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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: apple on October 13, 2013, 05:33:10 PM

Title: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: apple on October 13, 2013, 05:33:10 PM
I've just finished fermenting a 5 gallon extract batch of La Petite Orange from Northern Brewer.


I went with the recommended smack pack of yeast Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey Ale which I have never used before. Did a 1 liter starter for about 48 hours before. Crashed and decanted before pitching.

This is the first batch of my seven that has had an odd flavor. I typically taste my specific gravity sample at each transfer. It tasted great on brew day and going into the secondary. When I transferred to my corny keg a week ago it had an aroma that I can't quite place.

To my untrained pallet the beer flavor is very nice and what I would expect, but the aroma has a "plastic" smell. When I transferred it to the keg it reminded me of the smell of my vinyl hose blow off tube. After a week in the keg carbonating it seems like it might be a bit more of a yeast smell.

Any ideas what it might be? If it's yeast will it go away over time? My final gravity was 1.009, so I think the yeast is probably done. Obviously I'd like to know if I did something wrong and how to fix it. One thought might be that I got some contamination in the secondary. I'm not familiar with what kind of flavors might be produced from that.

Any help would be appreciated.
Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: duboman on October 13, 2013, 08:29:08 PM
Phenols would produce a plastic taste/aroma but if this is the first batch that's had it it could be something different in your process. First guess would normally be chlorine in your water but there are other causes as well.

Look at this:http://www.beerjudgeschool.com/uploads/Beer_Characteristics_Flash_Cards.pdf
And go to phenolic, you can see the various reasons this would pop up and perhaps you can see what happened with this batch.
Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: morticaixavier on October 13, 2013, 10:05:20 PM
Didn't see where the orange is supposed to come from.

Is this your first belgian? If so it could well be an unfamiliar yeast character. Belgian yeast can be interesting. It may well drop out after some ageing.

Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: HoosierBrew on October 13, 2013, 10:27:15 PM
I remember the first time I used 1214.  I was using the swamp cooler at the time, working alot of hours and, long story short, frozen water bottles didn't get swapped as often as they needed the first 2 or 3 days. It's a great strain if you go cool enough ( I start it @ ~ 64 now and climb slowly after a few days) , but go too warm and it's a banana /phenol bomb. It was borderline unpleasant smelling for a bit, but got better after some cold conditioning, like most beers.
Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: apple on October 14, 2013, 02:05:27 AM
That flash card link from duboman was great. I have a lot to learn!

I'm having another glass of it tonight and it's not as bad as it was. It definitely has what I would call the flashcards call the "bandaid" smell, but much less distinct than a couple days ago. (Or maybe my nose is just dead tonight? lol)

This is my first time using the yeast. Tonight it is striking me as much more of a yeast flavor/aroma. I'm hopeful it will mellow with time.

morticaixavier, the orange is an optional addition. It is documented on the instruction sheet which you can see if you click the additional information tab on the product page. It's the "brewers note" just a few paragraphs in. I used dried orange peel from Northern Brewer to make it simple on myself.

Thanks for the input everyone. I'll keep you posted on how it progresses.
Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: jamminbrew on October 14, 2013, 02:20:32 AM
Plastic and bandaid smells raise a red flag for me as a possible infection. It could be just phenolics from fermentation. If the aroma diminishes over time, you probably have nothing to worry about.
Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: apple on October 22, 2013, 02:36:48 AM
What a difference a week can make!

I've seen a dramatic difference in this beer since my original post. After another week in the keggerator I've seen the "bandaid smell" go to almost nothing. What I'm left with is a great beer flavor with a hint of what I now understand as the aroma of this Belgian abbey ale yeast strain. It has become more of a background/supporting flavor rather than the overwhelming first impression it was.

Thanks for all those of you who helped me understand it. And I'm gratified that I'm back on my 1000 batting record for batches that end up in my gut rather than down the drain.  ;)
Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: ppbrewclub on November 19, 2013, 02:24:50 PM
I just did this kit as well, and my yeast still has to activate after 48 hours.  Did your's take that long?  Thx
Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: apple on November 20, 2013, 02:07:20 AM
Yes, that stuff takes forever! I even called the LHBS to see if they would replace my smack pack when it didn't inflate after about 4 hours. He counseled me that it would be fine. That yeast is really slow to start. I don't recall how long it took to get going, but it was definitely longer than usual lag time. I'd say just be patient.

The beer was outstanding BTW. I polished off that batch in no time. The off flavors were gone after that extra week and it was one of my best beers yet. It does have a little different flavor from the yeast, but it didn't take me long to fall in love with that flavor.

Perhaps we should invent a phrase for that, something related to the Helsinki Syndrome where people fall in love with the people who kidnapped them? "Beer-sinki Syndrome" i.e. You fall in love with the beer you made with your own hands. (regardless of it's actual quality!)

Good luck with your batch, let us know how it turns out.
Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: ppbrewclub on November 20, 2013, 05:57:24 PM
Thx apple,
It started to ferment when I got home from work yesterday.  It took at least 48 hours that means.  And it is a slow ferment as well.  I heard other people had the same issue in my brew club....I have patience, just don't have patience if there is a mistake I did.
Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: Joe Sr. on November 20, 2013, 08:00:21 PM
48 hours makes me think you underpitched the amount of yeast.

I don't find 1214 to be a slow starter, but often a slow finisher and poor floculator.

If the yeast has not fully dropped, you can get odd and unpleasant flavors.  It's good that you're tasting the beer along the way because that's a great way to learn what flavors you can/should expect and what flavors should not be there and are indicative of a problem.
Title: Re: Off flavors in La Petite Orange?
Post by: majorvices on November 21, 2013, 01:24:02 PM
If it is a pleasant "clove" type phenol (like a hefeweizen), it is from the yeast. If it is plasticy and unpleasant it could be from a wild yeast infection or chlorinated water or chlorine bleach (possibly used as sanitizer). I find similarities between the two phenolic flavors/aromas but on drinkability scale they are vastly different. I've had to recently dump a batch of Belgian Pale Ale that had a terrible plastic/clove aroma that dominated the beer and rendered it undrinkable. Usually the pleasant clove like character is balanced and blended with other spicy yeast flavors. But when it smacks you in the mouth or the nose and dominates the profile or tastes "artificial" that is when you know something is wrong.

I don't know what the recipe is, but 1.009 seems a little low for dubbel, especially if it is an extract, which could indicate possible infection. Impossible for me to say from my computer screen.