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Imagine my surprise when I opened a bottle of my cream ale and found that it had picked up a clove-y flavor reminiscent of a wheat beer. It's not even presented as a risk in the BJCP guidelines for cream ale.

It's pretty clear that the flavor I'm tasting is 4-vinyl guaiacol, but it's not clear where the heck it came from.

I used Safale S-05 dry yeast and fermented at a pretty steady 65°.

By the way, it's delicious. I doubt I could replicate it, but I would if I could.

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Clove flavors generally come from the yeast. What did you use? At what temperature did you ferment? – Dean Brundage Feb 18 '10 at 22:15
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I say let it age. The kit you bought uses either WY1056 or Safale US-05 and both of them have a pretty clean profile.

My thoughts are this: Either the beer is too young and that flavor will age out, or it was too warm when it fermented.

I gotta tell ya, sometimes these light flavored, light color beers can be the hardest. On top of that, I've never had a cream ale that I would consider "typical of style". They have all varied wildly. Big bad-assed beers with strong flavors and/or lots of hops can cover up a lot of tiny brewing technique refinements.

Let it age another month or two. Give it a try then and see if the clove smell goes away. Good luck with it.

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I don't know if the batch will survive a month or two. It's too tasty. Thanks for the advice. I think you're probably right. – Rich Armstrong Feb 19 '10 at 15:53

What yeast strain and fermentation temperature did you use? Normally if you want a nice clean, low ester profile then you pitch lots of yeast, ferment on the cool side (64-65ºF) and use a clean ale strain like 1056/WLP001.

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Did you dechlorinate your water, or use a bleach sanitizing solution? This can cause chlorophenols which can cause a clove flavour. I just brewed an ESB with Whitelabs Brit ale yeast. I didn't dechlorinate and used bleach to sanitize, and I have slight clove with banana nose, and I thought pretty tasty Belgian! Brit ale yeasts are higher in phenols so hard to tell brewing flaws from yeast.

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Its funny how quickly a British beer can turn "Belgian" on you. – Graham Nov 20 '12 at 13:33

I realize that this is an old topic, however, I have a cream ale that I recently bottled about a month ago and I have been enjoying. Last night I serve it to a friend and and he said he tasted a faint taste of cloves. I missed it. The thing I found in common was that we each brewed with safale #5. Have you used that yeast since? If so, what do you think of your brews since?

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I've used US-05 quite a bit since, but never had this flavor again. Others didn't detect it like I did, so I think I'm very sensitive to this compound.... Or it was an infection. – Rich Armstrong Mar 1 '11 at 15:07

It's likely that it's an infection. Time will tell.

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It was an infection, most likely. One of the rare delicious ones. I guess they have to happen from time to time. – Rich Armstrong Mar 4 '11 at 21:23
I agree time will tell – Ryan Shdo Nov 21 '12 at 6:23

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