Why does my beer smell like rotten eggs?

Why does my beer smell like rotten eggs?


Who likes the smell of rotten eggs in their beer?

No one


There was a time last year when I went to bottle my beer.

I'd just sterilized the bottles within an inch of their lives and I was ready to get the precious amber fluid into them.

And with that first pour from the fermenter into the green glass bottle, I got the most rank smell.

Rank.

Smell.

Of.

Rotten Eggs.

It was like I had cracked open a rotten egg and fanned it right up my nose!

It was disgusting like some kind of vile hydrogen sulfide bomb had been let off and the aroma was trying to burn my nostrils.


My brew was contaminated and I was gutted


There could have been a couple of reasons why the rotten eggy smell was happening. That rotten egg smell can usually be identified as the gas hydrogen sulfide.

It's probably the most obvious symptom that your beer has become contaminated.

It is the bi-product of the yeast strain or bacteria that have snuck into your brew (did we ever mention you've got to sanitize your equipment?).

The thing about lagers and rotten smells...


All is not necessarily lost, however.

You can fix this problem if the sulfide was produced by the yeast and not bad bacteria.

Lager yeast strains are quite prone to producing sulfide odours.

This is normal.

If you properly condition your bottled beer (the lagering process) by letting it stand for a few weeks, the smell should go away before it's time to drink.

This why we also recommend that new brewers try an ale or two first to avoid this problem and being disappointed with their foray into brewing. 

The news is not so good if you have a bacterial infection 


When is such news ever good?

In my case, I think it was clear that the beer was infected. The smell was pungent and a wee taste test suggested worse things were on offer.

But even though I was pretty sour, I was a stubborn bugger and bottled anyway on the off chance a bit of time conditioning would let everything sort itself out.

How wrong was I?!

The beer I tasted after two weeks was probably the worst thing I have ever put in my mouth and I once lost a beer drinking game involving a rinsed out kitchen cloth...

I reckon this bad beer would have made me sick if I had drunk a whole glass.

The rest of the brews were opened and tipped out. What was very interesting was there was a massive amount of CO2 / bubbles foam released when each cap was removed. They were giant gushers!  I imagine this was due to the unwanted bacteria continuing to work its own fermenting magic on the malt.

Either way, the lesson here as always is to do your absolute best to ensure that you have clean equipment and that you've done your best to sanitize it, and kept it clean during the beer brewing process.

If you find your beer in this condition before bottling, I'm afraid all you can do is dump the batch.

And then clean the heck of your fermenter and bottles!

This was a brewing lesson I will never forget. I'll be lax in some areas but will always make sure my equipment is clean and sanitized!

Skunked beer


While we're here talking about ruined beer, let's talk about skunked beer. This is when a chemical reaction happens in the bottled beer due to exposure to sunlight.

So named after the smell a skunk can release, lightstruck beer is caused by the UV radiation in light from the sun and retailer's lights. The so-alpha acids in the beer (which come from hops) are broken down and form a new compound in the beer by joining with any proteins floating around.

This compound stinks!

Brown glass is pretty handy at preventing this from occurring but not so much green bottles or clear glass. So, the trick to avoiding skunked beer is clearly to store your beer in the dark.

In summary:
  • If you are brewing a lager, the smell could be 'normal' and may disappear after the beer has been conditioned
  • It could well be your beer is contaminated by bacteria, in which case nothing will save it. Head to the pub for a self-pitying pint.
  • Lightstruck or skunked beer can happen when the bottled beer is left in sunlight too long.
  • Let your beer condition properly so that the yeast has time to work it's magic properly.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.

Tags

abv acetaldehyde acid adjuncts advice about beer brewing aeration aeration kit aging air lock alcohol ale ale beer kits alkaline alkaline brewery wash all grain american apera apples attenuation autolysis automatic temperature compensation bacteria baker's yeast baking yeast ball lock ball valve bar keepers friend barley batch prime beer brewing beer capper beer dispenser beer filtration kit system beer gushers beer kit beer kit review beer kits beer lines beer salt beer taps beerstone best brewing equipment biotin bittering BKF black rock bleach blichmann blow off tubing bluelab bohemian pilsner boil in a bag boil over boneface bottle cap bottle caps bottling bottling beer bottling spigot bourbon brettanomyces brew and review brew day brewing beer guide brewing salts brewing spoon brewing sugar brewing thermostat british thermal unit brix brix scale BTU bud light buffer buffer solution burton snatch buyer's guide calcium chloride calcium sulphate calibration calibration probe calibration solution campden tablets capping carbon dioxide carbonation carbonation drops carboy cascade caustic soda chinook chlorine christmas chronicle cider cleaning your equipment clear beer clone recipe cloudy beer cold crashing coldbreak conditioning tablets conductivity conical fermenter contamination coopers copper tun corn sugar cornelius corny keg craft beer creamy beer crown cryo hops cubes danstar nottingham death from above demijohn dextrose distilation DIY DME dry hopping edelmetall brĂ¼ burner ekuanot electrode enhancer enzyme equipment ester ethanol experiments in beer making faucet fermcap-s fermentables fermentation fermentation system fermenter fermentis fermentor final gravity finings five star floccing foam inhibitor french fresh wort pack fridge fruit fusel alchohol garage project gas burners gelatin gift and present ideas gin ginger beer golden ale golden syrup goldings grain grain mill green bullet grist guinness gypsum hach hacks hallertauer heat pad home brew honey hop schedule hops hops spider how not to brew beer how to brew that first beer how to brew with a beer kit how to grow hops how to make a hop tea how to wash yeast hydrated layer hydrogen sulfide hydrometer IBU ideas idophor infection inkbird instruments isoamyl acetate jelly beans jockey box john palmer jos ruffell juniper keezer keg cooler keg regulators kegco kegerator kegging kegs kettle kombucha krausen lactic acid lager lagering lauter litmus lupulin lupulin powder lupuLN2 making beer malic acid malt malt mill maltodextrin mangrove jack's maple syrup mash mash paddle mash tun mead methanol micro brewing milling milwaukee MW102 mistakes mixing instructions moa mouth feel muntons must nano brewing New Zealand Brewer's Series no rinse nut brown ale oak oak wood chips off flavors original gravity oxygen pacific gem pale ale panhead PBW pear pectine pectolase pete gillespie ph levels ph meter ph pen pH strips ph tester pico brewing pilsner pitching yeast plastic drum poppet valve pot powdered brewing wash precipitated chalk pressure relief valve priming probe problem solving propane and propane accessories pump system purity law re-using yeast recipe record keeping reddit refractometer reinheitsgebot removing beer labels from bottles review rice hulls riwaka rotten eggs saaz saccharomyces cerevisiae sanitization secondary regulator sediment session beer silicon simple tricks for brewing siphon site glass skunked beer small batch brewing soda ash sodium carbonate sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate sodium hydroxide sodium metasilicate sodium percarbonate sour beer sparge spigot spirals spirits spoon spraymalt star san STC-1000 steinlager stella artois steralisation sterilisation sterilization sterliization storage solution stout sucrose sugar supercharger tannins temperature temperature controller thermometer tips for beginners tri-sodium phopsphate tricks and tips trub tubing tui turkey vorlauf water water testing wet cardboard taste wet hopping whirlfloc tablets williamswarn wine winter brewing wood wort wort chiller yeast yeast energizer yeast nutrient yeast starter
Back to Top