Metallic/medicinal flavor. What went wrong?

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alex_r

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Well, I think it finally happened. I'm pretty sure I have an infected batch. Here's why: when I taste a pale ale I just kegged Sunday, it has a very strong medicinal/metallic taste that stays on the tip of the tongue long after taking a drink. By "long after" I mean an hour or so later, even after dinner, the taste is still there. To me, the taste is more like what I would think a cleaner or sanitizer would taste like.

I want to avoid this ever happening again, so I was hoping the forum could help possibly pinpoint what caused this.

Here's the details. This was the first batch I brewed and fermented in my new Fermenator stainless. We wash and sanitize really well with PBW, Saniclean, and StarSan. I did what I thought was a thorough cleaning of the conical with the same. 30 min soak with the PBW, 10 min or so with the SaniClean, and several minutes contact with the StarSan. We made a pint starter with CA Ale Yeast like we have several times before. I let the batch sit for about 5 days before dumping the trub for the first time. The trub had a strong hop scent. After two more days, I dumped it again, and took a sample for the SG reading. Again, a nice hop scent. The SG reading showed that the beer was basically done. It tasted pretty finished too, and quite nice. We let it sit for another week before kegging. The sample we took at this time read the same SG, however, the hop scent was greatly reduced and the taste was much more muted, especially with regards to the bitterness. After we kegged, we added washed and sanitized stainless tea steepers full of hops to the kegs for dry hopping.

Here's some clues that I believe are very important. When we opened the conical to clean it, there was a dark almost black ring around the top of the krausen ring. Also, it is possible that I might have sucked some of my airlock water into the fermenting batch when dumping the trub, but not a lot. Also, I don't think that this has anything to do with fermentation temperature as I have built a temperature controlled fermentation box. So really, the conical was the only new thing in this batch, but it could just be coincidence.

I appreciate you taking the time to read all of this. Any idea on what might have happened and what to do to assure this doesn't happen again would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
 

Gedvondur

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What do you use for airlock water? If it is unsantized water, or even just plain water, you could have very well infected your beer with it.

Most people either fill their airlocks with sanitizer or vodka. Personally, I use cheap vodka that won't harm the yeasties or damage the flavor of the beer if it gets sucked in. But sanitizer works too.

Everything else you said seems to be okay. I don't really know what else to tell you.




Gedvondur
 

slnies

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Two things, Left over sanitizer got in there or the yeast that you used produced some heavy phenols which means that you probably fermented two warm, way to warm. It is a toss up as to which. I know you said it is in a controlled enviroment, but what else is there. You may have an infection, but again that is hard to tell. I would leave it at a cooler temperature for a couple of weeks and see if the yeast clean up the off flavor. These are my guesses. S.
 

malkore

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I doubt its your sanitizer. I"ve tasted star san before (for research...) and it really does not have much of a flavor, certainly not a metallic flavor, nor would I call it medicinal or 'strong'.

also, star san and saniclean are the same thing, just no foaming with saniclean. use one or the other to sanitize. both is over kill.
 
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alex_r

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I do use plain bottled water in my airlock. With regards to the fermentation temp, the environment temp was held between 68 and 72 which kept the liquid temp to about 71 to 72 degrees.

I found this article about new stainless possibly causing these flavors. Has anyone heard of this?

http://www.carolinabrewmasters.com/examstudy/Offflavors.htm

Here is what that site says:

Metallic
The undesirable metallic off-flavor is produced by certain chemicals that are harsh & unpleasant akin to the aroma & taste of a rusty nail, & may make beer undrinkable in extreme cases. Other metallic descriptions include tinny, coinlike, & bloodlike. Primary control metallic off-flavors would be to eliminate all sources of contact with beer & iron/aluminum surfaces, such as unplated mild steel, aluminum & cast iron. Look for high iron concentrations in brewing water (example: Clackamas County, Oregon) & treat or replace accordingly. Furthermore, cleaning stainless steel or copper without passivating (oxidizing the surfaces to form a protective layer of oxide on the metal) can also cause this, especially with new equipment. Lastly, use quality malt products & store them in correct containers under proper conditions.
 
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alex_r

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Malkore, I use saniclean as a final rinse after the PBW. I was under the impression that one was acidic and one basic, therefore, it was a good idea to use them in conjunction with each other and then use the StarSan just prior to usage.
 

slnies

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alex_r said:
Malkore, I use saniclean as a final rinse after the PBW. I was under the impression that one was acidic and one basic, therefore, it was a good idea to use them in conjunction with each other and then use the StarSan just prior to usage.
Use one or the other, Starsan is a no rinse sanitizer, and so is PBW. When dry they have no effect on anything anymore because they have oxidized. Save some cash and just use one. Don't take this the wrong way Malkore was just trying to save you some doe.:mug:
 

jfish63

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Forgive my ignorance but is it possible that it is the hops you added at the end? The last extract I brewed had a substitution hop in the kit. The first couple of weeks in the keg it had a similar sounding metallic taste. After 4 weeks the taste was almost gone, at 6 it was completelt gone and very tasty. Again I am no expert.
 
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alex_r

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Slnies, I absolutely didn't take it the wrong way and I really appreciate all the help. I guess I was more asking a question through a statement. Like I said, that's just what I thought I heard. I've been going through that saniclean so fast, I happy to hear that it's really just been a redundant step that I can eliminate. Thanks!
 

Gedvondur

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Well, personally I would stop using plain water in the airlock. If you had suckback you could have gotten an infection from that.

I would do what several other posters have suggested and just cellar it for a few months. If it still tastes bad, then cellar it for a year. If it is still bad after that, dump it and reclaim the bottles.

Good luck!


Gedvondur
 
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