Any brewers here that have lost their sense of smell?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by JohnAdam, Dec 28, 2017.

  1. JohnAdam

    JohnAdam New Member

    Jul 15, 2016
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    #1 JohnAdam, Dec 28, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
    I came to the realization late last year that I had some level of loss of smell, but it apparently was a gradual change and I have no idea when it started. I've been to a specialist, had an CAT scan, MRI, and endoscopy, but nothing was found in any of them.
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    There are basically 4 things that are attributed to causing this, head trauma, sinusitis, other sinus issue, and unknown. Seems I fall into the latter as I've never had any other conditions. I don't have allergies, don't smoke, and don't huff foreign substances. I can't say 'never' to all of them, but it's been 30+ years....
    Probably due to job and personal stresses I developed high blood pressure which required medication starting about 2 years ago. I researched the meds I take, and both have had reports of smell loss in a tiny fraction, like 15 in 20,000, but that may not even be as high as the general population, so I'm not convinced there it's related, yet. I will be talking to my cardiologist though. I've done some research, and there could be some (many?) other options, but I'm not sure I want to go the route of some, and have to consider the blood pressure impacts as well.

    Getting on to the brewing aspect, I grow my own hops, and can't smell them but slightly. I thought last years crop was a bust as there was no aroma, and I even posted about causes for that here on HBT, but in the end, I think it was my own lack of smell at fault. My current crop is about ready for harvest, and again I can barely smell them. It just occurred to me that I should bring some to the next club meeting and get some feedback from brewers. My wife and son really can't judge them for me.
    I've been continuing to brew, although not very frequently, and have managed to make some good beers. I've made it through 3 rounds in our club head-to-head competition, One round took a bronze at another club, and gold in another. The latest round didn't place in another competition, but I got a 31 & 32, so I can't complain. In spite of not being able to taste them very well, I'm doing OK with them.
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    At this point I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth the effort to continue. I have spend a good some of money building an electric setup and glycol chilled fermentation chambers, but for me the project aspect is also a significant part of my interest. There are a few more things I'l like to work on, but I can't decide if it's worth the effort. I have other interests that could use the time, and that's beginning to weigh heavily in the decision process. I've been on Untappd for years, and always looking for new beers to try, but the luster of that is wearing thin lately as well.

    I by chance was talking to a fellow club member at the last meeting, and learned that he has also lost his sense of smell (FYI, much of your taste is also lost....), but in his case it was due to sinus surgery. He is also a partner in a local microbrewery, and that's got to be really tough for him. While not -all- smells are lost for me, he pointed out one I'd not thought about, natural gas/propane. For him it's a critical problem as he can not/will not brew alone on their system. With my electric setup it's not a concern for me, but I do have gas at my shop, and viola, I can't smell it either. Some things I can't smell aren't so bad - skunks and porta-potties, but many others can be considered a health risk. My wife accused me of trying to kill us when I was cleaning the bathroom recently - chlorine based cleaner. While that's not a huge risk, I do use bleach for periodic cleaning of my keg cooler. Initially I thought my old cheap bleach was bad, so I got some fresh stuff from the laundry, and still nothing. There's no telling how bad it really was as I was home alone, in the basement at the time. Once I realized it was me, I put on an exhaust fan, and know better now. There are a multitude of other things that most people take for granted, but once you can't smell most things you begin to realize the significance.
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    So fellow non-smellers, any advice to offer on your experiences, and or solutions?
  2. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2015
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    I’m old. I wear bifocals. I can’t hear as well as I used to. I’ve lost my supple skin and I am not as sensitive to touch as I used to be. I don’t think sense of smell is exempt to aging. I doubt it’s because of brewing.
  3. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2012
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    Aurora, CO, USA
    Ditto, with one exception: The more I use my nose and palate to taste and smell consciously, the sharper it becomes. I think you hit it with sinusitis and so forth. What about brewing do you think would be causing a loss of sense of smell?
    J A likes this.

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