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03/31/07 06:25 PM  
Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness

Does cold condtioning have a permanent effect on alcohol taste? I had a 8% BSGA (was definately fusely) I cold conditioned for a wk at 31-34F let it warm up to room temp to rack. At gravity reading took a taste and it had a very sharp alcohol taste. Its disapated over the past three weeks.

I have a nice 5% BPA thats been in primary for two weeks and I'm am going to move to 2ndary. It has a slight warm alcohol taste that is pleasant and I'm concerned if I cold condition it will sharpen the taste. Anyone else had this problem?


03/31/07 06:50 PM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness
Beardude, something in your equasion is not balancing for me. It sounds like your BSGA was fusely going into cold conditioning. Your question about the BPA makes it sound like CC is a suspected culpret. But if beer #1 was already boozey going in why would you suspect that?

The best answer I can offer is that this is not something I have ever seen, to me it does not sound possible. If I recall my brewing chemisty correctly I think the opposite is closer to being the case (and at a different stage), if you ferment warm fusels can be produced.

03/31/07 10:36 PM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness

I know it sounds like I've been hitting the pipe to hard but but yes it was fuesel from the primary going into CC. It came out of CC cleaner tasting but with a sharper (different) alcohol taste. It's like I hit a pure layer of alcohol. It is softening down (3wks in bottles) but I can't explain the wierdness except it was my first time CC and I didn't know what to expect. I plan on cold condtioning the current BPA for a week or two, more for clarity than anything else.

Unfortunately I studied "alternate" chemistry in high school ;)

03/31/07 11:13 PM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness
Wow, so the conditioning did not create the alcohol presence but it did alter it in an unpleasent way. Crazy, this sounds worth gaining some understanding. I'll ask around, anyone know anything here?
04/01/07 08:52 PM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness

Same thing has happened to me, sort of: I crash-cooled a fussel-flavored abbey blonde beer that really should have sat in secondary for a few months. It tasted hot going into the fridge, after a week or two, it was clear, but had picked up a rather sharp and unpleasant phenolic note, almost like linseed oil.

04/02/07 09:59 AM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness

Thanks for relating your experience. I went directly from a 4wk primary to sencondary CC for a week. I CC (first time CC) for a week because I couldn't control the frig temp and would get swings of 31-35F. What temps did you CC your blonde and did the taste eventually smooth out?

04/02/07 10:04 AM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness
So here are the questions I think - can yeast break down fusels and if so into what? Can the resulting compounds in turn be taken apart - or stated differently can the unpleasant phenolic note go away? And is cold a factor? My instinct on the last question is that if anything cold would retard any activity as described in this thread. I mean is not yeast the only candidate for catalyst here? My guess is that the cold crash, though common to both accounts, is not really a factor. Anyone?
Ross Lunato
04/02/07 10:39 AM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness
I've always noticed that cold conditioning drops some of the esters and roughness out of a beer and cleans up the flavor somewhat. I'm just guessing, really just a stab at it, that the perceived increase in fusel alchohol is not due to cold conditioning but rather the clarifying of the flavor profile; you're tasting what's left after removing some of the esters. The fusels haven't increased, the esters have decreased. Like I said, it's a wild, unscientific guess. I'd really like to know the mechanism behind this too. Oh, I can say from experience that I've had fusely beers smooth out after a couple of months.
04/02/07 11:17 AM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness
I think Ross's guess is as good as any. I may have posted this before, but talking to the brewers at De Dolle and St. Bernardus it sounded like they cold condition for just one reason: to drop out yeast and haze. It seems plausible to me that yeast and other particles (including haze-forming phenolics) would drop out during cold conditioning, unmasking whatever other flavors are there.

But as Steve says, it's hard to think of many other ways that cold conditioning could change a beer's flavor--if anything it slow/stops yeast activity, and slows chemical reactions.

Steve asks "can yeast break down fusels and if so into what?" I do not think there are any known ways by which fusel levels can be reduced significantly (say, by 50%). I think yeast turning them into esters is the biggest effect, but cannot reduce levels enough to "fix" a fusel problem. But... I think some high-fusel beers are good, such as 2003 Stille Nacht. (Which I found to be still very fusely last year, BTW.)

Ross, it sounds like you have had fusels "go away." My experience has been the opposite--I've had esters (including solventy ones) disappear and the beer start to oxidize over a couple of years, but the fusels did not seem to diminish. After that beer I stopped using yeast nutrient, ever, and have not had a fusel problem since.

04/02/07 04:42 PM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness

<<After that beer I stopped using yeast nutrient, ever, and have not had a fusel problem since>>

What a hoot!! ;) Yeast Nutrient/no nutrient, dry yeast starter/no starter, boxers/commando ... Madness!!!

What was it about the nutrients effect on your beer?


04/02/07 04:56 PM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness
Turbo charged yeast making turbo charged alcohols?
04/02/07 05:24 PM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness
Yeah--I don't think yeast nutrients are generally a good idea for all-grain beer. Of course, that's a far cry from *knowing* they aren't a good idea. But I certainly think that for most beers, there are good reasons to believe that adding yeast nutrient to the boil will increase fusel levels.

Nutshell version of why I believe this: Low levels of FAN in the wort can lead to high fusels, but so can high levels. And I think all-malt wort is usually already on the high side, so that adding more FAN gives even more fusels. I even have a paper that shows less fusels in an all-grain ale when 10 points worth of refined sugar was added, versus the same ale when 10 points worth of malt extract was added. (The extract adds FAN but the refined sugar does not.)

Using nutrients will help the ferment, of course. And it may decrease problems with solventy esters that arise due to unhealthy fermentation. But at least sometimes, there are probably better ways to deal with those problems than adding nutrient.

04/02/07 06:30 PM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness

I planned on doing nutrient additions for this 3 gal recipe that includes a Partial mash, extract, and sugar. Thoughts?

(I just got a packet of VSS WY3726 Farmhouse Ale from my LHBS and will use it for this saison. It has a ferm rangeof 70-90 - I'm not sure I could get it to the mid-80s quite yet)

Category: Belgian and French Ale

Subcategory: Saison

Recipe Type: Partial Mash

Batch Size: 3 gal.

Volume Boiled: 3.9 gal.

Mash Efficiency: 70 %

Total Grain/Extract: 4.95 lbs.

Total Hops: 1.5 oz. Tinseth


Vital Statistics


Original Gravity: 1.054

Terminal Gravity: 1.010

Color: 10.94 SRM

Bitterness: 32.0 IBU

Alcohol (%volume): 5.6 %




1.50 lbs. Belgian Pils 30.3%

0.60 lbs. White Wheat Malt 12.1%

0.60 lbs. Belgian Munich 12.1%

0.30 lbs. Acidulated Malt 6.1%

1.50 lbs. Muntons Dry Extra Light 30.3%

0.45 lbs. Light Brown Sugar 9.1%

0.75 oz. East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 5.00 %AA) @ 60 min

0.45 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellets, 4.20 %AA) @ 20 Min

0.15 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellets, 4.20 %AA) @ 5 min

0.15 oz. Saaz (Pellets, 3.80 %AA) at 5 min


- 1 grams Grains of Paradise at 5 min

- 1 zest of seville-sour orange 5 min

- 12 grams Indian Corriander 5 min


Yeast: WYeast 3724 Belgian Saison Yeast




- Replaced WY3724 with WY3726 Farmhouse Ale

- Replaced Lt Brown Sugar with Pochillo

- 1 Whirlfloc @ 15 min

- 1 tsp yeast nutrient @ 30min

- 1/8 Yeast Nutrient in fermentor


- Partial Mash 3lb total: Mash 1.3qt/1lb grain for 45 min @ 152F strike, recirculate. Sparge 1.3qt/1lb grain for 5 min @ 168F, recirculate

Ross Lunato
04/02/07 08:02 PM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness
Acidulated malt may give that beer an unnatural tartness you may not like. Be careful with that stuff. I've tasted it at 3%....Tastes like lemons and battery acid. Just acidify your mash water to get the pH down to 5.2 - 5.4. Unless you want that tartness, well then..:)

04/03/07 11:36 AM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness

(Thinking only about FAN/nutrient stuff here, and probably being annoyingly pedantic despite efforts not to.)

Knowing how much FAN is in the extract, versus all-grain wort, is really hard. But a decent guess is possible: morebeer.com/product.html?product_id=18465 gives impressive information on one particular extract. The FAN level specified there is (very roughly) 3/4 of what you might expect in comparable all-grain wort.

So, if the brown sugar has zero FAN (probably not true since there's molasses in it) and the DME has 3/4 of the FAN that all-grain wort would have, then the FAN in your beer is diluted by about 20%, versus an all-grain version with no sugar.

That's the best guess I have. My personal choice then would be not to use nutrients, based on experience with all-grain beers diluted with sugar, academic stuff, and recommendations of experts I trust. Although if my pitch rate was low I'd probably use some nutrient.

But maybe your extract has less FAN that I guessed. In this case, you could have problems with solventy esters and attenuation. And what about the specifics of your mash, on your system? What about any specific needs or abilities of WY3724? There are so many variables that it's hard to do much more than take your best guess and go with it.

Somebody who actually brews partial mash beers with this yeast and the same brand/freshness of extract could probably tell you what to do, with less uncertainty, in 5 seconds and three words. Soon you'll be that guy. Or maybe you already are? Have you brewed anything similar in the past?

Good luck, and let us know how it turns out.

04/03/07 02:05 PM  
Re: Cold conditioning and alcohol sharpness

I appreciate your detailed responses and the efforts you have taken in your homebrewing research. With all the known/unknown variables involved in homebrwing, its the willingness of the HB community to share that keeps the the good brews flowing.

Remember "teach a man to fish ..." or is it teach a man to drink like a fish??? ;)


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