I brewed my first kit a few months back. It was an Otter Creek Copper Ale clone using Nottingham for my yeast. Per the kit instructions, I pitched the yeast at 65F then kept the carboy at about 63F ambient. Fermentation temps went as high as 68F at high krausen. The beer spent a little over 2 weeks total in primary, as I dry hopped for 10 days or so after getting within a few points of my target FG.
About a week after bottling I couldn't wait any more and cracked into a bottle to taste. The beer tasted very green, which I was expecting at that point. What I wasn't expecting was a considerable strawberry note and quite a bit of tartness that really jumped out right away on my palate. I was pretty concerned that my beer was infected, but I tried to keep calm and decided to let it condition further before I came to any conclusions. Over time, the strawberry note has faded some and the tartness is a bit less, but 10 weeks after bottling I'm still not super thrilled with the results.
So, my question for the experts is whether my beer is infected or whether this tartness is just from my yeast choice and fermentation temp. I'm leaning towards not infected at this point. There is no acetic flavor in the beer. I hate yogurt, so I don't know if I'd be able to pick out lactic acid flavors. I would guess that the tartness would get worse over a couple of months of room-temperature bottle conditioning if it truly was infected, and I'm seeing a bit of the opposite as the beer has had time to age.
I've read a few things about the Notty yeast, and it sounds like it can produce some tartness on its own. I also read (a little too late for this beer), that it does better at cooler fermentation temps (like upper 50's F). So I'm guessing that the strawberry is just a big ester note from fermenting at the high end for Notty, and the tartness is also from the yeast.
I'm pretty confident in my sanitation (I'm a pharmacist in a hospital, so sterile technique is second nature for me), but I did leave my wort uncovered for about 30-40 minutes while I was cooling it in my sink. That's about the only spot in my procedure where I can imagine any chance for contamination would have been. I've brewed a few beers since with no issues.
So, does anyone have any opinions here? Infected or not infected?