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8 batches and I still can't shake this off flavor...

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-TH-

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I'm pretty sure its phenols or chlorophenols. It has kind of a burnt plastic or burnt rubber taste and it is most noticeable when I burp. I have compiled my notes into a chart shown below so that someone can maybe help me with what to do next. Every single batch has the flavor, with the exception of batch #1 (which tasted bad anyways being a Mr. Beer kit). I would say the off flavor has gotten slightly better along the way but is definitely there still. I sampled one bottle from batches 3 through 8 just today to make sure and they all have it – and they do. Now that I am familiar with this off flavor, even the slightest hint of it ruins the experience for me. In batch 8, an IPA, I can almost (but not quite) tolerate it because the hops disguise it somewhat. I would suspect all of my brews would taste excellent if it were not for that dreaded flavor. I can say for certain that I have never tasted this flavor in a commercial brew.

A few additional notes: All batches were primed with corn sugar (1oz / gal) that I bought bulk at the LHBS boiled in 2 cups tap water for 10-15 min. All worts were cooled by either ice bath or IC within 45 min. I am anal about sanitation. For the last batch as an extra precautionary measure I boiled all bottling parts – spigot, wand, etc – for 20+ min before using them.

I am in desperate need of advice on what to do next. On batch #8 I intended to use bottled water for my priming mixture but forgot. Could that be it? Also the corn sugar is another common denominator, I bought this bulk at LHBS and wondered if it might be tainted. I was going to buy the prepackaged stuff next time. My other thoughts are to try a completely different yeast – like a liquid yeast, or maybe even try going AG since I have built a MLT. I haven’t gone this route because I wanted to make a good extract brew first. Unfortunately the off flavor does not rear its ugly head until AFTER about 2 weeks in bottles so I have no idea before that point if the flavor will appear or not. This makes diagnosis all the more difficult.

Can anyone help me?
 

BigEd

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Phenolics are most likely from the fermentation and caused either by bacterial/wild yeast contamination or a ferment at too high a temp. Another culprit can be chlorinated water. Since your problem is coming up late in the process I'm thinking contamination. I would double check your cleaning and sanitation procedures. Disassemble any valves, siphons, bottling bucket spigots and wash them all well in a good brewery detergent like PBW followed by a santizing with an iodine based product prior to use.
 

BarleyWater

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The fact that it takes a while to show up makes me think yeast or sanitation. Dry strains tend to have a hard time keeping the contaminants as low as the liquid strains. Liquid yeasts can be cleaner than the dry yeasts. You may want to try a batch with wyeast or white labs and see the difference that makes. Just make sure you make a proper starter first.

If it's not that, it could be a persistant infection in your plastic equipment. The only solution to this is replace EVERYTHING plastic, happened to me once.
 

Bobby_M

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Chlorophenols needs chlorine as far as I know. You might want to try bottled water or crush half a campden tablet into your brew/top up water.
 

MajorTom

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It has to be your tap water. I would make sure not to use it in the priming stage either. Either way I think you will solve the problem by making things simpler, not more complicated. Keep everything very simple until you find the culprit. I think you will have the same experience I did and find that when you completely eliminate your tap water from your process, you will remove the burnt burps. I know, it is disgusting!
 

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Tap water is a good guess. You should be able to get water chemistry information from your utility. If they're using chlorine, it can be easily removed. If they're using chloramine, not so easily.

Why not try a batch with bottled spring water? Taking the city water out of the equation may help you track down the off-flavor. I also recommend double-checking your iodophor usage. 3 ml iodophor per gallon of water is all you need.
 

roylee

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For whatever its worth... I had a similar deal a year or so ago. 4 or 5 bad batches. Tried all manner of remedies, but the one that worked was doing away with the plastic ale pail. Went to glass for primary and secondary and no problem since.
 
OP
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-TH-

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As you can see from the chart, things that varied among batches (so I can probably rule out) were:
Sanitizer - From bleach to no-rinse to iodophor
Ferm temps - Built a ferm chamber to control temps
Malt extract - From LME only to LME+DME to DME only
Water - From tap water to bottled drinking water (except priming solution)
Pitching method - From rehydrated to dry
Fermentation Vessel - No single vessel was used in ALL batches. However, all my ferm vessels are plastic.
Boil Kettle - From SS to Alum.

The only items that are consistent among all batches (that I can think of) are:
Cleaner - I've used OxyClean Free from the start.
Priming sugar/solution - Corn sugar purchased in bulk, boiled in tap water.
Yeast - Fermentis dry, either S-05 or US-04.
Bottling bucket/spigot/bottle wand.

I can't believe its the cleaner since it is so popular. I'm thinking about changing all of the remaining three. However if I fix the problem, I want to know which one it was. Therefore I'm thinking about splitting my next batch into three 1 gal fermenters and doing a little experiment.
 

Matt Up North

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Start with water and then go away from the plastic fermenter. I had that taste in my first two beers and thought that it was from using nylon hose.

Then I changed my whole process. I stopped using plastic for fermentation (though that isn't the problem most likely as I have fermented many things in plastic), I stopped using Idophor, but most importantly I stopped using city water. My first brew had a plastic burp flavor and medicine (which I chalked up to Idophor), my second brew had plastic burp and no medicine (even though I tried the campden tablet), my third I switched water and haven't had the problem since.

good luck
 

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Start with water and then go away from the plastic fermenter. I had that taste in my first two beers and thought that it was from using nylon hose.

Then I changed my whole process. I stopped using plastic for fermentation (though that isn't the problem most likely as I have fermented many things in plastic), I stopped using Idophor, but most importantly I stopped using city water. My first brew had a plastic burp flavor and medicine (which I chalked up to Idophor), my second brew had plastic burp and no medicine (even though I tried the campden tablet), my third I switched water and haven't had the problem since.

good luck
he already switched up the water
 

MajorTom

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he already switched up the water

He still used tap water to prime with on the last batch though... And, my beer is proof that that will still give you the bad burps if you have chlorine in your water.
 
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-TH-

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I'm still thinking water but here's the thing - I emailed my water company yesterday and they said they don't use chloramines, and my water report says the chlorine level maxed at 1.38 ppm (ave of .77) which I think is pretty low (I can't smell it). Plus on my last batch I only used tap water for the 2 cups of priming solution which was boiled for 15 min which supposedly boils off chlorine.

In other words, its hard for me to believe that just 2 cups of 1.38ppm max chlorine boiled for 15 min could cause chlorophenols in a 3 gal batch.

But one more experiment should tell me for sure.
 

MajorTom

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Yeah, I understand what you are saying. It seems unlikely but I can only speak from my experience, and that is what happened to me. But, like you said. If you do this it will at least rule that problem out, then you can look elsewhere if the bad burp is still there. But, I'm willing to bet it won't be.
 

RedIrocZ-28

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-TH- which LHBS are you going to? Sicilianos?

I made 3 extract batches from their Brewers best kits, and all 3 of them had this off taste in them, the Russian Imperial Stout didn't have it as bad, but its still faintly there. The common denominator was fermentation temps. The first 2 batches I did not use an ice/water bath to ferment in, the Russian, I kinda did and this is the one with the least noticeable off taste. I would not describe it as burnt plastic but more of a chemical taste and the nose of the beer is just dreadful, but otherwise these were all at least drinkable.

However, since moving to AG and Partial Mashes, the flavor has disappeared entirely and they are the best damn beers I have ever had.

One question for you, do you filter your tap water with a brita first like I do? It takes forever but I trust my filter more than my water municipality.

Also, I can't stress enough the importance of fermentation temps of 65-66 for my beers. It has helped so much more than seeing the thermometer at say 73*. The Notty and Safale 05 seem to like it down there rather than mid 70's.

I'm pretty local to you so maybe one day we could have a brewday or a beer trade when you get your bug worked out.

EDIT: Aren't you using those buckets you picked up from the local bakery?? I'm thinking that they may be food grade but oxygen permeable... !!!
 
OP
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-TH-

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-TH- which LHBS are you going to? Sicilianos?

I made 3 extract batches from their Brewers best kits, and all 3 of them had this off taste in them, the Russian Imperial Stout didn't have it as bad, but its still faintly there. The common denominator was fermentation temps. The first 2 batches I did not use an ice/water bath to ferment in, the Russian, I kinda did and this is the one with the least noticeable off taste. I would not describe it as burnt plastic but more of a chemical taste and the nose of the beer is just dreadful, but otherwise these were all at least drinkable.

However, since moving to AG and Partial Mashes, the flavor has disappeared entirely and they are the best damn beers I have ever had.

One question for you, do you filter your tap water with a brita first like I do? It takes forever but I trust my filter more than my water municipality.

Also, I can't stress enough the importance of fermentation temps of 65-66 for my beers. It has helped so much more than seeing the thermometer at say 73*. The Notty and Safale 05 seem to like it down there rather than mid 70's.

I'm pretty local to you so maybe one day we could have a brewday or a beer trade when you get your bug worked out.

EDIT: Aren't you using those buckets you picked up from the local bakery?? I'm thinking that they may be food grade but oxygen permeable... !!!
Yep Sicilianos is my LHBS. I've never made a kit (other than mr. beer) but I've bought all my ingredients there. Do you buy your corn sugar in bulk there or do you buy the pre-packaged stuff?

I've never filtered my water. I built a ferm chamber that I used for my last two batches @63°. I've only used the bakery buckets two times for secondaries so far (I've been waiting to "fill the pipeline" until after I get rid of this off flavor).

To recap:

The only pieces of equipment I've used on every batch is: the bottling bucket, spigot, bottling wand and autosiphon (I have replaced the tubing).

The only common ingredients I've used on every batch is: corn sugar from a tub at LHBS, boiled tap water for priming solution, and yeast (although that did change slightly from us-04 to s-05)
 

RedIrocZ-28

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I just buy the prepackaged 5oz bags at Sicilianos when I go there, its $.79 I think for them.

I'm wondering if its maybe phenol alcohol? Or maybe residue from the iodaphor or plastic taste imparted from your bottling bucket or hose? I may have had the same off-flavor as you but I wouldn't describe mine as burnt plastic, more of an astringent smell. But then again I may have a different taste sensation than you do for the same thing.

Either way, your method sounds pretty good, so I don't know where you are picking up this taste from.
 
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In my brew hsitory, 10-11 batches I seem to have a common off flavor similar to what you're describing. In the 4 batches I've kegged and carbed with Co2 I've not had the flavor, but the 6-7 I've botteled using corn sugar all have had the after taste. It can be smelled as well somewhat. Kinda of like a tart burn in smell and taste. Taste is usually an after taste/back of palate taste. Bit I'm contributing it the priming sugar. One keg I used bottled water and one keg tap water thinking it was my tap water, but it was still free of the off flavor. Maybe I'll do a small batch someday and bottle half with the standard priming sugar and half with brown sugar and see what that gives me.
 
OP
-TH-

-TH-

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In my brew hsitory, 10-11 batches I seem to have a common off flavor similar to what you're describing. In the 4 batches I've kegged and carbed with Co2 I've not had the flavor, but the 6-7 I've botteled using corn sugar all have had the after taste. It can be smelled as well somewhat. Kinda of like a tart burn in smell and taste. Taste is usually an after taste/back of palate taste. Bit I'm contributing it the priming sugar. One keg I used bottled water and one keg tap water thinking it was my tap water, but it was still free of the off flavor. Maybe I'll do a small batch someday and bottle half with the standard priming sugar and half with brown sugar and see what that gives me.
Very interesting. As part of my next experiment I am going to prime some of my bottles using just sugar cubes in the bottle (someone here on HBT swears by that method) thereby eliminating my corn sugar/priming mixture from the equation.
 

RedIrocZ-28

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I've been reading a lot in the past hour, I think your problem is LME and iodaphor and maybe di-methylsulfide (DMS). The first brew I did without covering the kettle at cooling had less of my off taste. The first batch I did without using LME and no cover on the kettle at cooling had NO off taste.

Do you leave the kettle covered when you are boiling? What about when you are cooling to pitching temps?

When I went to AG and PM, my off smell and taste went away with the no cover on at cooling time as the only other change. Plus, its cheaper by far. $24.xx for 5gal of Oatmeal Stout, $18 for an EPA, $22 for an American Ale. Make the jump man, and get some starsan. :D
 

TheFlatline

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Are you scorching your extract or corn sugar?

I know scorched sugar smells/tastes like burnt plastic, so it makes me wonder.

I know scorched extract can have that off flavor you're describing too.

Also, you may want to cycle out your plastic tubing as well.
 
OP
-TH-

-TH-

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Are you scorching your extract or corn sugar?

I know scorched sugar smells/tastes like burnt plastic, so it makes me wonder.

I know scorched extract can have that off flavor you're describing too.

Also, you may want to cycle out your plastic tubing as well.
I'm pretty sure not the extract. I always turn off burner when stirring in, but just to make sure last time I only used DME and still had "the flavor".

The corn sugar on the other hand is very possible. What is the proper method to avoid scorching it?
 
OP
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-TH-

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-TH- did you ever get this figured out??

Let me know.
Well on 2/28 I brewed an experimental batch and split it into 4 diff fermenters, used 2 kinds of yeast, primed using 5 different methods, and bottled with and without bottle bucket/spigot/wand. Its been in bottles 1 week so far and I plan to wait 2 more before I taste them. I will definitely post the results.
 
OP
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-TH-

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I seem to notice this off taste on all batches bottled with corn sugar, and none kegged using co2 for carbonation.
Yes my hunch is corn sugar also (although my hunches have all been wrong to this point). I think I may have been scorching it by boiling it vigorously for 10+ minutes. Either that or its from the crappy bulk stuff at the LHBS. This time I tried different sugars, carb tabs, with or without boiling, etc. We'll see what happens...
 

RedIrocZ-28

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Is the corn sugar and priming sugar the same stuff? If so, I mistakenly told you I used the same stuff. I use the 5oz packets of priming sugar. Also, I only boil the priming solution with the sugar in it for maybe 2-3 minutes at MOST.
 
OP
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-TH-

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Is the corn sugar and priming sugar the same stuff? If so, I mistakenly told you I used the same stuff. I use the 5oz packets of priming sugar. Also, I only boil the priming solution with the sugar in it for maybe 2-3 minutes at MOST.
Don't worry you told me correctly. In fact I found the 5oz packets that you use and tried some in this test batch (among other methods). I tried it both boiled and straight into the bottle. I still may have scorched it by boiling too long and vigorous (doh!) but it will be interesting to see how the results turn out.
 

anemic

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1) you have a stir plate & you are pitching dry yeast? try a liquid yeast + starter

2) I read S-04 is possibly a producer of sulfur, which may produce "rubbery" flavors - I wonder if that could be? I searched sulfur and US-05 & got some hits, could be an issue.

3) Time is our great friend, so what about going 2 weeks primary 2 weeks secondary 3 weeks bottle conditioning? I see you have not done that yet with any of them. It's pretty well the Northern Brewer standard method.
 
OP
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-TH-

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1) you have a stir plate & you are pitching dry yeast? try a liquid yeast + starter

2) I read S-04 is possibly a producer of sulfur, which may produce "rubbery" flavors - I wonder if that could be? I searched sulfur and US-05 & got some hits, could be an issue.

3) Time is our great friend, so what about going 2 weeks primary 2 weeks secondary 3 weeks bottle conditioning? I see you have not done that yet with any of them. It's pretty well the Northern Brewer standard method.

1) Yes I definitely plan to. Looking forward to using my stirplate for the first time. I split my current batch: half with dry and half with liquid. I'm very much interested in seeing if there's a difference.

2) Yes I have seen that about S-04 as well, and to a lesser extent US-05. In most cases it was related to high ferm temps though which led me to building my fermentation chamber (which isn't a bad thing to have anyway).

3) Yes again! although batches 7 & 8 were each 4 weeks in primary (no secondary) & 3+ weeks minimum in bottles. I have recently sampled all 8 batches and they still all have the "flavor". Some have been in bottles over 4 months. Its been a long, slow process when I have to wait 7-8 weeks between tries, especially when I have no pipeline!


Thanks for the advice - keep it coming!!!!
 
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I'm watching this thread pretty eagerly.

My first batch (kit bavarian brown) had a faint plastic taste to it, but nothing that got in the way of enjoying it. My second batch was an IPA bottled 2 weeks ago after 1 week in the primary and 2 in the secondary. I cracked open one today to try it out and I'm still burping hot plastic. The taste is definitely plastic, not medicinal, it tastes like bottled water that has been left out in the sun until it's warm.

From what I've read here and elsewhere, I'm thinking the Philadelphia tap water is to blame, I know for a fact they use chloramine and other than running it through a Brita filter and boiling it I haven't changed it in any way. I use Iodophor to sanitize and haven't used any bleach products in my cleaning.

I have my fingers crossed that the Heffe I just bottled won't turn out with this taste, and on my next batch I'll be switching to bottled to troubleshoot.

Any other Philly homebrewers notice this with their tap water?
 

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-TH-,

Would you be willing to post your water profile contents and concentrations? Maybe something will stand out to some other brewers here. It might be a high level of compound that is causing your issue, not chlor- based compounds.

Just a thought
 
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You might also want to leave it in the primary longer. Could be some byproducts the yeast need to remove.

That water report does not state the Ca, Mg, Sulfate, bicarbonate, Ph, etc. Ask for a detailed water analysis. This report you posted lists "regulated elements" only.

You said the bottled water leaves you with the same odd taste?

It's also possible the fluoride is causing mutations with your yeast leading to off flavors. Though, again you said you also get this taste with bottled water.

How long are you aging your beer in the bottles and does the taste diminish on beer that has aged longer?

You don't have to boil the corn sugar for 20 minutes. Really, you can just boil some water and then take it off the heat and add the sugar and stir.
 
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You don't have to boil the corn sugar for 20 minutes. Really, you can just boil some water and then take it off the heat and add the sugar and stir.
How likely is it that this could be his problem? I too always brought my sugar water to a vigorous boil for 15-20 minutes to sanitize the sugar and only noticed the off flavor in bottling. Never in Kegging.
 

wizardofza

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Are you guys talking about the "extract twang" that many people complain about with extract beers?

I know when I started a few years ago, I started with extract kits and each of the four I brewed all had that twang to them. It usually appeared as an aftertaste (or possibly when I burped).

I can't really explain it any better other that "twang" since it's been a few years and it completely disappeared when I went all-grain.
 

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I have this question. Do you boil your priming suger in the water or do you ad the priming suger to the water after you boil it. As a newbie i was wondering if this makes any difference.
 

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I had a similar experience with what I assumed was chlorophenols from tap water...but then I still got it from time to time after I filtered my water and/or did full boils. It wasn't until I changed my cooling procedure that I seemed to have eradicated the problem. How are you chilling? I discovered that even with foil over the wort-it wasn't a good idea to let it chill in my utility tub. I'm pretty sure the problem was a slight infection or wild yeast that were getting in there. Now I use an IC and do it outside, then pitch as ASAP.
 
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-TH-

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-TH-, I'm at westshore mall, want to drop off a few to me and I'll try them tonight, see if I can give you my uneducated opinion? :D
I'd be glad to, but I can't get them there tonight because even though I drive right by there on my way home I'd have to pick them up from home and bring them back which I don't have time for. Let me know the next time you are going to be there and I will take some with me to work so I can drop them off.
 
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-TH-

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I have this question. Do you boil your priming suger in the water or do you ad the priming suger to the water after you boil it. As a newbie i was wondering if this makes any difference.
I've been boiling the water with the sugar in it but I am realizing now that many do not. My priming mixture has a very slight caramel color to it when I am finished. Is that normal?
 
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-TH-

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I had a similar experience with what I assumed was chlorophenols from tap water...but then I still got it from time to time after I filtered my water and/or did full boils. It wasn't until I changed my cooling procedure that I seemed to have eradicated the problem. How are you chilling? I discovered that even with foil over the wort-it wasn't a good idea to let it chill in my utility tub. I'm pretty sure the problem was a slight infection or wild yeast that were getting in there. Now I use an IC and do it outside, then pitch as ASAP.
I've used an ice bath in the kitchen sink, outdoors, and the basement utility sink. Usually covered. The last two batches I used an IC chiller - took less than 10 minutes.
 
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