This Beer Tastes Like Corn

For the past week all the commercial beer I’ve tasted has this flat, grey, toffee-textured, corn-like taste. Doesn’t matter if I’m drinking at one of many brew pubs in Wisconsin or a sixer of something imported from the 49th state.

In all cases, this taste is so strong the beer is undrinkable.

Thankfully the first time this happened, I was catching up with a friend with a history of judging beers.

He pulls out his phone and points me to the Home Brewing Wiki’s page on DMS (Dimethyl sulfide).

Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) is an organic sulfur compound present above its flavor threshold in most beers. Because of its low flavor threshold, 10 – 150 ppb, it is a primary flavor and aroma compound that makes a significant contribution to beer character, especially in lager beers. It has a characteristic taste and aroma of cooked corn or creamed corn.

Yes, I think as a general rule I’ll be skipping lagers containing 20% corn.

2 thoughts on “This Beer Tastes Like Corn

  1. DMS is mostly contributed by pilsener malt (all malt contributes SOME, but pilsener malt has quite a bit more potential). When boiling, a bunch of DMS-precursors are produced and, if the boil is vigorous enough, driven off in the steam. Otherwise, those precursors are left in the beer and the yeast converts them to DMS.

    I found out most of this when I made a batch in January (with no corn), but put the lid on the boil in order to keep the heat from dumping out. However, in doing so, I kept all of the DMS-precursors in the pot and got a strong DMS flavor in the finished beer that made me pour the whole batch out.

    Since most lagers are made with pilsener malt, they’re more prone to DMS than ales are.

    1. J – thanks for the first hand experience. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised to find DMS so prevalent in Wisconsin commercial beers. The culture biases lagers & corn.

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