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Bad Flavor?

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 12:51 pm
by GuitarLord5000
So, I've got this problem with my last several beers coming out bad. They all end up with a flavor that's sorta like wine, but not very mellow. Wine with Bite, is I guess how I'd describe it. I figured my beer was just getting too hot, since my AC had been out for a while, and it was a bit more hot than the first couple beers I had made. Well, the AC got fixed, and I brewed up a braggot. As it turns out, the high temp isn't the problem.
I know for a fact that this brew's temp stayed in the mid 60's. Definitely not hot enough to be producing this nasty stuff. So, I'm looking into other possible problems. Would Chlorophenols make a beer taste this nasty? I've heard that when you have chlorine problems, you experience a 'band aid' flavor, but haven't heard anything about wine or cider flavors.
I suspect chlorine problems because I've been slacking on properly boiling my beer water the last couple brews. What do you folks think?

Cheers,
Dave

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 1:06 pm
by aleguy
First, you need to bring some down for us to taste. You'll never be able to describe in writing clearly enough for us to really give you a good answer.
Second, buy yourself a little carbon water filter from the home store. It will strip out the chlorine and chloramines from your water, no problem. It will also reduce some of the temporary hardness.
From your description of the "off flavors", I suspect you have too much corn sugar or table sugar in your brews. Another possibility is that you have aged them too long and they developed into more of an Alt or stock ale sort of beer, though a Braggot is actually a mead (wine) so who knows. Bring some down fro us to try and maybe we can help you figure it out.

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 4:19 pm
by GuitarLord5000
I believe I'll have to bring you guys a sample. I'd rather not bring the braggot sample, though, as it's really quite different from a regular beer. I used 2 beer yeasts and 1 wine yeast in this one. The other 'bad beers' only used beer yeast. I didn't save anything from the other batches, though, so the braggot will have to suffice. Neither the braggot, nor any of the other brews that have turned out this way, had any corn or table sugar in them. All of them have exhibited this flavor immediately after primary fermentation has ended. In fact, the braggot still needs to finish fermenting before bringing you guys a taste. It's still cloyingly sweet, and it'll be much easier to taste the off flavor once it's dry.

Thanks guys,
Dave

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 8:42 pm
by Imakewort
have you checked out Palmer's website on common off flavors? I have found that our wild yeast will give a bubblegum flavor, and most bacteria will attenuate to a lot lower FG and make a sherry wine type flavor, so what was the FG, and the type of yeast and temp terminated at. See link for Palmer's website.
http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-2.html

PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 12:32 pm
by GuitarLord5000
The yeast I used was Nottingham (twice), WLP023 (once), and US-05 (once). The FG's were in the normal range, though I don't remember their exact numbers. Like I said, I attributed these bad beers to high ferment temps. I know that they fermented at higher than recommended temps, and that very possibly contributed some to the bad flavor.

So, today I picked up 7.5 gallons of Reverse Osmosis water and 2 gallons of spring water, and used it to make a wort. Absolutely NONE of my own tap water made it into the wort. I will be topping up with thoroughly boiled/cooled spring water. I'm using US-05 yeast. I won't be injecting any air into my wort, like I would normally do. I would normally use my sanitary filter when I aerate my wort, anyway, but I'm trying to have as few variables as possible in this one (i.e. what if the filter isn't working properly...). I cooled my wort to about 75 degrees with my immersion chiller, and am currently cooling it even further in an ice bath. Once the temp is below 70, I'll be pitching the yeast directly into the wort. When I rack to secondary, I'll be using this technique (which is VERY handy!), so that I don't introduce any possibly contaminated air to the batch:
http://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/CO2_racking/
I'll be purging the secondary carboy with CO2 before I dip the racking cane below the surface of the beer.


If I end up with another nasty tasting batch, I'll bring you guys a sample at the soonest meeting I can attend. If the batch ends up tasting good, then I've ironed out my problems, and will bring the kegged batch to a meeting to celebrate!

Thanks again for all the help!

Cheers,
Dave

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 8:37 am
by aleguy
S-05 is not very temperature sensitive and should not give any off flavors. I have fermented with it at 80 degrees and not had any problems. Just a thought, you might check the smell and flavor of your hops. When they get old and oxygenated, they can throw off nasty flavors to the beer. Cascade is particularly bad about that.
If it turns out that it is your hops, don't throw them out! Put them in a closet somewhere where they will be exposed to oxygen and at least room temperature for a couple of years. Then you can use them for certain Belgian styles where old, stale hops are required.

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 12:28 pm
by GuitarLord5000
The thing about it is, I've used US-05 in some other beers, with no problems, and they fermented a bit on the hot side also. The hops used were all purchased at the time that I brewed each beer, so there's no common thread there. Certainly, none of them smelled anything less than fresh when I used them.
The only thing I can really think that I've done different is, for the batches that ended up tasting foul, I didn't filter the water through my PUR filter. I just boiled it.
I guess I'll know for sure in a couple weeks, once this beer finishes. Wish me luck!

Cheers,
Dave

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 1:57 pm
by aleguy
Good luck, man. Maybe it's minerals in your water? Boiling should take care of all the Chlorine, but it wouldn't take out much iron or anything, while a carbon filter would take out some at least. Maybe you need to send a water sample to Ward labs?
Frankly I'm out of ideas. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 3:00 pm
by GuitarLord5000
Well, I just took a taste today, and everything is just fine! It's a very tasty Amarillo Amber Ale! It's getting some dry hops right now, and I'll be fining it in 4 or 5 days, then into the keg. I appreciate all the responses. I'm stumped as to what might have been the cause of the problems, but it seems that a change of water supply has cured it. I'm absolutely thrilled about that! Can't wait to taste this one carbed up.

Cheers,
Dave

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 3:03 pm
by aleguy
Good! I'm glad something went right after all those problems. Water is an under-appreciated ingredient, and it can be very complicated to get the minerals right.