Author Topic: Bottle conditioned off flavor  (Read 3163 times)

Offline haasfilm

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Bottle conditioned off flavor
« on: February 13, 2012, 06:20:10 AM »
Has anyone encountered persistent off flavors as a result of bottle conditioning? I've been brewing for several years and kegging for most of that time. Occasionally I will bottle condition sour and big beers. I've noticed an unpleasant off flavor on bottle conditioned beers. I bottled a year old barley wine in December and initially it was very neutral and tasty upon achieving carbonation. However within a few months this sweet, homebrew-y flavors has settled in and "ruined" it. I've had similar experiences with other beers. I can't imagine it's an infection issue, since these beers do not become gushers, and I've got sanitation pretty under control in my brewery. Just curious if others have had this issue? I'm thinking it's time for a beer gun to bottle the stuff I want to age in bottle.

Offline tygo

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Re: Bottle conditioned off flavor
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 06:56:18 PM »
It sounds like it could be oxidation.  Especially since it takes a little while for the flavor to develop.  How are you racking and bottling your beers?
Clint
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On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline euge

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Re: Bottle conditioned off flavor
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2012, 08:50:12 PM »
Also how are you storing your beer? Describe homebrewey- to me that suggests fresh beer on the yeast. However, if it is a meaty flavor then you might have incipient autolysis which is much much worse. Is the beer darkening?
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Bottle conditioned off flavor
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2012, 12:13:46 AM »
Also how are you storing your beer? Describe homebrewey- to me that suggests fresh beer on the yeast. However, if it is a meaty flavor then you might have incipient autolysis which is much much worse. Is the beer darkening?

If it's a dullness to hop and malt flavor, as well as slightly "inky" or "chemical" bitter notes, it's oxidation.

Offline haasfilm

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Re: Bottle conditioned off flavor
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2012, 08:43:03 AM »
Thanks for the feedback guys. Not sure what I'm trying to discover, but it's a mystery. The flavors I'm getting don't seem to be what I think of as oxidized (stale or cardboard). However I know that sherry notes can be a result of oxidation. I would be surprised if it would be so prominent so quickly. I bottled this beer in late December '11 taking caution not to splash or aerate the beer while racking. I bottled in brown capped bottles. When it achieved carbonation it was very neutral. I entered this beer in the Upper Mississippi Mashout and, although it did not place, it received a good score and positive notes (no mention of off flavors). Within the last few weeks this sweet taste has crept in. I've had this happen before with an AHA rally beer from Surly (Imperial Brown). Over time this signature flavor came on and overwhelmed the beer. I'm wondering if allowing the beer to get too warm during conditioning could have brought this on? I store most of my cellared beers in a cold basement. When I bottled this batch I moved the bottles to an upstairs bedroom to be a little "warmer". The cases were stored in a narrow hallway with a radiator nearby. I can't imagine that they got much hotter than room temp, but just wondering if that could have had an effect? Anyway I think I'm done bottle conditioning since I've experienced this a few times. Maybe it's time to get a beer gun for those beers I'd like to age in bottle?

Offline euge

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Re: Bottle conditioned off flavor
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2012, 09:02:53 AM »
The Blichmann beer gun gets excellent reviews. Not sure if that is the answer to your problems. Unpasteurized beer changes over time. Bitterness levels drop pretty quickly. This could account for your beer(s) growing sweeter as they age. And not all brews age gracefully; there comes a point when they should have been consumed. However, a Barley Wine to me tastes great at about a month and then takes up to a year to come back around. That's just one of the reasons to hop the crap out of them. It is to counter the sweetness and balance the brew when it becomes ready after a lengthy conditioning period. After a year it may drop as much as 50% of the BU's.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline haasfilm

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Re: Bottle conditioned off flavor
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2012, 09:22:25 AM »
Yeah Beergun here I come. This Barleywine was a year old when I bottled it with a little 05 rehydrated slurry. Sad to put that much time and effort into a beer to have to go bad in bottles. I entered it in a competition assuming it'd get beaten up, but hoped for constructive feedback. Was pleased and surprised when it did well.

Offline euge

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Re: Bottle conditioned off flavor
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2012, 09:33:08 AM »
Yeah Beergun here I come. This Barleywine was a year old when I bottled it with a little 05 rehydrated slurry. Sad to put that much time and effort into a beer to have to go bad in bottles. I entered it in a competition assuming it'd get beaten up, but hoped for constructive feedback. Was pleased and surprised when it did well.

Don't give up on her yet. Rethink and maybe reclassify the style. Is it now or could be an Old ale or Stock ale? Those have hardly any bitterness at all. Stick those beers in some place dark and stable, over time check and sample. Drink, submit or give away when you think it's at its best.

If you are really hating it and have access to a pot still you might make some decent whiskey. ::)
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline tygo

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Re: Bottle conditioned off flavor
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2012, 10:53:07 AM »
Are you using an auto siphon to rack?
Clint
Wort Hogs

Fermenting: Wit
On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Bottle conditioned off flavor
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2012, 12:09:44 PM »
Yeah Beergun here I come. This Barleywine was a year old when I bottled it with a little 05 rehydrated slurry. Sad to put that much time and effort into a beer to have to go bad in bottles. I entered it in a competition assuming it'd get beaten up, but hoped for constructive feedback. Was pleased and surprised when it did well.

I own a beergun and they are great, and huge time savers. But definitely expect a learning curve with that as well. I have had to "fix" a couple batches due to issues with the gun. For example the first time i bottled a Scottish 70 that I was looking for very low carbonation, it was perfect in the keg but lost some in transfer to the bottles(probably because I didnt chill the bottles prior to filling) and was pretty much flat shortly thereafter. Dont be discouraged there learning curve to everything, sucks when its a batch thats been aging for a while tho for sure.
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Bottle conditioned off flavor
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2012, 08:24:56 PM »
Sherry is definitely due to oxidation and it can appear relatively quickly if the the beer is very oxidized and/or stored very warm.

The sweetness might be something that was always there, but which is becoming more obvious as hop character drops, which is also a sign of aging.

My guess is that you have an oxidation problem and that it's severe enough that the beer went from being "papery" and "dull" to sherry-like without you noticing it.

You're lucky that this just happened to a batch of big beer where sherry-like notes aren't out of place. As Euge said, it might work well as a Stock Ale or Old Ale.

In the future, minimize aeration during all steps of the brewing processs - from mashing in to bottling. Be very careful about splashing or aerating your wort during the hot side - mashing or wort transfer to the boil kettle. Boiling will drive off oxygen, so you don't have to worry so much about the beer during that phase. Likewise, any oxygen you add at yeast pitch will also get scavenged up by the yeast pretty quickly, so that's not a problem either, but after that, you have to worry about oxygen pickup again. If you're conditioning in secondary for long periods of time, consider blanketing your beer with a bit of CO2. Other folks have given suggestions for minimizing aeration during bottling.

Once your beer is bottled and carbonated to the level you want, the next thing you have to worry about is heat. If you can keep your beer at near 32 *F, it can remain brewery-fresh for months. (Commercial beer stored at near freezing temperatures can stay in near perfect condition for as long as 2 years.) If you can't keep your beer in cold storage, keep it as cold as possible - the warmer the beer, the faster it ages. For commercial beer, the shelf-life is about 100 days. For HB, the shelf-like can be even shorter.

Excessive heat can kill your beer fast. Fermentation scientists deliberately introduce oxidation in beer by holding it at pasteurization temperatures (120-160 *F) for 2-3 days. Storing beer in warm conditions, like a hot attic, or next to a radiator, can severely oxidize it in just a few weeks.