Sometimes I can struggle to describe a flavour in beer, especially when it’s a flavour that’s not usually associated with beer. But a few days ago I worked out what it was that tasted so “not right” about my West Coast IPA clone, South Coast IPA (pictured above).
It’s got the dreaded “Band-Aid” flavour which, as you’d expect, is not a flavour you want in a beer. Unless you’re shooting for a Band-Aid IPA, in which case, I reckon I totally nailed it. I’ve got a beer with some nice Band-Aid undertones going on.
As is usually the case with homebrewing, there’s about a hundred different explanations as to what causes this flavour (despite what homebrew books say, it’s equal parts art and science – things screw up for any number of reasons). My best reckoning is that it’s yeast-related. See I used liquid yeast for the first time and chucked it in (“pitched” is the official jargon, but that used to confuse me, so I’m going with “chucked it in”) when the temperature was a bit too high.
That led to a slower than usual (for me, anyway) start to fermentation. And that’s one of about 743 explanations for that Band-Aid flavour. One other explanation is a wild yeast infection, which would suck because it may well mean it’s in my fermenter forever and I’ll have to chuck it out and get a new one.
So the next step was to taste a homebrew made before the Band-Aid IPA and after. That way I can see if the flavour is distinct to that beer or may be a fermenter issue.
The Beer Before: This was also an IPA, called Hopless Cause because it didn’t quite work out as planned. With loads of Centennial hops, I noticed a nice citrus aroma flowing through the head. Flavour wise it’s a bit odd – not due to any Band-Aid business but rather an overload of crystal malt. It doesn’t taste great but there’s definitely no Band-Aid flavour going on here.
The Beer After: This was C3PA, a pale ale made with the leftover Centennial hops from the other brews. It’s heavy on the Centennial so has a bit of the same odd flavours as the other two…which suggests that Centennial and I don’t really get along. But, again, there’s no Band-Aid flavour here.
All of which is quite a relief. It means that it’s way unlikely that there’s any lingering infection in the fermenter and that the issue was the high temp while pitching the yeast in that one beer.