Nasty All Grain Taste

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kdsarch

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Okay, I am not sure what is going on here. My last two all grain beers have a nasty medicine type taste to them? I have successfully done partial mashes in the past, but my first two all grains are disgusting. I was wondering if the 5.2 ph stabilizer could be the culprit, or something else?

Any ideas?
 

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Well, I have a couple of ideas. What was your recipe, what yeast did you use, what temperature did you ferment at, and what is your water like? did you use bottled water, or tap water?
 

BigEd

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kdsarch said:
Okay, I am not sure what is going on here. My last two all grain beers have a nasty medicine type taste to them? I have successfully done partial mashes in the past, but my first two all grains are disgusting. I was wondering if the 5.2 ph stabilizer could be the culprit, or something else?

Any ideas?
Medicine taste sounds like phenols which tends to indicate either an infection or too high of a fermentation tempertaure.
 
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kdsarch

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Interesting. One was a pale ale the other a scotch ale. I use white labs yeast for both. American San Fran for the Pale Ale, and Edinburgh Ale for the Scotch Ale.

The water was bottled spring water.

I just invested in a brew belt since brewing here in the northeast in the winter is somewhat cold. I have had slow ferment starts int the past so I bought a brew belt and used it on these two brews. I kept it on for a week. The temperatures did not seem overly high though, say 65 - 70 degrees.

How high would the temperature have to be to create the phenols? Do you think the 70 degree range could have done it?
 

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I wouldn't think so, but I wonder if INSIDE the carboy it was more like 75 degrees? Was that the temperature of the probe inside the carboy/bucket, or was that the temperature on the thermometer strip?
 
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kdsarch

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That was the temperature on the temperature strip on a glass carboy (in the basement) The air temperature in the basement was about 55 to 60 degrees.

I was also wondering if perhaps i over sparged the mash.

On www.homebrewforums.com they have the following:

"Cause: Bacterial Contamination can be responsible, or not rinsing your equipment thoroughly after sanitizing with bleach is another culprit. Also, phenols can be leached from the grain husks by overcrushing or oversparging your malt."

It sounds like i might not have sparged correctly. What I did was have water flowing out of the mash ton while water was flowing into the top of the tun from the hot liquor tank. It sounds like for the second sparge i should just add all of the water to the tank and then drain it.

what do you think?
 

McCall St. Brewer

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I have a 110 year old victorian home in Wisconsin. At this time of year the basement is really cool. I normally ferment at about 57F in the winter. My beers turn out fine. Sometimes better than in summer. Fermentation may be a little slower down there at this time of year, but no problem with that.

I don't know if the brewbelt is your problem or not. I would thoroughly clean and sanitize, and if possible even sterilize anything that's glass or metal that touches your beer during fermentation. Get rid of your hoses and get new ones. Go over and analyze your brewing process to see if you are doing anything that may cause a high risk of infection. Maybe try fermenting cooler and see if that helps.
 

BigEd

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kdsarch said:
That was the temperature on the temperature strip on a glass carboy (in the basement) The air temperature in the basement was about 55 to 60 degrees.

I was also wondering if perhaps i over sparged the mash.

On www.homebrewforums.com they have the following:

"Cause: Bacterial Contamination can be responsible, or not rinsing your equipment thoroughly after sanitizing with bleach is another culprit. Also, phenols can be leached from the grain husks by overcrushing or oversparging your malt."

It sounds like i might not have sparged correctly. What I did was have water flowing out of the mash ton while water was flowing into the top of the tun from the hot liquor tank. It sounds like for the second sparge i should just add all of the water to the tank and then drain it.

what do you think?
I hate to say it but I would lean towards an infection. Oversparging can lead to problems but the compounds dissolved by doing that will almost always lead to a tannic/astringent quality to the beer, not a medicinal taste. Phenolic tastes and aromas are part of the profile of many Belgian yeasts. In many ways these yeasts are "wild" compared to their English, American and German counterparts. These flavors in a non-Belgian beer are most often from wild yeast or bacteria.
 

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I tend to think infection, too. Those medicinal phenols are often what happens when you get an undesireable "house flavor." When was the last time you changed out all your tubing and rubber?


TL
 
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kdsarch

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Thanks for the info. I am very meticulous about sanitizing everything, but I will be extra careful this weekend. I have a pale ale on the schedule again. I will also skip the brew belt and buy new hoses, and be a little more careful with the sparge.

Hopefully that will take care of the awful taste. I will let you know.
 

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Maybe consider that since you're using bottled water, and don't know the water makeup, you may not want the 5.2 stabilizer. Probably not hurting, but if it's not needed maybe you could leave it out?
 
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kdsarch

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i was wondering if the stabilizer could be the culprit. also, i use isodophor as a sanitizing agent. My wife thought that the off taste could be attributed to that, if i did not allow the utensils, carboy, etc, time to dry.

Anybody have that experience?
 

TexLaw

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You are really focusing on the 5.2 buffer, but I don't see why it would work to produce strong, medicinal phenols. It's just a blend of phosphate buffers.

The iodophor also should not give any off flavors if properly diluted, even if you did not dry the equipment. It's designed for that use, and I've used it hundreds of times without any off-flavors.


TL
 

CBBaron

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TexLaw said:
You are really focusing on the 5.2 buffer, but I don't see why it would work to produce strong, medicinal phenols. It's just a blend of phosphate buffers.

The iodophor also should not give any off flavors if properly diluted, even if you did not dry the equipment. It's designed for that use, and I've used it hundreds of times without any off-flavors.
+1
The buffer and iodophor if used correctly should not cause any off flavors.
Consider looking at your sparge. I use a batch sparge just because it is simpler and less prone to error. You are adding the buffer to brew and sparge water? And your sparge water doesn't exceed 170F.
Also make sure your vorlauf well. I've had a couple beers that ended up with a grainy astringent taste when I forgot that step.
Craig
 

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I agree- when I said maybe leave out the ph buffer, it was just a thought, not because I really thought it was the culprit. If you don't know the water makeup, though, you may not need it.

Is it possible that your "bottled spring water" has chlorine or chloramines in it? I thought that medicinal phenols could come from that. Or did you ever use bleach in any of your items, like the bottles, etc? Iodophor would not have a flavor if you diluted it properly, and even then that would be present in your other batches, too, not just AG. I'm trying to think about what you do differently in the AG vs. the extract.

One other (probably far-out) is the grain you're using. Taste a few grains and see how they taste. They should taste really good. Also, consider the crush. See if it's too fine or too coarse. Maybe post a picture on here and have someone take a look.

Check your thermometer- maybe you're using water that's too hot.

Otherwise, I can't think of anything.
 

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I've had this before and it came about from my keeping equipment in the sanitizing solution too long (like a week). Are you mixing up the Iodophor in advance and keeping it around. It loses it's effectiveness after just a few hours really. I would give all of your tubing and carboys a good wash and strong rinse, then sanitize for 5 minutes and allow to dry. If the glass or plastic feels slippery at all, then it's the sanitizer or poor rinsing of the soap.
 

ohiobrewtus

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It's possible that there was something during the mashing/boil phase that is the culprit, but it's much more likely that the cause was either something in your primary fermenter, siphon, hoses, etc. after the boil.

The only time I've ever run into this was with a batch of my Pale Ale. A buddy and I brewed up 10 gallons of it at my house. We both used the same yeast and had roughly the same fermentation temperatues. He took 5 gallons home with him and bottled it. A few weeks later he brings me a 6 of it and it was freaking awful - much worse than any medicine I've ever had. That APA from the same batch out of my kegerator tasted incredible. He hasn't identified the source yet, but I told him to check his fermentation buckets for scratches on the inside, clean his bottles better and sanitize his bottling tree before he bottles another batch.
 
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kdsarch

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If there was an infection, would there be any visible signs like green mold or something? As far as sanitizing solution goes, I generally let the equipment sit in there for at least half an hour. Is that too long?

From remembering my brew day (I did both of these on the same day) I do remember having a high 180 liqour temperature for one of these batches due to overheating the sparge water. I let it cool but am unsure as to the final temperature.

Once it was in the primary fermenter I remember thinking that this is good. There is a lot of activity and it bubbled more than any other beer that I had made. The primary ferment was very active. (again used the brew belt on the primary glass carboy for a week). Perhaps the use of the brew belt elevated the temperatures far too high and that is the resultant bad taste.

Any thoughts?
 

TexLaw

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You don't have to have any obvious visual sign of contamination, especially if it's wild yeast.

I've never used a brew belt, and I've never even seen one in action, so I don't know how those things work. I am concerned, though, that it doesn't evenly heat the beer, leaving some parts too hot. The sound of your ferment indicates that the actual beer temperature was, at least, warmer than what you had done before.

It's hard to say what the effect of a hot sparge would have. However, pH seems to be much more important that temperature when it comes to tannin extraction. If you treated your sparge water with the 5.2 stabilizer, I would cross the sparge off the list of suspects. I'd leave it on, though, if you didn't.

In the end, I would correct all the problems and potential problems (possible contamination, hot sparge, fermentation temperature) and see where that gets you. Since it's happened twice, it really could be anything in your process or equipment. It's a house problem, so you need to clean house!


TL
 

Rhoobarb

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kdsarch said:
i was wondering if the stabilizer could be the culprit. also, i use isodophor as a sanitizing agent. My wife thought that the off taste could be attributed to that, if i did not allow the utensils, carboy, etc, time to dry.

Anybody have that experience?
Nope and nope. I use both and I don't rinse the Iodophor - defeats the purpose of using it in the first place. You shouldn't experience an off flavor from either.

I'd agree with infection. I had my first and only one (so far, knock wood) on my 7th or 8th AG batch. It affected the two successive batches. I tossed out my old hoses and gave everything a good cleaning. That did the trick. Looking back, I think my old hoses were the main culprit. Now I change mine every six months, regardless of how 'good' they may look.
 

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It sounds like your sparge was actually a fly sparge, or a mixture of fly and batch sparging.

but I doubt that was the problem, as a bad sparge usually means crappy efficiency...or your pH gets out of whack but your 5.2 buffer should prevent that.

phenols can also come from too cold a fermentation. any kind of stress to the yeast can produce esters and/or phenols.

make sure ALL racking equipment, spigots and drain valves, etc are thoroughly sanitized...like others I'm leaning more towards an infection, or possibly your iodine sanitizer causing the flavor. (hint hint, star san is cheaper, no-rinse, doesn't have to dry, and won't off-flavor your brew)
 

DougBrew

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I've just had the same problem. Took a look a look at my hoses and they had to go! Man, I lost two batches so far to this infection. It's killing me!!!!!
 

Austinhomebrew

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It is the well known "All-Grain" twang.

Seriously, it is over concentrated Iodophor that wasn't rinsed.

1/2 per 5 gallons is a no rinse solution.

Everyone uses toooo much Iodophor.

Forrest
Austin Homebrew Supply
 

BeerPressure

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I can second the iodophor taste that forrest is talking. Guys in my brew club dont use the right ratio and it tastes HORRIBLE. Every batch they use iodophor with tastes bad.
 

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I can second the iodophor taste that forrest is talking. Guys in my brew club dont use the right ratio and it tastes HORRIBLE. Every batch they use iodophor with tastes bad.
I wonder about this alot. I typically add two capfulls of idophor per 3-4 gal....it usually seems pretty invisible at that point so I dose it up a bit if it doesnt look tinted.

I HAVE noticed if left in there for a long time though the plastics (bucket too) take on a amber tint to it. I thought that was normal...is it not?
 

BeerPressure

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I wonder about this alot. I typically add two capfulls of idophor per 3-4 gal....it usually seems pretty invisible at that point so I dose it up a bit if it doesnt look tinted.

I HAVE noticed if left in there for a long time though the plastics (bucket too) take on a amber tint to it. I thought that was normal...is it not?
I think the bottle says 1/2 cap for 5 gallons... something like that. I brewed during a meeting one time and some guy brought a bucket for me and he use iodophor. I knew he used too much because the water was pink and had a red film on the side of the bucket when i dumped the water out.

I promptly rinsed it with very hot water and sprayed star san solution on it.

The smell of that bucket with the iodophor in it was bad, smelled like how their bad beers taste.
 

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I've been using two cap fulls of Iodophor in my 5 and 6.5 carboy for years without a problem. I read some comment that said you let your equipment sit for half to an hour in the iodophor. Is that correct? I normally give it 5-10 minutes and then I let my stuff dry off. I also transfer in a CO2 environment. I rigged a picnic tap with a piece of racking cane attach to my CO2 tank. I soak the end of the tap cane in iodophor. I fill the carboy that I'm going to rack to with CO2 and cover the top with Aluminum foil. The foil's been sanitized in iodophor and given a nice rub with a paper towel soaked in cheap McCormick Vodka. I always clean stuff with vodka. It's cheap and a great cleaner.

Now my cleaning habit done, I believe you problem with phenolic is due to temperature. I've had the same problem and it was due to pitching at the incorrect temperature. Are you cooling your beer to the same temp as your yeast?
 

Austinhomebrew

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The no rinse solution (12.5 ppm) for Iodophor is 1/2 oz per 5 gallons. Why does everyone just guess?

Forrest
 

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switch to star-san. problem solved. the stuff works great for me and tons of others.

......ok, I'll be less curt and offer a question for you guys...does iodophor have something over star-san, because it seems like star san is pretty hassle free in comparison. any comments on that?
 

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I go by the directions on my container...there's a specific line about recommended homebrew concentration: 1 teaspoon per 1.5 gallons. I also think people overkill with huge volumes of solution too. I like using the 1.5 gallons at a time: it's amount of time wet solution is on the surface. It doesn't have to be submerged, only wetted (and the recommended duration is 2 mins).

RE Iodophor: well I like it because it's so cheap. Why people go by color of the solution (IE "it's gotta be a deep amber" or some crap) instead of actually following directions, I don't know. Both products are recognized as being great food grade sanitizers. Their basic principles are a little different, so their ability to kill things is a little different. But they both conform to what a sanitizer should do: which is kill off 99% of stuff. The only way to kill 100% of stuff is to sterilize and stay sterilized (which is impossible for any brewer).
 

duskb

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switch to star-san. problem solved. the stuff works great for me and tons of others.

......ok, I'll be less curt and offer a question for you guys...does iodophor have something over star-san, because it seems like star san is pretty hassle free in comparison. any comments on that?
yeah, I'd like to know too. I've been using idophor since thats what the LHBS reccomended. They had a big jug of star san the last time I was there but I saw a bunch of warning labels on it so I decided against it. I typically leave the idophor solution and my utensils in the fermenter during the cooling process (about an hour). Both the cat and the kid have been known to poke their nose into it. The star san looked serious enough that I didn't think it would work well around small kids and animals.

Either way it sound like I need to dial back on my idophor to water ratio.
 

davesrose

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Pangea

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People have been making hundreds of thousands of gallons with both Iodophor AND Starsan! Used properly it doesnt matter!

So what about the OP? Did his/her problem get solved?
 
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