Metallic or plastic/chemical note in sour beer?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by gcg49, Oct 29, 2015.

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  1. gcg49

    gcg49 Initiate (107) Dec 29, 2014 Texas

    I've had several decent/high rated wild ales lately that I found to have:

    1. an unpleasant metallic or plastic/chemical note on the nose, which can come through in the taste
    2. Super high acidity that overpowers any complexity

    Not sure where the metallic flavor comes from - this is a documented off flavor but I'm not seeing anything specifically relating to sours. Perhaps I am describing it wrong. Any thoughts on this? Is it my palate? Are sours just the new 'hip' thing that automatically gets a 5/5 rating if it makes your lips pucker and went through a secondary fruit fermentation?

    A few examples-
    Crooked Stave Mama Bear's Wild Cherry Pie
    Cascade Strawberry (this was a drainpour)
    3 Floyds Pear Bear
  2. emount91

    emount91 Devotee (426) Aug 28, 2015 Connecticut

    infection possibly?
  3. utopiajane

    utopiajane Poo-Bah (2,556) Jun 11, 2013 New York

    Hydrolisis of lipids in poorly stored malts is one reason or possibly iron in the water.
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  4. supertech

    supertech Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2015 California

    hot temp?

    THANAT0PSIS Crusader (793) Aug 3, 2010 Wisconsin

    None of those are really world class sours.

    Cascade is notorious for being mostly one-note sour bombs.

    Three Floyds has made countless sours, and all but two of them have sucked, Pear Bear being successful and tasty but not very complex.

    Crooked Stave is definitely the best of these three brewers in regards to sours, but they have been known to put out some extremely sour beers as well. I haven't had Mama Bear's, but the reviews suggest it is very sour as well.

    I have gotten metallic notes from some sours (particularly Berliner Weisses and Goses, plus a few Flanders Reds/Oud Bruins), though I don't know what causes it. It's worth pointing out that that metallic note could be attributed to other things you have drank or eaten before drinking a sour.

    Obviously you are new to the sour game. I would suggest seeking out some genuine Belgian lambics or better American wilds. The Belgians tend to be more balanced and much more complex than the Americans (though many American wilds are there or getting there). Also you should take into account you're probably not used to sours yet. I know when I started drinking them, I could not pick out the complexities because they were all hidden by the pucker. Nowadays, it takes a real sour bomb (like Pear Bear) to hide nuance from my palate. It just takes acclimation to new flavors and complexities of a different sort.
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  6. Tut

    Tut Initiate (173) Sep 23, 2004 New York

    Stick to authentic Belgian styles of sour beer and you won't have this problem. They know what they're doing and don't take short cuts.
    PatrickCT likes this.
  7. gcg49

    gcg49 Initiate (107) Dec 29, 2014 Texas

    Hm, depends on your definition of new. I've had plenty over the past couple of years, including a few from 3F and Cantillon. Really enjoyed Atrial Rubicite and Foundreweizen from Jester King earlier this year. Had several other good American examples from Russian River, Jolly Pumpkin, Side Project, etc... It's only lately that I've had these 3 inexplicably poor examples, and they all seemed to have a similar character. Something just isn't adding up for me when you consider the 80-90+ ratings on here...
  8. Kanger

    Kanger Zealot (521) Sep 3, 2013 New York

    What you are tasting is a volatile phenolic compound (chlorophenol) produced by Brettanomyces.
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  9. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    My out of the box, off the wall explanation: whatever they do to beer to make it sour also affects the container or makes the beer pick up the effects of whatever it was brewed in.

    THANAT0PSIS Crusader (793) Aug 3, 2010 Wisconsin

    Sorry for the assumption!

    I guess you can't like everything the masses do. I thought Pear Bear was decent albeit very one-note and very sour. I think people were just ecstatic that an FFF sour didn't totally blow.

    As for Cascade, I attribute those ratings to them doing what they do before many other American breweries. The high ratings (which have been dropping lately) are simply relics of a simpler time in American sours.

    Interestingly enough, Jolly Pumpkin has given me a few metallic experiences.

    Jester King, Side Project, and Russian River are pretty much safe bets, so I am not surprised you had no problems there.
  11. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,598) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    Pear bear is pretty ridiculously aggressive, and I would agree that it doesn't have complexity or nuances by any means, but to some degree I expect that from Three Floyd's.

    I do agree with out question that big, booming, obvious, and large flavors for brews get hyped up which is why DIPAs, Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts, and Wild Ales get particularly high ratings and dominate the top beer lists here.
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