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Thread: Soapy flavor

  1. #1
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    Soapy flavor

    soapy flavor. has happened a few times now.

    i understood it to be related to autolysis, but seems weird for it to show up in a beer thats been in fermenter for less than a week.

    could it be a water issue? maybe we need to up our chlorine treatments?

    kettle related? the two beers i know of that got this flavor got either a very light/gentle boil or most recently a no-boil berliner. and i forgot the moss/whirlfloc on the berliner so plenty of proteins in the wort probly made it through to fermenter.

    the only other beer that had it was a vienna that had to sit for a few months (long story) and the lager yeast probly kept dropping and building up and was forgotten about.

    so those are my theories. possible water/chlorine issue, insufficient boil vigor/protein break, or just dead yeast.

    thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by brain medicine View Post
    soapy flavor. has happened a few times now.

    i understood it to be related to autolysis, but seems weird for it to show up in a beer thats been in fermenter for less than a week.

    could it be a water issue? maybe we need to up our chlorine treatments?

    kettle related? the two beers i know of that got this flavor got either a very light/gentle boil or most recently a no-boil berliner. and i forgot the moss/whirlfloc on the berliner so plenty of proteins in the wort probly made it through to fermenter.

    the only other beer that had it was a vienna that had to sit for a few months (long story) and the lager yeast probly kept dropping and building up and was forgotten about.

    so those are my theories. possible water/chlorine issue, insufficient boil vigor/protein break, or just dead yeast.

    thoughts?
    It's doubtful you are having fatty lipids breaking down from your yeast in less than a week in the fermenter. Make sure you use nice healthy yeast with a high viability, just in case. I would look more into your water profile. Poor boil vigor can make an impact, but I have never experienced this to cause "soapiness".

    You mention chlorine treatments? Usually you would be looking to remove all chlorine and chloramines through carbon filtration to avoid phenols in the beer. Perhaps this is part of your issue. Do you know your water profile? I have heard, but know no facts, about high levels of fluoride causing a soapy taste in water. Does your water taste soapy at all? How about salty? I know sodium and potassium can interact with lipids, perhaps causing you issues.

    I have tasted autolysis more than a handful of times, but it has never given me a taste I would describe as "soapy". I usually smell it before I even try the beer. Do you notice any particular odors associated with these beers?

    What are you cleaning with? What is your water source? How far are you from your water source? Do you use any mineral additions? More info would help.

  3. #3
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    the water is delivered to us. mostly well water, some surface, then RO, and then chlorine treated. pretty low in everything, although sodium and chlorides are a bit higher than normal (40-44ppm) as we are near the ocean. alkalinity/hardness both in the 30-45 range.
    flouride wasnt even on the report.
    yeast is typically dry, fresh liquid every now and again. dont really do reuse as are schedule isnt fast enough.
    chems are birko. cellermaster and birk ox. need to make sure the guys are cleaning with good water and not city water .
    minerals are standard, gypsum, chloride, acidify with phosphoric.


    for now i'm going to go with chlorine. i dont think its much of a stretch to say this might be better described as band aid or plastic. yeast dumps are easy, might as well see about speeding that up a bit. and maybe some additional filters inline or some campden usage. see where that gets us.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by brain medicine View Post
    the water is delivered to us. mostly well water, some surface, then RO, and then chlorine treated. pretty low in everything, although sodium and chlorides are a bit higher than normal (40-44ppm) as we are near the ocean. alkalinity/hardness both in the 30-45 range.
    flouride wasnt even on the report.
    yeast is typically dry, fresh liquid every now and again. dont really do reuse as are schedule isnt fast enough.
    chems are birko. cellermaster and birk ox. need to make sure the guys are cleaning with good water and not city water .
    minerals are standard, gypsum, chloride, acidify with phosphoric.


    for now i'm going to go with chlorine. i dont think its much of a stretch to say this might be better described as band aid or plastic. yeast dumps are easy, might as well see about speeding that up a bit. and maybe some additional filters inline or some campden usage. see where that gets us.
    Band-aid or plastic would point me directly towards chlorine/chloramine content.

    Is there a reason you treat your water with chlorine? As I said before, you are usually looking to remove as much chlorine and chloramine as possible, usually through carbon filtration. They can react and cause undesirable chlorophenols. If you don't have any, I'm not sure why you would want to add it. Why do you want to treat with campden (sodium metabisulfite)? These steps may very well be part of your issue.

    I have drank water treated with chlorine tablets here in India (when bottled and brewery water wasn't available) and I don't think I would want to brew with that water. It does not taste good.

    Do you not heat your HLT above 74*C (165*F) and boil your wort to kill microorganisms?

    Birko chems have been rock solid for me at many places for many years and I always praise Dana. The water treatments are normal, although I usually like lactic over phos, but not likely part of your issue. With fresh dry, or fresh liquid, its again unlikely you are seeing lipid issues from the yeast at one week in the ferm.

  5. #5
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    I agree with UnFermentable. Chlorine is bad. It will lead to the phenols you're indicating with band aid and plastic. Very undesirable. Why are you having your water delivered? Really bad location? If the water that is being shipped is well water, it has to be a lot cheaper in the long run to just dig your own well. Is the water you're getting so low quality that you're treating it so heavily? If so, why are you paying for it at all? Are there no other options?

  6. #6
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    Why in the world would you think we are ADDING chlorine to our water? What i stated is that it gets delivered that way. And is the cleanest option available. You dont use the city water there, and you dont dig a well. You buy from the water/ice company. Its RO water, but unfortunately they use chlorine instead of ozone.

    No HLT. Working on it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by brain medicine View Post
    maybe we need to up our chlorine treatments?
    The word our is implying that you are the one adding chlorine to the water, and that you in some way have influence over the quantity or type of treatments. The word up implies that you would not think there was a negative impact from adding more chlorine. If you were not, it would have been more logical to say something like, "maybe we need to talk to our water supplier about...."

    Therefore it is logical to conclude that someone would think that you are responsible for the addition in the first place, and are at least considering increasing the quantity. That is why.

    In the majority of situations, drinking water would not have chlorine added unless it was from a city source. Well water would not likely have much if any chlorine (as it would be basically filtered through percolation), and most ice or bottled water manufacturers would use RO treated by carbon filtration (or distilled water). Specifically to remove a "bleachy" chlorine taste from the water. RO membrane pores in most all cases are going to be smaller than bacteria, and when used in conjunction with a carbon filter, you should have water that is plenty safe to drink and free of chlorine/chloramines. There should be no reason it needs to be added post processing.

    Even most home refrigerators have carbon filtration to remove the chlorine and other compounds from ice and drinking water. In "city water" treatments you can actually measure the decline of such compounds as you move farther from the treatment source, so if you are close to a water treatment plant, you may experience higher levels.

    If this is the cleanest water you can get since "You don't use the city water there, and you don't dig a well" (for unspecified reasons, even though your source brings some well water), then you should seriously consider in house treatment of water (carbon filter) or perhaps a different source for your purchased water. Maybe another company uses UV light or ozone instead. Remember just because its the cheapest doesn't mean it will make good beer. It may be possible to reduce chlorine levels by pre-boiling your water, and I have even heard of adding vitamin C, but I have no specific information on the results of these. They may not help with chloramine.

  8. #8
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    i think you're projecting your experiences onto us. i appreciate the intent to provide helpful advice, but dont mix up our situation with yours. we dont use the cheapest vendor, we use the reliable vendor who shows up when you call them, has clean water, and takes care of their trucks and equipment and keeps it all in a clean and sanitary fashion. the water provider delivers water thats been through RO and chlorine treatment. every brewery in this town operates in a similar fashion, as no brewery around here has their own well. yes, a provider that uses ozone would be great, but as none of the other brewers around town have mentioned such a vendor, i'd guess its not an option. so its RO/chlorine for us, delivered by tanker truck.

    no reason to go adding more chlorine.

    and which is why i plan to "up" our treatments FOR chlorine. not with it.

    more filters. possibly campden. not vitamin c.

  9. #9
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    Well I am certainly not projecting my issues as yours. I have never had Band-Aid, plastic, or "soapy" aromas or flavors from any of my beers (at multiple facilities from PNW, Midwest, Southern, and here in India, all with very different water profiles). I have tasted many that do though. It is usually a Chlorine related issue. You are right in that I am just trying to help.

    I probably misread your "cleanest" source as "cheapest" and I apologize for that if you took it to insinuate a negative. It was not meant to be a dig, but rather a suggestion to explore all options. The cheapest can be the best in many cases (usually a well, but sometimes others). If other breweries around you are using the same source without said issues, then water profile may not be your culprit at all. If they are using similar methods, but different sources that would point to water being the potential issue. With that said Chlorine treatment is still somewhat unusual for RO processed purchased water.

    If you genuinely want help, then it would be useful to know what you do for chlorine treatment. It is very hard to get context from short phrases in general, but please don't take that as a negative criticism. You'll have to excuse my very literal take on what words get posted. If you can give more information, maybe more than me would be willing to chime in too.

    If you gave ideas on how you treat for chlorine currently or what type and size of filters you run, that may make a significant impact on the type of help or suggestions you may receive. It would also avoid confusion on weather you were adding or treating chlorine. Also, posting or citing your location more specifically than West Coast might help with others who have had similar issues with water near you give advice. Having previously brewed mere feet from the Pacific myself, I can understand high sodium levels and the like. I get it if you want to keep your specific location undisclosed.

    Campden may help remove the chlorine or chloramine, however you run the risk of impacting your yeast health during fermentation. Sodium and potassium metabisulfite generally require a minimum of 24 hours before they have dissipated enough to not kill yeast, and it may take even longer in larger quantities of water. You will also be upping your sodium content (depending on which you use). Since you mention not having an HLT, pre-boiling water in your kettle would be the best option in my humble opinion. I understand if you don't think it's worth anything. I won't take offense. Good luck in your endeavors.

  10. #10
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    First a caveat: I have never seen this used in the brewing industry...but in other industries like wastewater treatment, Sulfur Dioxide will nearly instantly react with chlorine and chloramine. Smaller plants do use sulfite salts like sodium metabisulfite, but in either case they are careful to add the correct amount to exactly offset the chlorine. If your water supplier doesn't carefully manage the level of chlorination, you would have to measure it directly each time you get a delivery. Do you get it by tanker or pipline? As Unfermentable says, if you over sulfite, you'll have to wait for it to dissipate. And the salts change the chemistry of the water. Sulfur Dioxide gas has less impact there, but still, the reaction products remain in the water.

    I'd look closely at how you are filtering (do you use carbon block or activate granular carbon?) to remove chlorine. It's very easy go too fast with your carbon filter, and end up with chlorine breakthrough. I would stay well under 50% of rated flow capacity.

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  11. #11
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    My guess is that there is some seasonal fluctuation in the level of chlorine and our current filters are being overwhelmed.

    Working on an HLT now which im hoping means i can teach these guys to let it fill slowly the day before i brew, and not overwhelm the filters. And dose the HLT with some k meta for safey sake. We are single digit low in sulfate so not an issue there. Any oxygen scavenging is a bonus.

    But getting a handle on how much chlorine is in the water is where i draw a blank. Dont recall seeing a number for it on our water reports. And without a handle on how much is in there treating with meta is a bit of a shot in the dark. So in fact this may wind up just being an issue of adding more filters inline.

    Not sure what type of filter other than "carbon activado" but theyre just the regular canister type in a mesh cylinder form.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by brain medicine View Post
    My guess is that there is some seasonal fluctuation in the level of chlorine and our current filters are being overwhelmed.
    [...]

    Not sure what type of filter other than "carbon activado" but theyre just the regular canister type in a mesh cylinder form.
    Those probably get exhausted quickly, especially if you have more chlorine in your water than you think you might. And who knows what their actual rated flow rate is--I've never seen one that had any real specs. I know budgets are always tight, but I'd look for a backwashing granular activated carbon filter. They come in tank form, not unlike a resin ion exchanger. You can probably just bring one down from the US, I'd guess. They usually run around $700-1000 for automatic ones, but I found a 1 cubic foot version (which is small, and has a manual backwash valve) for $369 without too much trouble: http://www.glasswatersystems.com/nonelmabacaf.html

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  13. #13
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    I grossly over oxygenated a few of my batches when our brewpub first started up and before I got a good flow meter. I would describe those dumped batches as somewhat soapy and thin.

  14. #14
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    Have you checked your mash and water PH.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottcd View Post
    I grossly over oxygenated a few of my batches when our brewpub first started up and before I got a good flow meter. I would describe those dumped batches as somewhat soapy and thin.
    if i recall correctly this might equate with one of the first batches that came out funny. it was thin and soapy. i assumed it was due to the power outage and loss of temp control for about 24 hours on days 1-2. decent hop character and flavor up front but then the soapy tone came in and the finish was thin and weak. i had assumed it was temp control issue.

    so maybe this does point more to yeast handling. do you guys use liquid or dry? i believe this one was dry and we gave o2 trying to make sure we got happy yeast. i know some will say dry doesnt need o2, but most opinions we've been given say to oxygenate anyways. now we have a flow meter so we can dial it in a bit more precisely. so it would be great if that was the cause.

    however- got word back from our water supplier. they said they dont use chlorine, but the city treats with chlorine. then the individual companies do their own treatment to that water. RO filter, etc. but they had two membranes go bad a little while ago and we were getting 95ppm chlorine according to the vendor. they said typically its about 50ppm. im not sure i can really believe this as i remember adding chlorine to a pool i lifeguarded at back in high school and that was in the single digit ppm levels. and i dont think RO takes out chlorine anyways, right?

    i had the guys call back to make sure we were all on the same page- they said yes, 95ppm. but that just cant be true. i think they must be confusing chlorine with chloride? you couldnt even drink 95ppm chlorine water- it cant be true. so not much help there.

    so for now, im back to square one with the chlorine issue. might be the problem, could be a red herring. yeast handling could be the culprit. too much oxygen, possible temp control issues.


    but now that i've gotten chlorine on the mind, i assume a basic pool/spa chlorine test kit should be able to give us an idea of how much is in the water? any recommendations on chlorine tester? if a pool/spa is under 5ppm, i assume drinking water is much less, but how precise do we need a tester to be? 1ppm? ppb?

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