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Does anyone have any tips for helping a beer clear out sulfur faster?

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I made a straight Hefe (half wheat, half 2-Row) and use White Labs seasonal "Bavarian Hefe" yeast, WLP351. The beer was made two weeks ago and it threw the strongest sulfur of any beer I've ever made. It was stronger than appelwine even, and that stuff smelled like rhino farts.

Seriously. My entire house stunk during primary fermentation, and that's with the carboy being stuck in a closed fermentation fridge in a closed laundry room.

I don't mind drinking Hefe's young, but even now there's still a strong-ish sulfur smell to the carboy. The sample was at 1.009, and it tastes fine, but the aroma is still a little off. I racked to secondary last night, which I normally don't do, just to free up a carboy, and also in the hope that the racking speeds up the yeast re-metabolizing/eating/whatever those sulfur compounds.

I was hoping to keg or bottle this thing soon, but I'm afraid to do so until the sulfur is gone. I don't know if its possible to "lock in" sulfur by crashing and kegging, so I was a little nervous. The beer took off at kinda high temps, like low 70's for the first day of active fermentation. I didn't have my temp controller set low enough. It went down to 65F on about the 2nd day of strong activity and stayed there for a week. I raised it to room temps a few days ago.

If anyone has any tips I'd appreciate it.

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UPDATE: The sulfur seemed to clear out on its own with another week or two of primary. I didn't need to do anything else to the beer, and it was tasty and delicious (just 1 bottle left now). –  Graham Nov 29 '11 at 15:20

2 Answers 2

You could try to bubble some co2 through the beer to off gas the aroma. If you connect the gas line to the out post and turn on the co2 and then release the valve at the top. I have done this with cider and it has worked pretty well. Not sure if it will work on beer but the principle is the same.

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In winemaking, we can eliminate excess sulfur a few different ways. Ones that come to mind that might work for beer are:

  • Splash rack: rack your beer into another carboy. set the end of the siphon hose high up into the receiving vessel so that the beer runs down the wall of the carboy. You typically avoid this because you don't want to oxidize the beer, but the sulfur will react with the oxygen and leave you with a clean beer that doesn't smell of sulfur. Before you do this with the full batch, test it by running off a pint this way and see if the smell reduces.
  • Copper: pull a cup of the stinky beer into a pint glass. Stir it with a piece of copper pipe or tubing. The copper might react with the sulfur to eliminate it. If this work, you could splash rack your beer into a second vessel, passing it through a length of copper pipe or tubing. Better yet, splash-rack it across a sheet of copper flashing folded into a long V-shaped channel.

These methods work in winemaking. I'd try them in my beer if I ran into this.

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