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Troubleshooting an off taste

On my last few light colored brews-(hefeweizen, saison, blonde)-I’m sensing a very slight off flavor but I can’t put my finger on it. It is very slight and does not make the beer unpleasant, but to my untrained palate it just seems like something that doesn’t belong. It’s not quite cardboard, not quite bandaid, just a watery sort of taste I get on the very back of the tongue (this is definitely in the finish, not up front). But if I were pressed to call it something, I would have to say more of a chemically, plasticky, latex type taste. Again, it is very, very slight.

I do biab 5 gallons, and I mash in my stainless BK. I build up distilled water using brunwater, but sometimes I don’t know if my scale is working properly for the small amounts of additives I use. I normally add CaCl and epsom salt, and lactic acid when necessary, I’ve fermented in both plastic and glass with the same result. I don’t secondary, so my only transfer after fermentation is to the bottling bucket. I’m careful not to splash and I always get good flow with no bubbles through the bottling wand. I control ferm temps with a swamp cooler, and keep a close eye on that.

After going over my process carefully, the one thing I have thought of is that I use tap water (chlorinated) for my sanitizer (starsan) without treating for chlorine. This seems like a long shot since so very little of the solution is left on the bottles or in the fermenter after I sanitize. I’m wondering if this could actually be a problem, so before I bottled my kolsch yesterday I made a fresh batch of starsan and treated the water with a camden tablet before mixing in the starsan. Used the new batch to sanitize the bottling bucket, wand, tubing, bottles, etc. Although all of the fermentation equipment on this batch was sanitized with the non treated sanitizer.

Anybody think that this could be my problem? I’m also gonna get a more sensitive scale to measure water additives. Any and all advice will be appreciated.

Thanks,

Ron

It’s an interesting theory. Like you said on the brewing end probably very dilute so not a problem on the bottling side who knows it may be enough to taste especially if the bottles aren’t drained well. Let us know the results.

Could be the sanitizer, but doubtful. How do you crush your grains? And how warm are your ferm temps getting? Are you saving yeast?

Grains come crushed from NB. For hefe and saison, highest temp before krausen fell was 66. Belgian blonde, 68. Used wyeast liquid smack pack w/ starter for hefe, belle saison for the saison, and t-58 for the blonde. I’ve never reused yeast. Tasted again today, it’s a little more pronounced in the hefe and blonde, less in the saison.

Thanks,

Ron

I’m going to weigh in with O2. Distilled water is… well without, and it won’t take much for it to grab onto and assimilate it with the other ions. Try use quieter transfer and keep the splash to as close to nothing, RO may be another water source to try. Sneezles61

you can pitch yeast at 68 degrees but during fermentation the temp can easily go up to 75 degrees causing some minor off flavors. If you think its your water you can go buy some big jugs of bottled water and try that. I do extract so I start with 3 gallons of water and then top off with a 2.5 gallons of bottled water. I don’t think its your sanitizing though, probably fermentation temp issue.

You mentioned that you were not sure your scale was working properly. The US Treasury will provide a set of calibration weights for $0.41. Have a look at this site: About | U.S. Mint

I was expecting a paradigm, maybe just 4 nickels will work!:smiley:Sneezles61

Mmm strange. Could it be your fermenting bucket if you got small latex taste. Or indeed the water

I’ve tested temp of my beer during high krausen in my swap cooler, and it’s never been more than 1* more than the temp of the water in my cooler. I fill a laundry sink with water all the way to the top level of the beer in the carboy, then add frozen water bottles. It’s pretty effective. And I always pitch at a couple of degrees lower than I want to ferment. I rarely get more than a 3* swing in temp of the water in the cooler, so assume a little less swing in beer temp. I usually start ales at around 62*-64*.

Ron

Thanks Dawg. My concern with the scale is that it sometimes will jump with the slightest addition and then sometimes will stay on the same number if I add a significant amount of anything, so I end up doing multiple measurings to try and get it right. So since some of my water additions are so small (like 2.4g in 4 gallons), if my scale were off a little, it could be a significant percentage. What if instead of 2.4g I actually got 3g or more? Would that much more CaCl in the mash effect the taste of the beer in any way? I’m sure this is something I could possibly find by reading completely through brunwater, or is it? As I’m digesting the responses I’ve gotten, I’m starting to lean toward mash water treatment as a big possibility.

Ron

Also, forgot to say that I do use the one gallon jugs of distilled water.

Thanks Dave,

Ron

And with each batch, the water was from a different source.

The kolsch that I just bottled should help the question of plastic fermentor. It was fermented in glass. The saison and blonde were both in plastic (bubblers), and the hefe I’m not totally sure about. But I’ve never heard of anybody having this sort of problem with the plastic carboys.

Thanks,

Ron

0xidation actually was my very first thought, because I though I had all the other variables covered. But I’m very careful during transfer–I keep the tube in the bottom of the bucket, I don’t get bubbles in the siphon, when I stir the priming sugar in I’m very gentle, I use o2 absorbing caps. The taste is just not “cardboard” though, but admittedly my palate is not that well trained.

And by the way, be careful. Pork chop might get upset if he sees you moving into his comic relief territory!! Haha

Thanks,

Ron

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Could it be mash ph. Have you checked it? I know you use software but maybe double check it with a meter.

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That’s a great idea. I need to put that on my Christmas list.

Ron

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Check out this link of “off flavors.” I copied this one for you since you said plastic.

Chlorophenol
Tastes/Smells Like:
Plastic, Vinyl, Iodine
Possible Causes:
Using chlorinated tap water to brew or rinse equipment is the most common cause
for plastic-like or medicinal flavors. Medicinal flavors can also be the result of using
cleanser or sanitizer that is chlorine or iodine based. Some wild yeast will contribute
to a similar medicinal taste.
How to Avoid:
Don’t use chlorinated water to brew or to rinse equipment that will come into contact
with the beer. If chlorinated water must be used, use a water filter that removes
chlorine or boil the water for 15 minutes and then cool to room temperature to force
out any chlorine that may be present. Always use the recommended amount and
concentrations of sanitizers. Most sanitizers will not cause any off flavors when used
properly. When using bleach, use one-half ounce per gallon of water, let equipment
soak for 10 minutes and always rinse with sanitized (pre-boiled) water.

Thanks Dave. Great link. This helps a bunch. Gonna just reevaluate everything in my process in light of this list.

Ron

You could have an unwanted microbe going to work on your beer. The flavors you describe are certainly possible from some wild yeasts and bacteria. Could be that the lighter colored beers you make are also lighter flavored, and are not covering up the flavors like the darker ones might be doing. How is your attenuation? Are any of your hoses, bottling equipment, etc. showing signs of age?

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Just throwing this out there but I’d get a couple other people to try it and ask them if they taste it.
Know anybody who might be a beer judge or take a bottle to your local home brew store for help.
Porkchop has some valid points too, I replace my siphoning equipment quite often especially the bottling wand and tubing, dried up hops can get stuck in there.

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