Off Flavor in Hoppy Homebrews

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by BetaAcid, Mar 12, 2020.

  1. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    Hi, I have been a member here for a long time but never posted. I recently got back into home brewing and I’ve run into an issue. I have also seen a lot of forum posts across different home brewing forums with the same issue, however, none of the posts ever seem to get solved. I have decided to post my progress on figuring this out; hopefully this will help somebody in the process. Also feel free to jump in if you feel froggy.

    Recently I have continued to get this off flavor, but only in my hoppy beers. I know “off flavor” is vague but it’s like nothing I have ever tasted nor does it seem to fit any descriptors. The flavor seems to completely (or some cases almost completely) mute the flavor of the hops and just leaves a generic bitterness (sometimes very strong bitterness). Sometimes I have been able to drink past this, after the first few sips, the beer becomes tolerable but just barely.

    I have even used a Two Hearted clone recipe bought directly from Bells. I will say that I brew 3 gallon batches and I did modify to make that clone for 3 gallons.

    Again this is only in my hoppy beers, I have brewed malt forward beers and none of them had the flavor.

    Things I have illuminated:

    -Chlorine or chloramine in my water

    I have used campden tablets, and I also I have used all distilled water and filtered water for wort and rinsing.


    I made sure my mash temps and ph were good, and now I have recently went back to extract until I can figure it out.


    I have reduced the amount of hops I was using and on my last batch I only boiled for 30mins: My bittering charge was at 30mins then I added hops at 20mins, then the rest were WP and DH.

    -Fermentation Temps

    Sometimes my basement will get hot and I’ve seen the FV thermometer strip hit 76. I have used my fridge to keep it at 70 and below. I have recently bought a Tilt Hydrometer and so I will see what the actual temp is.

    My next batch I am not going to mess with water chem, not add dextrose to increase SG, not put my recirc tube into my hop spider(don’t judge me I thought this would increase contact with hops), and try not to transfer hop matter from BK into my FV.

    If this batch turns out I will post the results and add back each one of things one at a time until I figure out what the culprit is.

    I know I didn’t post specifics but if anybody has had a similar experience and wants to post what helped them, go ahead.

  2. chrisrennier

    chrisrennier Initiate (48) Nov 8, 2014 Missouri

    I had a few beers have a mystery off flavor last year using BIAB method. I think it’s because I was crushing the grains too fine and boiling basically a large amount of grain powder.

    For every batch that I just milled once at the LHBS I never had that hard to describe tanniny impossible to drink off flavor.

    do you think this could be a possibly for you?
    Jasonja1474 and BetaAcid like this.
  3. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,683) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    BetaAcid likes this.
  4. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    I thought it might be; to eliminate this, my last batch I did DME and the flavor is still there.

    #4 BetaAcid, Mar 12, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2020
    Jasonja1474 likes this.
  5. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    It sort of does, this is the closest description of an off-flavor, that’s why focused on my mash ph, temps, and making sure no grains were getting into my BK. I then switched back to extract to eliminate the grain aspect. I also in an effort to limit the over bittering I limited the boil to 30 mins. The next thing I can think of is the hop matter getting transferred to the FV could cause astringency if that’s what it is.

    #5 BetaAcid, Mar 12, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2020
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  6. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (155) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    Hard to pinpoint but try filtering better going into the fermentor and only dry hop for 2 days. Is it bitter when you're done boiling.
    BetaAcid likes this.
  7. skleice

    skleice Aspirant (276) Aug 6, 2015 Connecticut

    What's your packaging process? Keg/bottle? Oxidation can mute hops.
    Naugled, JSullivan and BetaAcid like this.
  8. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    I’m def gonna try to filter out the hop matter that gets to the FV. It is sweet and bitter.
  9. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    I told myself I would never bottle again; for me to get back into Homebrew, I started kegging. I am careful about O2, I purge the keg properly and try to be as gentle as possible. I don’t think it is oxidation...
    Chipotle and Jasonja1474 like this.
  10. thebriansmaude

    thebriansmaude Initiate (97) Dec 16, 2016 Alberta (Canada)

    When I read your initial post, I immediately thought oxidation. When I started out I went through this same problem. I was brewing really great non hoppy beers, but all of hop forward beers wound up with this 'flavor'. It was hard to describe, but I was calling it sweet, apple like, brandy like, metallic even, and it frustrated the hell out of me. Oxidation as an off flavor is always described in brewing books as 'cardboardy', or stale or what have you, so I never thought this was my problem. Instead I thought it could be acetaldehyde or run away esters, water problems, sparge temps, or any other number of things, but it wasn't.

    When I started kegging, at first I didn't bother purging my kegs, and the 'flavor' was still there. I grew VERY frustrated. Eventually I started properly purging my kegs and zeroed in on this being the issue. The whole time it was oxidation, on this I am 100% positive.

    So what exactly is your keg purging process? Because in my mind, there is no greater killer of hop flavor than oxidation, and what you are describing sounds just like it.
    Rrrainy, JSullivan, Naugled and 3 others like this.
  11. ECCS

    ECCS Aspirant (204) Oct 28, 2015 Illinois

    @BetaAcid where do you buy your hops from?
    BetaAcid likes this.
  12. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    For purging, I fill the keg with CO2 then purge. I repeat this 2 more times. Then I put the beer in the keg using a tube from my FV’s spigot, I have a ballon filled with CO2 inserted where the airlock goes. I then close the keg, fill with CO2 and purge, I repeat 2 more times then start carbonation.
    thebriansmaude likes this.
  13. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    I buy them from adventures in Homebrewing They smell fine when I open the pack.
  14. thebriansmaude

    thebriansmaude Initiate (97) Dec 16, 2016 Alberta (Canada)

    @BetaAcid , have you considered purging your keg by filling to the brim with sanitizer, then pushing it out with CO2? or better yet, hooking up your blowoff on your fermenter to the liquid out line of your keg, then gas line to bucket air lock ? You will get much lower O2 levels using these methods, and use less CO2.

    Another vector is dry hop timing - if you add dry hops with a few points left in fermentation, you can avoid some potential O2 problems. Another good option is dry hopping only in the keg - you can avoid O2 pickup this way and get some pretty amazing hop character.
    Good luck !
    BetaAcid likes this.
  15. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    Interesting I will have to try this. I do fill my keg up with sanitizer and push out with CO2 in my current process, though probably not up to the brim.

    I will say that the one time I added a second charge of dry hops to the keg, I had a nice hop aroma and a little flavor that helped make the off-flavor a little more tolerable.

    thebriansmaude likes this.
  16. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    I also forgot to mention that this flavor is present when I take my reading for FG so I don’t think packaging is when the problem occurs. However, I have never sampled prior to dry hopping, so I will try that next as well.
  17. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    I got another batch in on Monday.

    -I only added DME for fermentables.
    - I tried to leave as much kettle grub in the BK as possible. I did have to tip my BK because my pump broke after WP and gravity only transferred about 2.25 gals of the 4 that were in the BK.
    -I did however filter this through a mesh bag on top of a strainer.
    - I did not mess with water chem.
    - I kept my recirc tube out of my hop spider.
    - I used the Tilt for the first time.

    We’ll see how it goes in a day or two.
    Jasonja1474 likes this.
  18. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    So I tasted a gravity sample and it did not have the extreme bitterness; it did have the strange flavor/aroma that muted the hop flavor/aroma.

    -I think that too much hop matter was getting into my fermenter. This caused the extreme bitterness.

    -I’ve read that high fermentation temps with S-04 cause a strange off flavor. I used my new Tilt Hydrometer that logged temps over 75F. I also noticed evidence of the high temp because the first hydrometer sample I took had a lot of esters: banana and raspberry, it also a harsher alcoholic flavor. I raised the temp after fermentation was right at the end, if not done to try to push some of this out. I wasn’t sure if this was going to work so I did not dry hop this in the FV cause, why waste hops if it doesn’t turn out.

    The good news is that this batch isn’t completely undrinkable: like if the liquor stores shutdown and I need beer I could drink this. I will dry hop this in the keg since I didn’t in the FV and see if I can cover up some of it.

    Next batch I’ll continue to keep hop matter out of my FV. I will also keep ferm temps below 68F.

    I’ll let you know how it goes.
  19. wasatchback

    wasatchback Disciple (359) Jan 12, 2014 Bahamas

    The bitterness found when tasting gravity samples is often times yeast derived. You are literally tasting yeast, which is bitter.

    IMHO Negative fermentation flavors and aromas from So4 can show up even above 66. It can be weirdly bready and lactic. It absolutely needs to be kept pretty cold in my mind. Others will disagree. I’d keep it at max 64 until the very tail end of fermentation.

    If you’re stuck using dry yeast and have a harder time controlling temps US05 is incredibly forgiving at higher temps. A lot will say it’s actually cleaner at 70/72 than 64.

    And yeah you really should try to keep as much break material/hop trub out of the fermenter as possible.

    You said you’re checking pH? But you’re not messing with water chemistry? They kind of go hand in hand.
  20. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut


    Good to know I will keep ferm temps under 64.

    As far as break/hop material, I’m def keeping it out of the FV from now on; it was never an issue until I started with hop forward beers.

    I was checking Ph when I was doing all grain and messing with water chem. I stopped with both water chem and Ph when I started with DME. I was tired of wasting an entire day on a beer that didn’t turn out so I started using DME until I figured out what was going on. Also it would eliminate the factor of tannins coming from gain.

    Thanks for the info!
  21. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    So the keg hops covered up most of... well most of everything. It’s not as bad as before. I upgrade this from quarantine last resort to... close to what some people charge money for. Cheers
    thebriansmaude likes this.
  22. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

  23. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

  24. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,905) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    When you put an image link into Image dialog box, make sure it's the link to the actual image (ending in .jpg or whatever). As you can see, if you use the link to the imgur web page that displays the picture in imgur, it won't show up here.
    PapaGoose03, riptorn and BetaAcid like this.
  25. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

  26. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    So the next batch just finished up the other day.

    I was not able to keep the temps under 64F; I did keep them 68F and below. I had the FV in a refrigerator set at at 60F and I kept bringing it down as the temp did not drop until I set the temp at 53F.

    The temp finally came down on day 3 to 67 and kept dropping down to 63F on day 4. At this point fermentation basically stalled at ~ 1.021.

    I then raised the temp up to 70F-73F using a heating wrap. FG came out at about 1.020. Not what I was expecting but oh well.

    This batch was again very estery with notes of banana and bubble gum. Hops were muted once again.

    I think that a lot of my hops are getting blown out of my airlock and or being covered by the esters being produced by S-04. The airlock smells amazing on days 1-2 and then like banana the rest of the way.

    The next test batch I will ferment with US-05 and see the difference.

    Also, of note: the offensive bitterness was absent in this batch as well. This reinforces the conclusion that I was getting too much hop/break in my FV.

    I constructed a better way of WP’ing and bought a new pump that doesn’t break every time I use it. This allowed me to not have to tip my BK and leave the trub behind.
    thebriansmaude and riptorn like this.
  27. thebriansmaude

    thebriansmaude Initiate (97) Dec 16, 2016 Alberta (Canada)

    Good that the offensive bitterness was gone ! It sounds like you are on the right track. Have you considered using some liquid cultures? Or since your temp control isn't perfect, maybe a Kveik strain? Can' recall, are you kegging? May want to try a keg hop charge after a good purge...
    MrOH likes this.
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,486) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    That yeast has an upper limit to the recommended fermentation temperature range of 75 degrees F. I have never taken this yeast that high but I have brewed a few beers at 72-73 degrees F and those beers can out clean (i.e., low amounts of esters).

    BetaAcid likes this.
  29. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    I have used liquid yeast in the past, in fact, I exclusively used liquid yeast in the past. I don’t know, I used dry yeast last year because of shipping temps and I just haven’t moved back to liquid yet. Actually, I am going to brew the All Together IPA soon and I have ordered liquid yeast for that.

    I am kegging these. So, the last batch I threw in some keg hops and they covered everything up with a very pleasant aroma and taste. This batch I am letting them sit on some hops in a keg and then performing a closed transfer to another keg. The last batch, the keg hops started to get a bit too vegetal for my taste after a few days.
  30. BetaAcid

    BetaAcid Initiate (91) May 10, 2009 Connecticut

    I just cold crashed the latest batch of this experiment and... it was oxidized. So no new data other than that I’m pissed about the wasted time/ingredients.

    Not sure how oxygen got in there, I only opened it to dry hop. This was done at 1.015 with a final gravity of 1.011.

    I rage purchased a floating dip tube and a new corny to try fermenting in the corny.

    Since I started back up brewing again last year, after my 10 year hiatus, I have been using my SS Brewtech 7gal brew bucket. Every hoppy beer I have made, I have had an off-flavor in it that is hard to describe but completely mutes the intended flavor of the beer.

    As frustrating as this is, I am going to press on in the name of... science? Zymurgy? Hopefully not meritless use of time and money!

    Putting this aside, I did read an article about cold-short dryhopping and polyphenol content on Scott Janish’s website today( I then remembered about the batch before last where I had foregone the drop hop until took the gravity reading and didn’t experience the off-flavor . So fermentation completed, I took gravity sample and noticed only esters from when fermentation peaked. I then cold crashed and took another sample and noticed nothing new. I then transferred to purged keg with keg-hops and carbed. After 2 days this beer tasted pretty damn good. Then the flavor started to change for the worse, but it wasn’t bad.

    This affirms what Scott Janish is saying about short cold dry hopping.

    For the next batch I will wait to dry hop until I cold crash And will transfer to serving keg after 2 days.
    #30 BetaAcid, May 23, 2020 at 4:01 AM
    Last edited: May 23, 2020 at 4:08 AM
    utahbeerdude and PapaGoose03 like this.