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Funky, musty taste

Just cracked open a Kolsch this weekend, and while I was mostly pleased, it has a little bit of a funky, musty flavor to it. It’s not bad, really, but it’s there, and it shouldn’t be. I’ve had this problem before with a nut brown and a cream ale - those were undrinkable bad.

All I can figure is, maybe my fermentation temperature got too high? I’ve really not paid enough attention to that in the past. It should have been in the high 60s most of the time, but might have topped into the low 70s now and then.

Yeast was Safale-05. I like that one because it at least claims to have a really wide temperature range. But, like I said, my kolsch isn’t as crisp and clean as I want it to be. Any thoughts or advice out there?

Funky musty doesn’t sound good in a kolsh. I think you should try to keep your temps down. Maybe some old hops. Let it lager for awhile may clean up. If you’re bottle conditioning. Try not to get the sediment in your glass

Extract or all grain? I had some extract that seemed a bit off, once. I personally am not a fan of 05 anymore… everything I made with it came out (for lack of a better term) “homebrewy.” I kind of think 05 is the source of “extract twang” that people talk about (I have zero evidence, just a random hunch of mine).

Otherwise, is oxidation a concern? That stale cardboard descriptor of oxidized beer could come across as musty.


I am bottle conditioning. I really don’t ever get any sediment in the bottles,

It was my first all grain batch. I don’t think oxidation could have been a problem. I aerated before pitching, and I did carry the bucket upstairs afterward (it was too cold in the basement where I do my brewing at the time), so I guess I can’t totally rule it out, but I don’t think so.

Yikes, two undrinkable batches, and now this? You get an A for effort!

Hot temps, causing phenolic off flavors, have many descriptors. Musty or funky could be high temps. More often they have a plastic or vinyl or band aid type flavor.

The too cold basement might have been better for the Kolsch…

Have you ruled out infection? Plastic soft parts should be inspected and diligent sanitation with your next batch…good luck!

It could be a water problem. Have your water analyzed. It can be the start of an infection or poorly stored malt. Some plastics can add a unwanted floor also.

To me musty and funky sounds like oxidation. What was the OG and FG of the Kolsch? How long have the bottles been conditioning? Chilled for a few days before sampling?

I will 3rd the O2… Now UBES, I bought 2 packets of 05 for an experiment… Dag nabbit… Now what should I do with them? I wonder if the LHBS will take them back… Sneezles61

Ferment at 67° to 70°F. I’m upping fermentations with SA-05 from the previous 66° to 68°F.

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So I should pitch and leave at room temp? Downstairs is usually a comfortable 68*… Sneezles61

Again, I have no evidence, just a hare brained theory. Warmer temps might help… I always used it at 63-66.

I agree, I have had better results with 05 at the upper 60° range.

flars: OG 1.052, FG 1…011. Bottle conditioned for three weeks, and yes in the fridge a couple days. I tried to be careful about oxidation. Kept the tube at the bottom while racking to the second tub, and used the bottling want while bottling. But I’ll focus more on that next time.

Voodoo: This was actually my 9th overall batch. Only two have turned out as what I’d call good, although I’ve had plenty drinkable.

I’m not sure how to rule out infection, but I sure haven’t seen/smelled anything that would make me think that was the case. Nothing that looks like any of the info I’ve seen, anwyay.

Dunngood: I’m using distilled water. The buckets I use came right from the brew store, and the malt came right from Northern Brewer. I obviously can’t rule those things out at this point. I guess glass is the way to go?

Infection can be manifested as “gushers”, unintentional sours, etc. , and a good clue can be very low FG’s(eg 1.001 when 1.015 was expected).

The plastic buckets from LHBS/NB are fine. (food grade) some folks only use buckets and never have a problem.

you are using distilled so not Chlorine /chloramine.

Still think temp control(or oxidation) might be it.

Thanks man. I’ll pay closer attention to those.

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Does this mean you used a bucket for a secondary vessel? Even with very careful racking oxidation is very likely when using a bucket for a secondary vessel. A secondary vessel should be smaller than the primary fermentor to fill the vessel completely with the beer. This will reduce the surface area of the beer exposed to oxygen. A carboy filled to the neck will have the least surface area. A Big Mouth Bubbler filled to the neck will have slightly larger surface area but can be safer, no broken glass if there is an accident, than using a glass carboy.

I agree @flars except when racking onto more fermentables like fruit which will purge the headspace when fermentation restarts. I may be wrong but that’s what I do when I do a secondary which is the only time except for a keg secondary

You say it was your first all grain and you used distilled water. Did you treat the water at all?


It if was extract…distilled = good. All grain not so much unless you treat the distilled water. Your ph might have been way off during the mash.

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I did not treat the water at all. I thought about it and then didn’t - it just seemed like a step above. I’m really trying to keep this as simple as I can, but maybe that’s a mistake.

Also, flars and brew_cat, when I say I racked into a second tub, that was just to get it off the trub and mix it into some liquified glucose. I didn’t ferment it in there, I bottled from there right away.

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