Author Topic: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?  (Read 2142 times)

Online erockrph

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Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« on: April 08, 2012, 11:03:17 PM »
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?
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline jeffy

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 04:10:54 AM »
I doubt it is infected, as it sounds more like a yeast-derived ester to me.  They are usually described as fruity and strawberry is indeed a fruit. 
Sometimes hops can produce some strange fruit notes, too.  What variety of hops did you use?
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2012, 06:06:17 AM »
I think Nottingham yeast is known for a certain tart character that a lot of people don't care for.  I prefer S04 for a dry British ale yeast, and West Yorkshire is a great liquid yeast that goes easy on the fruity esters.
Lennie
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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2012, 08:30:43 AM »
I agree with Lennie.  I stopped using Nottingham because I didn't care for the tartness I got from it.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 10:13:26 AM »
Agreed with Lennie and Denny. I fermented around 67* with Notty and it turned out really poorly. It was a few years ago, so I don't remember it exactly, but it gave me all the wrong kinds of flavors. Maybe if you fermented it a lot cooler, it would work out better.
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Online erockrph

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 10:44:48 AM »
Thanks for the reassurance. The late/dry hops were Hersbrucker and Tettnang, so I doubt that's where the fruitiness is coming from. Unless I'm doing something like an Old Ale where I want some tartness without having to add bugs, I don't think I'll be using Nottingham again.

FWIW, the kit suggests Kolsch (WLP029) or German Ale (WY1007) as the liquid yeast options. If I knew then what I know now I would have taken that as a sign that the recipe really wants a pretty clean yeast. I'll just chalk this up as a lesson learned.
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2012, 10:58:12 AM »
I'd have subbed US05 for a recipe calling for alt yeast.  Highly attenuative and low esters.
Lennie
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Offline nateo

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2012, 11:01:31 AM »
I'd have subbed US05 for a recipe calling for alt yeast.  Highly attenuative and low esters.

I thought I read somewhere that the Chico strain, at some point in the past, was a German ale strain. Does anyone know if this is true?
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2012, 11:15:15 AM »
Someone here said it was originally an English strain (Ballantine) but there was no proof supplied.  Its pretty clean and doesn't floc that well for an English strain, but I guess it might behave something along the lines of West Yorkshire.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1230.0
Lennie
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2012, 11:16:13 AM »
What do you use for sanitizer?
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2012, 11:17:51 AM »
Good point, don't discount an infection especially when dry hopping.  If the tartness is really pronounced I think it may be more than a Notty thing.
Lennie
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2012, 11:33:29 AM »
In a side-by-side fermentation (Notty and London ESB) I got a LOT more esters from Nottingham in my London Pride clone than I did with the London ESB yeast.  It also seemed to suppress the hop bitterness, though maybe it just seemed subdued due to the esters.

I also did a side-by-side of the same yeasts for my old ale.  Pretty much the same results.  I kegged this about a week ago.

My wife preferred the old ale with the Notty, but she's not a fan of hops so I think it's mostly just on account of the reduced bitterness.

The Notty did not make a bad beer, and I don't think I noticed any tartness (perhaps I'll sample it tonight) but it definitely was not as clean as the ESB yeast.

I'll use up what I have in dry sachets, or keep it for emergencies, but it's not on my list of best yeasts at the moment.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2012, 11:40:20 AM »
If you are pretty confident on your sanitation, you could bre it again and split the batch between a Notty and a US-05 or WLP 029 and ferment both at cooler temperatures.  That's what I do to contrast yeasts - then you can pick a favorite going forward.  US-05 is my favorite go to ale yeast, but there are plenty of great liquid yeasts that are tailored to a specific style or recipe. 

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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2012, 12:14:22 PM »
Someone here said it was originally an English strain (Ballantine) but there was no proof supplied.  Its pretty clean and doesn't floc that well for an English strain, but I guess it might behave something along the lines of West Yorkshire.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1230.0
At the 2009 NHC Ken Grossman stated that he can't say if it was Ballantine or not.  It was sourced from Siebel's yeast bank.

Edit -I also no longer use Nottingham due to the tart finish.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2012, 12:16:02 PM by hopfenundmalz »
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Re: Re: Tartness - from infection or fermentation/yeast?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2012, 03:20:10 PM »
What do you use for sanitizer?

I use Star San.

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