Off Flavor Taste Test #3: Benzaldehyde

Today is the off flavor taste test for benzaldehyde, colloquially known as “almond”, although I don’t really think that’s a good descriptor of it. The almost I know is a earthy, crunchy, dry, and nutty flavor. Although I understand now that they mean more of a ‘candied almond paste’ effect, like marzipan, calling it almost was a bit misleading. In fact, I thought that this the benzaldehyde flavor reminded me of the goo inside of chocolate covered cherries; that kind of ultra sweet flavor you find in candies that are supposed to have alcohol in them (like rum filled chocolate).

I ended up doing a back to back tasting of Acetic Acid and Benzaldehyde, so you’ll see the same beers for last tasting and this one.

  • Flavor Name: Benzaldehyde
  • Similar To: Marzipan, sherry, boozy candy (my words), some say ‘almond’.
  • Causes: Oxidation of melanoidins (melanoidins = chemical compound from caramelization of sugars/proteins in the wort)
  • How To Fix: Unfortunately, there’s no real way to un-oxidize your beer, especially after it’s been conditioned, carbed, and sitting for a while. You might not see these flavors appear until months later. For some styles, like bigger beers, including Russian imperial stouts, barleywines, or Belgian ales a light sherry note can be appropriate.

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The Taste Test

Pre-Dose Tasting Notes

Firestone 805

  • crisp, effervescent
  • fruity esters, kolsh-like

New Belgium Slow Ride

  • light body
  • floral, piney hops

21st Amendment Fireside Chat

  • strong holiday spices – cinnamon, star anise, ginger, cloves, cardamom
  • dark, caramelly malt flavors
  • thick mouthfeel, malt forward

Post-Dose Tasting Notes

Firestone 805

  • very strong marzipan smell
  • tastes of dry alcohol, sherry like
  • strongest benzaldehyde flavor of all beers

New Belgium Slow Ride

  • initially hard to pick out in nose and tasting
  • subdued hop flavor and aroma
  • possibly also tasting papery

21st Amendment Fireside Chat

  • bold flavors flattened or reduced complexity (possible palate fatigue)
  • not too bad because lots of other flavors are in there as well, and this was higher abv beer

Not too much to report on this tasting, as I was just getting down to brass tacks and cranking out another taste test so I can get through the 25. I’d like to complete all of them before the NHC on June 11.

In other news, I also went to the Rare Barrel on Friday for some sour beer tasting! It’s actually only about 90 minutes from where I live. The funny thing was that I thought it would be a kind of “niche” brewery, but there was a line out the door before they opened at 4PM on Friday and the place was packed all afternoon.

It’s a real bummer that they only do growler fills for members, and you can’t actually be a member unless you get on the wait list. They also only have 1 kind of bottle you can take home at a time, so it’s very ‘exclusive’ beer. Still, it’s worth the trip and you can’t get good sour beer like this everywhere.rare barrel berkley ca

Speaking of sour, if you want to read about the bad kind, you can read my post about acetic acid (#2), or you can check out the first one I did, which was Acetyldehyde.

About Nate

I created this website almost two years ago when I first started homebrewing. Like my brewing, it's been through many changes over the years.

I'm a full time online marketer and brewing beer is my hobby. You'll find a mix of all topics related to craft beer and homebrewing at xBREWx!

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