Ok, here we are, on the hardest topic to teach on-line, Off flavors. The only way to do this is to spike beer, that is to make good beer bad. Forgive me Charlie, for I am about to sin!

  • First you need a supply of good beer, and not that hop monster that you like so much. You need some Category 1 beer. Yes I said BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors). We need some beer with a low amount of flavor and these beers are well done and fit that need and are readily available. That said, I'll frequently use a clean, low hopped version of an American Pale Ale, because it is closer to the beers we brew.
  • Second you need a number of agents, some of which you have around the house.
  • Finally we need to make this good beer bad.
  • Following the guidelines in the table below, Spike 8 beers with the first 8 off-flavors, we will get the second 8 in the next lesson.

Since most of you are not at the point of being able to identify these flavors we need to make them strong, so the off-flavor or aroma is obvious. Then we can make it weaker and more subtle, which is what you will frequently find in a beer. Try this in some of your house beers, those with more/different flavor, how does that hop monster handle the flavor, can you pull it out?

What? You can't taste it? We all have different thresholds , and some of us are totally blind to some off-flavors. This is one reason we judge in teams. Realize what your thresholds are and acknowledge your weaknesses.

There are many ways to doctor beer. A web search will reveal many more than the one from the study guide below.

FROM BJCP Guidelines

Recommended amounts of several substances are listed in the table at the end of this section. The base beer should be a clean light lager with a crown (non-twist-off) cap so that it can resealed after doctoring. The amounts in the table below are appropriate in a 12 oz. sample, but may be scaled to larger volumes. Note that spices and other solids should be extracted in vodka, since the addition of dry substances to a carbonated beer will cause gushing. For the same reason, the beers and adulterants should also be chilled to the same temperature before combining.

Guidelines for Doctoring Beers





USP lactic acid

(wine supply store)

0.4 ml (1/3. tsp of solution of 1/8 tsp. lactic acid plus 3/8 tsp. distilled water)


White wine vinegar

3/4 tsp.


iso-hop extract

1 or 2 drops, to taste


sucrose (table sugar)

1/4 tsp. dissolved in 1/2 tsp water


Grape tannin

(wine supply store)

2 tsp. of solution of 1/8 tsp. tannin dissolved in 5 tbs. water



0.4 ml (1/3. tsp of solution of 1/8 tsp. Chloroseptic plus 3/8 tsp. distilled water)


Clove solution

Make solution of 8 cloves soaked in 3 oz. of beer and add liquid to taste (about 4 tsp)


Potassium metabisulfite*

Make solution of one tablet dissolved in 3 oz. of beer and add to taste (about 1/2 tsp.)



2 tsp. (increases alcohol by 2.7%). 3 tsp. vodka may also be used


Dry sherry

3/4 tsp.


Almond extract

0.1 ml (1/8 tsp of solution consisting of 1/8 tsp. almond extract plus 5/8 tsp. distilled water)



Open bottles to air, reseal, and keep at 100 F or warmer for several days


White wine

2 tbs.


Butter extract

4-5 drops


Banana extract

6-7 drops



Expose commercial beer in green bottles to sunlight for 1-3 days.

* Should not be tasted by persons with asthma or sulfite allergies.