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I brewed a "Belgian IPA" a few weeks ago, and now that it's carbonated, I get a flavor that is eerily reminiscent of the pink bubblegum medicine that I used to get when I was sick and under 10 years old. I'm pretty certain it was caused by the combination of Belgian yeast (repitched blend of Wyeast 3787 and Safbrew T-58) and American hops (Amarillo & Centennial), but I'd like to know if this flavor is likely to drop out before the hop aroma has diminished appreciably or if I'm stuck with bitter bubblegum beer.

UPDATE, July 31: After another 18 days in the refrigerator, the bubblegum flavor has dropped out significantly, and while still noticeable, is more of a slight fruitiness than full on bubblegum medicine. My guess is that the amount of flavor was due to yeast still being in suspension.

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An excellent aroma description. –  Bad Neighbor Jul 12 '11 at 20:49
    
+1 Excellent Q. –  iWeasel Jul 12 '11 at 21:50
    
I have had commercial brews that tasted just like this. Most Belgians distinctly remind of of bubblegum, actually! –  Cpfohl Feb 1 '12 at 1:51
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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The bubblegum flavor is an ester commonly produced by Belgian yeast. Some of this esters will be processed by the yeast that's left in the bottle over time, but I'm guessing that for the most part the flavor will be there to stay. A longer secondary fermentation could help to clear or diminish the flavor, but now that you are bottled I don't think it will drop appreciably until most of your hop aroma has gone as well.

It's much easier to control ester formation, through proper pitching rates, sufficient oxygen, and temperature control during fermentation than it is to get rid of them once you have them.

Looking at the yeast you used, I would suspect the Safbrew as the culprit. Wyeast 3787 has low bubblegum ester production, I had no problems with bubblegum flavor in the Belgian Strong Ale that I made with it. Safbrew T-58 looks like it is known for strong ester production, including bubblegum and banana esters.

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+1 - Bubblegum flavour is likely to be caused by the ester Isoamyl Acetate. Its origin is definitely the yeast and is present in all beers, but commonly below the taste threshold. I suspect this is caused by one or the combination of both yeast strains. I'm not sure it will dissipate. –  iWeasel Jul 12 '11 at 21:50
    
Isn't isoamyl acetate what produces the banana ester? Or are they the same? BTW, I've used T-58 a fair bit and never found it to be a really strong ester producer. More spicy and phenolic in my experience. But either it or 3787 can be estery if fermentation temps are too high. –  Denny Conn Jul 12 '11 at 22:11
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True, both will be estery at high temps, but 3738 is designed to not have bubblegum or banana esters (see above link) while numerous forum posts suggest that T-58 can be very bubblegummy at high temps (1, 2, 3) –  pjreddie Jul 12 '11 at 22:40
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It's likely that the flavor was caused by too high a fermentation temp. It might moderate to some extent with cold conditioning, but in my experience it's unlikely that it will ever go away. FWIW, I just kegged a beer made with 3787 and kept under 65F during the entire fermentation. Not a hint of bubblegum.

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Thanks. This ramped from 68F to 72F over the course of about 5 days. –  baka Jul 12 '11 at 22:25
    
I brew a lot of Belgians and I like to start them in the low 60s. After 5-7 days I start letting them rise to finish off. It lets you get the esters you want but in a controlled fashion. –  Denny Conn Jul 13 '11 at 1:34
    
I'm not a fan of that intentional temp ramping sometimes prescribed for Belgians. I agree with Denny; ferment for a week at a controlled temp in the mid 60's, then let it rise naturally to high 60's or 70 at most to finish drying out. I think if you are on a ramping schedule, and the yeast are not quite done with their primary fermentation when you start increasing temps, then you are asking for a lot of off flavors. Maybe a gravity check to make sure XX% attenuation is achieved should be done before ramping, just like with a diacytl rest. –  Graham Jul 13 '11 at 12:53
    
Anecdotal, I know, but we brewed the dubbel recipe from Brewing Classic Styles and followed Jamil's ramping schedule precisely and ended up with a very clean tasting beer where the malt & candi sugar character dominates. –  JackSmith Jul 13 '11 at 13:29
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FWIW, Jamil said in his talk at NHC that the first 72 hours were the most critical for keeping temps down to avoid off flavors. That matches my experience. –  Denny Conn Jul 13 '11 at 17:13
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I've just recently had the same bubblegum/banana taste in my caribou slobber from northern brewer. It was wyeast 1332, hot summer months and being realitively new to brewing it was the last thing I really considered. I keep my house at 72 or so but the primary and 2ndary in a closet without air conditioning. It has to be what happened. It doesn't make me hurl but not the best tasting brew as it's the 3rd time I've made this kit. I will give it a couple months to try to mellow and if it's still too strong banana I move on with my life. What I really mean is that I probably just wont drink this batch as fast. A lesson learned I guess.

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after sitting cold for around a month, mine dissipated considerably. There's still a hint of the bubblegum, but it plays nicely with the rest of the flavors, now. –  baka Jul 31 '11 at 14:21
    
I haven't heard of Wyeast 1332. Anyone know the source for that strain? –  Jeff Roe Jul 31 '11 at 15:11
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