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Understanding and Avoiding Off flavors: Solventlike / Alcoholic

by George Bach
(Originally appeared in the August 1999 issue of the Home Imbrewment)

A disagreeable alcohol like banana, rose, bitter, lacquer like, hot, spicy flavors. An undesirable warming prickly effect in the mouth and throat. Large amounts of alcohol molecules called fusels create disagreeable off flavors, particularly in lighter beer styles. Usually caused by high fermentation temperatures, excessive yeast growth, high levels of ethanol that are not allowed to ferment properly, or by the oxidation of ethanol (a desirable chemical in reasonable amounts) to higher alcohol levels. Too much ethanol, or weak yeast strain can also cause this problem.

Using strong yeast strains made for high alcohol beers, and using proper amounts in your recipe; control fermentation temperature, and sterile brewing conditions all will help prevent solventlike brews.

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