Why does my beer taste 'Soapy'??

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Dirty Horse, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. Dirty Horse

    Dirty Horse New Member

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    Hi all

    Problem here I need advice with. The last 2 pale beers i have made have tasted soapy. Thats the best way I can describe it, once finished fermenting I had a sniff and taste and i can only describe it as tasting and smelling of soap or slightly medicinal (alongside the hop and malt flavours too). Needless to say it's unpleasant and undrinkable.

    Now I know the first thing you are going to say is "Well what your tasting probably is soap" from either not rinsing the fermenter correctly or letting the beer lie on the trub for too lon, fatty acids etc. But I cant see how either of these would apply.

    The beer has only been fermenting for 6/7 days and reached its FG. Plus i cleaned the fermenter with VWP, rinsed well, then used a non rinse sanitiser. (since an infected batch earlier in the year i have stepped up the sanitation game!). After the first beer tasted soapy i switched fermenters and cleaned in the same way and yet again - 7 days in the fermenter, FG reached and first thing i can smell and taste is soap.

    In between these 2 pales I made a brown ale using same sanitation and equipment and it's come out fine.

    I love pale beers and have made some beauties in the past but starting to get annoyed with having to waste 4/5 kg of malt and a couple of packs of hops every time i try.

    I'm using a balance of salts and acids to prevent high alkalinity too, using the calculator on this site.

    Not sure what I'm doing wrong? Whilst i like stouts and dark ales, i dont want to be just brewing them forever!

    thanks in advance
     
  2. Myndflyte

    Myndflyte Active Member

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    What is the same between the 2 beers? Grain bill, hops, etc, and I'm more interested in the hops and if you've ever used them before. Because it seems like there are certain hops that my wife thinks taste soapy, which are fine to me.
     
  3. White Haus Brews

    White Haus Brews Active Member

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    If it's bordering on medicinal it makes me wonder about your water chlorine/Chloramine levels leading to chlorophenols during fermentation which perhaps are hiding better behind the bolder flavors of darker beers. Do you use tap water? Do you do anything to get rid of chlorine/chloramine from the water (carbon filter, campden tablets, etc...)?
     
  4. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

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    My first guess was dead yeast but if it has only been 7 days in the fermenter that shouldn't be the problem. Has anyone else tried these beers? Did they taste soap too? It may be a flavor that you taste as soap but others taste as something else.
     
  5. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I've definitely had beers with that sort of flavor. There's a brewpub here in town that served a particularly hoppy beer that was nearly undrinkable to me because of that flavor. I remember sending a glass back because I figured it must have had soap in the glass but when I got the replacement it was exactly the same. Several of their beers had a similar note to the flavor profile. I just didn't drink their beers for the longest. They've since changed staff and obviously have different brewing methods because I didn't experienced that flavor when trying their beers recently.
    I have to guess that some combination of hops and brewing salts are giving you something objectionable. If you have water that's reasonable without any additions, try brewing a very simple beer with a single, mellow hop using water that's been treated for chlorine and nothing else. BTW, are you using something to make sure you don't have chlorine in your water?. Anyway, using plain spring water or filtered local water and maybe adjusting PH with Acidulated Malt would give you a baseline to judge where the flavor may be coming from.
    PS...you mention infection and fermenters...are you by chance using plastic buckets or other plastic fermenters?
     
  6. Dirty Horse

    Dirty Horse New Member

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    Hi

    Using campden tablets night before to do chlorine. My local water is low in minerals but high on carbonates which means I need use acids or crs to reduce for pale beers. Never had any issues with stouts, Amber's, bitters etc.

    Grain bill was almost same, golden promise with some cara malt and the 2nd has some acid malt in too.

    Hops on 1st batch were mosaic and citra 2nd batch galaxy and topaz.

    I've just tasted second batch again and it's smells awful, very soap like (which it really shouldn't given its had 30g of galaxy at flame out) but the flavour isn't that bad. I might dry hop and bottle some of this one to see if it works itself out.

    I have 4 fermenters, all plastic. Never had this soapy issue before.
     
  7. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Plastic can be prone to infection and it's possible that you have an off flavor issue because of that. If you have spigots in the fermenters, those are definitely prone to issues. they can be disassembled every time for a thorough cleaning. With your infected batch earlier, if you didn't get rid of pretty much everything plastic or rubber that was involved with that batch there's an added risk.
    You have a lot of strident hop flavors going so it's possible that some interaction could be causing what you're experiencing. Again I'd urge trying something super simple with minimal or no water additions in order to take out as many variables as possible and go from there. And if it was me, I'd lose the plastic fermenters and never look back. ;)
     
  8. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I use all plastic and I've never had soapy flavours personally.
     
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  9. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Can you be a little more specific? Soapy to me is the flavor of cilantro.
     
  10. Dirty Horse

    Dirty Horse New Member

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    I asked my wife to smell it and she didn't smell soap, but said it didn't smell very nice!

    S'pose I need some a more expert opinion on the unidentified smell.

    Don't think it's the fermenters as they have been taken apart and thoroughly cleaned and and a brown ale has been made in the one using the same method and equipment which turned out fine.

    I suspect its something I'm adding to it the water. After making some insanely bitter pales earlier in the year I have been monitoring the mash ph and water chemistry much closer, but ironically haven't made a successful pale since!

    So Like you say, I'm going to go back to basics and do a small batch with no salt additions. See how that works out.
     
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  11. PutnamBrew

    PutnamBrew Member

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    I've only had one batch turn out like that, it was a Honey Kolsch that I was planning on serving at my Jack and Jill. Everything seemed fine, however after fermentation is tasty unbelievably soapy/chlorine like. I didn't taste it before fermentation, however afterwards it smelled just like a swimming pool.



    I think the water used to brew it was from a buddy's well. I'm sure that played a major part. There could have been some sort of chlorine in the water or maybe it was the honey. I brewed another one like it a few months ago, same grain bill and hops..however omitted the honey and used DI to build a water profile. Came out great. I would definitely check the water.
     
  12. Texas Ale Works

    Texas Ale Works Active Member

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    I had this happen on 2 brews...
    Do you Keg, bottle?

    Mine I think was an oxidation issue...I changed how I racked to the keg, and it went away

    And it hid well in my darker beer I think
     

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