Where is this flavor coming from?

In two recent batches of beer I’ve done, they came out with a sort of spicy kind of flavor. I know I’ve had similar flavors in a commercial beer before. Maybe a hefeviezen, but not 100% sure. One was a American wheat ale, the other le Petite Orange. The flavor is not bad, just unexpected as it wasn’t in the description for either of these. This makes me think it was not intentional, but a by product.

My thought are that either I left it in primary too long (4 weeks for both) or that fermentation was too warm (72-74) for both. That’s a little warmer than ideal, but I don’t think it’s super high.

Any thoughts? I’d like to avoid this in the future if it is indeed an unintended flavor. I’ve got temp control for fermentation now, so that won’t be an issue.

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Which yeast did you use? Spicy/clove-like flavors are generally phenolic, and can be caused by high fermentation temperatures. One of the precursors to the clove flavor is ferulic acid. Wheat malt has higher levels of ferulic acid, which makes it more likely to get this phenol in this kind of beer. The real cause of it, though, is the high fermentation temperature. If you drop your fermentation temps into the mid 60’s, it should eliminate it next time.

I don’t recall what type of yeast. Both were liquid. I’ll have to check my notes at home. I figured temp was the most likely culprit, but I wasn’t sure if low 70s was high enough to do that much. I have a freezer set up for temp control for the batch I’m making this weekend, so I’ll definitely keep temps in the mid-60s going forward.

How about hops… You could tell us what hops where used… Too soft of water and it seems the spicy hops really shine… Sneezles61

My water is fairly hard, 32 grains.

Did you make a starter with your yeast? How do you aerate the wort?

Did not do a starter. Aerate by pouring through a sieve then stirring for several minutes.

Wheat ale used White Labs American hefewiesen Ale WL320, so that may explain those flavors in that one since it tasted a bit like a hefeweisen…

Le Petite Orange used Wyeast 3783 Trappist High Gravity yeast.

Yeah, I think that explains it for the wheat. The phenol is 4-vinyl guaiacol, and is desirable in a hefe. It’s the same compound that gives cloves their flavor. Higher temperatures favor its formation.

Also, stressed yeast can lead to other phenolic compounds, which may be what you’re tasting in the other beer. It’s ok to not do a starter with a lot of beers, but it increases ester formation. However, if you forego a starter for a moderate gravity beer, it’s absolutely necessary to oxygenate the wort beyond pouring and shaking.

If you want to avoid this in the future, either look into starters, or get an oxygenation system. They’re not that complicated - NB sells a nice aeration wand and regulator set-up, and the small O2 canisters from home improvement stores are perfect.

To make a starter, you really only need a large jug, like a gallon apple juice jug, and some DME. Stir plates and flasks are absolutely not necessary. Ask @loopie_beer, he’s a convert to the shaken, not stirred method!