Off flavour problems solved

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The lunch man

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I've read a lot of threads over the years regarding off flavour troubleshooting in homebrew and sadly often they end up unresolved. It's understandable given without tasting the beer described it can be difficult to narrow down the cause.

As it happens I've been on a quest to master delicious homebrew and haven't got there yet, but I refuse to give up. Maybe trying to get others to give their 2c on how I should fix my issues isn't the only way to skin a cat?

I'd love to hear the stories out there of brewers that actually overcame their off flavour issues and how they fixed it. Whether it was tracking the source of an infection or a change in process or brewing practice. I reckon it could be a useful resource for brewers scratching their heads on why their homebrew is not giving them the reward it should. (Apologies if a thread for this already exists on here)🍻
I have just finished 2 lager brews with one in a keg conditioning and the other still fermenting, brew 1 tastes awesome already but brew 2 tasted like bakers yeast which i put down to the coopers lager kit yeast that i thought i'd use up. Brew 1 was just kegged and i had 5ltrs still to bottle so i poured brewed 2 off the yeast cake and into the remnants of brew 1, instant flavour transformation and fermentation has kicked off again so assume that the kit yeast stalled and didnt finish up the fermentables.
I would have blended the 2 if required.
One of the members at Flat Rock Brew Club had a persistent issue where every batch started off very promising but ended up meh when served. After a lot of head scratching, a number of tipped batches and many items replaced, he finally tracked the problem down to an infection in his gas manifold. Since he took it apart, cleaned and sanitised it, everything has been working out great.

Moral of the story, suspect every part in your setup when troubleshooting. Leave no stone unturned.
I've had two instances where I had off flavours.

1. Two brews with a brand new plastic 30L fermenter - thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before use both times. Both started out fermenting clean and then went bad - ended up with some bottle bombs from the first batch. I cleaned that fermenter exactly the same way I had cleaned my others in dozens and dozens of successful brews so I put it down to a scratch or crevice in the plastic harbouring something nasty and just binned the fermenter. Simple solution and never had infection/bombs again.

2. Second one was weirder - Trusty plastic fermenter and my usual process but the beer was crap. Not undrinkable but just a really strong off flavour. Weird thing was the FG was normal, no bottle bombs or any sign of ongoing infection. I couldn't map the off flavour to any of the common ones reading online. Next batch in a different fermenter was fine. Batch after that in the same trusty fermenter as the bad batch - off-flavour was back but not nearly as strong. I put it down to a residual infection by a wild yeast that wasn't able to metabolise long chain sugars like brewing yeast. Weird part was that using the trusty fermentor as a bottling bucket seemed to be fine - I'd used it this way in-between the two bad batches with no impact on the bottled beer. I stumbled onto a thread here and checked my notes and I'd used the trusty fermenter for a batch of ginger beer before the two bad batches. So I put it down to something that leeched into the plastic and then was released into the two subsequent batches - which explains why it was much less pronounced for the second batch and lack of bottle bombs. The off flavour definitely wasn't a ginger flavour - another brewer on the thread reported the same though (And of course because it's never simple - some who do ginger beer in plastic fermenters say they don't see the same thing) but I've gone back to using trusty fermenter - and no longer imparts an off flavour and no infections so almost certain it was the ginger beer.

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