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Tips for Preventing Off Flavors in Beer

Tips for Preventing Off Flavors in Beer

Even though the kids are back in school and days are getting shorter, it’s hard to believe that fall is just around the corner. For many of us, that means squeezing in as many hikes as possible before the weather turns colder. Or tailgating with friends at football games. And perhaps enjoying releases of new seasonal libations. Speaking of which, few things can put a damper on a good time like a beverage gone bad. 

Sadly, we've all eagerly tipped a bottle or glass back only to be greeted by an… unpleasant flavor. The likely and maybe surprising culprit? The cleanliness of the drinkware and vessels you use to store, pour, and enjoy whatever fills your cup. As one of the in-house Certified Cicerones® here at DrinkTanks, I'm here to help you out!

A quick Chemistry 101 lesson: When liquid dries on the interior of drinkware, it can leave behind organic and inorganic compounds that not only cause off flavors, but the growth of nasty, unhealthy stuff like bacteria or mold. All of which will send you running to the nearest sink to execute a full drain pour — and nobody wants to see a drink wasted.

The good news is that preventing off-flavors doesn’t have to be complicated or hard. You just have to put in little time and effort. Pro Tip: Make your favorite beverage your cleaning co-pilot to make the process more enjoyable!

Get Serious About Cleaning What Holds Your Beverages

To prevent off flavors or flavor transfer between beverages, it’s crucial to clean your drinkware after use. A plain old rinse and spin cycle just won’t do -- you’re gonna have to use a little elbow grease in those nooks and crannies. Here are three helpful tips:

  • Use warm water. Warm water is better at dissolving residues, making it easy to wipe or rinse them off surfaces. 
  • Be cautious with cleaning solutions. Many cleaning solutions tend to leave behind residues of their own, which is counterproductive. DrinkTanks® Tank Powder is specially formulated so it doesn’t leave anything behind. Whenever possible, choose cleaning solutions that use only natural ingredients, and avoid abrasive cleaning pads or solutions. Which brings us to our next tip... 
  • Don’t scrub too hard. As tempting as it is to use sheer strength to remove residue, you run the risk of scratching the drinkware. Guess what? Scratches, no matter how small, provide space for bacteria to hide and grow. If that wasn’t problematic enough, those aftermarket nooks and crannies can be difficult to clean. Our Tank Brush is the perfect tool to help you safely and thoroughly clean your drinkware.

Other Tips for Reducing Off Flavors

Before you get to enjoy your tasty beverage and the thrilling process of cleaning, you can take some additional steps to ensure your first sip tastes exactly as it’s supposed to. If you’re a craft beer fan, you know there are several enemies to beer, but the same threats to a tasty brew can also impact just about any other beverage, just not as quickly. The good news: It’s easy to help reduce their impact on your tasty beverages. 

Don’t let there be light.

Exposure to light can cause chemical reactions — especially within beer and other fermented beverages — which can lead to unexpected and unpleasant flavors. 

More specifically, when photosensitive compounds found in the hops in beer react with riboflavin, 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol or MBT is created. MBT smells like skunk, which is why people sometimes refer to beer as “skunky.”

To prevent this from happening, you need to limit the amount of light that your beverages are exposed to. Drinkware like DrinkTanks® Craft or Session growlers are ideal for keeping beverages shielded in bright, sunny weather, and if you want to go the extra mile, the Craft Pint Cup comes with an insulated lid to keep those UV rays out as you sip. 

When you’re at the store shelf, we also recommend looking for beverages going the extra mile to prevent light exposure, too. What are those, you ask? Anything in a can or brown glass is going to have the best protection. Beers in clear- or green-colored glass are more likely to develop those skunky flavors quickly, sometimes before you even get them home, since light passes more easily through those colors.

A warm drink on a hot day? No, thanks!

This might seem obvious, but you generally want your drinks served below room temperature. But let’s get into the science behind why it’s important to keep your beverages protected from heat. The most important thing to know is that warmer temperatures speed up chemical reactions and organic processes. 

The result? Beverages will go stale sooner if they are exposed to heat too long. 

Furthermore, stale beverages lead to off flavors caused by oxidation and autolysis, the latter of which occurs when yeast cells die. Yeast is very sensitive to heat, so if it gets too hot, it dies off in large amounts — causing off flavors that may smell and taste meaty or like soy sauce. Talk about an unwelcome surprise from what’s supposed to be a refreshing drink! 

In addition to our Craft and Session growlers, our Craft Pint Cups can protect your beverages from getting too hot while you’re sitting on the back deck on a warm autumn afternoon or wrapping up a day of treasured fall fly fishing in your drift boat.

Seal it and seal it good.

It’s crucial to prevent unintended air from getting into your drinkware. Of all the gasses on the periodic table, we’re most concerned about the highly reactive oxygen. As a result, it can easily cause chemical reactions that lead to oxidized flavors like paper, cardboard, and even old books. If that wasn’t bad enough, air can carry particles and microorganisms that grow bacteria or mold. Or even bring in unwanted flavors from inorganic minerals. 

Seals on growlers like ours do a great job of keeping air out and preventing leaks. If you want the creme de la creme in seal technology, the patented dual-bail closures on DrinkTanks® Craft Growlers create perfectly even seals around the top of the growlers, eliminating any gaps for air to sneak in… or carbonation to leak out. You won’t find this effective of a seal on standard twist on caps. 

Last but not least...

Father time is rather defiantly undefeated, even when it comes to beverages. No matter how many precautions you take, eventually, drinks will lose their freshness and go stale. While certain beers or wines are meant to be aged, every beverage has a tipping point past its optimal flavor, and we believe you deserve a cold, refreshing beverage on your terms. So, don’t hold onto your favorite libations too long -- drink it on up and cheers to the good life!

Ready to get serious about preserving the taste and freshness of your drinks? Explore our collection of high-quality growlers, pint cups + more so you can enjoy first-pour freshness no matter where life’s adventures take you. 

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