Ok I have been brewing for almost 3 years and have had MAJOR improvements in my process and my beer, and have won a few comps. Added temp control, adequate/healthy yeast pitches from starters, and nice long primary ferments. I recently started kegging occasionally (only occasionally because I live in the city and don’t have room for a dedicated serving fridge) and noticed something.
I kegged my first lager, an Oktoberfest fermented @ 50 degrees (~3 weeks), lagered at 35 degrees for 4 weeks, but also bottled/primed about a gallon of it and allowed for natural carbonation in the bottle (still doing this with the majority of my brews, again given the absence of a serving fridge and using my spare fridge for a ferment chamber)
The O fest tasted GREAT out of the keg. A touch caramelly (maybe too much Vienna), but otherwise, great aroma, rich malt character, and clean/dry finish. I grabbed a 22oz bottle of the bottle-conditioned O-fest to take to my brothers house, which we had with a steak last night. The bottle conditioned version had a slight cidery/astringent/sherry ‘edge’ in the aroma (not so much in the taste). My brother couldn’t pick it up, but perhaps because I was expecting the beer I had out of the keg, I definitely caught something weird an unpleasant that I have noticed in other beers I’ve made, particularly those that are bottle-conditioned.
There is an off-chance I poured some yeast in the glass. There is also an off chance my bottles were not GLEAMINGLY clean (typically, I triple/quad rinse HEAVILY after emptying a bottle and store them uncapped prior to sanitizing only before re-use…I know it’s a bit of a dice roll, but I feel like I am dislodging any gunk, then rinsing away anything else with my ‘after-use’ cleaning of bottles).
My question is, has anyone ever experienced off-flavors from the priming sugar itself (I use corn sugar dissolved in boiling water), or conducted a side-by-side to taste a kegged beer vs. a bottle-conditioned beer? Usually, I will add the cooled simple syrup ON TOP of the racked beer prior to filling bottles, trying to minimize splashing. I do this because I want to know my exact volume to properly measure priming sugar weight (sans trub). Also, I am somewhat lax in CLEANING bottling wands, racking canes, hosing, etc., but typically rinse them heavily after use, then soak in sanitizer for 30 minutes or so prior to the next use. I know, I know, you can’t sanitize a turd and all that.
So it is likely there is an issue for me at packaging, and I need to discipline myself to clean AND sanitize everything.
Sorry for the long post, but just trying to pinpoint this and see if anyone else has had bottle-conditioning issues related to the sugar or process itself.