Author Topic: All my brews smell like butt!  (Read 6188 times)

Offline mnotlyon

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All my brews smell like butt!
« on: May 07, 2015, 09:21:24 PM »
I'm pretty new to brewing. I started with an apple wine,
I've done a couple of beer kits, and hard lemonade.
The beer kits came with their own yeast, I've been using Lavalin ec-1118 for the other stuff. Sometimes with yeast nutrient, sometimes not.
I use starsan to sanitize. I've bottled some of my brews in bottles, and others in minikegs. When I pour a new glass, it smells a lot like flatulence. If I let it set for a while, the smell goes away.

I think I've done a good job of sanitizing my equipment and bottles.


What could be causing the smell?

Offline Beetlebum

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Re: All my brews smell like butt!
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2015, 10:41:52 AM »
So you brew various recipes, some beer some not, bottle and/or keg, use different yeast and you've had this smell every time? After the smell dissipates, how do they taste?

My first question is how long are you letting it ferment? Yeasts can produce an awful smell while it ferments. What are you using for your fermentation vessel? Check it (and all your vessels) for any material rot or trapped grain. I believe my beers taste and smell noticeably better when I cold condition. Of course, keep everything as clean as possible and keep learning how to minimize infection risk whenever you open it up.

Don't worry, have a homebrew.

Offline mnotlyon

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Re: All my brews smell like butt!
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2015, 12:19:47 PM »
So you brew various recipes, some beer some not, bottle and/or keg, use different yeast and you've had this smell every time? After the smell dissipates, how do they taste?


Yep, I have this smell pretty much every time.
Sometimes my air lock is still gurgling a little every minute or two when I bottle. I wonder if maybe I'm rushing the fermenting.

Once the drink sets for a while, the smell goes away, and they taste good.

Offline archer

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Re: All my brews smell like butt!
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2015, 12:48:31 PM »
that sounds like the smell of the yeast. after all, yeast gotta fart also.

Offline Beetlebum

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Re: All my brews smell like butt!
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2015, 01:11:10 PM »
Yep, I have this smell pretty much every time.
Sometimes my air lock is still gurgling a little every minute or two when I bottle. I wonder if maybe I'm rushing the fermenting.

Once the drink sets for a while, the smell goes away, and they taste good.

your airlock is still connected when you bottle?  ??? I've done that before, and I sucked all the filter water into my brew... not a way to keep it clean.

Yeah, give it more time to ferment. You shouldn't see gurgling at all. Every minute or two is prime fermentation. Are you checking your gravity before you bottle? How long are you fermenting for?

Offline Carl

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Re: All my brews smell like butt!
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2015, 01:18:46 PM »
I don't brew . BUTT I do know what BUTT smells like so I feel qualified to provide this answer .
Yeast dieing is likely cause of locker room smell.

Yeast Autolysis (1)

Autolysis is the process of self-digestion of the body content of a cell bits own enzymes. The slow disintegration and breakdown of the membrane of yeast cells, in the fermentation medium, allows for the passage of nitrogen into the beer, mead or wine. As the yeast cell dies, it ruptures, releasing several off flavors into the product including sulfur and rubber.

With a large yeast mass on the bottom of the fermenter, you have a high potential for off-flavors due to autolysis. Light autolysis will result in a yeasty or brothy aroma or flavor. Moderate autolysis will have a meaty aroma or flavor much like the smell of a bottle of Vitamin B. A product with high autolysis will have a rubbery aroma and flavor and will be virtually undrinkable.

Luckily the propensity of yeast to autolyze is decreased by decrease in activity and yeast mass. What this means to winemakers is rack off the heavy sediment when the specific gravity reaches 1.010-1.020 and again in three weeks to get the wine off the dead yeast. Brewers should rack off the yeast in two to three weeks and bottle or condition in a secondary lowering the temperature for long cold storage with little risk of autolysis.

Offline Rictanica

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Re: All my brews smell like butt!
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2015, 03:36:30 PM »
Sulfur is a bi-product of fermentation. I know that sulfur is produced in grape wine on a regular basis. I think it has to do with sulfur houses in the grape seed to protect the grape from oxidization. I think that is why sulfites are added to wine occasionally prior to fermentation. Not sure about fruit wine, but the smell dissipates after a while.  I have brewed beer made with grains for about 20 years and have not had any sulfer smells in fermentation.

Good call on the Autolysis, Carl. It could be that as well. But, if the smell dissipates in time, I don't think it could be autolysis.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: All my brews smell like butt!
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2015, 03:53:26 PM »
Two things I have had to learn the hard way about fermentation:

1) washing (re-using) yeast is very unpredictable.  Usually I over pitch and end up with a heavy, yucky yeasty smell and taste
a) this also can happen when I experimented by adding sugars, and over feeding the yeast

2) ferment someplace cool.  Even ales benefit a temperature slightly below room temp.  Beers that I can temperature control the fermentation end up clearer and cleaner tasting

Offline mnotlyon

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Re: All my brews smell like butt!
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2015, 09:56:14 AM »
Sulfur is a bi-product of fermentation. I know that sulfur is produced in grape wine on a regular basis. I think it has to do with sulfur houses in the grape seed to protect the grape from oxidization. I think that is why sulfites are added to wine occasionally prior to fermentation. Not sure about fruit wine, but the smell dissipates after a while.  I have brewed beer made with grains for about 20 years and have not had any sulfer smells in fermentation.

Good call on the Autolysis, Carl. It could be that as well. But, if the smell dissipates in time, I don't think it could be autolysis.

As an update:
The smell is dissipating with time.
I've added a lot of sugar to the wines that are smelling the worse. I suspect I've stressed them by adding too much sugar up front, and trying to boost the alcohol level too high. I've noticed that the longer I let them age, the better they taste and smell.

I've brewed a number of beers now, and none of them have smelled like the wines.

The funny part is, I don't really drink very much. I'm starting to get a good collection of brews.
I know wine will get better with a couple of years of maturation, but how long can I keep a beer in a corney keg with co2 on the top before it's too old?