Diacetyl in Commercial Beers

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Matt Up North

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Last night I went out to a show and ordered a Lost Coast White Ale. First thing I smelled was buttered popcorn. I unhappily finished it and ordered up an under carbed Sierra Pale. Then I ordered a Blue Moon, buttered popcorn. The bar seemed rather blah on their care for the beer, but I didn't think that would make a beer taste of D.

Is wit or american wit a style that is supposed to have buttered popcorn? I was not being over critical either, I asked a couple other people what they tasted in it and they said movie theater.

Could diacetyl be something that came in post fermentation? I have had it in my beer and it is because of a short cool fermentation. I would assume that commercial people strive to attain a beer sans diacetyl.

I couldn't believe it either time, but man oh man was it awful to have to choke down two beers with buttered popcorn :mad:
 

Revvy

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Was it on tap? It's very possible that in that case diacetyl was a result of an infection...from dirty lines.

I've gotten it in bars serving Killian's on occasion...I've also got killians on tap at places that was close to truning to vinegar.

One possible source of diacetyl is bacterial infection. Pediococcus and Lactobacillus are notoriously prodigious producers of diacetyl.
I recently got a six pack of Rogue Dead guy that was almost pure butterscotch as well...i usually by it on bombers. It was a surprise that every bottle in the six was buttery.
 

Cpt_Kirks

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I have detected it in Dos Equis Amber on tap at Dead Lobster.

Funny thing was, I had the same issue (diacetyl infection in the keg) in my Dos Equis Amber clone.
 

Donthoseme

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Yea i had a Sam Adams at a meat market bar with my wife that was so bad it was the first and only beer i have ever not finished. It was straight up nasty sour (and i really like gueze). Damn dirty meat market beer lines.
 

Revvy

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There's a couple threads over the while where other's have detected diacetyl in commercial products.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f5/does-anyone-else-detect-diacetyl-sam-adams-beers-102379/

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/commercial-example-diacetyl-59586/

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/commercial-examples-off-flavors-especially-diacetyl-18345/

I think as we brew we become more able to note and detect flaws in beers, not just our own...when I have had Killians that was ready to turn to vinegar, other people drinking the same thing thought I was nuts.
 

Dougan

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I recently got a six pack of Rogue Dead guy that was almost pure butterscotch as well...i usually by it on bombers. It was a surprise that every bottle in the six was buttery.
I definitely hear you on this. I'm a big fan of Rogue beers and find that DGA does have just a slight naturally buttery flavor, but not anything to the extent you're speaking of. Recently I bought two growlers of DGA. I drank one and it was fine (Little less carbed but it was in a growler...), but the next one had that buttery flavor like you wouldn't believe. I had trouble putting down one glass of it. The rest of the growler's still in the fridge.

I figured it may have been my pallet being screwed up (I was drinking some kind of IPA before and I've found that hoppiness tends to mess w/ my pallet) so I just tried another sip after I read this post and I was definitely dead on. Something's different with this growler. I think it may have been sitting at the grocery store for a long time, so maybe that had something to do with it.
 

brewfun

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Most of the time, these problems are line related. If you are in a place that serves a lot of Bumco for the masses, it'll probably be worse.

Lines should be cleaned every 2 weeks in a bar setting. Low volume retailers (less than a keg a week) really don't seem to get much, if any, line cleaning service.

Another issue is keg age and storage. Oxidation can create diacetyl (the precursers are tasteless until oxidized) in the keg, especially if they're not refrigerated. I have one client who gets Lagunitas delivered by a distributor, only to have another distributor move them out into the hot pizza kitchen to put another product into the undersized walk-in.

I've often thought that a great homebrewer community effort would be to offer to line clean some of their favorite tap houses. Might even result in a few pints of gratitude.
 

Revvy

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I've often thought that a great homebrewer community effort would be to offer to line clean some of their favorite tap houses. Might even result in a few pints of gratitude.
I can't recall who, but the family member of a friend of mine has a business, I think in California, where he hires himself out to a circuit of bars and restaurants, and cleans the taps and lines. I can't recall if he does it bi-weekly or monthly for each "subscriber" of his service.
 

smizak

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I've tasted diacetyl in Killian's alot. To me, it's almost complementary in an Irish red.

There's a certain local brewery here in B-lo who's lager always tastes uber buttery. Tis a shame.
 

lamarguy

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I've tasted diacetyl in Killian's alot. To me, it's almost complementary in an Irish red.
Ya, a light butter flavor is to style in an Irish Red. A lot of people use a neutral ale yeast, so no butter. I'm like you, I prefer the butter. :)
 

GilaMinumBeer

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I have stopped going to the local 3.2 ABV BJ's. If it ain't buttered beer, it's creamed corn. I've guessed it a direct result of too early in packaging.
 
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