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Aroma: Cardboard, Stale, or Leather

Problem:

The aroma of cardboard or leather is a typical symptom of beer oxidation. Oxidation results in stale aromas from the formation of aldehyde (2-trans-nonenal) and is caused by the interaction of oxygen with the beer. The beer is especially susceptible during aging and storage.

Causes:

  • Excessive aeration after the yeast is pitched will oxidate your beer.
  • Poorly stored hops with dwindling preservative qualities can facilitate beer oxidation.
  • Excessive head space in kegs or bottles can be a source of oxidation.
  • Oxidation is promoted by higher storage temperatures.

Cures:

  • Conduct smooth transfers from vessel to vessel to prevent aeration of the beer once the yeast is pitched.
  • To limit the potential for oxidation, leave only about 1 inch (2.54 cm) of headspace in bottled beer.
  • Store hops in a sealed package in the freezer to preserve their oils so that they are better able to combat oxidation when added to the beer.
  • Lower temperatures inhibit oxidation, so do not aerate wort while it is still hot. Also, store bottled beer in a relatively cool place.
Aroma: Cardboard, Stale, or Leather