Ok I have been brewing for almost 3 years and have had MAJOR improvements in my process and my beer, and have won a few comps. Added temp control, adequate/healthy yeast pitches from starters, and nice long primary ferments. I recently started kegging occasionally (only occasionally because I live in the city and don’t have room for a dedicated serving fridge) and noticed something.
I kegged my first lager, an Oktoberfest fermented @ 50 degrees (~3 weeks), lagered at 35 degrees for 4 weeks, but also bottled/primed about a gallon of it and allowed for natural carbonation in the bottle (still doing this with the majority of my brews, again given the absence of a serving fridge and using my spare fridge for a ferment chamber)
The O fest tasted GREAT out of the keg. A touch caramelly (maybe too much Vienna), but otherwise, great aroma, rich malt character, and clean/dry finish. I grabbed a 22oz bottle of the bottle-conditioned O-fest to take to my brothers house, which we had with a steak last night. The bottle conditioned version had a slight cidery/astringent/sherry ‘edge’ in the aroma (not so much in the taste). My brother couldn’t pick it up, but perhaps because I was expecting the beer I had out of the keg, I definitely caught something weird an unpleasant that I have noticed in other beers I’ve made, particularly those that are bottle-conditioned.
There is an off-chance I poured some yeast in the glass. There is also an off chance my bottles were not GLEAMINGLY clean (typically, I triple/quad rinse HEAVILY after emptying a bottle and store them uncapped prior to sanitizing only before re-use…I know it’s a bit of a dice roll, but I feel like I am dislodging any gunk, then rinsing away anything else with my ‘after-use’ cleaning of bottles).
My question is, has anyone ever experienced off-flavors from the priming sugar itself (I use corn sugar dissolved in boiling water), or conducted a side-by-side to taste a kegged beer vs. a bottle-conditioned beer? Usually, I will add the cooled simple syrup ON TOP of the racked beer prior to filling bottles, trying to minimize splashing. I do this because I want to know my exact volume to properly measure priming sugar weight (sans trub). Also, I am somewhat lax in CLEANING bottling wands, racking canes, hosing, etc., but typically soak in sanitizer for 30 minutes or so prior to use. I know, I know, you can’t sanitize a turd and all that.
So it is likely there is an issue for me at packaging, and I need to discipline myself to clean AND sanitize everything.
Sorry for the long post, but just trying to pinpoint this and see if anyone else has had bottle-conditioning issues.