Does Brewing Your Own Beer Smell?

Does brewing your own beer smell?

A common question I get from people starting to get interested in trying out to brew beer for them self at home is, does brewing your own beer smell. Often are they more worried about how the smell would impact their significant other than the actual smelling part.

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 Brewing your own beer does smell, but is it a bad smell?
If the brewing of beer is a bad smell or a good smell, that’s up to you. Different steps in the beer brewing process have its own smells. And it also depends on the type of beer your making at home. And your brewing methods. Let’s have a look ( or a noose ) on the different smells at the various stages of brewing beer at home. And also a few ways to make the different stages of the beer brewing process less smelly.

 

Does brewing beer smell? DrHans Brewery VLOG

The smell of the mash

On brew day you have the smell of mash. Which smells a little like porridge. Bread, biscuits, flour. And sometimes coffee and chocolate. To me, this is a delightful smell. As a homebrewer, i enjoy it. But I’ve heard of people who can’t stand it. To me, a big mystery. A sidetrack here would be to start thinking on how you mash. A mash mashed properly shouldn’t smell that much. But I guess that’s for another article, Will update here when it’s published.

The Smell of the mash

The smell of the boil

During the boil, we get the types of smells that we got from mashing. Biscuity, bready notes depending on the grains you’re using. A very sweet smell comes off the boil as the starches in the wort were broken down to sugars during the mash step. Also during the boil, the addition of hops and other spices gives of there significant smells. To me, all of this is lovely smells but maybe it’s not for everyone. I would say that it’s not very different from cooking or baking.

Consider getting a good fan or brew outside of the house

Most often the boiling of the wort during a brew day goes on for an hour or more. There will be a lot of evaporation. And the smell can be quite intense. So a good fan or brewing outside can be an excellent choice to consider. Or boiling in a garage or shed where you can open doors and windows to let the steam out. I brew outside on my veranda all year round, even at winter time. Winter here in Sweden can be freezing. Insulate your container both under mashing and boiling. I do this in summer to as the insulation also helps to save electricity and the environment. There is no need to boil the beer vigorously a slow simmer will do just fine. Boiling the wort to hard makes you only to lose flavor, aroma, and darken the wort. You do want to boil off some compounds when boiling, but not lose to much flavor.

The smell of the fermentation

Now, the fermentation step can vary a lot from what type of beer you’re making. The method, what yeast, and temperature. It can be a pleasant tropical aroma. Candy banana, apples, ripe fruit, butterscotch, canned corn, or even rotten eggs. Most homebrewers who have space does ferment our beer in a shed or garage. Or a spare room. Most yeast fermentation has a fresh fruity smell to them. Not speaking about a sulfury, rotten egg lager fermentation.

Baby vomit, ripe cheese and, sweaty horse blanket

If you’re brewing sour beer depending on the bacteria culture you’re using you can sometimes have the smell of vinegar, baby vomit, and ripe cheese, wet dog, and sweaty horse blanket coming out of the airlock. But even a sour beer fermentation can cast a very fresh sent from it.

What if I live in an apartment

I have often fermented beer in my kitchen without feeling any discomfort. I actually enjoy it! And the rotten eggs would be from cold-fermenting with lager yeast, and that often takes a separate fridge. So most don’t ferment lagers if we don’t have extra space for it. Whit that said there are some alternatives to fridges to be considered but that’s for another article. On the picture you see an IPA fermenting in my fermentation chamber. It smells of ripe pineapple and tropical fruits. I have a video about my brew shed on the about page. There I talk more about my homebuilt fermentation chamber. To the about page–>

IPA fermenting away in my fermentation chamber. Smell of pineapple and tropical fruits coming out of the airlock. In the smaller glass vesle there is fermenting chili. 

Make brewing your own beer at home less smelly

There are methods besides choosing the beer style and yeast to minimize the smell of the brewing process. Some of them are even good practices for brewing better beer.

Less smelly mash = better beer?

While mashing, you could think about underletting the grains when mashing in. Stir gently and no more than needed. Mash in a closed vessel like a cooler, for example. You could even cover up the mash with plastic wrap to leave as little air contact as possible. If you’re recirculating the wort, try not to splash it. Recirculate at a slow paste with your recirculation hose moth always under the wort surface.

No need for a vigorous boil

A slow simmer is all it needs and leaves more aroma and flavor. If you watched a lot of brewing videos, you sometimes see homebrewers boil their beer at a very rigors boil. There is no need for that. The DMS, for example, which is one thing we want to get rid of when boiling wort made from lighter malt like pilsner malt. Is quite easy to get rid of during the boil. Using a closed for the boiling of the wort is not recommended. Instead by doing a shorter boil and boiling at a slow simmer instead of a massive rolling boil will keep the smell of the boiling wort down. Wort from pilsner malt is often recommended to boil as long as 90 minutes. I’ve found no need for that with today’s modern malt. But I recommend going at least an hour when using pilsner malt. Off course always feel free to experiment with that. I will do that in another experimental video for sure. You could also try to lead the steam from the boil away with a big fan cup over your kettle connected to a hose, driven by a fan or the buildings own ventilation. For making some small changes in the way we boil our wort, we can have less smell from the boiling wort and we can make a better beer in the long run. There is also the alternative of a no-boil beer. But that isn’t for every beer style. I have a video on a no-boil beer I brewed with Kveik yeast. A no-boil means no smell from the boil at all and speeds up the brew day. At least try it once!

Go to the No-Boil beer video–>

A Kölsch style beer fermenting in my conical uni tank the Fermentasaurus. This fermentation doesn’t smell anyway close as much to the hoppy IPA in the fermentation chamber.

 Here are some ideas for a less smelly fermentation

The best way to get at least smell from the fermentation process is to place your fermenter where the smell won’t affect anyone or as little as possible. Putting your fermenter in a closed space like a fridge or closet might help a bit. Maybe try to mask it with another sent.

If you want to get creative and fight the smell

A simple trick would be to try to lead the gas away from the fermenter. You need a small jar. Make two holes in the top. Fill the jar with sanitizing solution half full. Now connect your fermenters out with a hose down into one of the jars two holes. The hose needs to go under the “water” line. The other hoes go into the jars other whole but over the “water line”. Hose number two can preferably be of a wider diameter than hose number one. The longer the hose, the wider I would go. Maybe the end of the second hose could lead out into the ventilation or out a window. That you have to figure out for your self.
You could also build a fermentation chamber with active ventilation and use a charcoal filter to filter the air going out of the chamber. But before I would do anything drastic like that. I would first find out if the smell coming from the fermenter is an actual problem for you.

The sum up on the smell of brewing beer at home

Yes brewing your own beer at home does smell. If that’s a bad smell or a pleasant smell, it’s for you to decide, and I guess the people around you. Most of us enjoy following the brewing process all stages. For me, the smell of brewing beer has never been a problem.  But maybe not all in your family will thank you for a rotten egg stinking house. I would not give up the idea of getting started brewing beer at home cause of the smell from the brewing process. Even in a small apartment. If you have other people opinions to consider, maybe choose your beer style and brew when no one is at home. For me, this has never. Please share your beer homebrewing smell related stories in the comments. If you found this article helpful feel free to share it.

Cheers and thanks for reading, DrHans out!

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