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My BJCP Course states that (too) late aeration can cause diacetyl. My understanding is that diacetyl is produced by yeast during the first phase of fermentation. How could too much oxygen in a finished beer cause diacetyl flavor. Is it due to oxygenation?

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A good question that I have no answer to, but here is a PDF from White Labs all about the how's and why's of diacetyl production: whitelabs.com/beer/Diacetyl_Time_Line.pdf –  JoeFish Jan 10 '12 at 14:38
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Even if all the yeast is filtered out of the beer, if there is diacetyl precursor still in solution (alpha acetolactate) the general oxidation of the beer will cause the alpha acetolactate to be converted to diacetyl. This is a non-enzymic, yeast-less process. Minimizing oxygen minimizes this affect, as does minimizing alpha acetolactate content.

Look here, under "Beer Aging" section of article.

Beer Sensory Science, Diacetyl

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Sensor: Thanks, will there always be residual alpha acetolactate in a finished beer? (i.e. even with super healthy yeast) –  dana Jan 15 '12 at 8:33
    
I'm not sure what "super healthy yeast" means, for one thing. I've discussed this with other brewers, and they've said what you're implying: ideally there should be no alpha acetolactate in the beer. In our production facilities however, there apparently is because I've charted the increases in D during aging, but the yeast ferments fine otherwise. It may be a yeast strain issue as well, with some leaving more than others. –  BeerSensor Jan 18 '12 at 0:24
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Actually I found an article from BYO that says:

Uptake of oxygen late in fermentation leads to excessive diacetyl production. Yeast will begin releasing more alpha acetolactate if oxygen is introduced late in the fermentation. This eventually leads to an increase in diacetyl, so care must be taken to avoid oxygen pickup during beer transfers.

My understanding from the reading I'm doing is the extra oxygen will cause the yeast to produce more diacetyl. If the oxygen is added early on, the yeast has plenty of time to clean up this extra diacetyl. If the oxygen is added late in fermentation, the yeast has time to make the diacetyl, but not clean it up.

Here's the Google search I used. Some of the links may be useful.

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good answer, nice references. –  brewchez Jan 12 '12 at 0:00
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