From the HBD Archive
From: Glenn Colon-Bonet <gcb@hpfigcb>
Subject: Re: sulphide odor (HBD #390)
Date: 1990-04-09 16:08:25 GMT

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In HBD #390, Stuart Crawford writes:

> I just finished making my tenth batch of beer and, for the first time, I detect
> a strong rotten egg (hydrogen sulphide?) odor coming through the airlock on my
> primary. Papazian suggests that this phenomenon is a characteristic of some
> strains of yeast and that, if it occurs, you should "change your yeast". I'm
> using Wyeast "American Ale" yeast for the first time... has anyone had similar
> experiences with this yeast?

> Bottom line: is this batch a loss?

> Stuart

I haven't had much experience with that yeast strain, but I've noticed
a similar sulphurous odor from German Ale yeast #1007, Bavarian lager #2206
and Munich lager #2308 strains. According to the yeast issue of Zymurgy,
the two lager strains tend to produce sulphides when used at the wrong
temperature. I imagine that the ale strains would also produce odors if
used at the wrong temperature. The #2308 strain I understand is
particularly fussy, and #2206 much less so. I've used #2206 and #1007
quite often, and, although they produce the odor during the initial
fermentation, it quickly subsides and is not noticeable in the finished
beer. The American Ale yeast (also known as Chico Ale, #1056), I believe,
is supposed to be used at lower temperatures than typical. I don't know
what temperature your fermentation took place, but that may be the reason
for the sulphurous odor. I've been fermenting my ales and primary lager
fermentations at 55-60 F, and secondary lagering at 35-40 F. At any rate,
I don't think that changing the yeast is necessarily the right answer,
probably changing the fermentation temperature (if possible) would be
better. Although I haven't used American Ale yeast, I've heard that it
has very nice characteristics, and I certainly enjoy Sierra Nevada's beers,
which are made with that strain.

If anyone has specific information about the correct fermentation
temperatures for these yeast strains (or others), I'd be
interested in the numbers.

Bottom line, the batch is not a loss. You may want to let the beer stay
in the fermenter a while longer than usual to allow the odors to be driven
off. As Russ Pencin said (HBD #392), you can always taste it and see!

Good Luck!

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