Common off flavor

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by messyhair42, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. In many of my all grain beers I've been getting a fairly consistent off flavor, it's kinda boozy, kinda sweet flavor and all my research can't find what it is. It's appeared in two porters, a brown and a pale ale. All but one porter have fermented in an exterior room at about 64F (for lack of a location that would otherwise end up too hot) and I didn't make starters for any of them (but for my two most recent beers I have.) I also use straight tap water, however my provider doesn't list the secondary characteristics brewers usually look for in their water quality report.
    If anyone can point me to the chemical and its cause I would appreciate it; my three suspected areas-i-could-improve-on are water treatment, yeast management, and fermentation temperature control
     
  2. Homebrew42

    Homebrew42 Savant (435) New York Dec 20, 2006

    Can you describe the off flavor more? Is it solventy? Butterscotch? Green apple? Phenolic? Fruity?
     
  3. I don't really know how, it's not butterscotch or green apple, and it's most definitely not spoiled.
    What if I take a different approach.
    What are the results of underpitching?
    What are the results of low fermentation temperatures?
    Is there something in the mash that could have happened to cause a boozy flavor?
    I can say that the flavor is not present in my RIS, with similar conditions, though I made a (very poorly executed) starter and ended up pitching another vial of yeast
     
  4. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (470) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    Under pitching will stress yeast. This tends to make beer taste more phenolic, (boozy) and possibly more fruity. Low ferm temps will help negate this a little. I'd give it a few weeks and see if the yeast in the (bottle?) will help clear this in time. Age is your friend here. As for the RIS, the extra vial of yeast probably saved your butt. :)

    Also, have you been hitting final gravity on your beers? If you under pitch and ferment cool this is a good combination for a stalled fermentation. Straight tap water will have chlorine/chloramines in it and will give a band aid flavor to some beers. Try campden tablets in all of your strike and sparge water next time.
     
  5. mylar

    mylar Aficionado (180) Pennsylvania Dec 13, 2011

    Has the water you are using been de chlorinated?
     
  6. Hmmm, boozy = alcoholic in my mind.


    Below is what John Palmer states about alcoholic in Chapter 21 of his book How to Brew. Based upon what is described in the original post I am perplexed how alcoholic flavors would have been achieved. The OP did not ferment at a high fermentation temperature and didn’t overpitch so I am puzzled.


    “Alcoholic

    A sharp flavor that can be mild and pleasant or hot and bothersome. When an alcohol taste detracts from a beer's flavor it can usually be traced to one of two causes. The first problem is often too high a fermentation temperature. At temperatures above 80°F, yeast can produce too much of the higher weight fusel alcohols which have lower taste thresholds than ethanol. These alcohols taste harsh to the tongue, not as bad as cheap tequila, but bad nonetheless.


    Fusel alcohols can be produced by excessive amounts of yeast, or when the yeast sits too long on the trub. This is one reason to move the beer off of the hot and cold break when the beer is going to be spending a lot of time in the fermenter.”


    http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-2.html
     
  7. Wouldn't cholramines be of concern and not cholrine? Cholrine would be boiled off in the boil.
     
  8. mylar

    mylar Aficionado (180) Pennsylvania Dec 13, 2011

    Yeah Im not exactly sure how it works once you introduce grain in to the water which has chlorine in it, from the mash on. I know I try to not take any chances and pull my water a day or so ahead of time to allow the chlorine to evaporate off. I don't really understand chlormaines and don't think i'll have a need to. I just had a water treatment system installed that is suppose to take care of all the crap that the water authority people put into my water. As for the poster, I dont know, just trying to offer some advice because in batches where I pulled my water a short time ahead (late the night before) I have had 2 which this happened thus far with an off flavor, i thought it was a green appley type of taste but a friend thought it was almost a hazelnutty taste so I don't know exactly what it was, but I was thinking the time I pulled the water may have something to do with it....
     
  9. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (820) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    By the time you're boiling, I believe you can already have formed chlorophenols in the mash. And chlorophenols don't boil away.
     
  10. I usually let my water off-gas the cholrine overnight. This past weekend I did not. I'll try to report back if I remember.

    The only times I had very phenolic beers is if my fermentation temp got too high.
     
  11. Naugled

    Naugled Advocate (525) New York Sep 25, 2007

    Flavors can be hard to describe. If you don't remove chlorine and chloramines already, start doing so. Then at least you can rule off flavors are that caused by those out.

    Also, how long does it take for these flavors to become noticeable? And does this happen in bottles exclusively or do you keg?
     
  12. I guess I could partly describe the flavors. In my smoked porter it's boozy, it doesn't taste "hot" like it would with excessive alcohol however. In my oatmeal stout it's sort of like a watered down overbittered coffee. I could also say I didn't notice these flavors while tasting at bottling time, only afterwards. I wouldn't say it's the temperature because it becomes more noticeable at higher temperatures.
     
  13. ororke5000

    ororke5000 Aficionado (130) Ohio Dec 16, 2008

    might just be the way your beers taste... what does the grain bill on each look like? is there a lot of roasted grains? perhaps something is out of balance. with everything you described im not sure if it is a yeast problem. however: are you hitting your FG's? are you giving your beers a few weeks in the bucket before you bottle them?

    another thought is it could be that these beers a still a little 'green'. sometimes stouts and porters take sometime to grow into themselves.

    also if you are drinking the beer cold you would not be able to notice the flavours as if you where drinking the beer at cellar or (god forbid) room temp. often times the sensation of the cold can over power your tongue and it will be unable to pick up any of the subtle flavours.