Can I not taste diacetyl? - Home Brew Forums
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:59 PM   #1
May 2009
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A while back, I did a last minute entry to a homebrew competition. Total turn around time was 6 days (5 days in primary, overnight cold crash, force carbed and bottled from keg) with another week in the bottle before the tasting. Before you jump all over me, I know that's an ultra-short time, but when I tasted it on day 5, I thought I could get away with it. I tried it again on the day of the competition from an extra bottle I kept to make sure I was tasting the same thing as the judges. Still seemed OK, but not award winning.

However, when I finally got my score sheets back, both judges scored it identically (25 pts) and had nearly identical comments. "Buttery aroma," "slight slickness in mouthfeel," "buttery finish." Now I know that all I need to do to fix this is let it ferment a little longer, but I'm more disturbed by my inability to detect the diacetyl. I got a little of the slickness they mentioned, but didn't taste or smell butter at all. Is it possible that I'm "taste blind" when it comes to diacetyl? I've tasted it before in beers that were really out of control, but obviously, my detection level is far higher than the judges'. Any thoughts?

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Old 06-09-2011, 02:11 PM   #2
Jan 2010
Joliet, IL
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Anything is possible, but I think it is more likely that you ate, drank, or smoked something that didn't allow you to pick up the taste. It could also be a matter of experience. I wasn't 100% sure what diacetyl tasted like until I did a off flavors kit with my homebrew club.

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Old 06-09-2011, 02:22 PM   #3
Nov 2008
Kansas City
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Individual thresholds for diacetyl vary wildly. So, yes. I would find a friend that is sensitive to it.

What does microwave popcorn (butter flavor) smell like to you?

The BJCP guideline has advice for using store bought imitation butter extract (which should be diacetyl in ethanol roughly). Get a few friends and dose some beer with maybe a quarter of what they recommend, see if anyone can taste it, then half, then what they recommend, then double. Keep going until you taste it. See how you compare to the other guys.

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Old 06-09-2011, 02:26 PM   #4
Jan 2008
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FYI, and I'm not saying this is you, but some people genetically can't taste diacetyl. Not sure what % of the population it is, but I do know that there are some people who could get hit in the face with a Mac Truck dosing of the stuff and not taste it at all. Since you said you have tasted it before, you probably just haven't trained your palate enough to pick it up at lower levels. Get some Red Stripe. It's textbook for low (but still too much for the style) diacetyl levels.

Don't let it get you down. Even those of us who brew consistently good beer and win a lot of awards still have the big D creep in every once in a while. My IIPA just fell victim to it. I think in part because it was my own beer I swore it wasn't there. Beers are like kids sometimes, we don't always see the flaws of our own even when we are very experienced judges (I'm BJCP National). When it got killed with 20s at a recent competition I popped a bottle and grudgingly admitted my fellow judges were correct.

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Old 06-09-2011, 02:36 PM   #5
May 2009
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Good suggestions guys. Don't get me wrong, I'm actually quite happy with a 25 for a beer I did in under a week, just confused. I'll have to grab a sixer of Red Stripe and see if I get anything from that.

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Old 06-09-2011, 03:26 PM   #6
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Feb 2008
Reed City, MI
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Many people can't taste everything that's possible, or really have to study to be able to note a particular flavor. That is one reason I started sending my beer in to competitions. I wasn't confident that my tastes were up to standard.

Honestly, I have a hard time TASTING garlic. I can smell it ok, but when it comes to taste, I get a slight saltiness, and not much else. I hear others complain about something being "too garlicky!" and I'm just not getting it.

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Old 06-09-2011, 03:31 PM   #7
May 2007
San Diego, CA
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I sat across from a National judge that told me, "If you taste diacetyl, let me know. I've been doing this for 20 years, and I just can't get it."

So yes, it is very possible that your palate is blind to it, or that your threshold is high.

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Old 06-09-2011, 03:46 PM   #8
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Feb 2011
O'Fallon, MO
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I can't taste diacetyl either. I just figure that I can enjoy beers that others can't, they still taste good to me.

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Old 06-09-2011, 03:58 PM   #9
Jul 2009
Pittsburgh, PA
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Originally Posted by Homercidal View Post
Honestly, I have a hard time TASTING garlic. I can smell it ok, but when it comes to taste, I get a slight saltiness, and not much else. I hear others complain about something being "too garlicky!" and I'm just not getting it.
You must be Italian. To me personally there can't be such a thing as 'too garlicky'. My wife gets mad at me when I make pizza and throw half a bulb of garlic in the sauce. I love it. I do smell it in my pores the next day thought, and that is a little gross.
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Old 06-09-2011, 04:25 PM   #10
Jun 2005
Eugene, OR
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Often times I will detect diacetyl as a slick mouthfeel before I taste it.

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