Home Brew Beer Kits – Categorizing Off-Flavours by Brewing Stage

A summary of off flavours by brewing stage. For a more in depth analysis of each flavour please see Part Three: A-Z Off Flavours and What They Mean.

Sanitation

  • Acetaldehyde – green apple flavour – infection
  • Astringent – mouth puckering compounds – infection
  • Cidery – tastes like cider – infection
  • Diacety – buttery or butterscotch – infection
  • Dimethyl Sulphides – cooked cabbage flavours – infection
  • Medicine/Phenols – bandaids, cloves, medicine like flavours – infection, inadequate rinsing of sanitizer agent
  • Soapy – tastes like soap – incomplete rinsing
  • Sour – acidic, like vinegar – infection – look for scratches in your brew keg
  • Sulphur – matches, sewage – infection

Brewing

  • Alcohol – sharp, cheap tequila taste, harshness – poor aeration of wort
  • Astringent – mouth puckering – oxidation of the wort
  • Diacetyl – buttery or butterscotch – poor wort aeration, poor yeast growth, incomplete fermentation
  • Estery/Fruity – overtones of banana, pear, strawberries, grapefruit – high fermentation temperatures, poor wort oxygenation
  • Metallic – like iron, blood, pennies – High iron content of water, boiling very alkaline water in an aluminum pot, steel pots (not stainless steel)
  • Oxidized/wet cardboard/sherry – cardboard, paper, pineapple, bitter, harsh – oxidized wort
  • Sour – acidic, vinegar – infection during brewing
  • Sweet – tastes sugary, sweet – addition of too much fruit flavour

Fermentation

  • Acetaldehydes- green apple flavour – fermentation time too short
  • Alcohol- sharp, cheap tequila taste, harshness – fermentation temperature is too high
  • Cidery- tastes like cider – fermentation time too short
  • Diacetyl – buttery or butterscotch – poor yeast growth, incomplete fermentation
  • Estery/Fruity- overtones of banana, pear, strawberries, grapefruit – fermentation temperature too high
  • Mouldy – tastes/smells like mold or mildew – contamination during fermentation, fermenter stored in moldy or mildewy area
  • Skunky – smells like skunk, usually not a problem in home brew kits – fermenter allows light wavelengths which react with hops, use brown or opaque fermenter
  • Soapy – tastes or smells like soap, detergent, soapy feel in your mouth – beer left in fermenter far too long
  • Solvent like – acetone, paint thinner – high fermentation temperature with oxidation, not using food grade plastics for fermenting
  • Sour- acidic, vinegar – infection during fermentation
  • Sulphur – smells like lit matches, sewage – may be normal, will go away as fermentation proceeds, beer left in fermenter too long
  • Sweet – tastes sugary, sweet – weak yeast, stuck yeast, temperature too low
  • Thin – poor body, not much flavour – beer has fermented too long
  • Yeasty – tastes and smells like yeast, bread dough – beer has fermented too long

Conditioning

  • Acetaldehyde- green apple flavour – beer needs to condition longer
  • Cidery- tastes like cider – beer needs to condition longer
  • Skunky – smells like skunk, usually not a problem in home brew kits- clear or green bottles exposed to light during conditioning –
  • Thin – boring beer, no body or complexity – beer hasn’t carbonated or conditioned long enough
  • Yeasty -tastes and smells like yeast, bread dough – beer hasn’t conditioned long enough

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