Identifying cause of bad taste

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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 frequently do partial boils with AG batches and then I will add a gallon+ of frozen or nearly frozen water to bring the temp down quickly
I have never done a partial boil on AG. Does the reduced water make the mash thick?
It depends on the beer, but generally it’s not too thick. Most of the beers I make have an sg of around 1.035-1.050, which only requires around 8-11 lbs of grain for a 5ish gallon batch. If I mash with 2.5-3 gallons of water and then dunk sparge with another 2-2.5 gallons, it’s never seemed impractically thick, even with 10-25% spelt, oats, rye, etc. I always brew in a bag though, so I can’t say how that would work with other methods.
I am normally at the 1.070og level, so I think for my style of beers that may not work as I am in the 15lb-17lb area and BIAB in a 15 gallon kettle. But I will give it a go with a lower gravity beer at some point. Thanks for the advice :)
Brewing beer, particularly all grain, is all about controlling variables. Especially:
  • Sanitation
  • Water quality
  • Mash temperature and pH
  • Yeast health
  • Fermentation temperature
Subtle differences in the above can make or break a good beer.

I read through this thread at lunch and have been mulling it over all afternoon. In your case, I would recommend:
  • Disassemble, clean, and sanitize everything that comes in contact with wort each time you brew - pay attention to those valves and lid seals
  • Buy RO or distilled water - I buy it by the gallon at Kroger's myself - and brew exclusively with that. You'll need to make up water additions if you do that, though.
  • Focus on yeast health: oxygenation, yeast nutrition, and pitching rate.
  • Don't bother racking the beer to secondary. Just dry hop in the primary and rack it straight to a keg when it's ready.
  • Take notes each brew and repeat the same steps each time. That's the best way to evaluate your process and identify steps to improve or where something went awry.
It sounds to me like you've been using tap water and likely fermenting too warm. Both will give you funky flavors that won't go away. I would suggest buying RO water (or distilled) and adding minerals back to eliminate that variable. Then trying to ferment in the mid-60's to eliminate that variable as well. You can try using Omega Lutra or a similar kveik strain but be forewarned that you'll also likely get slightly different results than with Chico (US-05 and related yeasts). Lastly, pay extra attention when you're dry hopping or racking beer to make sure you don't introduce oxygen into the beer. Paradoxically, while unfermented wort needs plenty of oxygen, fermented hoppy beer goes south rapidly in presence of it.

Try the above with your next batch and see if it doesn't help. If you're still having this oddball off flavor, let us know. Maybe there's something else afoot like trying to use really old ingredients or something.
That'd be super helpful! Is this something they are typically willing to do? Meet with some stranger and try their homebrew?😅

There are a few ways to get it done without it being as creepy as you make it sound. First, look at the BJCP competition schedule here, Competition Calendar – Beer Judge Certification Program and see if there are any competitions locally. Enter the competition and you'll have two judges evaluate it without fear of hurting your feelings. The next less formal version is to find a local homebrew club. Most will have a few BJCP judges as members and if you ask for honest feedback, you'll mostly get it.
Just wanted to share an update for closure and for future troubleshooters, but the last batch I made had zero off taste and was fantastic. I used home-filtered tap water from the hose, campden tablets in any water that makes it to the carboy, switched to Kveik Voss yeast, let the wort cool to 60-70 F before transferring it to the carboy, where it would inevitably cool even further (I know ideal pitch temp is a little warmer than that). On top of that I don't wash with soap or sponge any more, just PBW and campden treated tap water. I have a second batch fermenting right now, different recipe, same process, and I'll update how that turns out. Thanks for the help, everyone!
Side note, Kveik is a beast, I've never had to use a blow off tube before, but that stuff just explodes and keeps chugging way longer than Safale-05 ever did for me!
Thanks for the update. I just kegged my first brew and it was way off. I pitched at way too high a temp. Second batch is in the FV with kveik so hopefully I’ll have a similar result as you.
I'm just wondering if other people taste the same off-flavour?
Maybe you are extremely sensitive to something?
It would be great if you can find experienced tasters.
Otherwise I would suggest to maybe try a "simple" recipe, no dry hopping, or maybe even an extract kit, to assess if the same occurs.

Just saw you had some good batches! I'm glad :)
Pitching yeast at elevated temps can be good (maybe up to -10F over optimal range) or bad (much more than that). You want to promote growth, not cook them :)
Just a note, that autolysed (read: very dead cells that have pretty much exploded) yeast throws a flavor very close to the described 'bandaid" taste. This can be caused by a few factors, but the most prevalent is pitching your yeast into wort that is too warm. Unless you are using a kveik strain (which I see was suggested above, and I also suggest it to many new brewers), for an ale yeast you do not want to pitch any higher than 70°. Higher than that, and the heat will kill a LOT of yeast cells, leaving the ones remaining with too much work to do; and they will fail at it. A good digital thermometer is your friend here, and worth its weight in silver if not gold. Chlorine/chloramine in your tap water can be an issue, but if you've tried campden and are getting the same off-flavor, pitching yeast too hot will give you the same result. I see this a lot with new homebrewers who have made their own bread; bread yeast works best at temperatures between 110° and 115°, which is WAY WAY WAY too hot for ale yeast. Completely different animals.