Increasing CaCl = diacetyl!?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by sbaclimber, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    I just cracked open the first bottles of the first brew I have brewed with *modified* water, and was a bit surprised with the results...
    Against the most likely very sensible advice of Altbier bitte (http://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=82), I added CaCl to the tap water available here, in an attempt to reduce the overall bitterness of the beer I have been brewing.

    The good news is, it seems to have worked. This batch is overall less bitter than the last ~4-5 batches, even though the recipe is much the same but the IBUs are higher.
    And, even better, the beer is mighty tasty! (this brew is >7%, which balances out the higher malty flavor resulting from the higher Cl content)

    The one thing that is bugging me though, is the slight butterscotch flavor/aroma that has become noticeable.
    I don't really have any experience with diacetyl, so I am not sure if that is what I am dealing with.
    But the flavor/aroma of butterscotch is fairly distinctive in this brew, even though it is pretty much the same recipe as that past 4 brews, with only a change in the water chemistry (and hop variety).

    normally my water looks like this:
    Ca Mg SO Na Cl HCO
    76 15 166 27 44 55

    w/+ 7g CaCl, it looks like this:
    Ca Mg SO Na Cl HCO
    131 15 166 27 140 55

    Could this be the reason for the (potential) diacetyl flavors, or am I barking up the wrong tree?
     
  2. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    I do not recall any linkage between CaCl and Dialectal. Dialectal normally comes up due to poor yeast health, or stressed yeast due to fermentation temperatures outside the recommended range for that strain. That would be the first thing to zero in on. Are you repitching the yeast each time? Was the smack older than normal?

    When lagering I always do a dialectal rest after primary fermentation.
     
  3. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I've also never heard of a link between CaCl and diacetyl. Without tasting the original beer, it's hard to say why it might be too bitter - perhaps astringency from too high sparge or steeping temperature or too low a mash pH, depending on the process used. As to diacetyl: Bad yeast, as has been stated, bacterial infection is a possibility. You may be mistaking a malt flavor such as caramel or toffee for the "butterscotch" of diacetyl, which is actually present in levels below taste thresholds in every beer. Another possibility is a temperature shock of 10° or more which stresses yeast. But a question: Unless your water is already very high in sulfate, why use calcium chloride? Chloride ions can contribute to formation of nasty chlorophenols in your beer where sulfate generally is a positive (up to very high levels). If you need to increase calcium, use gypsum (calcium sulfate) instead. If I'm not mistaken, you're adding CaCl to increase the mash pH in hopes of defeating astringency (phenols called tannins) in the beer. CaSO4 will do the same job and will not contribute to chlorophenols. But it is likely something other than the calcium chloride caused the diacetyl.
     
  4. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    That's the really weird thing...the yeast(liquid) was fresh!
    Even with repitching, which I do every 2nd/3rd batch, I haven't had this issue yet.

    As far as fermentation/lagering is concerned, I always do 10 days primary, 14 days secondary, 3 weeks bottle conditioning. This is exactly what I did with this brew as well.
    I might just be a paranoid and thinking that I have diacetyl, whereas increased malt flavors tend to be the result of the increased Cl, but it just seems too *buttery* somehow...
     
  5. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    *too* bitter is hard to quantify. So far, it just seems to be my own personal perception (as no one else who has drunk my beer in small quantities has complained ;) ).

    I am 99.99999% sure that I didn't have an infection of any sort. The "toffee" flavor is exactly what I am getting at though!
    The malts were exactly the same as the last 3 brews, which makes me wonder if the Cl has somehow affected the perception of the flavor!?

    Good question!
    I was trying to reduce the overall bitterness of the beer. Considering the original make-up of the water here, increasing the CaCl seemed like the way to at least balance out bitterness vs. maltyness, which seems to have worked quite well....minus the toffee flavor.
     
  6. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Carastan malt gives a toffee flavor. Maybe there was a mix up with the grains. Compare the color to your previous batches.
     
  7. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Didn't even think of that...
    Here are 3 of the last 4 batches, all with the same grain bill. Strangely enough, #1 (left) is significantly lighter than #3 and #4 (middle + right, respectively), which are about the same. But #4 is the one with the toffee flavor:
     

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  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    That kind of variation, particularly when specialty grains are used, is not unusual. But in this case, where you're reporting a significant change in flavor, Larry might just be right about the grains.
     
  9. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Let me know if you need helping finishing those beer samples from your experiment. :lol:
     
  10. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the offer. :lol:
    Unfortunately, #1 (left) was the very last bottle I had...

    Seeing as #3 and #4 are about the same color, I am *fairly* sure I kept the grain bill constant.
    I am thinking more and more that Nosybear might be on to something with...
    I may have just overdone the CaCl which brought out the toffee...(?)
     
  11. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    If you only pitched 1 smack pack, you most likely under pitched.
    Did you make a starter?
    What was your OG?
    Did you warm it up at the end of the fermentation?
    What was your fermentation temp and yeast strain?
    These are all things that can cause diacetyl.

    Try warming a few bottles and giving them a shake for a couple of days. Then put them in the fridge for a week and see if it goes away. Then you'll know if it's D or the malt.

    Also, check out the newest Zymurgy, there's an article in there about leaving your beer on the yeast that will be helpful in your process.
    Brian
     
  12. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Yes. ~1l. 50% wort + 50% H2O + yeast

    16.7°P (~1.068)

    No. Fermentation was at room temperature (~21°C) throughout.

    ~21°C
    WLP007

    True, which is why I was so surprised. Yeast, temp, malt-bill were all the same as previous brews. I only changed the water chemistry and some of the hops.

    That's a great tip! I will give it a try.
    How warm should I warm the bottles up to initially?
     
  13. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    22°c should be enough.
    Wlp007 is highly flocculant an will drop out very quickly. This may also be a cause.
    That is really a stretch though.
    I like 007 and it has always produced clean results for me.
    Sorry, not much help.
    Brian
     
  14. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    No worries. The taste and aroma has deminished significantly over the past week, so it is definitely diacetyle (whereever it came from...)
    I think for future brews I will try bumping up the temperature a bit a couple days before bottling.
     
  15. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    Another thought with my coffee this morning...
    You said the fermentor was at 21°c for the entire time.
    Was that ambient or are you measuring the actual fermentor?
    I use a swamp cooler for my ales and can keep my temperature stable. If you're fermenting at ambient temp, the actual temp of the wort/beer can rise 10°f during a vigorous fermentation.
     
  16. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm, that is a very interesting thought! I only measured the ambient temp.
     
  17. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    There you go!
    Check out using a swamp cooler to stabilize your fermentation temperatures and that will take one more variable out of the equation.
    Even with the same strain of yeast, you can have very different fermentation's.

    One of my biggest concerns going forward is controlling temperatures in a walk in cooler that I'll need to build when I get my brewing license. I will have to set that for an ambient temperature and pull nearly finished beers out for a D rest.
    Brian
     
  18. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Ambient temperature will NOT cool a vigorously fermenting wort to ambient temperature! And a stick-on thermometer will only measure temperature at the interface between the carboy and the air. The internal temperature will be much higher during vigorous fermentation, as much as 10° F. So the swamp cooler: Sit the carboy in a pan of water, cover the carboy with a wet towel dipping into the water, turn a box fan on the arrangement. In my basement, it cools the arrangement about 5° below ambient, just enough to keep the fermenting beer cool. It's low-tech but it works!
     
  19. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    SBA,
    Your in Germany, Right?
    Doesn't your village have a community brew house?
    Isn't it Zoigl or something like that?
     
  20. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Yup, in Germany
    Not sure exactly what you mean with "community" brew house.
    In the city I live in, we have 3 currently active Brauhäuser (brew pubs), they are all private though...

    As far as Zoigl is concerned...never heard of it, I actually had to look it up. :D
    http://www.zoigl.de/english/history.html
    Appears to be a rather regional/historic concept.
     

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