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whats the off flavor?

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jefferym09

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ive had the same damn off flavor in several beers ive done and i dont know exactly how to characterize it. It tastse very alcoholic to me, but not in a good way. i dont really know how else to explain it, but whatever it is, the colder the beer is, the more apparent it is. one off flavor i read about is specifically called "alcoholic" and it is supposed to taste like paint thinner...... of course ive never drank paint thinner, so its hard ton relate to.

sooooo what am i dealin with here???
 

hercher

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It could be phenols, which would have a spicy quality. It could be caused by fermenting too warm.

Since this has happened in several beers, it seems unlikely that it would be an infection. Nevertheless, to be sure you should sanitize the living daylights out of all your equipment.

Perhaps you could also describe you brewing, fermenting, and kegging/bottling process in detail. That way, someone smarter than me (yeah, yeah, I know, that doesn't rule very many people out) might find an area in which these flavors are being created.
 

tagz

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Sounds like fusel alcohol, either from under pitching or from too high fermentation temp. If you give a bit more info on you batch, we can help narrow it down.
 
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jefferym09

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for starters, i do sanitize the hell out of everything. im like that guys that sanitizes the siphon rod and freaks out when it barely touches something else, so i sanitize it again.

it was all grain, OG: 1.072, FG: 1.009

1056 Wyeast

mash in a tun for 1.5 hrs, sparged with 2.5 gallons
boil for an hour, 3 different hops and a whirlflock tab, pitched at 70 degrees.

primary for 2 weeks, bright tanked for 1 week and dry hopped in it.

all i can say is when i tasted it before i racked to bright tank, it tasted very sweet. when i tasted the remaining beer right after bottling, it wasnt quite as sweet. The first bottle i opened after 1 week tasted actually pretty good, now after 2 weeks, every bottle i opened has tasted like i imagine a dry erase marker would and has a very alcoholic bite to it. the colder the beer is, the more apparent the bad taste is, but even when its warm it tastes bad too. it also seems the longer it sits in bottles, the worse its getting. there also is a noticeable layer of sediment in each bottle (i tried to keep as much out as i could, but im only human.)
 

iamwhatiseem

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for starters, i do sanitize the hell out of everything. im like that guys that sanitizes the siphon rod and freaks out when it barely touches something else, so i sanitize it again.

it was all grain, OG: 1.072, FG: 1.009

1056 Wyeast

mash in a tun for 1.5 hrs, sparged with 2.5 gallons
boil for an hour, 3 different hops and a whirlflock tab, pitched at 70 degrees.

primary for 2 weeks, bright tanked for 1 week and dry hopped in it.

all i can say is when i tasted it before i racked to bright tank, it tasted very sweet. when i tasted the remaining beer right after bottling, it wasnt quite as sweet. The first bottle i opened after 1 week tasted actually pretty good, now after 2 weeks, every bottle i opened has tasted like i imagine a dry erase marker would and has a very alcoholic bite to it. the colder the beer is, the more apparent the bad taste is, but even when its warm it tastes bad too. it also seems the longer it sits in bottles, the worse its getting. there also is a noticeable layer of sediment in each bottle (i tried to keep as much out as i could, but im only human.)
"it tasted very sweet"....fermentation temp to high?
 

hercher

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Yeah I'm thinking you might be fermenting a bit warm. I see you pitched at 70, but what were your ferm temps?
 

tagz

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Did you use a starter or just pitch the smack pack? Do you have any temperature control for your fermenter?
 

chumpsteak

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If it burns your throat or gives you an instant headache it's fusels. If it smells and tastes like fingernail polish removal it's fusels. If you pitched at 70 and fermented in a 70 degree room it's probably fusels. If you didn't pitch 2 packs of dry yeast or 2 packs of liquid yeast with a big starter for a 1.070 beer it's fusels. Sounds like it's probably fusels. In my experience it doesn't age out either. Sorry.
 
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jefferym09

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well its interesting, i took it to a brew shop in portland and the guy said he swore the taste was tannin. perhaps i described the taste wrong, but too high ferm temp is not out of the case. i dont have any way to regulate temps at this time and i didnt have any carboy temp strips, so i really dont know what temp it fermented at.

the guy's main suggestion was to add some lactic acid to my sparge water. i have never delved in how PH works in beer, but that was his suggestion. he didnt think it had anything to do with too hot ferm temp. The original sweetness caught me off gaurd becuase i brewed this same recipe twice before and the OG was 1.050 both times, and this time it was 1.072 (i think this was mainly becuase the mill i used this time ground the grain much finer than my last 2) Also, this is why i didnt use a starter becuase i didnt expect the OG to go that high. the sweetness when i racked didnt taste like esthers or fruity stuff either. which as far as i know thats what happens to 1056 when ferm temp gets too hot.

i dunno, its a mystery
 
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jefferym09

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hell if i know. ha pretty much everything im learning comes from making mistakes. i know i should be reading brew books, but i get migraines from reading. so im learning it all the hard way plus insight from brewers and this site
 

Denny

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Tannin isn't a taste, it's a dry mouthfeel. Knowing Portland's water, I doubt you have to do much woth the soarge water, especially if you happen to be batch sparging. Esters are only one issue with fermenting too hot. Fusels as described here are another.
 

SpeedYellow

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I'm sticking with bacterial infection or wild yeast contamination after doing some quick googling. I was shocked at 88% attenuation because I've used 1056 several times, even fermented hot, and always got attenuation in the 70's. 88% screams "problem" to me. A contamination like this can produce fusels.
 
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jefferym09

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by contamination, you mean the tools not being sanitized enough? (including the carboy). or can you describe what a bacterial infection can be caused by?
 

hercher

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by contamination, you mean the tools not being sanitized enough? (including the carboy). or can you describe what a bacterial infection can be caused by?
The only way it wouldn't be tools and equipment is if the wort got contaminated. That would suggest a long cool down time in a relatively dirty environment.
 

winvarin

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Not to further muddy the water, but here are 2 other possibilities:

1. What was your mash temp? If you mashed for 1.5 hrs at anything much lower than 151-52, then you created a super fermentable wort. If you combine that with high pitch and ferment temps, it may well be fusel alcohols. Buy some iodine at your local drug store. After about 40 min in the mash, pull a little sample of your mash liquor, trying to get liquid only, no grains. Put this liquid into something white. I use a saucer. Put a couple of drops of iodine into the liquid. If it turns black, keep mashing and check again in 10 min. If the iodine keeps its reddish brown color, conversion is largely complete and you're good to start sparging.

2. What was the temperature of your sparge water? If you sparge too hot you can wash extra, unwanted tannins into the wort. Considering you finished at 1.008, the tannins if present, would stand out that much more. I have a pump driven HLT so my temp drops a bit between the HLT and MLT. I keep my sparge water around 173-5f so that it is 170-2f when it hits my grain bed. You can go a little lower if you're manually transferring sparge water. I used to use a big pitcher that held the heat better so I went 170-2 with my water.

You may also want to look at a pH meter. If the pH of your runnings goes above 5.7, or gravity goes below 1.008 while sparging, stop sparging and adjust your boil to compensate for the lower volume.
 

Denny

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Tannin extraction is far more dependent on pH than temp. If your pH is OK, you can use boiling water. Otherwise, how could decoctions be done?
 
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jefferym09

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mashed at 152-154, sparged with 170 degree water. i did manually transfer sparge water, i just poured it onto the grain bed gradually at 170 degrees.

there wouldnt be any chance something went wrong with my priming sugar is there? im just so confused that it would taste fine when i racked to secondary, and it tasted fine upon bottling, then it got worse as it sat in bottles.

would sediment contribute to the off taste? there is more in the bottles than i normally end up getting...
 

chumpsteak

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Off flavors get worse or appear to get worse as the beer ages because the hops fade and the beer tends to mellow out allowing the off flavors to jump out.

I've had fusels in 2 beers and they both attenuated ridiculously low. 1.005 and 1.006. Both were mashed at 152. Both were using 1056.

The off flavor you're likely dealing with isn't astringency. Your beer may have astringency in it, but I would never describe it as alcoholic tasting, so that is not your primary off flavor.

You need to research swamp coolers on these forums or build yourself a fermentation chamber. Fermenting in a 70 degree room will easily result in temps in the high 70's or even 80's in the fermenter. Combine that with underpitching and you are likely to get fusels which can range in taste and smell from hot alcohol, solvent, nail polish remover, or just a plain old out of place alcohol taste.

Controlling your ferm temps will solve a lot of problems and will result in better and more consistent beers.
 
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jefferym09

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yea i figured i had gotten past the whole temp regulating problem last year. (becuase of an older batch that had temp problems) but i guess i need to put more effort into it besides just finding a room that stays relatively the same temp.
 

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