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Plastic/alcohol smell in a Smashing Pumpkin Ale

Hey everyone,

 I'm a new brewer and I need some help/advice.  I've done six extract kits and all of them have come out well so far for the exception of my Smashing Pumpkin Ale.  Here are the details:

 I brewed according to the recipe but added the additional 2 lbs. of Rahr 6-Row malt and 3 cans (15oz each) of organic canned pumpkin without any additives.  I must have missed part of the instructions originally and did not strain my wort prior to putting it into my glass carboy.  After aerating my wort manually I pitched my yeast (1 pack of US-O5).  After I pitched I noticed quite a lot of stuff floating around in the carboy and thought I may have gotten too much of the sludge from the bottom of the kettle.  It made me nervous so I decided to pour my wort into a sanitized bottling bucket through a mesh brewers bag.  It did filter a lot of the sludge but I thought some of the yeast may have been filtered out so I pitched another packet of yeast (US-O5) into the carboy after I poured the wort back in.  There still seemed to be a lot of sludge but I let it be.  I had good, active fermentation withing 12-18 hours.  The krausen dropped 5 days later.  My OG was 1.070 prior to pitching the yeast the first time.  I checked my gravity today and it was at 1.018 but I noticed a burnt plastic smell that wasn't very pleasant.  I tasted my sample that I used for my gravity check and it was dry and smelled like that burnt plastic as well.  I use filtered RO water and am a mad man about sanitation.  I called NB and they suggested that I transfer it to secondary vessel right away and let it be for 1-2 months, then check it after that.  Here are all of the notes that I took:

Brewed: 3/2/14. Did a partial mash with 2 lbs. Rahr 6-Row and 3 cans (15 oz each) of canned organic pumpkin according to the recipe. I did a partial boil with the 2.5-3 gal of RO water that I used for the partial mash. I also added an additional tsp. of pumpkin pie spice at flameout. It took 40 mins to cool down using an ice water bath.

OG- 1.070
Today’s gravity reading- 1.018 with a burnt plastic/alcohol smell
Initial ABV= 16%
Pitched yeast @66-68 F
Fermented at same temp
Primary= 18 days
Secondary= Transfered today.

 Any other advice you guys have for me?  Is my batch ruined?  Thanks in advance!


When you say you fermented at 66-68, I presume that was the room temperature? The temp inside the bucket would have been several degrees higher. I’m no expert on filtering methods, but I think you need a pretty high-end filter system to actual filter-out yeast. So a bit too high temperature and the better part of 2 packs of US-05; your yeasties made fusel alcohol.

Sounds like NB support is pushing you in the right direction; but I’m not sure how well that will age-out.

Thanks for the reply! The fermometer said between 66-68. Is that the ambient temp of the room or is that the temp of the beer inside the carboy? I’ve been assuming that the temp on the fermometer on the carboy is the temp of the beer so I’ll need to change that if that’s the case. So it’s sounding like just let it sit for a long time?

a little late to the party but, I’m wondering if the 3 cans (15oz each) of organic canned pumpkin without any additives had anything to do with the possibility or the actual presents of fusel alcohol.
maybe the 6 row with high amounts of husk + what ever is in the pumpkin stuff made fusel alcohol , and of course the high fermenter temps. all together it may have been a perfect storm.
just my 2 cents worth.

It very well may be but I’m not exactly sure. I just followed the directions from NB regarding their recipe for adding canned pumpkin and used the exact amounts and brands of added malt and canned pumpkin that they suggested.

as far as off flavors go’s don’t feel bad I just made a porter that smells like a red wine. just put in secondary to cold crash. maybe it gets better maybe not. well see.

Sounds like chlorophenols. Did you remove the chlorine from your water? It could also be an infection.

@Denny, no I didn’t treat my water personally. I get it from a place that filters it. It’s RO water. I’ve used the same water for all of the other batches and they have been great so I figured it was something that I did during the brewing process that caused it. Maybe I overpitched? I’m pretty sure my temp in the carboy never got above 70. NB thinks its the high alcohol content and that it will mellow out over time but being new to this I wasn’t sure…

just though I should post a update on that porter that smelled like red wine. after 5 days in cold crash it now has lost that red wine smell and I think its going to be real good beer.

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