Something smells like sulfur!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Something smells like sulfur!

This past weekend I went over to Nick's place and we worked on our pumpkin ale. We also did a cyder that I will write a post about as soon as I get the details from Nick on what we used and what we did.

What I am writing about today though was the pumpkin ale. To bring you up to speed, it was racked twice after the primary to help get rid of some of the traub that developed and in the end, we both had a full 5 gal batch because we planned ahead.

However, when I went to rack my beer from the carboy to the keg, I noticed a distinct surfer smell that permeated the spices. Nick had said that there sulfur smells coming out of the primary fermenters when I was gone, but on our first racking, I had not noticed anything.

This time though, I definitely tasted a distinct sulfur flavor.

After some consulting, Nick advised adding some yeast nutrient to the brew to help get rid of the flavor. He said that he had done some reading and that was one of the suggestions. When I got home, before I pressurized the keg, I added 2tbs of yeast nutrient and then pressurized the keg at serving pressure and let it sit until tonight.

Tonight was going to be my big night of tasting the brew and immediately I noticed something was not right. The brew had a distinct salt water flavor that threw everything off. I decided to take the keg off the tap it was on, shake it around and try it out of my party tap. The flavor was gone (for the most part anyway).

What I think happened was that the yeast nutrient settled at the bottom and when I was drawing off the keg, I was getting a very concentrated amount of that nutrient. The plan is now to shake it around some more and let it sit for a while longer to get fully carbonated.

In the end, I am sure it's going to be great, but it was hard to judge because I cannot get the salt water flavor out of my mouth. It kind of feels like it coats the tongue.

More to come on this!!!

**The story behind the picture was that I have had a few brown ales and I was looking for a "pumpkin carving of Nixon" because I thought with the election season in full swing, it would be fun. However, with little luck on that, I remembered these pictures and decided to include them just the same. That's a little window into how my mind works, scary.


Adam said...

Just because you have a scary mind doesn't mean they are not out to get you ;-) (I don't know what I mean by this.)

Interesting about the sulfur smell and taste. Never had that happen. So what do you think caused it?

Brian said...

Completely agree..they want you to think you have a scary mind..thats how they get you!

To defeat them you will truly have to harness the power of Nixon..whatevver that means :)

I was curious as to what you thought caused this as well, its good to know that the nutrient is taking care of business but what would the original cause be?

Travis said...

They can't get to my thoughts when I wear my tin foil hat.

Anyway, I am not sure what caused the sulfur smell. I am guessing it was something that took place in the fermentation, either the yeast picking up something bad, or something funky they produced.

I think the logic behind the yeast nutrient was that the yeast get active again and eat whatever is causing the smell.

Adam said...

Check this out...

thread over at RealBeer

Lager yeasts seem to be the biggest offenders here, but, in general it seems like the secondary is a good place to let this stuff work itself out.

Travis said...

Interesting stuff. That's a good thread.

We used an American Ale yeast for the cyder so that was the reason I was confused. The first time I picked up the sulfur smell I was making a California Common and I had heard the smell was associated with Lager yeasts.

That was part of the reason I was confused. I think it will be okay in the end, we will see though.


Cock O' the Freaks said...

My recomendation is get the book called Brewing Chemistry 101 (I think that is what it's called.) I just flipped through it at the book store on Saturday. It does a good job of telling you about off flavors and how to fix them. My guess is that you need to let it set or it is too late. Chances are that time will not fix that beer. Sorry. Get the book.

Cock O' the Brew Haus