean it is actually IN your beer, it may simply be going out the airlock, like Rhino farts or sulphur smells given off by lager yeasts or the making of apfelwein. They don't actually stick around.

Get your temps down, yes, but don't worry about anything else. Your beer has a long journey to go through before it's ready to drink, and a lot of changes will happen between now and then. And there's plenty of points along the way where the yeast will have the opportunity to correct itself. They are very fastidious creatures, they like to clean up their messes if given enough time.

Many of us leave our beers in primary for a month I find that goes a long way in improving the overall flavor of beer by allowing the yeast to clean up any byproducts of fermentation.

Also, it really is hard to judge a beer until it's been about 6 weeks in the bottle. Just because you taste (or smell) something in primary or secondary DOESN'T mean it will be there when the beer is fully conditioned (that's also the case with kegging too.)

The thing to remember though is that if you are smelling or tasting 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,) that you concern yourself with any flavor issues if they are still there.

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.

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 Never dump your beer!!! Patience IS a virtue!!! Time heals all things, even beer:

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.

Long story short....I betcha that smell/flavor will be long gone when the beer is carbed and conditioned.

In other words, relax, your beer will be just fine, like 99.5%.

You can find more info on that in here;

Of Patience and Bottle Conditioning.

Just remember it will not be the same beer it is now, and you shouldn't stress what you are tasting right now.

Our beer is more resilient then most new brewers realize, and time can be a big healer. Just read the stories in this thread of mine, and see how many times a beer that someone thought was bad, turned out to be fine weeks later.

Like my snazzy new avatar? Get Sons of Zymurgy swag, here, and brew with the best.

Revvy's one of the cool reverends. He has a Harley and a t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this, the bitch was Raptured. - Madman

I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew
Revvy is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2010, 02:17 PM   #3
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Portland OR
Posts: 5,373
Liked 62 Times on 58 Posts
Likes Given: 29


I'd go with a long primary (month +/-) and see what happens. From Wyeast "Dominated by banana ester production" I've brewed beers that gave off large amounts of sulphur at the beginning but a long primary and some conditioning will take care of it usually.
samc is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2010, 02:26 PM   #4
Ale's What Cures You!
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Yooper's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
Posts: 68,360
Liked 7289 Times on 5155 Posts
Likes Given: 2069


In my experience, esters formed from a too-high fermentation temperature don't improve much. They may fade a bit, but never go away. Some yeast strains are worse than others- nottingham turns foul over 72 degrees, but WLP001 isn't as bad.

Wyeast 3068 will be banana and clove like even at cooler temperatures, so at the warmer temps it should be very strong. You'll probably get a strong phenolic flavor.
Broken Leg Brewery
Giving beer a leg to stand on since 2006
Yooper is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2010, 04:23 AM   #5
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 169
Liked 3 Times on 2 Posts


Thanks for the replies, everyone. I'm not panicking, I'm just curious if you can correct this type of problem later on. I never dump beer and I'm a patient person, so I'll just wait it out and see. I primary for 2-6 weeks and bottle condition for several weeks. This beer is for Nov/Dec, so I've got some time to let it sit.

Also, I checked the airlock tonight and the smell has completely changed. I don't detect any banana smell now. It's currently going through the sulfur/egg smell at the moment, so my worries may have been premature.
chicagobrew is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2010, 09:04 AM   #6
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 1,869
Liked 43 Times on 39 Posts
Likes Given: 10


My uncle Carl has been trying to get my aunt Esther to move out for 47 years. No luck yet.
__________________ - Brewin' and 'Quein' since last Tuesday.

Bottling the Belgian: A Photo Odyssey

Beer is the mind-killer. Beer is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my beer. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see it's path. When the beer has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
JetSmooth is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2010, 04:06 PM   #7
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Edmonton
Posts: 476
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts


It can take a LONG time for certain compounds to clean up (6+ months), depending exactly how hot the fermentation actually is. Some of them (such as the fire-y/spicy fusels) will never clean up.

prosper is offline
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Realized I don't like the yeast I used...possible to hide esters? KyleWolf Fermentation & Yeast 5 06-20-2010 08:56 PM
Is it posible to have no esters from WLP300? maida7 Fermentation & Yeast 14 05-29-2010 08:24 PM
does glucose fermentation produce more esters? elmwood Fermentation & Yeast 0 05-16-2010 04:36 AM
Fruity Esters smarek82 Fermentation & Yeast 4 04-04-2010 02:36 AM
Safale s-04... Pineapple... Do esters age out? Orangevango Fermentation & Yeast 1 09-08-2009 01:50 PM

Forum Jump