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"homebrew" taste

so we just did a porter which has a real syrupy/ homebrew-y taste to it. it was a 10 gallon batch
17 lbs marris otter
2 crystal 10
2 crystal 80
1 black patent
1 chocolate
1flaked oats.
2oz chinook @ 60
10z fuggles @ 5
mashed at 155 for an hour, boiled for an hour, fermented with Whitelabs dry english (with starter)
3 weeks in primary, 2 in secondary.
it went from an og of 1.052 to 1.010. and should have about %5 alcohol.

I don’t know where that off flavor came from, I’m thinking possibly from the fermentation process, the temp was good (about 62-65)? but I’m not sure. We’ve had this flavor pop up before, on a totally different recipe, so I don’t think it’s a recipe thing.

It’s hard to describe the flavor in non-beer terms. I guess ‘ass’ describes it best.
any thoughts?

[quote=“Gr8abe”]It’s hard to describe the flavor in non-beer terms. I guess ‘ass’ describes it best.
any thoughts?[/quote]
I don’t see how that could be anything other than contamination.

ass…ugh, sorry man.

Normally what I call the “homebrewy” taste is almost always young beer which just means the yeast have not had enough time to clean up. 3 weeks in primary and 2 in secondary should be more than enough time.

How did the fermentation seem? were there any signs of infection?

I’d bet that it’s some sort of infection. Even in young beers that haven’t aged properly, there shouldn’t be major off flavors (especially ass).

I’d start with reviewing and evaluating sanitation procedures.

The syrupy connotation is what has me leaning towards ropiness, which is a type of beer spoilage caused by contamination. You seem to have a great deal of the craft nailed down, so I am assuming you are careful about sanitation but now is a good time to review any of your procedure that could be the lynch pin. Careless ass-istants? LOL had to do it, but I can think of many times I have had non brewer freinds say I’ll grab that for you or other, and every time I tell them nah, I’ll grab/do it in a minute etc… but thanks for the offer. (especially anything cold-side related)

#1 Do you do any transfers of cooled wort in the vicinity of where you crush/ store malt where this or other airborne dust may be entering the cooled wort or yeast starters?

#2 Are you flaming/ sanitizing the lip of vessels used for yeast starters and/or any container that is or will be holding yeast?

#3 Are you reusing/storing slurries with less than perfect sanitation such as mentioned above? (many lately seem to consider no/low sanitation during yeast handling their SOP which is very wrong)

These are just three of many process steps that tend to be forgotten. Many times more than others you will only contaminate a batch with the pitching yeast.

Here is an old BYO article on it but there are better reads regarding the topic(ropiness) as a whole: ... -mr-wizard

i thought that maybe the amount of Crystal in the grist might be contributing to much sweetness and not enough fermentability. Is that a possibility?

When we sampled the beer out of the hydrometer tube it didn’t have that same funk to it, either

  1. we were drinking it out of a hydrotube and the tube didn’t let the beer open up, or
  2. the problem is in the keg.

Although I washed out the keg with water, Brew wash, sanatizer and the rinsed it again, so that SHOULD have taken care of anything that might have caused off flavors, right?

just out of curiosity what is every ones cleaning process? dish soap? brewwash? soak? scrub? all of the above?

I’m clearly doing something wrong along the way.
as always, any help would be faaaaantastic.

Yes, but that wouldn’t come anywhere near a flavor that could be described as “ass” or “funk”. 17% crystal isn’t an obscene amount either - though it is on the high end. And at 83% ADF you know you didn’t have fermentability issues.

That could be your problem right there. What do you use to sanitize? What do you rinse with afterward?

If you’re using a no-rinse sanitizer, you don’t need to rinse. If you aren’t, you need to rinse with sterile (i.e. pre-boiled) water, or with a purpose-made acid rinse.

Sometimes I think Fuggle taste a bit assish when they are young but with your smaller amount of them in the recipe and your aging I doubt that is it. And while your Crystal is a bit higher than I normally go you still fermented out to 1.010 which is pretty low so I doubt that is your problem.

I’d avoid rinsing the sanitizer off as well. And get the transferring done as quickly as possible to avoid anything getting in there. How old are your tap lines? Any chance they are old and contributing to the ass flavor? Other than that I got nothing.

We use Star-San to sanitize, it is a no-rinse, but I’ve always washed out the last bit. I know it’s a no- rinse, but can I just pour my wort/ beer right on top of the remaining sanitizer?

So i read over that BYO article, I do agitate my carboys/ fermentation vessels. Maybe that’s the problem? Should I just leave them alone and not touch them at all?

Star San is a phosphorslzed acid sanitizer. As such it is inactivated at pH above about 3.5ish and certainly inactived at beer pH. The phosphorus actually becomes a yeast nutrient! So it is actually good for your beer. You are running a bigger sanitation risk rinsing it off than not! So yes you can actually pour your beer on top of the foam. The saying is “Don’t fear the foam!”

There is a good pod cast with Charley Talley, the founder of Star San at the link below. It will clear up a lot of questions about Star San. ... lie-Talley

So it seems that between rinsing out the sanitizer, and possibly having to much O2 contact when kegging, that this little problem might be solved! bottoms up!

What is a ‘homebrew-y’ taste? Based on my overwhelmingly positive experiences with homebrew, I’d have to think a ‘homebrew-y’ taste would be an asset, not a problem.

Which article was that? I’m curious about this issue too.

Like others have stated, rinsing out a sanitizer with something non-sanitary like tap water is simply contaminating the vessel in some way/shape/form.

No-rinse means no-rinse when we talk about industry standards such as Star-San. It’s one of the most covered subjects in homebrewing everywhere.

Contamination and other factors such as oxidation may not result in a completely ruined beer immediately. It may cause a slow degradation of flavor and aroma that makes it hard to pinpoint later.

I doubt very much that agitating your fermentation vessels is the problem.
I have always agitated the primary, especially when using highly flocculent yeast strains (after the first few days I give the primary carboy a good swirl as much as 2-3 times a day).
It has never resulted in ropiness or any other ‘off’ character.

I still think your problem is probably a sanitation issue somewhere in your process.

hey dean, I checked out your page, I love your kegging set up! super clean and o2 free! can you break it down so I can try it at home? It looks straight forward enough, but what else do I need to know that the pictures/ description don’t say?
thanks mang!

[quote=“Gr8abe”] It looks straight forward enough, but what else do I need to know that the pictures/ description don’t say?
thanks mang![/quote]

It is as simple as it seems :slight_smile:

Are you familiar with Fuggle hops? They can be described as “catty” (cat piss) at times and for that reason aren’t my favorite hop. Whether that is the bad flavor or not, I dunno. I would second the idea that it may be the beer needs a bit more conditioning. Can’t hurt in this case, can it? If things get worse, then that might tell you that an infection is at play…

I don’t see any mention of how you chilled your wort or how long that took. There might have been a sanitation issue at that step, too.

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