A couple weekends back I put a few bottles of the Chinook IPA (B3) into the refrigerator. Later in the day I poured a glass. The beer had a great, pink grapefruit aroma, decent head of carbonation, and appropriate color. Then I tasted it. The flavor starts out fine, then nose-dives into a harsh metallic taste. Blah!
What happened? I wracked my brain over what caused this terrible off-flavor. The more I thought about it, the more small details of the brew day and bottling day I remembered. I tried to take good notes, but there are always small actions and activities that don't get recorded.
The worst possible explanation is a contamination of my plastic equipment. I don't *think* that is the case. If my latest beer (B4) has off-flavors, or if the Chinook IPA bottles start getting even worse flavors over time, there could be some souring going on. That could lead to having to replace much of my equipment.
Could the fermentation temperature during the first few days be too high? The closet was probably 64 or 65 degrees Fahrenheit. That means the temperature inside the bucket could be a bit higher during active fermentation. A friend and fellow brewer from work tasted my beer. He knows what this off-flavor tastes like and he did not think this was the case.
I did recall an oil-slick-like film on the beer and priming solution in the bottling bucket. The oil slick look can be a contamination. I worried that maybe there was soap in the sauce pan I used to boil my sugar and water solution. Or maybe the sauce pan had not been cleaned well beforehand and there was some grease/oil/butter residue. Maybe, but not likely.
The other thing I thought of, which might very well be the problem, is the use of a metal strainer. Because there were some pellet hop particles on the top of the beer in the bottling bucket, I decided to use a new strainer to scoop the hop particles out. I first submerged the strainer in a water and StarSan solution to sanitize it. Then I scooped out the hops. This seemed innocuous enough, but it could account for the metallic off flavors. The How To Brew book John Palmer states that metallic flavors are caused by metal. No other possibilities are provided. Hmm. Looking at the strainer later, you can see that the metallic finish is gone and some parts are rusty. What was once a brand new strainer looks like an old used and useless strainer. Could the ph of the beer taken the cheap metallic finish right off the strainer? If this is the reason for the off flavor, the yeast may not be able to improve the flavor over time.
As you can guess, I am disappointed in the beer. I was looking forward to finally having an IPA that I made. It really brings one down to have this happen. I put a lot of work, time, and money into this beer.
All I can do is learn from the experience and jump back on the proverbial homebrewing horse again. I learned some about off flavors and their causes. I learned a little about fermentation temperatures. I learned to not use metallic strainers in beer (!).
I plan to let the beers sit in the closet for some number of months. Occasionally, I'll throw one in the fridge to sample. If it continues to taste bad, I may dump it. If it gets better, I'll let the beer sit in the closet even longer. There are posts on the HomeBrewTalk forums that provide success stories of bad beers that took a long time to improve: Time heals all things, even beer. I don't know if this beer will improve, but I'll give it a chance.