Author Topic: Off Flavor Troubleshooting  (Read 853 times)

Offline Chris

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Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« on: April 23, 2018, 08:40:04 PM »
I went to bottle a brown ale this past weekend, and my first step is always to open up a home-brew that is ready to drink. This happened to be a Red Ale that I brewed on St Pattys day. This was my first tasting of it and when I poured it, I was surprised to find it much darker than I had planned, then I smelled it and it was off. The taste was stale, papery and a harsh woody bitter that wasn't pleasant. I had also noticed a ring around the water mark before this, when they were done conditioning and before I put them into the fridge. When I researched this, after looking up possible causes I came to the conclusion that it may be bottle krauzen (now I am not sure). Everything I have found so far points to Oxidation. However is there an infection out there that may be to blame for this? Also the brown ale had the same off flavor before bottling. I have made 10 or so other batches of various styles, including this same red (although that was an extract and this was an allgrain) since I started last year and no others have had this issue. If anyone has any ideas about what it could be?

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 09:07:20 PM »
It does sound like oxidation. I'm assuming you bottle conditioned the beer?? That should have provided a bit of protection.

How long did you boil the wort? Long boils can make a beer more susceptible to premature staling.

Of course, you need to be very diligent about not allowing ANY oxygen contact with your finished beer, once its finished fermenting. It's tough to avoid, but it does make a difference in the longevity of the beer.
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Offline Chris

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2018, 02:26:05 AM »
Yes to bottle conditioning. However, in the case of the Brown ale, it seems to be oxidized before bottling. I did a 60 min boil, after boil, I cooled to 70 degrees before transfer to fermenter, then airate it with a pumas stone pump for 5 min or so before pitching the yeast.

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2018, 11:02:20 AM »
Did you use a secondary?

Offline MNWayne

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2018, 06:14:16 PM »
That ring around the bottle neck sounds like a bacterial infection to me.

Offline James K

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2018, 01:40:43 AM »
Yes to bottle conditioning. However, in the case of the Brown ale, it seems to be oxidized before bottling. I did a 60 min boil, after boil, I cooled to 70 degrees before transfer to fermenter, then airate it with a pumas stone pump for 5 min or so before pitching the yeast.

When I use pure oxygen instead of shaking carboys I only use oxygen for like 30seconds, but I have a wand.

That ring around the bottle neck sounds like a bacterial infection to me.

The ring sounds like a pellicle which is what happens to my sours and Brett’s when I bottle them.

I would be conscious of your transfer processes. If you have lots of splashing you can add oxygen you don’t want. The more you move beer the more exposure risk you take.

If there is an infection you should be able to taste it.

Also, make sure all of your bottles are clean when you bottle. There could have been some residuals in the bottle that caused the infection. If there is one. I usually fill my bottles till they over flow, just a little, before I remove the wand and cap. Just to purge as much oxygen as possible.
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Offline 802Chris

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2018, 05:26:54 PM »
I would lean towards infection. The reason I saw is because you said ten batches. I would assume you are using the same equipment that you started brewing with? I know for me it was about 10-12 batches or around a year, when I would start to notice bugs popping up and have to change my equipment out. If the equipment is new, I recommend a 24 hour bleach bath and subsequent soak and sanitation. If you are using an auto siphon as well, check it thoroughly.
The ring could be krauzen, but if you are checking gravity and sure you are done, it is more likely an infection.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2018, 11:53:01 PM »
I know for me it was about 10-12 batches or around a year, when I would start to notice bugs popping up and have to change my equipment out.

??

Yikes.  If you're getting regular infections there may be something wrong in your process.

I've had maybe two infections total over 20+ years.  Cleaning AND sanitation is important.  I like to change up sanitizers between star san and idophor.  Haven't used bleach for a LONG time, but if diluted properly and rinsed thoroughly it should be very effective.

If the OP has an infection, subsequent bottles should be more pronounced and the carbonation is likely increasing as they sit.  Stale, papery, and woody don't sound like an infection, but maybe?
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Offline Robert

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2018, 12:10:11 AM »
Nearly 30 years, and NO infections.  In the bad old days it was bleach and the real key: CLEANING.  You can't sanitize a dirty surface; another perspective is that sanitizing kills what's left on a surface, cleaning removes it in the first place.  Joe's got a good suggestion about switching products, but bleach and iodophor are the only things that are true broad-spectrum antimicrobials anyway; acid products just kill most (not all) types of bacteria (not yeasts and fungi.)  Anybody having infections needs to reasses the process top to bottom.
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Offline 802Chris

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2018, 01:47:53 PM »
I know for me it was about 10-12 batches or around a year, when I would start to notice bugs popping up and have to change my equipment out.

??

Yikes.  If you're getting regular infections there may be something wrong in your process.

I've had maybe two infections total over 20+ years.  Cleaning AND sanitation is important.  I like to change up sanitizers between star san and idophor.  Haven't used bleach for a LONG time, but if diluted properly and rinsed thoroughly it should be very effective.

If the OP has an infection, subsequent bottles should be more pronounced and the carbonation is likely increasing as they sit.  Stale, papery, and woody don't sound like an infection, but maybe?

Joe, to clarify this was when I started brewing and was not as versed on how to clean/sanitize. It's been about 8 years now and I have had no problems since.

The point I was tying to demonstrate is that plastic/HDPE equipment needs to be changed somewhat regularly since eventually accidents happen and it will get scratched.

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2018, 04:45:21 PM »
I try to remember to replace tubing every year or so, but I get lazy.  Soaking in oxygen based alkaline cleaner for an hour or so and running a brush on a long, flexible handle through the tubing and then thorough rinsing and then soaking in sanitizer for a couple hours usually works well.  Plus the homebrewery containers/buckets get the same treatment as I pour from one to the next.  I have several hoses presently that are discolored by Iodophor sanitizing and they probably are coming up on replacement time....This is a timely topic with spring arriving (finally!)
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Offline Robert

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2018, 04:57:38 PM »
I know for me it was about 10-12 batches or around a year, when I would start to notice bugs popping up and have to change my equipment out.

??

Yikes.  If you're getting regular infections there may be something wrong in your process.

I've had maybe two infections total over 20+ years.  Cleaning AND sanitation is important.  I like to change up sanitizers between star san and idophor.  Haven't used bleach for a LONG time, but if diluted properly and rinsed thoroughly it should be very effective.

If the OP has an infection, subsequent bottles should be more pronounced and the carbonation is likely increasing as they sit.  Stale, papery, and woody don't sound like an infection, but maybe?

Joe, to clarify this was when I started brewing and was not as versed on how to clean/sanitize. It's been about 8 years now and I have had no problems since.

The point I was tying to demonstrate is that plastic/HDPE equipment needs to be changed somewhat regularly since eventually accidents happen and it will get scratched.

So I recently switched to HDPE (Speidel.)  Assuming I only clean by soaking with alkaline cleaners etc., does anyone expect I'll live to regret this?  I can't see how it would get scratched.  Anybody using Speidels know of a life expectancy on them?
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Offline denny

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2018, 06:21:51 PM »
I know for me it was about 10-12 batches or around a year, when I would start to notice bugs popping up and have to change my equipment out.

??

Yikes.  If you're getting regular infections there may be something wrong in your process.

I've had maybe two infections total over 20+ years.  Cleaning AND sanitation is important.  I like to change up sanitizers between star san and idophor.  Haven't used bleach for a LONG time, but if diluted properly and rinsed thoroughly it should be very effective.

If the OP has an infection, subsequent bottles should be more pronounced and the carbonation is likely increasing as they sit.  Stale, papery, and woody don't sound like an infection, but maybe?

Joe, to clarify this was when I started brewing and was not as versed on how to clean/sanitize. It's been about 8 years now and I have had no problems since.

The point I was tying to demonstrate is that plastic/HDPE equipment needs to be changed somewhat regularly since eventually accidents happen and it will get scratched.

So I recently switched to HDPE (Speidel.)  Assuming I only clean by soaking with alkaline cleaners etc., does anyone expect I'll live to regret this?  I can't see how it would get scratched.  Anybody using Speidels know of a life expectancy on them?

I completely disagree with the statement you have bolded.  I have buckets that have been in use for excess of 10 years and there are no problems.  Treat them well and they'll treat you well.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2018, 09:31:44 PM »
I agree with Denny, but he got to the response first.

I'm using Better Bottles that are older than my children and my eldest is 11.

I do not get infections.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline Robert

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Re: Off Flavor Troubleshooting
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2018, 09:40:47 PM »
Thanks guys, for the reassurance.  So far my only regret is not making this switch sooner.
Rob Stein
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