Is it safe to drink a hard cider with a corn chip type aftertaste, my buddy made it and gave me some. When you take a sip it tastes great but then you taste a weird "Frito" taste like a corn chip. It's not unbearable but is it safe? He also dissolved cinnamon hearts into it which he says backsweetened it. Could hfcs in the cinnamon hearts have something to do with the taste? I just want to know if I will get sick
Home brewed beer and ciders are almost always safe to drink. Methanol (which is what some people are afraid of) can't be produced by the yeast in significant quantities, because the yeast simply doesn't have that ability. Just like all other food products, bacterial spoilage may make it go off to the point where consuming the product can be a health hazard, but in this case (like with spoilt food) it will smell and taste horrible. Molds and such are also obvious if they occur.
In all other cases, if you did not put anything harmful into the cider or beer yourself, it will be safe to drink. It may taste weird but it won't harm you. (Unless you over-indulge, of course, but that's another matter.)
You're experiencing a common off-flavor in cider called THP or tetrahydropyridine. Yes, it's safe to drink, but just doesn't taste all that great. I had this in one of my ciders a few years ago. They say it can taste like toasty, crackers, Cheerios, and I always say: Cheese Nips or Doritos... and at very high levels... urine or "mousy" which is referring to the smell of mouse urine or a mouse den. This can come from contamination from bacteria or wild yeast, or other things stated below. I found additional reference information here:
“Studies show that the set of conditions necessary for mousy off-flavor development include: high pH, exposure to atmospheric oxygen, and, possibly, low concentrations of tannins, pigments and sulfur dioxide."
The flavor tends to age out of sour beers after 2-6 months in the fermenter, kegs, or bottles (although aging periods as long as possibly 8-12 months have been reported...
Many brewers have noticed that pitching rehydrated yeast at packaging reduces the amount/duration of this flavor.
Another reference from someplace:
"In food, tetrahydropyridines are associated with the aroma of baked goods such as white bread, popcorn, and tortillas, and is formed by Maillard reactions during heating. Traditionally, the mousy/Cheerios® flavor from THP is considered an off flavor in both wine and sour beer." Cider obviously should also be included here.
"Brettanomyces produces tetrahydropyridine (THP), which at low levels provide a toasty flavor (at higher levels the perception of THP shifts to urine, or euphemistically "mousy."). I suspect this compound also plays a role in the 'Cheerios' flavors bottle-conditioned sours often temporarily develop.”
That should keep folks busy for a while. Keep on Googling.