Author Topic: Saopy Flavor... causes?  (Read 1598 times)

Offline wamille

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Saopy Flavor... causes?
« on: May 28, 2011, 06:01:16 AM »
I brewed a beer recently that has a soapy taste.  I understand Palmer says that soapy tastes could be from a soapy glass or from beer setting too long in the primary fermenter.  Neither case applies here.  So I'm wondering what else it could be.  I've also seen on other sites where some have added a tiny bit of dissolved gypsum to the finished beer in hopes this would take the soapy flavors away.  Has anyone tried this?  Or has anyone had experience with this type of soapy flavor in one's beer?

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2011, 06:15:37 AM »
What is the pH of your finished beer?
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline wamille

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2011, 06:23:00 AM »
Gordon... sorry to say, I don't know.  And I don't have any pH strips to determine that either.  Compounding the problem is I live in Seoul, South Korea and it takes a while to get stuff here.

Would adding diluted gypsum to the beer help?  I've read on another site someone mention adding a bit of diluted gypsum to a glass of beer.  I'm grasping at anything at this point.  I've also read other posts stating that time helps rid the beer of soapy tastes.

Offline passlaku

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2011, 06:29:48 AM »
I think I heard on the BrewingNetwork that you can "dose" your beer with a gypsum solution to taste the effects of mineral and salt additions.  I think it was Colin Kominsky who advised that you could make a gypsum solution and you could add a couple of drops to a pint and taste the effects.  I don't know if this will solve your soap problem, though.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2011, 10:08:20 AM »
What kind of hops did you use, and have you used them the same way in the past?  Some people perceive different varieties of hops as soapy.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline jeffy

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2011, 11:10:44 AM »
What kind of hops did you use, and have you used them the same way in the past?  Some people perceive different varieties of hops as soapy.
Yes, the only soapy tasting beers I've had were IPA's in judging situations.  I figure it has to do with the hops somehow, but I'm interested to learn more. 
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2011, 05:31:52 PM »
I was trying to rule out a high finished pH, which can give a dull flavor. If you have any phosphoric acid, add a drop or two in a glass and see if it helps.  Otherwise a couple drops of lemon juice and ignore the lemon flavor.

How long did you let the beer sit on the yeast?  I'd also try to rule out autolysis.  It's more of a brothy flavor but can be perceived as related to soapy, I guess.

What kind of trub carryover did you have into the fermenter?  You can get some odd flavors from that too.  Fatty can be perceived as soapy.

Yeah, oxidized hops or other ingredients can give strange flavors.  Look there too.

How detailed notes did you keep?  Can you post the recipe and process?  What aspects of soap does it taste like?  Does it have any other indicators of a problem?  Are you getting the soap in the aroma, flavor, and/or mouthfeel?  I guess I'm also trying to see if it's really 'soapy' or something else.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline wamille

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2011, 06:08:02 PM »
Thanks all for the input.  I'll try the gypsum solution to see if it works.  If that doesn't work, I'll try a slice of lemon around the rim of the beer glass or drip a couple drops into the beer.  And if that doesn't work, I'll make sure to give it a little more conditioning time.

As far as the recipe... it's basically the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale clone from one of the SN brewers taken from a podcast on the Brewers Network.  It's under the Brew It Yourself (or something like that) segment -   88% Two Row; 12% Crystal (37L); Chinook, Centennial, and Cascade hops (in amounts and times I can't remember off the top of my head).  I do not know the water chemistry of the water used.  I do know that the water is pulled directly from a mountain stream... assumption being it has a sufficient mineral content.

The beer did not set on the yeast too long.  And the trub should have been minimal as it ran through a set up that had a heat exchanger and filter when pumped into the fermenter.  I'm starting to wonder if the problem is the hops used.  Or the hopping amounts.  But why would some super hoppy beers not have this soapy flavor?  I'm confused. 


The beer had a nice, hoppy aroma.   The beer tastes soapy... for sure.  It has not other issues.  Strange.

Offline jeffy

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2011, 07:08:05 PM »
I just asked the Sierra Nevada experts.  Maybe they know.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2011, 10:29:40 PM »
Thanks all for the input.  I'll try the gypsum solution to see if it works.  If that doesn't work, I'll try a slice of lemon around the rim of the beer glass or drip a couple drops into the beer.  And if that doesn't work, I'll make sure to give it a little more conditioning time.

It's probably too late now, but experiment on a glass of beer and scale up rather than dosing the entire batch. My instinct is that adding gypsum will do more harm than good. If that's the case, you're better off following Gordon's advice and trying to add some acid to your beer to see if that improves the flavor.

I do not know the water chemistry of the water used.  I do know that the water is pulled directly from a mountain stream... assumption being it has a sufficient mineral content.

That's potentially dangerous, especially if Korean environmental standards aren't as good as in the U.S. or Western Europe. Even if it's free of man-made contaminants, there could be natural contaminants which can produce high levels of nitrates or give moldy or algae-like off-character. Next time, you're better off using tap water run through a carbon filter. Failing that, use RO/distilled water and add minerals yourself - if you can get distilled/RO water in bulk cheaply enough.

Assuming the water is sound, what was the underlying rock? If you were collecting rainwater flowing over granite, it was likely to be reasonably pure (assuming local air pollution levels aren't so bad that the rain is contaminated on the way down) and very low in ions. If you were getting spring water which had had a time to flow through layers of limestone, it might be sky-high in gypsum and/or carbonates. That could be the source of the soapy (alkaline) off-flavor.

I'm starting to wonder if the problem is the hops used.  Or the hopping amounts.  But why would some super hoppy beers not have this soapy flavor?  I'm confused.  

Old hops usually produce cheesy (like blue cheese) and hay-like notes, not soap, while excessive levels of hops give grassy or astringent notes. Assuming you got reasonably fresh, well-treated hops and didn't go wild with hopping rates, there shouldn't be a problem.

Finally, the obvious question: Did you use alkaline cleansers/sanitizers on your equipment? If so, did you rinse  your equipment thoroughly before it got into contact with your beer?
« Last Edit: May 29, 2011, 10:32:42 PM by thomasbarnes »

Offline skyler

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2011, 08:44:30 AM »
I had a similar problem with a beer I brewed with some friends. At first I described the flavor as soapy, but then I decided it was "pool water." I later deduced that when that guy racked or kegged it, he must have sanitized something with bleach or left bits of pbw or oxylcean on something. It was sad, though, because I was really looking forward to that beer (we split a 10 gal batch and he filled my keg with it).

Offline wamille

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2011, 06:22:36 PM »
I've tasted the beer again... tastes a lot better.  They dry-hopped the beer for seven days which might've helped because I can taste/smell hops a lot more.  Either way, it's better than the last attempt in February.  Beer is a strange and wonderful thing.

Offline euge

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2011, 12:22:55 AM »
I've gotten it from the initial glasses from kegs sometimes. While I understand Palmer my opinion is that it can be the residual suspended yeast too.

Clears up. What it indicates can't say. Probably a good enough reason to filter or practice clarification techniques.
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Offline Kit B

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2011, 06:36:30 AM »
Assuming the water is sound, what was the underlying rock?

Soapstone?
 ;D
Why would anyone want to drink stale beer?

Offline johnf

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Re: Saopy Flavor... causes?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2011, 09:24:09 AM »
Sometimes floral can seem soapy because soap is floral scented often. Like, beers (or cookies or bread if you spend any time around Sequim) can seem soapy to me just because lavender reminds me of soap.

So the question is, does it taste like pure soap (which you would have to taste as it has no smell) or like scented soap smells?