Dry Yeast vs. Liquid Yeast

Common Off Flavors

Select one of the off flavors below to get some more information on why your beer may have this flavor and some ways to prevent it in the future.


Acetaldehyde

Green apples, Cidery/acetic – Appropriate for Light American lagers

Causes

  • Premature removal from Yeast
  • Oxidation
  • acetobacter

Prevention

  • Allow to ferment completely
  • Aerate wort prior to pitching
  • Good sanitation
  • decrease O2 contact after ferementation
  • Extended lagering times

Alcoholic

Hot, Spicy, Vinous, Prickly Mouthfeel – Appropriate for Strong Ales & Lagers

Causes

  • High amount of fermentables
  • High fermentation temperature
  • Low O2 disolved in wort
  • Under pitching

Prevention

  • Pitch sufficient amount of yeast
  • Aerate wort well
  • control fermentation temperatures
  • use less fermentables

Astringency

Mouth puckering is present in flavor and mouthfeel – Not appropriate for any style

Causes

  • Poor sanitation
  • excessive hopping
  • excessive wort attenuation
  • boiling grains
  • excessive grain crushing
  • high sparge temps
  • excessively high pH

Prevention

  • Good sanitation
  • reduce hopping rates
  • use less attenuative yeast
  • Higher Mash temp
  • avoid over crushing grain
  • monitor sparge temps
  • control pH levels

Bitterness

Mouth puckering is present in aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel – Appropriate for American IPA & American Pale Ale

Causes

  • High Alpha acid hops
  • Long boil times

Prevention

  • Use hops with lower Alpha Acid
  • Reduce boil times

Buttery

Butterscotch, Diacetyl, Slick, present in aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel – Appropriate for Scotch ales, English ales and Czech Pils

Causes

  • Premature racking
  • Low fermentation temps
  • Lactic aid bacteria
  • Mutant yeast

Prevention

  • Allow to ferment fully
  • Diacetyl rest
  • Monitor fermentation temps
  • Use healthy pure yeast
  • good sanitation

Cardboard / Oxidation

Papery, Stale, Wet Cardboard – Not appropriate for any style

Causes

  • Aeration of hot wort
  • Exposure of higher alcohols to oxygen
  • excessive aging

Prevention

  • Avoid splashing hot wort
  • carefully package beer
  • serve beer in appropriate amount of time

Cloudiness

Cloudy, Hazy – Appropriate for German Weizen, Belgian Witbier, Lambics

Causes

  • Chill haze – insufficient conversion of mash, little or no hot break in boil or cold break in chill
  • Permanent Haze – High sparge temps
  • Bacterial haze – poor sanitation
  • Powdery or low flocculating yeast

Prevention

  • Longer Mash times
  • use protien rest
  • vigorous rolling boil
  • cool wort quickly
  • use filtration
  • Reduce sparge temps
  • Improve sanitation
  • Choose more flocculant yeast

Cooked Corn

Dimethyl Sulfide (DMS), Vegetal – Appropriate for American lagers & Cream Ales

Causes

  • Wort Bacteria – poor sanitation
  • not boiling wort for at least and hour
  • Covered boil
  • Under pitching yeast
  • poor yeast health
  • over sparging with water below 160F
  • use of adjuncts

Prevention

  • Good sanitation
  • fresh yeast
  • quick wort cooling
  • proper sparging
  • reduce adjuncts
  • Vigorous uncovered boil
  • Reduce pilsner malt

Fruitiness

Strawberries, Plums, Bananas, Peaches, Present in flavor and aroma – Appropriate for Most Ales

Causes

  • By-product of fermentation
  • Higher fermentation temperatures increase ester production
  • Warm fermentation with lager yeast
  • Yeast selection

Prevention

  • Choose low ester producing yeast
  • ferment at lower temperatures
  • keep lager fermentation below 50F

Light Body

Watery, Weak, and Thin Mouthfeel – Appropriate for Light American Lagers & Lambics

Causes

  • Low dextrins
  • Poor quality malt
  • Large percentage of adjunct sugars
  • Low mash temperature
  • Protein rest too long

Prevention

  • Increase dextrin malt
  • use quality malt
  • decrease adjunct sugars
  • use higher mash temp
  • shorten protein rest

Low Head Retention

Flat, Watery

Causes

  • Insufficient Proteins in beer create high surface tension
  • Dirty/oily glass
  • Soap residue on glass
  • Low protein grist

Prevention

  • shorten protein rest
  • Use clean well rinsed glass
  • Use flaked wheat or barley
  • Lower alcohol by lowering amount of grist
  • Use hops with high isoalpha levels

Phenolic

Band-aid, Medicinal, Clove like, Plastic, Smokey – Appropriate for Belgian Styles, German Wheat Beers

Causes

  • Wild yeast
  • Improper sanitation
  • Chlorophenols in the water
  • Certain yeast strains produce naturally
  • Over sparging

Prevention

  • Use proper sanitation methods
  • Charcoal filter water
  • rinse chlorine based sanitizers well
  • Choose low phenol producing yeast
  • Use proper sparging techniques

Sherry-Like

Sherry, Vinous, Wine-like, Papery, Stale – Appropriate for Barley wines & Old Ales

Causes

  • A product of oxidation
  • Aging
  • More prevalent it high alcohol beers

Prevention

  • Serve younger
  • Decrease oxygen exposure
  • lower grist bill to lower alcohol amount

Sourness

Tart and Sour – Appropriate for Lambics, Flanders Ales, Berlinner Weiss

Causes

  • Lactic Acid from lactic acid bacteria
  • Acetobacter from acetic acid
  • Pediococcus
  • Lactobacillus
  • Poor sanitation
  • High fermentaton temps
  • excessive acid rest
  • mashing too long
  • storage at warm temps
  • poor yeast strain

Prevention

  • Good sanitation
  • cool fermentation temps
  • cool beer storage
  • mashing for less than 2 hours
  • Fresh healthy yeast

Converting Recipes

The Importance of Being Hydrated: Dry Yeast Handling

There is a dearth of information out there regarding yeast handling, and probably as much misinformation. Some brewers are still under the impression that dry yeast is inferior to liquid yeast. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, the quality of dry yeast now is equal to liquid yeast in almost all cases. Another […]

Top 5 Ways to Improve your Wine Kit

Winemakers, free your minds from the smothering bonds of the kit box!

Wine kits may seem like a confined sort of brewing because all the instructions are laid out for you. When it comes down to it though, the kits are just a box full of good ingredients, and its up to you to determine how to make the wine. Here are five ways that you can let your creative juices flow. Above all, have fun!

1. Throw out the sawdust. If you’ve ever looked skeptically at a bag of dusty wood shavings that came with your kit, you have good reason. There are some very good oak alternatives out there, and substituting in a high quality source of oak flavor can greatly improve your wine kit. There are so many options available! The country of origin, toast level, and type (cubes, staves, etc.) of oak you use has a big impact on the final flavor of the wine. Taste a little sample out of primary and decide what you think would be best for the finished wine. After experimenting with different types of oak, you might even become interested in a barrel, which not only improves the oak flavor but also contributes a unique aging process. Good Pinot Noir especially can benefit from the slow oxidation of barrel aging.

2. Ignore the timetable. Well, not completely. But you should consider the times given as flexible, especially as you get towards the end of the process. For a wine like Sauvignon Blanc, no extended aging would likely be necessary, and drinking a month or two after the 6-week kit is finished might be totally fine. But big wines like Cabernet Sauvignon can’t be drunk so quickly, and really require aging to be palatable. Extended bulk aging can have its advantages, from slow extraction of quality oak to the favorable oxidation of barrels. If you are aging in bulk, remember to appropriately top up your vessel to reduce excess exposure to oxygen.

3. Play with yeast. Yeast is your friend. There is a great selection of yeasts available, and they are generally inexpensive. Tons of wine kits just come with standard, neutral Champagne yeast. This yeast is a good fermenter and very easy to use, but consider trying out something more suited to your particular tastes. I personally love the Wyeast Rudesheimer strain and the Lalvin D-47 and RC-212.

4. Blend a little. Most professional wineries practice blending constantly, whether it is with different grape varieties or the same variety but different oak or other factors. In your home cellar you can plan to make two batches in a row from blending-friendly grapes (like a batch a Cabernet Sauvignon and a batch of Shiraz), and then experiment with small quantities of different blends until you find one that clicks. It’s like making three wines instead of two!

5. Try your hand at sweetening. Don’t be afraid to make a sweet or semi-sweet wine out of a kit that is intended to be dry. There are several good options for this: if you know you want to make a semi-sweet wine you can use the Lalvin 71B Narbonne yeast, which leaves about 3% residual sugar and has an excellent flavor profile. If you have made a dry wine and think it would taste good with a bit more sweetness, try adding potassium sorbate to halt further fermentation, and then add your choice of sweetener.

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