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Solventy Phenols

I just got back scores sheets from my first home brew competition. All of the beers I entered before I had my fermentation fridge up and running. After reviewing score sheets I have come to the conclusion that was my biggest problem. Judges comments ranging from Phenolic heat or cherry esters in an American IPA. A clove like flavor in a Northern English Brown ale. I have since brewed Jamil’s Antwerp Afternoon with Wyeast 3522 and had a controlled fermentation of 68 then after 4 days bumped up a degree one day and another degree the next day. Then left it there for 7 days and then down to 65 for another week. The beer tastes really good but I am getting an hot solventy aroma, but nothing in the beer. What could be the cause of this?

First of all are you sure your not confusing esters for solvent. Solvents tends to smell like nail polish remover (acetone), or turpentine, and will cause a burning sensation on the back of the mouth. Can be caused by under pitching the yeast (Starter Starter Starter), lack of oxygenation, fermenting on a large amount of trub, and most often from fermenting at high temperatures. Lower your starting temp to 60-62F and ramp up from there. The longer you ferment at the lower temperature the less esters you will get and the less chance of solvents forming. Once the fermentation is complete cold crash at 40F for a few days to drop out the yeast.

Esters can smell like fruit, banana, berry, citrus, and grape, and will be effected by yeast selection, as well as many of the previously listed factors.

Good esters smell like fruits. Plastic-y bandaid flavor esters can come from wild or compromised yeast. Solventy flavors are generally from fusel alcohol, which as MRCCEO said, usually come from poor yeast yealth/underpitching, underoxygenation, and most often from the beer fermenting too hot, too soon, as in high 70s or low 80s in the first 48 - 60 hrs.

Fusels are thought to create hangovers.

If you have bottled a beer with fusel alcohol, if you cellar it for 2 - 3 years, the fusels can convert to more flavorful esters, making a bad beer quite good.

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