I’ve been all grain brewing for a few years (40+ batches) and decided to try a cider for the family for the holidays. Followed recommendations in BYO mag using pasteurized pear juice and added SafeAle 04. Fermentation was great, clean (.056- .012) HOWEVER, I definitely have a noticeable cat pee aroma and flavor currently. The recipe calls for cranberry, cinnamon sticks and orange zest additions after primary, which I haven’t added yet. Wondering if there’s an additive that will eliminate this unwanted smell/flavor first?

  • How much of this brew do you have? And what is the odour like now (a week after this question) Nov 14, 2017 at 11:21
  • I made 5.25 gallons. After almost 3 weeks and removing the yeast from the equation, the odor is in large part gone. After all of the feedback I’m fairly confident that whatever remains will off gas when I force carbonate in a few more days
    – ts_watson
    Nov 14, 2017 at 18:09

2 Answers 2


Ammonia is generally the smell accociated with cat pee, and can be produced by some fermentations of fruits.

It is volatile so may be able to be gassed off by force CO2 and degassing. Repeat until it's gone.

  • 2NH3 + H20 + CO2 = (NH4)2CO3. The equilibrium depends on the pH of the brew. It might be difficult to purge ammonia with carbon dioxide. It might work better with nitrogen. Nov 10, 2017 at 8:50
  • @barking.pete true it may need mild heat to decompose the compound of its formed. It's used in baking to take advantage of its easy gas production. So if smelling salt is produced mild heat (100°F) can force the decomp and a volatile state. I think if the cO2 is used with a stone and allowed to gas out and not actually carbonate the cider it will work without heat, to get this odor out of this beverage. Nov 10, 2017 at 13:36

I do not believer there is any instant additive that will relieve the odour without creating other problems. One might be able to use activated carbon(charcoal) to remove some flavour/odour compounds. It is a viable technique but not always 100% successful. Maybe the use of cinnamon, orange and cranberries is exactly what is required to mask the offending aroma?

Brews using apples and pears (and other fruit) can smell quite rank when first fermented. I would recommend bottle conditioning for a long time. IMHO one year is not too short for cider or perry to age correctly. During that time the taste and aroma usually change considerably for the better.

  • Thank you this is helpful! This one was supposed to be for the holidays-next time I’ll get way more of a head start!
    – ts_watson
    Nov 7, 2017 at 1:16

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