Cider/medicinal taste

Continuing the discussion from Secondary fermenter or not?:

@ChrisR A medicinal taste in finished beer can come from chlorine or chloramines in the brewing water. All municipal water is treated to some degree. The tap water can taste good, but the medicinal flavor from the treatment can show up in some styles of beer. One Campden tablet can remove chlorine and chloramines in 20 gallons of water.

Could your brewing water be the reason for the taste? We could help sort this out knowing the recipe and brewing process. Fermentation temperature can play a part in an off taste like this also.

Welcome to brewing and the NB forum.

I actually used bottled water for both the boil and add-in. Also, when I racked it to the secondary, there was a lot of air space in the carboy, so my other thought is that it got some oxygenation to it. I used star sans to sanitize. Is it possible that I used too concentrated of a mixture?

Not a water problem for sure. Did your recipe have a large sugar addition as a possible source of the off/cidery flavor? Star San solution is rather tasteless so may not be part of the off taste.

I use Precision Labs pH strips to track the acidity of the Star San solution. Available where wine making supplies are sold. I use the strips labeled pH2844. They measure pH in the range of pH 2.8 to 4.4. As long as your solution remains clean and the pH is below 3.2 it is still good for sanitizing. pH below 3.0 may be to strong.

Edit: Oxidation would give you a funky flavor described as chewing on old wet cardboard.

Not all bottled water is created equally - some is actually just treated tap water. Do you know what the source of the water was? Distilled, spring water, DI water, etc?

Some other common things that could cause a medicinal flavor, old LME and yeast getting too hot during primary fermentation come to mind. Certain yeasts can throw very phenolic flavors that can come across as medicinal. I didn’t see it in the original post, but what was the recipe you used?

Thanks for the reply. I actually don’t remember what water I purchased. It was basically cheap stuff off the shelf at Walmart. It was not distilled, I know that for sure. If you have other recommendations, I would appreciate it.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t have any temperature issues during fermentation. I’m beginning to suspect the kit I used. It was a red ale kit from Brewers Best and I bought it from a local supply store. I have no idea how long it sat on the shelf, but I used it right after I bought it. It was LME with specialty grains with dry yeast. I was very careful on sanitation. I’ve read some negative reviews on BB and will for sure go with NB for my next batch.

Other than that, I did have what I thought at the time was just a minor unsettling of the secondary fermenter when I went to bottle it. I was going to carry it upstairs, but decided against when it started sloshing a little bit. I’m not sure how sensitive the whole oxidation thing is, but I know I didn’t handle it perfectly.

I’d appreciate any other insight you might have.

Thank you for the reply. I actually used slightly less of the priming sugar that came with the kit (Brewers Best Red Ale). I don’t what it was for sure, but I believe it was corn sugar. Thanks for the tip on PH.

Do you have any opinions on Brewers Best kits? I brewed a red ale and bought it from a local supplier off he shelf. I used it right away, but I have no idea how long it sat on the shelf. It was a LME with specialty grains and dry yeast.

Get ready to take detailed notes before your next brew. It will sure help out when there is a problem or two years from now you want to brew the same beer.

Brewers Best includes a 5 gram pack of generic yeast?

Now I would suspect the yeast. Viability would be an unknown and pitched dry is most likely under pitching which will stress the yeast producing off flavors. Could be compounded by the fermentation temperature which will produce extra esters.

NB has a 20% offer going until Midnight CST. Order a $40 kit and the shipping is free with the 20% off.

Yeah, I’d be suspicious of the yeast or the age of the LME. LME has a really short shelf life before it stales, and while the BB kits might be fine, they have absolutely no control of how long they sit on the shelf before someone buys them. It can be a loooooong time. NB puts their kits together pretty much to order, so there’s a really good turn-around on the ingredients. You pretty much want to use yeast, crushed grain, LME, and hops as quickly as possible if they aren’t being stored under ideal conditions.

For best results with extract kits, distilled or reverse-osmosis water is ideal if you’re going with bottled water.

May I ask what your doing for temp control and monitoring?

Nothing specific on temperature control. I kept my primary and secondary fermenters in a dark, cool part of my basement. I didn’t maintain a thermometer in the room, but I’m quite sure it never peaked above 68-70 degrees and didn’t vary much.

Add a stick on thermometer strip to your fermentors to track the fermentation temperature. Having the fermentor in a tub with some water will help prevent temperature swings from the ambient temperature. The yeast produces heat during fermentation. The temperature of your beer will always be higher than the ambient temperature until the fermentation is over.

Some yeasts work best, for certain beer styles, in the low 60°F range. The same yeast for another style works best in the upper to high 60°F range.

When I started out I was hesitant to ask a question because I thought the question was to basic. Learned otherwise very quickly. Wish I would have had something called the internet back then.

The reason I asked is that fermentation is exothermic (produces heat). If your ambient temp is 68° it is nothing for the actual fermentation to reach 73°. In fact, I had a 1.050 beer raise to 7° over ambient ( which was fine as I was testing a new yeast that reportedly does well at warmer temps). But the higher the OG the more heat it can produce. It is also cyclical. As the yeast becomes more active it produces more heat. The higher temps cause the yeast to become hyperactive and produce MORE heat. It goes on and on from there.

I’m not saying that IS the problem but if you used old LME, under pitched, and the ambient temps were high it could will likely result in these issues.

For a cheap easy way to help control temps look into ‘swamp cooler.’