I have never had this phenolic before, and, as a dues-paying member, I'm going on a rant that's full of rhetorical questions...
Trying to find where in my process this could have happened...have made a few changes recently:
1.) went to a BIAB set up. Forgot to rinse the bag that I ordered from BIABrewer since i can't sew for crap. Could there have been some chlorine used to wash the bag? The manufacturer said no way.
2.) maybe my under sink charcoal filter is due for a change? HOWEVER, made a steam beer 7 days before that turned out great.
3.) I could have rushed this beer off the yeast. Primary at 65 for 4 days, raised up to 75 for another 6 days, cool to 50 before racking to keg. Was trying to get it ready for Labor Day weekend
4.) Don't think I underpitched. Used a 2000ml starter of US-05 (last used about 6 months ago). Starter smelled a little sour, so decanted.
5.) Went to a partial chill set up where i use the IC to get it down to ~120 or so, then throw it in the ferm chest and let it get down to pitching temp, then transfer/aerate into a new fermenter
6.) Its Jamils American Wheat, and wheat supposedly contains more ferrulic acid than other malts...(used white wheat malt)...I don't make a lot of wheat beers, is there a mashing procedure thats different? (I would think not with BIAB/no sparge, as I don't even need rice hulls). Also has 3lb rye malt. Maybe I simply overdid the rye? This is what he suggested!
7.) Did a 75-minute mash, per the BIAB mavens.
8.) This one's weird: I had some 3 year-old pH strips, and in the steam beer I made, they read that the pH was in the 3's AFTER using 5.2 stabilizer (which I've since stopped using per Denny Conn). However, the steam is great (so far), and an actual pH of 3 would have been vile...I know pH being off can cause this phenol
I guess if there are this many potential culprits, I need to nail down my processes a little bit. HOWEVER, I am not typically getting off flavors, and my palette is getting better (BJCP in February!), and my wife's is excellent!
Here's my real question:
IF you were a complete maniac and wanted to try to salvage this beer, how would you feel about boiling a few ounces of orange/lemon peel, straining, and dumping the 1-2oz or so of then-cooled water with the zest flavor into the keg? Cuz I did that. Might do it again tomorrow if the beer doesn't get right.
Oh did I also mention that I tried to weigh down a hop bag that was already in the keg by removing it, tying an outer layer cheesecloth around it, only to have the outer layer fall apart once the thing got back into the keg and the weight (a small glass votif holder) hit the bottom of the keg with a mocking 'klink'?
Oh did I also mention that this is my first time kegging after 3 years and 40+ brews?
If this beer doesn't turn into methlamine I will be lucky.