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Aroma: Spicy, Smoky, or Medicinal

Problem:

Spicy, smoky, or medicinal smells in your beer can be caused by the presence of phenolic compounds.

Causes:

  • Certain yeast strains, such as those in Bavarian Weizenbier, normally produce phenolics.
  • The presence of chlorine in the brewing water can result in undesirable phenols in the finished beer.
  • Certain wild yeast strains can produce high amounts of phenols if they infect the wort.
  • Yeast mutation results in production of undesirable phenolic compounds during fermentation.
  • Residue from a sanitizing agent can cause a phenolic aroma.
  • Dark or smoked grains with a burnt or spicy aroma are used.
  • Some phenols can be caused by improper temperature, pH, and amount of sparge water.

Cures:

  • Use a neutral yeast strain not prone to production of phenolics.
  • Dechlorinate your water supply, boil off the chlorine in the water before use, or buy bottled water.
  • Establish and maintain sterile brewing techniques to avoid wild yeast contamination. This includes discarding cut or scratched fermentation vessels, as these defects could harbor bacteria.
  • Replace yeast culture.
  • Thoroughly rinse brewing equipment after cleaning and sanitizing.
  • Use grains appropriate to the style of beer being made.
  • Use proper sparging techniques, especially a water temperature below 168 F (75.6 C), and a pH below 5.7. Avoid using an excessive quantity of sparge water.
Aroma: Spicy, Smoky, or Medicinal