Identifying cause of bad taste

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

Joined
Apr 13, 2022
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
I’ve been brewing for a couple years, but my brews have been about 50/50 for having the same terrible off taste to varying degrees from “drinkable” to throwing out the batch. I’ve tried varying a number of things but the inconsistency in how it shows up is making it difficult and really frustrating in identifying what is causing it. I’ve researched as much as I can but it’s hard to google a taste and I don’t feel like it really matches most of the descriptions out there, so hoping to find some advice here!

I brew almost exclusively ipas, with the occasional wheat or stout, but usually very hoppy beers and almost always involving a dry hop. I use the anvil foundry electric kettle and ferment currently in glass carboys, previously in plastic buckets from northern brewer. I’ve done shorter fermentations, as short as 2 weeks, in just a primary and have transferred to a secondary to varying lengths, as long as 2 months, but that seems to have no affect on the bad taste showing up. I keg but I always try the flat beer before transferring to a keg and the bad taste will be present before it goes in the keg so I don’t think any of that process is relevant.

The flavor is hard to describe, it’s a very dry, and pungent taste, a little plastic-y and almost like really cheap and terrible vodka or something that came out of a plastic bottle that you can taste a bit. I will say I think it has something to do with the yeast, after I transfer the beer when it’s done fermenting, the yeast at the bottom reeks of the smell of the same taste, and in the plastic buckets even after they have been scrubbed, cleaned, sanitized, and dried, weeks later it will still have a faint hint of the same smell in it. I was rewashing and sanitizing before using them again on brew days but that’s the reason I switched to glass. I’ve only done a couple brews in glass, the first two were great, no problems, but this last 3rd one has the same bad taste again, bad enough I can’t even finish a glass of it, I’m letting it sit in the keg for a bit just to see but I’m likely going to dump it.

I used to live in Arkansas, after troubleshooting for a while I determined it was possibly the chlorine treatment in the water reacting with the yeast, brewing with packaged water didn’t reproduce the taste. But since then I’ve moved to Boise and have been using water from a glacier water dispenser outside an Albertsons, which I used for the last 3 brews in the glass carboys and this last one reproduced the same bad taste again.

I’m mostly brewing with safale 05, I almost always use them right away, but if not then they stay refrigerated and don’t expire. But I’ve gotten the same bad taste with other yeasts. I let them warm to room temp before use and I usually just pour the dry yeast into the wort once it’s cooled to lukewarm and transferred into the carboy. I lift the kettle up onto the counter and let it pour through the spigot into the carboy with enough height that it foams and oxygenates really well, fermentation always kicks off really strong and appears to be doing well every time. There are never questionable findings in the carboy to suggest mold or infection.

I sanitize with star San, I wash all brew parts with soap and water and then a pbw soak. My next thing I was going to try is going back to packaged water for a bit until if or when the bad taste shows up again, but I’d prefer using a cheaper and simpler source then having to buy gallons of water for every brew day.

Overal just frustrated with not being able to kick this bad taste and looking for any advice on what to try next! I don’t want to dump any more batches!
 

AlexKay

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
1,268
Reaction score
3,799
Location
South Bend
Plastic makes me think cholorophenols; see this link. But it sounds like you’ve mixed your water up (the main culprit). An infection, maybe? Do you have plastic tubing or a ball valve that the wort sees on its way to the fermenter?
 
OP
OP
R
Joined
Apr 13, 2022
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
Plastic makes me think cholorophenols; see this link. But it sounds like you’ve mixed your water up (the main culprit). An infection, maybe? Do you have plastic tubing or a ball valve that the wort sees on its way to the fermenter?
Thanks for the input!

Chlorophenols have been my top differential on what this taste is but yeah I’m not sure what else to do with the water aside from buying packaged, which I could do but that’s just such a pain. I forgot to mention, I did try campden tablets in Arkansas, which did seem to help, but some brews had a bit of that taste still sneak in occasionally. But it’s just such a pain to filter all your water and then treat it with campden and have to do it enough ahead of time for it to do it’s magic, and I’m not sure if I’m even going down the right road.

It does pass through the valve of the kettle on its way to the fermentor, but I run the pbw through it pretty well, but no tubing there. It also recircs through some plastic tubing during the mash, but I’ve never noticed wort smelling like anything foul as if it was picking up plastic flavors there.
 

jerrylotto

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
591
Reaction score
440
Location
North Chelmsford
Valves have a way of hiding infections. Anything you can take apart and clean, do. It would be helpful to have pictures or an actual complete description of your hot side AND cold side processes and gear. It's easy to eliminate water as the culprit - just brew a batch with RO or distilled water.
 

schmurf

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2018
Messages
502
Reaction score
298
Location
Vinnerstad
When you say transfer to secondary, do you mean to your keg or a secondary vessel and after that to keg? Are you transferring with as little oxygen exposure as possible?

Some side notes.. two weeks primary is in my book a pretty long fermentation, mines are usually 7 to 10 days. Transfer to a secondary fermenter is usually not necessary.
 

hottpeper13

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Messages
1,640
Reaction score
751
Location
Mequon
Here's, a way to tell if your valve needs to come apart. Do a CIP with your recirc capability and keep the valves 1/2 oped (or closed, depending on your bend) use PBW at recommended strength for 15-20 min. at 120*-140*. If you see [email protected]# swimming around in the mix you need to take everything apart that can come apart. Since I started doing my CIP this way all the time, when I do take the valves apart there is nothing behind the seals.
 

aceluby

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 24, 2022
Messages
154
Reaction score
237
I had one kit that did this to me. Made 3 one gallon batches from a 5 gallon extract kit and every batch turned out this way. 4th batch I skipped the grain steeping from the kit and used my own grain and that batch was spot on. I'm not exactly sure why that grain mix did that, but it extracted tannins like crazy which made the beer undrinkable (thank goodness these were 1 gallon batches!). Not sure if you're AG or extract (I assume AG since you're using the foundry), but you may be over-sparging, sparging too hot, your PH of your water might be too high, or some combination of the 3. On my foundry I mash out to 170 as I'm getting it up to a boil and then sparge with warm water - maybe 120 degrees - not sure as I don't measure it - just to be sure I'm rinsing sugars out and not tannins.
 

BPenny

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
46
Reaction score
47
Location
Des Moines, IA
If it’s any consolation, I occasionally get a weird off-flavor that I can’t even begin to describe, probably yeast related, but it usually ages out. What you are describing does sound like Chlorophenols, which could happen whenever any amount of tap water gets into your beer, even from small amounts such as any residual tap water used to rinse your fermenter, tubing, etc, or if you are using tap water to make your Starsan solution. your cleaning regimen doesn’t seem lax or anything, to the contrary, it could be a bit over the top. If you use a scented soap or don’t rinse the soap extremely well, it could be contributing to the problem. Have you ever tried using only PBW followed by a Starsan soak (that has been mixed with only distilled water)? Another possible culprit could be fusels, which can definitely taste like cheap vodka. What temp are you usually fermenting at? Have you ever seen any evidence of infection such as a pellicle or other weird things floating on top of your beer?
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
R
Joined
Apr 13, 2022
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
Here's, a way to tell if your valve needs to come apart. Do a CIP with your recirc capability and keep the valves 1/2 oped (or closed, depending on your bend) use PBW at recommended strength for 15-20 min. at 120*-140*. If you see [email protected]# swimming around in the mix you need to take everything apart that can come apart. Since I started doing my CIP this way all the time, when I do take the valves apart there is nothing behind the seals.
That sounds like a great idea, I'll give that a shot!
 

TLaffey

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 25, 2011
Messages
109
Reaction score
55
Location
Sacramento area, CA
I'd call this the steep climb of the learning curve. Since I also brew hoppy beers (check that avatar), I feel your pain. There may be more than one thing going on. Here's what comes to mind from your description:
1. You are trusting that machine to deliver consistently clean and chlorine free water. Apply "trust but verify" by getting an inexpensive free total chlorine test kit and using that to test the water before you use it. Chloramines are hard to remove from water. Use sodium metabisufite to get rid of any remainder--it takes very little. Getting rid of chlorine is the first requirement, the first brick of a strong foundation.
2. Fermentation temperature control. Fermenting too warm will make bad flavors (fusels, esters, etc) that you don't want. The happy range for a specific yeast is quite narrow. Be sure to measure the beer temperature, not the air temperature.
3. Control of oxygen. Really hard if you are dry hopping. You might work on getting good beer without dry hopping for a few batches by adding more hops in WP. Make every effort to transfer, bottle, keg, whatever, without any exposure to air. There's no such thing as a CO2 blanket, only presence or absence of oxygen.
4. Cleaning. Use nothing that has any scent, ever. I recommend cleaning only with PBW. Sanitize where needed using starsan made up with chlorine free water.

I hope this helps improve your success rate! :mug:
 
OP
OP
R
Joined
Apr 13, 2022
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
I had one kit that did this to me. Made 3 one gallon batches from a 5 gallon extract kit and every batch turned out this way. 4th batch I skipped the grain steeping from the kit and used my own grain and that batch was spot on. I'm not exactly sure why that grain mix did that, but it extracted tannins like crazy which made the beer undrinkable (thank goodness these were 1 gallon batches!). Not sure if you're AG or extract (I assume AG since you're using the foundry), but you may be over-sparging, sparging too hot, your PH of your water might be too high, or some combination of the 3. On my foundry I mash out to 170 as I'm getting it up to a boil and then sparge with warm water - maybe 120 degrees - not sure as I don't measure it - just to be sure I'm rinsing sugars out and not tannins.
Great info, thanks! Yeah I'm AG, I used to sparge as close to 170 as possible, I'll admit I've gotten lazy my last few brews and don't wait for it to get that hot, or don't do anything to maintain it's temp once it is hot. With my last one that produced a lot of this bad taste I even just sparged with room-temp water. But that's helpful to hear that's a potential cause.
 
OP
OP
R
Joined
Apr 13, 2022
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
If it’s any consolation, I occasionally get a weird off-flavor that I can’t even begin to describe, probably yeast related, but it usually ages out. What you are describing does sound like Chlorophenols, which could happen whenever any amount of tap water gets into your beer, even from small amounts such as any residual tap water used to rinse your fermenter, tubing, etc, or if you are using tap water to make your Starsan solution. your cleaning regimen doesn’t seem lax or anything, to the contrary, it could be a bit over the top. If you use a scented soap or don’t rinse the soap extremely well, it could be contributing to the problem. Have you ever tried using only PBW followed by a Starsan soak (that has been mixed with only distilled water)? Another possible culprit could be fusels, which can definitely taste like cheap vodka. What temp are you usually fermenting at? Have you ever seen any evidence of infection such as a pellicle or other weird things floating on top of your beer?
Thanks for the reply! I do use the filtered water to make the star san solution, but I use tap water to clean everything afterward, I've thought about that too, but it just seems so impractical to clean with packaged water. I haven't tried only PBW, I feel like most the parts have enough stuck-on residue that it needs a physical scrub, but maybe I could do that with just the PBW solution? And I ferment at room temp, which is usually mid-70's in our house, it sits in a nice dark corner under a counter in the laundry room, it's never produced anything like a pellicle or other odd formation.
 

tracer bullet

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 10, 2020
Messages
1,647
Reaction score
1,431
Location
Minnesota
I'll just throw out that there's a chance it's the recipes and not a sanitation issue?

Perhaps go back to the basics - try a normal "pale ale". Use RO water with a pre-specified amount of mineral additions, acid to adjust pH, etc. Use hops during the boil or flame-out but maybe skip dry for this one. See if the beer is good or crap. If it's good... maybe you're tasting a recipe issue with your IPA's, "hop burn", etc.
 

McMullan

wort maker
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 22, 2015
Messages
2,032
Reaction score
2,611
little-britain.jpg
 
OP
OP
R
Joined
Apr 13, 2022
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
I'd call this the steep climb of the learning curve. Since I also brew hoppy beers (check that avatar), I feel your pain. There may be more than one thing going on. Here's what comes to mind from your description:
1. You are trusting that machine to deliver consistently clean and chlorine free water. Apply "trust but verify" by getting an inexpensive free total chlorine test kit and using that to test the water before you use it. Chloramines are hard to remove from water. Use sodium metabisufite to get rid of any remainder--it takes very little. Getting rid of chlorine is the first requirement, the first brick of a strong foundation.
2. Fermentation temperature control. Fermenting too warm will make bad flavors (fusels, esters, etc) that you don't want. The happy range for a specific yeast is quite narrow. Be sure to measure the beer temperature, not the air temperature.
3. Control of oxygen. Really hard if you are dry hopping. You might work on getting good beer without dry hopping for a few batches by adding more hops in WP. Make every effort to transfer, bottle, keg, whatever, without any exposure to air. There's no such thing as a CO2 blanket, only presence or absence of oxygen.
4. Cleaning. Use nothing that has any scent, ever. I recommend cleaning only with PBW. Sanitize where needed using starsan made up with chlorine free water.

I hope this helps improve your success rate! :mug:
"Steep climb" is right... Thanks for the info. I know I could google and look into it myself but I'm unable at the moment, any water test you'd recommend? And does it check for chlorine and chloramine, or just chlorine?

As far as temp control, I've wondered that too, I'm sure temp can rise depending on yeast activity, and out of curiosity I feel the bucket/carboy periodically just to see and it never feels outside of room-temp, I know it's not precise but it's not like it gets super warm.

O2 I've played with different levels of stringency on that too, but it can always be better, I'll try nailing that down.

For cleaning I use unscented dish soap, but I'll try PBW only and give that a shot too. It's often anywhere from 2 weeks to months in between brews, can chloramine contamination last that long on cleaned equipment after the water is long dried and gone?
 

BPenny

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
46
Reaction score
47
Location
Des Moines, IA
Thanks for the reply! I do use the filtered water to make the star san solution, but I use tap water to clean everything afterward, I've thought about that too, but it just seems so impractical to clean with packaged water. I haven't tried only PBW, I feel like most the parts have enough stuck-on residue that it needs a physical scrub, but maybe I could do that with just the PBW solution? And I ferment at room temp, which is usually mid-70's in our house, it sits in a nice dark corner under a counter in the laundry room, it's never produced anything like a pellicle or other odd formation.
PBW should eventually get things pretty clean, provided you give it enough time and the water you are using is warm enough. Are you rinsing after the Starsan soak? Generally people consider it unnecessary to rinse Starsan and doing so can theoretically lead to an infection. I do tend to rinse the Starsan residue with a little bit of distilled or filtered water, but I also brew mostly mixed culture beers so I’m not as worried about infections as I would be if I were brewing clean IPAs. I agree that cleaning with exclusively packaged water seems wasteful, and if you are using packaged water for any part of the cleaning process, I would only recommend using distilled or RO water because unlike spring or “filtered” water, distilled or RO water shouldn’t contain any additional unknown chemicals that could effect your beer. Using distilled water for Starsan might seem like a hassle, but you can generally reuse it multiple times before discarding it. As for fermenting your beer in the laundry room, that might be fine, unless the dryer causes too many frequent or dramatic temperature spikes. Lab cultured yeast has it’s benefits, but it can be really touchy.
 

ncbrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
4,875
Reaction score
1,550
Location
New Bern
I let them warm to room temp before use and I usually just pour the dry yeast into the wort once it’s cooled to lukewarm and transferred into the carboy
I just now ran a glass of what seemed to me like lukewarm water. It was 94F. Too warm for pitching. Of course, your idea of lukewarm might be different, but still probably too warm. And as stated previously, fermentation temperature is really important. If you don't have a ferm chamber, a swamp cooler is good.
I did try campden tablets in Arkansas, which did seem to help, but some brews had a bit of that taste still sneak in occasionally. But it’s just such a pain to filter all your water and then treat it with campden and have to do it enough ahead of time for it to do it’s magic, and I’m not sure if I’m even going down the right road.
Campden works in seconds. Crush it and stir it in.
but it just seems so impractical to clean with packaged water.
I don't have any problem cleaning with tap water, but if you want to avoid it, see my previous comment - campden is really easy to use. Much cheaper and more convenient than buying packaged water. And I don't know if you can count on packaged water to be free of chlorine/chloramine.
I haven't tried only PBW, I feel like most the parts have enough stuck-on residue that it needs a physical scrub, but maybe I could do that with just the PBW solution?
I do this on every batch. I scrub some of the dried-on kraeusen on the side of the fermenter with a washcloth and Oxi. And before starting with the Oxi, I scrub off what is visible with the heel of my hand and just hot water. It works very well.
 

bwible

I drink, and I know things
HBT Supporter
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
2,286
Reaction score
4,955
Location
Oxford, PA
Does it taste the way a band aid smells? We use the term band aid but I don’t think most of us go around chewing on band aids to know exactly what that tastes like?

I’ve fought battles with this myself occasionally and the thing I’ve noticed is it always seems to happen to me with British ales. The last 5 or 6 times I’ve tried to brew a bitter. Then after cleaning everything and sanitizing again I brew Irish Red, APA, Stout, etc and none of those are affected. I have 3 lagers in kegs right now that are really clean. I’ve used several different British ale yeasts too. The most recent one was Verdant everybody raves about and that got a terrible infection.

I had a can of a “Golden Mild” from a small local brewpub recently that reeked of the same flavor. And I’ve had British beers from other homebrewers loaded with it.

I’m wondering how its connected and why for me it always seems to happen with British beers and not my other beers - when I’m using all the same equipment, same process, and in some cases even the same base malt. The only thing I can think of is yeast and I keep switching yeasts.
 

Cider Wraith

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2022
Messages
261
Reaction score
169
Location
US
I'll just throw out that there's a chance it's the recipes and not a sanitation issue?
Over the years I've observed that sanitation has been a classic go-to bogeyman. "Oh, this whole batch has gotta' go because I must not have thoroughly cleaned my poppets". So the unavailability of an Andromeda Strain level bio-hazard lab resulted in a bad batch of beer? Seems like home brewing increasingly involves multi-step procedures with potentials for problems all along in the attempt to meet the results of multi-national mega-corporations with unlimited taste lab budgets
 

bwible

I drink, and I know things
HBT Supporter
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
2,286
Reaction score
4,955
Location
Oxford, PA
Over the years I've observed that sanitation has been a classic go-to bogeyman. "Oh, this whole batch has gotta' go because I must not have thoroughly cleaned my poppets". So the unavailability of an Andromeda Strain level bio-hazard lab resulted in a bad batch of beer? Seems like home brewing increasingly involves multi-step procedures with potentials for problems all along in the attempt to meet the results of multi-national mega-corporations with unlimited taste lab budgets
Also depends on people’s tastes and what they are trying to brew. Sours are popular, where they actually introduce bugs on purpose that we’re spending good money on star san and pbw to keep out. Then there’s the whole Belgian beer thing where they use words like “horse blanket” and who would know if it was infected or not? Then some people add brett to their strong ales.

Maybe this is why sours and belgians are so popular with homebrewers. Because otherwise, who really wants to drink sour beer?
 
OP
OP
R
Joined
Apr 13, 2022
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
I just now ran a glass of what seemed to me like lukewarm water. It was 94F. Too warm for pitching. Of course, your idea of lukewarm might be different, but still probably too warm. And as stated previously, fermentation temperature is really important. If you don't have a ferm chamber, a swamp cooler is good.

Campden works in seconds. Crush it and stir it in.

I don't have any problem cleaning with tap water, but if you want to avoid it, see my previous comment - campden is really easy to use. Much cheaper and more convenient than buying packaged water. And I don't know if you can count on packaged water to be free of chlorine/chloramine.

I do this on every batch. I scrub some of the dried-on kraeusen on the side of the fermenter with a washcloth and Oxi. And before starting with the Oxi, I scrub off what is visible with the heel of my hand and just hot water. It works very well.
It very well could be too hot when I pitch it, I'll watch that next time. And I don't know why I thought campden took longer to work, now that I think of it, I first tried leaving water out overnight to let chlorine evaporate if that was an issue, and treated it with campden as well just to try and fix both potential problems, and that's led me to think campden took hours! 🤦‍♂️ Just dumping it in with water used for cleaning makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the advice! That cleaning routine sounds better than what I'm doing.
 
OP
OP
R
Joined
Apr 13, 2022
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
Does it taste the way a band aid smells? We use the term band aid but I don’t think most of us go around chewing on band aids to know exactly what that tastes like?

I’ve fought battles with this myself occasionally and the thing I’ve noticed is it always seems to happen to me with British ales. The last 5 or 6 times I’ve tried to brew a bitter. Then after cleaning everything and sanitizing again I brew Irish Red, APA, Stout, etc and none of those are affected. I have 3 lagers in kegs right now that are really clean. I’ve used several different British ale yeasts too. The most recent one was Verdant everybody raves about and that got a terrible infection.

I had a can of a “Golden Mild” from a small local brewpub recently that reeked of the same flavor. And I’ve had British beers from other homebrewers loaded with it.

I’m wondering how its connected and why for me it always seems to happen with British beers and not my other beers - when I’m using all the same equipment, same process, and in some cases even the same base malt. The only thing I can think of is yeast and I keep switching yeasts.
Thank you! I wondered why so many sources compared the taste to a band aid, I have no idea if that compares, but never thought to smell one. Glad to know it's not just a problem I'm having.
 

BPenny

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
46
Reaction score
47
Location
Des Moines, IA
Over the years I've observed that sanitation has been a classic go-to bogeyman. "Oh, this whole batch has gotta' go because I must not have thoroughly cleaned my poppets". So the unavailability of an Andromeda Strain level bio-hazard lab resulted in a bad batch of beer? Seems like home brewing increasingly involves multi-step procedures with potentials for problems all along in the attempt to meet the results of multi-national mega-corporations with unlimited taste lab budgets
There’s a lot of truth to what you said, and I have often wondered why the default approach to home brewing seems to be attempting to replicate factory made beer at home. I love a well-made impeccably clean pale Lager, but I have no interest in brewing them because I can just buy them for a relatively reasonable price, so I’d rather let the guys with a sterile lab and a temp controlled brewery full of experts take care of that. Funky sours, saisons and other wild beers are some of the most expensive beers to buy in the U.S. and also happen to be more suited to home brewing than a clean lager, unless of course you have an automated nanobrewery in your basement, which isn’t really what I’m looking to do.
 

BPenny

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
46
Reaction score
47
Location
Des Moines, IA
Also depends on people’s tastes and what they are trying to brew. Sours are popular, where they actually introduce bugs on purpose that we’re spending good money on star san and pbw to keep out. Then there’s the whole Belgian beer thing where they use words like “horse blanket” and who would know if it was infected or not? Then some people add brett to their strong ales.

Maybe this is why sours and belgians are so popular with homebrewers. Because otherwise, who really wants to drink sour beer?
Even with wild beers, you can’t just throw caution to the wind. Just like with clean beers, a carelessly made wild beer may turn out fine, but in many cases it will be mediocre or truly dreadful. However, If done well, mixed culture beers can have a balanced complexity that is unattainable with lab cultured single strain ferments. This is why many world-class winemakers rely on ambient yeast and bacteria to ferment their wines.
 

mashpaddled

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
1,020
Reaction score
814
Location
Denver, CO
The advice to let more experienced brewers taste your beer, and maybe look at your brewing equipment, is really the best path to an answer. From reading your description of the problem, it could be half a dozen off-flavors with any number of causes. This may be as simple of an issue as having the wrong kind of tubing somewhere in your system that leaches plastic or phenolic flavor into your beer.
 

wsmith1625

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 14, 2014
Messages
752
Reaction score
639
Location
Manchester, NJ
I think you're overthinking your water. You've tried multiple water sources and treatment methods and it didn't change things. Probably because it's not the water.

My gut tells me temperature is your problem. If using US-05, pitch and hold the fermentation temp at 68 and things should get better for you. Temperature control is really important for making good beer.

Good luck!
 
Last edited:

wallyLOZ

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2017
Messages
223
Reaction score
100
Location
Saint Louis, MO
"I used to live in Arkansas, after troubleshooting for a while I determined it was possibly the chlorine treatment in the water reacting with the yeast, brewing with packaged water didn’t reproduce the taste. "

You may have solved your problem here. I too fought the off taste for a while when I first started. Tried campden tablets to no effect. Switched to distilled and the taste disappeared and hasn't returned. That is the first thing that I would try. If you brew all grain you'll need to calculate the brewing salts that you'll need to add. Brewers Friend has a calculator for this. If brewing extract, no need to add the salts. It's already been done.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
 

TheMadKing

Western Yankee Southerner and Brew Science Nerd
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 17, 2015
Messages
3,995
Reaction score
2,191
Location
Gainesville
I think you're overthinking your water. You've tried multiple water sources and treatment methods and it didn't change things. Probably because it's not the water.

My gut tells me temperature is your problem. If using US-05, pitch and hold the fermentation temp at 68 and things should get better for you. Temperature control is really important for making good beer.

Good luck!
This

I think you're smelling fusel alcohols. I'd even recommend fermenting at 64 rather than 68 to get a good clean fermentation.
 

Toblerone

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Sep 6, 2007
Messages
50
Reaction score
16
Location
Victoria
Try using a Kviek strain of yeast. They are generally suited for much warmer temperature ranges, without producing those nasty fusels.

It's very easy to tell someone to ferment below 70 F, but not everyone has the means to easily chill their fermentations.
 
Last edited:

BPenny

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
46
Reaction score
47
Location
Des Moines, IA
Try using a Kviek strain of yeast. They are generally suited for much warmer temperature ranges, without producing those nasty fusela.

It's very easy to tell someone to ferment below 70 F, but not everyone has the means to easily chill their fermentations.
To Toblerone’s point, brewing got a lot more enjoyable and less stressful for me when I adapted my brewing styles and processes to fit my circumstances, which included brewing with yeast and styles that did well fermenting at warmer temps. One of the first beers I brewed was an English style barley wine with Safale S-04 and although it turned out fine, I was stressed out the whole time about how to keep it in the ideal temperature range. Kveik yeast could potentially still allow you to make a variety of styles without worrying about high temps.
 

thomer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
114
Reaction score
56
Location
Phoenix AZ
@randerson81873 - the title of this thread caught my eye ... for the reason being I have never made a beer that wasn't awful. Made my first beer 34 years ago. Read instructions and everything I could find and used good ingredients and practices. Made six batches that I contemplated pouring out. Eighteen years ago thought, ok, this nut can be cracked and tried again. Nope. Bought a couple hundred dollars of basic items and tried again. Tried the most expensive water and finest yeast we could find and an expensive stainless steel kettle. Brewed from well recommended kits and followed instructions and even read a book on it. Practiced good standards including carefulness / cleanliness that probably exceeds what most people achieve. Made eight or ten batches. And ... oh brother, how thoroughly awful 🤣

It's no help to you but perhaps consolation that I've never made a drop of beer anyone could tolerate. How the great brewers here do it - haven't a clue.
I know you said you practiced good standards for cleanliness, but if all your beers were bad, my guess would be that you didn't get that part quite right.
 

BPenny

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
46
Reaction score
47
Location
Des Moines, IA
I know you said you practiced good standards for cleanliness, but if all your beers were bad, my guess would be that you didn't get that part quite right.
When I think about some of my early experiments that somehow turned out fine, I am also curious as to how one could brew only bad beer. Then again, I have only been brewing for the last 6 years or so, so I’m allowing for the possibility that a few decades ago there may have been some potential issues with the quality or freshness of available hops, yeast, etc, as well as some questionable practices such as topping up with tap water that I have heard about from old brewing instructions. Maybe someone else with more experience could shed some light on that.
 

Cider Wraith

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2022
Messages
261
Reaction score
169
Location
US
I know you said you practiced good standards for cleanliness, but if all your beers were bad, my guess would be that you didn't get that part quite right.
Yeah, mystery to me
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
R
Joined
Apr 13, 2022
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
Thanks for all the input everyone! This is really such a great resource. I think general game plan for next brew is to try a Kveik strain, or something with a higher temp tolerability as my fermentations will be always be at room temp, but Kveik sounds really promising, I'll rewash everything before brewing with PBW, use filtered water with campden for the actual brew, and I think the biggest mistake I'm making too is pitching too early so I'll really let that wort cool significantly before hand. I'll be sure to update how it turns out!
 

thomer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
114
Reaction score
56
Location
Phoenix AZ
I think the biggest mistake I'm making too is pitching too early so I'll really let that wort cool significantly before hand. I'll be sure to update how it turns out!
I used to do the same thing and had a few fermentors turn into a quatermass experiment and ruin the beer. I have learned that patience can be a virtue. I live in Arizona and the cold water temperature here in the summer is hot enough to shower in, so its hard to get the wort cool. I had read all the books that says you need to cool the wort as fast as possible. While that is totally true, I have found I can get my wort down to about 90f with water and ice. I then put it in a cooled fermentation chamber (68f) and pitch that evening or next morning if not cool enough. I put a layer of CO2 on top of the wort and do not connect the bubbler/blow off as there is change of sucking in water when it cools. Only connect it when you are with 5 degrees of your target temperature.

Another idea. While I BIAB most of the time. In the summer I occasionally brew extract as I can brew with 3 gallons of wort. After cooling as much as possible with ice, I put 2 gallons of ice cold RO water from sanitized bottles in the fermenter to make up the 5 gallons. Brings the temp down to pitching temp immediately.

I am only 18 months into brewing so still consider myself a noob. But hopefully the above will help.
 

Latest posts

Top