Strange off flavor

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PreciousRoy420

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I just finished my first brew; an imperial blonde ale; and I'm getting some off flavors that I don't recognize. When I poured the first bottle, I got a strong aroma of banana and clove, which I think implies that my fermentation temperature may have been too high. After pouring the bottle, I got a very strong caramel flavor that resolved in a strange kind of hot, chemically flavor that kind of reminds me of drinking static electricity. After letting the beer sit in the glass for a minute or two, that flavor disappears entirely. Once that flavor is gone, it just tastes like a mediocre blonde ale that's very heavy on caramel malt flavors. Does anybody know what that static electricity flavor might be and how I might prevent it in the future? The attached picture is the beer in question. Thank you!
 

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lumpher

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From the little bit of info (ie no recipe, yeast type, ferm temp, etc), it sounds like you might have let it ferment too hot and developed some fusel alcohol. Post the recipe and the ferm temp and we can maybe advise you a little better.
 
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PreciousRoy420

PreciousRoy420

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What's the recipe? The orange color could be some oxidation or it could be recipe based.

More info is needed.
I used the Brewer's Best Imperial Blonde Ale kit. I'll attach the recipe and instructions to this reply. I followed the instructions pretty exactly, but I ran into two issues when I was brewing it. The first was that I didn't anticipate just how long it was going to take to cool the wort in an ice bath, so it was exposed to oxygen for about a half hour before I was able to transfer it to the fermenter, and I ended up pitching the yeast at around 80 degrees. The second was that I didn't have a vessel to hold my hydrometer in, so I tried to get a reading out of the fermenter and it came out inaccurate. Beyond that, I let it sit in the primary fermenter for about 5 days, and then transferred it to a secondary fermenter where it sat for around two weeks. During that time, it was fermenting between 65-67 degrees. After that, I bottled it and let it bottle condition for two weeks. Unfortunately, I do not know what kind of yeast was used in the recipe, as it isn't listed on the instructions, and I did not think to write it down: a mistake I will not be making in the future.
 

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Sammy86

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I used the Brewer's Best Imperial Blonde Ale kit. I'll attach the recipe and instructions to this reply. I followed the instructions pretty exactly, but I ran into two issues when I was brewing it. The first was that I didn't anticipate just how long it was going to take to cool the wort in an ice bath, so it was exposed to oxygen for about a half hour before I was able to transfer it to the fermenter, and I ended up pitching the yeast at around 80 degrees. The second was that I didn't have a vessel to hold my hydrometer in, so I tried to get a reading out of the fermenter and it came out inaccurate. Beyond that, I let it sit in the primary fermenter for about 5 days, and then transferred it to a secondary fermenter where it sat for around two weeks. During that time, it was fermenting between 65-67 degrees. After that, I bottled it and let it bottle condition for two weeks. Unfortunately, I do not know what kind of yeast was used in the recipe, as it isn't listed on the instructions, and I did not think to write it down: a mistake I will not be making in the future.

Alright, a lot to unpack here.

The cooling shouldn't be too much of an issue as the yeast need oxygen to get their job done anyway. Some may disagree but there is more than one way to skin a cat.

The biggest issues I see are the pitching temp at 80 and transferring to a secondary. If you pitched at 80 and didn't get any lower, the yeast naturally create heat inside while creating the alcohol. Like @lumpher said you could have created some fusal alcohol fermenting at such high temps.

The second is the transfer. How did you transfer from one vessel to the other? Modern brewing practices don't call for a secondary unless you are aging or adding adjuncts (fruit, oak, etc.)

My untasted beer opinion is you fermented too hot and picked up some cold side oxidation during the transfer.

In the future I would leave the beer in primary for 10-14 days, check gravity and then package when your gravity reading is stable.
 
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PreciousRoy420

PreciousRoy420

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Alright, a lot to unpack here.

The cooling shouldn't be too much of an issue as the yeast need oxygen to get their job done anyway. Some may disagree but there is more than one way to skin a cat.

The biggest issues I see are the pitching temp at 80 and transferring to a secondary. If you pitched at 80 and didn't get any lower, the yeast naturally create heat inside while creating the alcohol. Like @lumpher said you could have created some fusal alcohol fermenting at such high temps.

The second is the transfer. How did you transfer from one vessel to the other? Modern brewing practices don't call for a secondary unless you are aging or adding adjuncts (fruit, oak, etc.)

My untasted beer opinion is you fermented too hot and picked up some cold side oxidation during the transfer.

In the future I would leave the beer in primary for 10-14 days, check gravity and then package when your gravity reading is stable.
During the fermentation process, the temperature inside the fermenter dropped down to about 65-67 degrees, and it quickly cooled down to that point maybe 15 minutes after I pitched the yeast. I guess I was starting to get anxious about potential contimination and I got a bit ahead of myself. I transferred it to the secondary fermenter by using an auto siphon, and covering top of the primary fermenter so that nothing would get into the beer during the process. I didn't know that about the secondary fermenter; that's good information to have. I was told that I should transfer it to the secondary fermenter to improve the clarity of the beer, but if I understand correctly, cold crashing can accomplish the same goal? If I'm adding adjuncts, should I be adding them to the secondary fermenter, then?
 

hotbeer

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I don't know about the color either. I'd have thunk it should be a light yellow to medium gold in color for a blonde ale. Not the Deep Gold the recipe says. And not the reddish orange yours turned out. Or is there light shining through it making it look a little different in the pic from what your eye perceives it?

The cascade hops should give you a grapefruit flavor and the willamette a spicy peppery flavor.

Jarrylo hops will give you a strong banana like flavor. But the recipe doesn't say it uses jarrylo.

And like many kits that include dry yeast, they don't tell you what yeast it is and yeast of various strains give their own flavor and aroma notes too.

Although recipes still say to move to a secondary, that's really something one should do after getting experience in everything else beer and beer making. Secondary's aren't really needed for a first time home brewer and many of us don't use them at all even after having done many brews. And the move to a secondary may have added to the current color of your beer.
 
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PreciousRoy420

PreciousRoy420

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I don't know about the color either. I'd have thunk it should be a light yellow to medium gold in color for a blonde ale. Not the Deep Gold the recipe says. And not the reddish orange yours turned out. Or is there light shining through it making it look a little different in the pic from what your eye perceives it?

The cascade hops should give you a grapefruit flavor and the willamette a spicy peppery flavor.

Jarrylo hops will give you a strong banana like flavor. But the recipe doesn't say it uses jarrylo.

And like many kits that include dry yeast, they don't tell you what yeast it is and yeast of various strains give their own flavor and aroma notes too.

Although recipes still say to move to a secondary, that's really something one should do after getting experience in everything else beer and beer making. Secondary's aren't really needed for a first time home brewer and many of us don't use them at all even after having done many brews. And the move to a secondary may have added to the current color of your beer.
There is definitely a slight light effect altering the color in that picture, but only to a minor degree. The color at the top of the glass is more accurate to the overall color of the beer. It is definitely not the color I would associate with a blonde ale, though. My brain was justifying it by saying that maybe the "imperial" part of the imperial blonde ale recipe was causing that, but honestly, I'm flummoxed by the whole damn thing.
 

hotbeer

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Well from what you've described in your processes you didn't do too bad. Only the secondary is where I'd fault, but that is more on the kit maker that after years of people saying secondary's aren't needed for the average homebrewer, kits from homebrew supply places still say to use a secondary.

As for your concern of exposing it to oxygen while cooling. That's no concern at all. Oxygen and the resulting oxidation is more a concern after the krauesen and the beer is well into or beyond it's fermentation. Nor is taking a long time to cool, though quicker is better for most of us in a hurry. As long as your conditions are sanitary, you can leave it till the next day then pitch your yeast.

And though some do, I wouldn't take a gravity reading by putting the hydrometer in the beer. In fact I wouldn't take a gravity reading until the beer is cleaned up and I'm thinking it looks about ready to bottle. And that will be 10 days to maybe 5 weeks or more. You only need your OG and FG. Though FG requires a minimum of two samples 2 or 3 days apart. Any other is extra data that you won't have a use for.

Though if you use a RaptPill, Tilt or other to monitor your fermentation, you get beer temp as well as SG and then you won't risk contamination or oxidation trying to get a sample since you put it in at the beginning and never have to open the FV until you bottle. But save that purchase for later when you know why you really want it and it's not just something neato that you heard about.

I keep my ales fermenting in ambient air temps of 69°F more or less. I might suggest you toss the yeast from your next kit if you buy a kit and then use a packet of yeast you know what it is. Also be aware that dry yeast doesn't need aeration and it's perfectly fine to direct pitch it when wort is cooled down preferably to your fermentation temp.

The yeast in the kit is probably very good yeast for the beer. But since they don't tell you what it is, then you don't build any experience with how different yeasts work for your beers.
 
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My brain was justifying it by saying that maybe the "imperial" part of the imperial blonde ale recipe was causing that, but honestly, I'm flummoxed by the whole damn thing.

IMO, it looks like you brewed the kit well based on the kit specifications.

The kit specified "deep gold" (SRM 6-12 according to this link). In the photograph, it looks like there is some haze which will darken the beer. In my experience, beer color in a glass is generally a little darker than what is shown in SRM color wheels.

There are some styles that are hard to "get right" with "extract". An Imperial Blond Ale with SRM on the low end of the color range may be one of them.
 

seatazzz

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Going to agree with posts above; for your next batch, nix the secondary. It is not necessary unless you are adding fruit, or planning to age a beer before packaging. Transferring to secondary (basically taking the beer off the yeast) after only 5 days is WAY too early; even if you had reached your desired gravity, those yeast were still working to clean up after the wild party they had.

For your next brew, I would also suggest deviating from the included instructions as to when you add your LME/DME; they don't need to boil as long as the instructions say. I know guys who add the extract 15 minutes before end of boil; this mitigates the maillard reaction that darkens the beer. I think that's the reason for the darker color in your finished beer, also the 'caramel' flavor you get; basically burnt sugar.
 

Beermeister32

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1. Get the temp down quickly
2. When using extracts, keep maybe half for late addition to the boil
3. Minimize oxidation times
4. Hold your fermentation temperature down and take action so it doesn’t runaway (refrigerator, ice baths, etc)
5. Secondaries are usually unnecessary

Think about what you are doing each step along the way. Don’t take shortcuts. Part of making great beer is this step by step learning process that eliminates all sources of brewing and fermentation issues.

If it were easy, everyone would do it…!
 
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@seatazz : with regard to boil times and 'extract'-based wort, wort darkens about 1 SRM during a 45 min boil (source: Briess on Basic Brewing Radio Aug 25, 2005 / Nov 17, 2005). Briess also has an article on keeping LME fresh from 2014.

One significant "unknown" in troubleshooting OP's batch is the quality / color of the LME on brew day. If the actual color for the LME was SRM 8 (rather than SRM 4) shortening the boil wont change the color back to SRM 5.
 
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