Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Tastes and Smells Like Rubbing Alcohol

What causes the fusel alcohol flavor in a beer?

I cracked one today and it has a mild to moderate flavor and aroma of rubbing alcohol.

It’s not awful…just not really great either.

Used Danstar Bry-97 and fermented at a solid 63/64 in a swamp cooler in my basement.

It’s only been in bottles for a week, so I’m sure it’s a little young, but I certainly wasn’t expecting this type of flavor out of the beer.

Thanks!

A little more info about the style, recipe gravities, etc, might be helpful. Generally I would thing high fermentation temps, but you seem to have managed that

Style…interesting you bring that up. I was going for a lighter pale ale, sessionable. What I got (aside from the fusel notes) is a tangier, spicier ale…reminiscent of a light Saison.

Here’s the recipe, 10 gallons:

8.5lb Rahr 2-Row
4lb Rahr 6-Row
3.5lb Flaked Corn
1lb torrified Wheat Malt

.5oz Saaz,45 min
1oz Cascade,20 min
1oz Cascade,15 min
2tsp Irish Moss,15 min
.05oz Saaz,5 min

OG 1.049, FG 1.009

Two weeks primary, cold crashed to 38 for 24 hours then bottled.

Single fermenter or two? Same results from each? That might rule out infection?

Two fermenters. It’ll be impossible to figure out which bottle came from which fermenter. They’re all mixed together down in the storage room.

I remember trying a sample from each bucket on bottling, and both tasted identical.

What temp did you pitch at? Pitch temp is as important as ferm temp. For my first few brews I made the mistake of pitching at 80F b/c I was using an ice bath and was too impatient to cool all the way. This resulted in fusel beers even though ferm temp was 62F.

It was well into the 60s when the yeast was pitched.

As far as I know, the two main causes are too high temp and too high pitch rate. Since your pitch temp and ferm temp (and I assume starter temp) are all in the 60’s this points toward too high pitch rate. Other than that, beats me.

I’ve had this happen many times, unfortunately, due to contamination. I used plastic buckets for all my fermentations for 13 years. Not anymore. After randomly losing many batches due to scratches or who knows what else in plastic, I have begun fermenting in glass and have not had a problem since. Plastic is fine, if you replace it often. But once it catches a bug, ain’t nothing can get the bug out of the plastic.

I’m not saying you’ve got contamination. But I am saying there is a possibility, if you use plastic. Take it into consideration. It took me 13 years to hate plastic. Now love has turned to hate.

One of our plastic buckets is almost two years old. There is a clear fermentation stain around the inside at the 5 gallon mark where numerous beers have been. I have another batch in the buckets now…if one comes out bad, I guess I’ll know.

No starter. Just a dry pack each of bry97

When I started to have problems with my plastic buckets, it was weird… they only got contaminated roughly half the time, 50/50. Even with a bad bucket you can occasionally get lucky and get a good batch. But once the bucket is confirmed contaminated, it will continue to cause problems at least 50% of the time. So once it happens twice with the same bucket, then you’ll know for sure that it is time to replace it. Or alternatively, just replace it right away and eliminate the chances for contamination of your next batch.

Or, switch to glass and never worry again. :wink:

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]

Or, switch to glass and never worry again. :wink: [/quote]
Or go stainless! I’m fermenting in kegs now…

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]When I started to have problems with my plastic buckets, it was weird… they only got contaminated roughly half the time, 50/50. Even with a bad bucket you can occasionally get lucky and get a good batch. But once the bucket is confirmed contaminated, it will continue to cause problems at least 50% of the time. So once it happens twice with the same bucket, then you’ll know for sure that it is time to replace it. Or alternatively, just replace it right away and eliminate the chances for contamination of your next batch.

Or, switch to glass and never worry again. :wink: [/quote]

Thanks. I guess if some bottles are good and others not so much, then the old bucket is likely a culprit.

So I cracked another bottle tonight and the fusel taste and aroma was hideous. Had to dump it.

So now I have 100 or so bottle from two different fermenters, one two years old that could be infected. I have no way of knowing which is which.

The kicker to all of this is that this is a batch I brewed for work,and my boss paid for the ingredients. Now I have to unveil our “house brew” in two weeks and potentially half the bottles are bad and I have no way of knowing which ones.

So mixed reviews I will definitely get. :expressionless:

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com