If your beer smells like… The term is…. The source may be….

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ZombieBeer

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This chart was in Homebrewing for Dummies by Marty Nachel, I thought it might be helpful to post it here.


If your beer smells like… The term is…. The source may be….


Adhesive bandages (phenolic)
Bacterial contamination; residue from a sanitizing agent ( this odor is expected of certain style beers)


Apple cider
(Acetaldehyde)
Refined sugar in the recipe or bacterial contamination


Baby diapers (Enteric)
Bacterial contamination


Banana
(Banana esters)
Certain ale yeast strains, particularly Bavarian Weizenbier and Belgium Strong Ales


Barnyard
(Enteric)
Bacteria contamination


Bubblegum (Bubblegum)
Certain Ale yeast strains, particularly Belgium Strong Ales and Bavarian Weizenbier


Butter/Butterscotch (Diacetyl)
Bacteria, certain yeast strains, warm fermentation, short aging


Cardboard or paper (Oxidized)
Contact with air; old, stale beer


Cauliflower or cooked cabbage (Vegetal)
Bacteria contamination


Cloves (Phenolic)
Certain yeast strains; such as those in Bavarian Weizenbier



Cooked corn (DMS (dimethyl sulfide))
Poor grain quality; bacterial contamination



Cooking sherry (Oxidized)
Contact with air; long and warm fermentation


Green Apple (Acetaldehyde)
Refined sugar in the recipe; bacterial contamination


Leather (Oxidized)
Contact with air and/or old, stale beer


Marker
(Phenolic)
Bacterial contamination; residue of sanitizing agent

Matches (burnt) or Sulfur (Hydrogen sulfide)
Natural by product of fermentation that’s normally flushed out with the production of carbon diaoxide


Mold (Moldy)
Sanitation problem; leeking package seal


Nail polish remover (Solvent like)
Esters produced during high temperature fermentation


Olives (green or black) or Pickles (Acetic)
Acetobacteria contamination


Paint thinner (Solvent like)
Fusel alcohols produced during high temperature fermentation


Rotten eggs (Hydrogen sulfide)
Yeast autolysis


Rubber
(Hydrogen sulfide)
Yeast autolysis

Skunk (Light struck)
Damage from light

Smoke (Phenolic)
Use of dark or smoked grains that evoke this aroma

Soap (Soapy)
Residue from sanitizing agents

Vinyl upholstery
(Phenolic)
Bacterial contamination; residue from sanitizing agents

Wet dog (Musty)
Bacterial contamination; lengthy aging of bottle conditioned beer


If you beer tastes odd



Blood
(Metallic)
Iron in water supply


Butter/butterscotch (Diacetyl)
Certain yeast strains, warm fermentation


Chalk (Astringent)
Overfermentation; misuse of grain


Harsh (Astringent)
High hop bitterness; misuse of grain


Powdery (Astringent)
Lack of sweetness; grain astringency


Salt (Salty)
Use of brewing salts especially sodium chloride and magnesium sulfate


Sour milk
(Lactic)
Lactic fermentation (which is intentional in some beer styles such as Berliner Weisse)

Tin can
(Metallic)
Iron in water supply; contact with metals
 

Revvy

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The thing to remember though is that if you are smelling this during fermentation not to worry. During fermentation all manner of stinky stuff is given off (ask lager brewers about rotten egg/sulphur smells, or Apfelwein makers about "rhino farts,") like we often say, fermentation is often ugly AND stinky and PERFECTLY NORMAL.

It's really only down the line, AFTER the beer has been fermented (and often after it has bottle conditioned even,) when you should consider using this or the off flavor charts to diagnose the beer.

I think too many new brewers focus to much on this stuff too early in the beer's journey. And they panic unnecessarily.

A lot of the stuff you smell/taste initially more than likely ends up disappearing either during a long primary/primary & secondary combo, Diacetyl rests and even during bottle conditioning.

If I find a flavor/smell, I usually wait til it's been in the bottle 6 weeks before I try to "diagnose" what went wrong, that way I am sure the beer has passed any window of greenness.

There's plenty of stories here that bear out the notion that time often is the cure. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/ne...virtue-time-heals-all-things-even-beer-73254/

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/wh...where-your-beer-still-turned-out-great-96780/

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/has-anyone-ever-messed-up-batch-96644/
 

shortz

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thorough. well i was given some free tins of extract, expired, and i thought why not. at least i'll learn what happens. i put two into the kettle and boiled 35 min. well the primary is super dark and slow to ferment even with a Wyeast activated package. it does taste tinny as i thought it might being in a tin can so long and i think that yes it may go away a little but not completely... any ideas to cover it up? I thought of adding hops to the secondary for a few days then transfer to another carboy for some nicer bitterness. my brother said at salt, so that progressed to Montral Steak Spice... thoughts? Imagination? This isn't 1516 focussed. Thanks.
 

Revvy

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thorough. well i was given some free tins of extract, expired, and i thought why not. at least i'll learn what happens. i put two into the kettle and boiled 35 min. well the primary is super dark and slow to ferment even with a Wyeast activated package. it does taste tinny as i thought it might being in a tin can so long and i think that yes it may go away a little but not completely... any ideas to cover it up? I thought of adding hops to the secondary for a few days then transfer to another carboy for some nicer bitterness. my brother said at salt, so that progressed to Montral Steak Spice... thoughts? Imagination? This isn't 1516 focussed. Thanks.
Go back and read Post Number 2.

If you are judging something while still in the fermenter, then you are being waaay to worried and premature.....come back to it after It's been between 3-6 weeks in the bottle.....
 

Edcculus

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I think this info is good to have, but I also agree with Revvy. These off flavors should only be diagnosed in the final beer, properly conditioned and chilled. Lists like this can make people paranoid. They taste something in their young beer and self diagnose a problem that might not be present in the finished version.
 

Revvy

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I think this info is good to have, but I also agree with Revvy. These off flavors should only be diagnosed in the final beer, properly conditioned and chilled. Lists like this can make people paranoid. They taste something in their young beer and self diagnose a problem that might not be present in the finished version.
+1000!!!

As good as this info is, taken out of its proper context (meaning fully matured, carbed and conditioned beers) these threads/lists often produce the new brewer's version of hypochondria.

Fementation is often ugly, smelly and crappy tasting in the beginning and perfectly normal. The various conditioning phases, be it long primary, secondarying, D-rests, bottle conditioning, AND LAGERING, are all part of the process where the yeast, and co2 correct a lot of the normal production of the byproducts of fermentation.

Lagering is a prime example of this. Lager yeast are prone to the production of a lot of byproducts, the most familiar one is sulphur compounds (rhino farts) but in the dark cold of the lagering process, which is at the minimum of a month (I think many homebrewers don't lager long enough) the yeast slowly consumes all those compounds which results in extremely clean tasting beers if done skillfully.

Ales have their own version of this, but it's all the same.

If you are sampling your beer before you have passed a 'window of greeness" which my experience is about 3-6 weeks in the bottle, then you are more than likely just experiencing an "off flavor" due to the presence of those byproducts (that's what we mean when we say the beer is "green" it's still young and unconditioned.) but once the process is done, over 90% of the time the flavors/smells are gone.

Of the remaining 10%, half of those may still be salvageable through the long time storage that I mention in the "never dump your beer thread.:

And the remaining 50% of the last 10% are where these tables and lists come into play. To understand what you did wrong, so you can avoid it in the future.

The thing is, you can't really do anything to the batch you have, you can only learn from your mistakes by looking at those charts, to know what to do next time.. If it says for example that "x off flavor is a result of high fermentation temps" then you no know for the next batch with that yeast, or all batches that you need to do something to control the temps where you ferment, be it a fridge, or a swamp cooler. If it say "y flavor is a result of an infection." Then you know that you have a sanitization issue that needs to be addressed.

But you can't really do anything to the batch you have. Except perhaps long term aging to see if it will clear, OR consuming fast if it is an infection, or dumping.

So honestly, there's no point in even dragging out these charts in mid stream. As I say often, your beer has a huge journey to go through from grain to glass, and a lot of changes are going to happen.

So yeah...remember the proper context of these lists. They usually originated from beer judges (like bjcp) analysing a finished beer.

Not your hydro sample or your 1 week in the bottle beer.

:mug:
 

Hannable1975

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Bump of a good thread - and a question:

I have a week old AHS kit Blonde, bottomed out gravity - that smells / tastes like Banana Now and Laters. My original plan was to leave on cake for 3 weeks - now I wonder would I perhaps benefir by moving to a secondary and getting it off of the yeasts, if the esters are causieng the scent / taste.
 

wonderbread23

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Honestly, this is a terrible list. Really not that accurate and probably leads to a lot of people prematurely thinking they have a contamination issue.

Just a few examples:
Apple cider (Acetaldehyde)
Refined sugar in the recipe or bacterial contamination
...or just beer that has been aged long enough to clean it up. Plenty of brewers use simple sugars without off flavors. Ditto for their green apple flavor.

Barnyard (Enteric)
Bacteria contamination

...or more likely, wild yeast (brett). Ditto for wet dog.

Cauliflower or cooked cabbage (Vegetal)

Bacteria contamination

...um, probably more likely caused by a low / short boil. Ditto for their cooked corn off flavor.

Rotten eggs (Hydrogen sulfide)
Yeast autolysis

...or more likely from the fact that certain yeast strains often throw this aroma.

Chalk (Astringent)
Overfermentation; misuse of grain

...overfermentation makes it taste chalky....weird.
 

Revvy

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Bump of a good thread - and a question:

I have a week old AHS kit Blonde, bottomed out gravity - that smells / tastes like Banana Now and Laters. My original plan was to leave on cake for 3 weeks - now I wonder would I perhaps benefir by moving to a secondary and getting it off of the yeasts, if the esters are causieng the scent / taste.
Have you read anything edduculus and I wrote about not judging a beers flavors while in the fermenter?

I presonally would leave it alone, yet the yeast clean up those things you are tasting (which is the point of leaving the beer on the yeast, to clean up their byproducts of fermentation, that are giving possibly causing these off flavors.) Then bottle conditioning them....And more than likely they will be fine....
 

Hannable1975

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Have you read anything edduculus and I wrote about not judging a beers flavors while in the fermenter?

I presonally would leave it alone, yet the yeast clean up those things you are tasting (which is the point of leaving the beer on the yeast, to clean up their byproducts of fermentation, that are giving possibly causing these off flavors.) Then bottle conditioning them....And more than likely they will be fine....
Yessir, I did. And that's where I got confused a little, not sure if at that point if the off gassing was from the yeast if the yeast in fact would clena it, or continue adding to it. Thanks though - I'mma stick with my three week in the primary plan now.
 

devilishprune

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Yeah, don't judge a beer by it's primary...or something.

I've had some young beers that taste OH-so-salty, and they turned out fine later.
 

Brewmiser

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Bump of a good thread - and a question:

I have a week old AHS kit Blonde, bottomed out gravity - that smells / tastes like Banana Now and Laters. My original plan was to leave on cake for 3 weeks - now I wonder would I perhaps benefir by moving to a secondary and getting it off of the yeasts, if the esters are causieng the scent / taste.

Mmmm... Banana Now & Laters :ban:
 

Oaky

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t-58 and low temps -
So i just brewed a 10G batch of wheat, using t58. the temp dropped to 12 for two nights and the basement temp dropped to 64 degrees (liquid temp)... The fermenting slowed down and it is now smelling of smelly feet, dirty socks (maybe the closest descriptor is the bandaids). Likely phenolic based on the temp. I'm raising it now but I would be curious to know if anyone has run into either that smell or low temps on t58 for a wheat.
 

statseeker

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That's probably the result of the yeast not being as active after the temperature drop. They probably went to sleep for a bit. Mid-fermentation that'll happen. I've had the phenolic smell before, but it was from low temps on a saison yeast. They werent as happy as they could have been, still, the beer tastes fine.
 

Oaky

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It definitely slowed down. Poor buggers freezing at 64 degrees. I dialed it up, those yeasties will get balmy soon. Just in time for the 2' of snow we're supposed to get tonight. I wonder how three days cold and 11 days hot will turn out. clove AND banana? Problem is that its a 1.042 - so I don't how much more fermentable there is. Bummer this happened in the beginning of the ferment.
 
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