Author Topic: Help in identifying off flavor  (Read 2489 times)

Offline ericksonpa

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Help in identifying off flavor
« on: March 27, 2013, 09:31:26 AM »
Just finished with an American style Blonde Ale which has a very noticeable sour smell at first whiff.  The taste is lacking in any malt or hops or, anything for that matter.  Instead it just tastes sour and flat (not carbonation).
Just before I pitched the yeast, I oxygenated the beer by transferring from one fermenter to another until there was an inch or so of foam on top.  This was done at 75 F.  This is the first time I had done this and am wondering if this method is causing this foul/sour odor and taste.
I have looked through various "off flavor" charts looking for the appropriate description but have not really found what would describe this smell and taste. 
I will also mention this is the 2nd attempt at this beer as the first attempt went down the drain due to an even stronger odor.
 
By the way, my wife thinks it smells like sewage.  So, I've got that going for me.
Any thoughts?
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Offline khillje

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 09:36:42 AM »
Hmmm.  It sounds a bit like you have an infection.  How have your cleaning tactics been?  Always lean toward overkill when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing.

Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2013, 09:43:38 AM »
That is a sad story!! The oxygenating method alone won't cause a problem as long as both containers are well sanitized. More details about your process and what equipment you use would help figure this out.
 
It does sound like an infection. Sewage eh? That's harsh. Once you stop boiling everything must be well sanitized. How are you sanitizing equipment?
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Offline factory

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 09:49:55 AM »
How long did you boil?  Could it possibly be DMS?  I think that DMS smells slightly sour while my wife thinks it smells like vegetables that have gone bad.

I would tend to think that it may either be an infection of some kind, or maybe even esters from fermenting at too high of a temperature.

Offline drjones

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 09:59:12 AM »
I agree - sounds like sanitation.  Soak and scrub everything well with PBW then hit it with Starsan per label directions.  I often aerate by dumping cooled wort through a sanitized strainer into the primary bucket.  The single dump works well for me. 
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2013, 09:59:48 AM »
Before we jump on sanitation band wagon: What temp are you pitching the yeast? What temp are you fermenting at? It could be an infection but high fermentation temps can also render many off flavors. Also, what yeast are you using? Some yeasts are sulphur producers, especially when not handled right, and that can smell like sewage.

I don't usually trust new brewer's when it comes to properly identifying off aromas, but woman usually have a better sense of smell than men. Sewage sounds like sulfur to me.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 10:02:15 AM by majorvices »
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Offline bigchicken

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2013, 11:01:36 AM »
Before we jump on sanitation band wagon: What temp are you pitching the yeast? What temp are you fermenting at? It could be an infection but high fermentation temps can also render many off flavors. Also, what yeast are you using? Some yeasts are sulphur producers, especially when not handled right, and that can smell like sewage.

I don't usually trust new brewer's when it comes to properly identifying off aromas, but woman usually have a better sense of smell than men. Sewage sounds like sulfur to me.

+1
I tend to ferment warmer than I should during warmer months and get a similar smell. It goes away completely with age. Length of time depends on the yeast strain too.
Also, what hops did you use? Sometimes I get unusual smells from different varieties.
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Offline ericksonpa

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2013, 11:05:36 AM »
I believe that my sanitation methods are good. I consistently wash first and sanitize with star san. Method is to use two plastic buckets (only 3 months old). Also am using a bayou combo mash tun and kettle.
Yeast was Danstar Nottingham.
Fermentation is in a freezer wit a Johnson control unit set at 68F.
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Offline ericksonpa

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2013, 11:09:13 AM »
Hops were Centennial and Cascade.
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Offline ericksonpa

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2013, 11:11:44 AM »
Boil time was 1 hour
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Offline denny

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2013, 11:58:39 AM »
Yeast was Danstar Nottingham.

That's my guess.  I always get a disagreeable sour tartness from Nottingham.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2013, 12:19:27 PM »
If the Johnon controller was set to 68 and you pitched at, say, 75, you fermented way too warm. Cool the wort down below 70, and preferably in the low to mid 60s before pitching for most ale yeasts, and set the controller at 64. You need to count for the exothermic activity of the yeast, which can be 4-6+ degrees over fermentation temp.

And I personally don't care for Nottingham. Try a  nuetral dry yeast like US-05 and see what you get.
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Offline ericksonpa

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2013, 02:30:57 PM »
So then I'm guessing this is another bad batch with no fix, correct.  I've already transferred to the corny which is now sitting at 34 F. 
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2013, 02:35:03 PM »
Yeast was Danstar Nottingham.

That's my guess.  I always get a disagreeable sour tartness from Nottingham.
I agree with Denny, but also have to say that sour usually indicates infection.  Is it sour like vinegar or sour like milk?
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Offline ericksonpa

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Re: Help in identifying off flavor
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2013, 02:59:20 PM »
I too thought of infection, but two identical batches in a row?  It just seems improbable (although not impossible). 
The sour odor is probably closer to sour milk than vinegar.  Although I will try it again when I get home today.  Writing this from my desk I do not have the advantage of being able to take another whiff.
I just brewed an English Pale Ale this past week and a Scottish Ale yesterday, using the same tun, kettle hoses and buckets.  I have not detected any off odors or flavors in either of those two batches although it may be too soon to tell.

For the record, here is the recipe I used.
Beer Style: Blonde Ale
Batch Size: 5.5 gallons
Original Gravity: 1.040
Final Gravity: 1.008
Bitterness: 21.5 IBU
Boiling Time: 60 Minutes
Color: 3.9 SRM
Alcohol: 4.2% ABV

Ingredients
7.00 lbs. Pale Malt (2 Row) US
0.75 lb. Cara-Pils/Dextrine
0.50 lb. Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L
0.50 lb. Vienna Malt
0.25 oz. Centennial (9.50%) boil for 55 min
0.25 oz. Centennial (9.50%) boil for 35 min
0.25 oz. Cascade (7.80%) boil for 20 min
0.25 oz. Cascade (7.80%) boil for 5 min
Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast


Directions
Mash at 150 degrees for 60 minutes. Sparge with 175F water to create enough wort to reach 5.5 gallons after the boil. Boil and add hops according to the schedule above. Chill to 68 degrees and pitch the yeast.

Fermentation
Ferment at 68 Degrees for 10 days before bottling.

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