my 7th batch is in first fermentation and I just tasted it after taking a gravity reading. It started at 1.092 and it's now 1.022 after 9 days. I noticed a strong cherry/cough syrup off flavor.

Any idea what can cause this?

I tried the following recipe: http://www.skotrat.com/skotrat/recipes/ale/scottish/recipes/10.html

2 Answers 2


Refer to John Palmer's How to Brew chapter on off flavors in beer. He discusses various off flavors that are common, what causes them, and possible corrections so you don't run into the same issues in future batches.

Based on the fruity flavor, you may have ester or chlorophenol issues. The esters can produce the fruity flavors and typically result from fermenting at too high of a temperature. The first 24-48 hours play a big role in the esters. If you pitched when the wort was too warm, you may see this as a result. The chlorophenol issues arise mainly when bleach is used as a sanitizer and not rinsed thoroughly. If you didn't use bleach, this is likely not an issue.

  • This is a solid hypothesis, except that I will note that chlorophenols can also be formed from chlorine or chloramine in tap water used in brewing. Chlorophenols give a medicinal off-flavor that remind many people of Band-aids or Chloroseptic. In fact, these two are the most common flaws I see in beginner's homebrews: fruity or hot alcohol esters from too-high fermentation temps, and chlorophenols formed because the brewer did not dechlorinate their tap water. Oct 29, 2014 at 4:39
  • @Chino Brews - I know the Band Aid flavor is a very common reference used when discussing off flavors, but I always find it funny, because I don't know about you, but I've never eaten a Band Aid to know what one would taste like lol
    – rjbergen
    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:18
  • Regarding @Chino Brews comment about not dechlorinating, that could definitely also be a source of chlorophenols, but only if you use water (primarily tap water) that is treated with chlorine or chloramine. There are various methods to remove the chlorine, or chloramine (refer to your water provider's public posting of water chemical breakdown). Refer to: www.love2brew.com/Articles.asp?ID=520 for a starter on how to prepare tap water for brewing.
    – rjbergen
    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:23
  • re: Band-aids -- LOl, true, few have eaten Band-aids. But it's more that the beer smells and tastes like Band-aids smell. Maybe I should have been more clear. +1 on link on preparing tap water. We also have a post on removing chlorine on StackExchange. Oct 29, 2014 at 15:27
  • Thanks. I didn't treated my water and there is definitely chlorine in it since I'm in a city. However, I never did on previous batch. Does it changes something because it is an all grain batch vs extract? Nov 8, 2014 at 2:47

I feel like when this happens to one of my brews, the yeast has created a lot of harsh tasting alcohol and combined with the fruit base, it's reminds me of cough syrup. The best thing I can recommend is to let the batch age. There's a good reason why wine can take years before it becomes a good wine.

  • Thanks. I tasted again two weeks later when racking to secondary and the cherry flavor was still there but a lot less. There is astrong alcool flavor but at 10%ABV, it is normal at this point. Will leave on secondary for a month or two before botteling. Nov 8, 2014 at 2:45
  • For high ABV beers, I've let them sit for up to 6 months before bottling. I made an apple wine last year that I let sit for 9 months before bottling. Sometimes with big beers you just have to be patient.
    – rjbergen
    Nov 8, 2014 at 3:39

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