Off Flavor in bottle-aged beer

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

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

xeerohour

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2010
Messages
165
Reaction score
1
Location
Tulsa
So, I've done quite a bit of reading on this, including searching the forums on here, and I'm still not quite sure what exactly is causing the off flavor.

Not quite a year ago (last January) I brewed a Russian Imperial Stout that turned out amazing. After aging it for a month or two, I bottled it all, and I've been drinking it intermittently.

Over the past few months, it's developed a really strong smell. In addition, while I'm not sure how much of it is the smell, it's also developed a strong off flavor.

I would best describe the smell as the medicine-y, plastic-y, 'band-aid' that I've seen associated with a phenolic infection. My roommate also described the flavor as "flintstones chewables vitamins", which while I didn't quite agree with, it amused me enough I had to share.

One last note - while I know my beers are bottle aged, and yeast sediment is normal, there seems to be a lot more... cruft... white flecks in this beer than normal. It's surprisingly apparently even in a pitch black stout.

So - what could cause a big, roasty, high-alcohol, high-IBU beer to develop something like this? From what I read about infections, this seems like something that I would have encountered earlier on, perhaps even during primary fermentation.

Is it possible I somehow introduced something at bottling, and it's been growing ever since at a slow rate?

If so - I'm guess I probably shouldn't re-use those bottles, eh?
 

Revvy

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
41,296
Reaction score
3,724
Location
"Detroitish" Michigan
Is it possible I somehow introduced something at bottling, and it's been growing ever since at a slow rate?
Probably, often gusher type bottle infections take time to develop. I think I had one show up after 2 years...OR it could be isolated to 1 or 2 bottles and the rest was fine.

If so - I'm guess I probably shouldn't re-use those bottles, eh?
Why would you think that? It's glass...the infection is in the beer, not embedded in the glass. All you need to do is re-clean and sanitize.

If you're really paranoid, you can always boil the bottles, like you would steralize canning jars.
 
OP
xeerohour

xeerohour

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2010
Messages
165
Reaction score
1
Location
Tulsa
It's definitely not isolated to a few bottles. Each of the last 6 or so I've had over the past couple months have been steadily more potent. It's at the point now where I'm thinking I need to throw it out.

As an aside, I totally ghetto-rigged my bottling setup - I run the bottles through the dishwasher, then soak them in starsan for a few minutes. This is the only batch I've had a problem with, but it is the third oldest.

One more reason why I'm glad I upgraded to kegs this summer.
 

billtzk

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2007
Messages
1,617
Reaction score
23
Location
Dallas
Check this list (PDF) http://www.bjcp.org/docs/Beer_faults.pdf

Both the "Medicinal" and "Plastic" section suggest a possible infection.

I'm not sure what "cruft" is, but if it's a ring of grunge around the beer line in the neck, I have heard that is also indicative of an infection.

The bottles will be fine. Clean them thoroughly so there is no organic debris. Then sanitize them multiple ways. Though I'm not big on using dilute bleach for sanitizing, I'd probably start with that after a thorough cleaning, then clean again and use Iodophor or StarSan, then put up the bottles neck down and re-sanitize again before using.

On the other hand, bottles are easily come by and relatively cheap to free, so if it makes you feel better, just toss them.
 
Top