Author Topic: Phenolic Feedback  (Read 5442 times)

Offline flbrewer

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Phenolic Feedback
« on: August 16, 2015, 12:56:02 PM »
Hi strangers! It's been a busy time around the house with the newborn and no homebrewing consequently. I did get some scores back from a recent competition where I scored a 25  :o and a 37 (IPA that made it to the second round).

The Pale Ale that got terrible marks had numerous remarks around a phenolic off flavor (smoky/plastic). Two score sheets said the same thing (although I've been told judges score together so perhaps they influence each other).

While I'm not the best taster, I don't get this flavor at all. What is usually the main culprit for this off-flavor? I don't think my equipment or sanitation would be to blame as I've used the same stuff for other entries. Regarding my water (I saw notes about checking for chlorine), I only use RO/ Distilled and a mixture of filtered tap.

Yeast- WLP001 w/ starter
Mashed at 153, normally my sparge water is around 185 or so.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 12:59:05 PM by flbrewer »

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2015, 12:58:44 PM »
What type of water are you brewing with?

Offline flbrewer

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2015, 12:59:29 PM »
Just added that ^

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2015, 01:00:54 PM »
Are you treating your tap water for chloramine/chlorine?  Does your filter eliminate that totally?

Offline Stevie

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2015, 01:02:52 PM »
Carbon filtering can remove chloramine, but it has to be run very slow.

Offline flbrewer

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2015, 01:03:18 PM »
Are you treating your tap water for chloramine/chlorine?  Does your filter eliminate that totally?

You know I want to say it does, although for this purpose I bypass the water softener and run it through a Brita filter. Maybe it doesn't. I may just stick with R/O for now or donate another $30 to Ward Labs!

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2015, 01:04:35 PM »
I would go with just 100% RO water.  That way you know you have eliminated all potential sources of issues. 

Offline flbrewer

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2015, 01:05:08 PM »
I can't be certain, but I believe I used the same water setup for my IPA that scored a 37. Maybe the hops (Zombie Dust clone) dominated that one so they didn't pick anything up? The low scorer was a SN Pale Ale clone.

Offline tommymorris

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Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2015, 01:27:12 PM »
Maybe you should send the same beer to a second contest. See if different judges detect the same taste issue before you fix a phantom that you can't taste.

Also, could you have a packaging problem? Beer can change between bottling day and contest day.

Offline flbrewer

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2015, 01:34:40 PM »
Maybe you should send the same beer to a second contest. See if different judges detect the same taste issue before you fix a phantom that you can't taste.

Also, could you have a packaging problem? Beer can change between bottling day and contest day.

Perhaps...I packaged the same as the other beer. It was a mess though, I was jury rigging some silicone tubing onto my Perlick taps and it kept shooting the tubing off. I need a better system at some point!

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Offline tommymorris

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Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2015, 01:51:39 PM »
Maybe you should send the same beer to a second contest. See if different judges detect the same taste issue before you fix a phantom that you can't taste.

Also, could you have a packaging problem? Beer can change between bottling day and contest day.

Perhaps...I packaged the same as the other beer. It was a mess though, I was jury rigging some silicone tubing onto my Perlick taps and it kept shooting the tubing off. I need a better system at some point!
I have bottled beer and kept it in my fridge for weeks and months with no problems. Then on a few occasions I have shipped beer to contests and had reports of geysers, gray beer, and other likely packaging issues.

I think when the bottles warm up in shipping and or storage at the contest site the bugs in the bottle wake up.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 04:07:00 PM by alestateyall »

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2015, 01:52:57 PM »
I would go with just 100% RO water.  That way you know you have eliminated all potential sources of issues. 

+1.  That'll rule out the filtered tap water. I'd bet that's the culprit.
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Offline narvin

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2015, 03:38:37 PM »
Bottle one from the tap and leave it at room temp for a few weeks, then open and taste it.  That'll tell you if you need to clean your lines.  I've had some issues with that in the past for comps.
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Offline brewinhard

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Re: Phenolic Feedback
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2015, 03:56:04 PM »
Up until about 6 mos ago I used to use my tap water and treat it with campden tablets (or potassium metabisulfate powder) to eliminate chloramines in my municipal water supply.  Even with doing that I would still occasionally pick up some plasticy aroma/tastes that even some experienced judges detected in competitions.  Since then I have been using straight RO water with no issues whatsoever.