How to Taste – Musty and Earthy Taints

Musty and Earthy Taints

Musty and Earthy flavours are major taints that can severely impact the flavour of a beer. If these flavours are found in beer the entire batch can be considered a write-off. However these flavours rarely occur in beer – although a technical taster should always be aware of the danger these pose.

Tasting for Musty and Earthy Taints

Earthy and musty taints are very prominent and can easily be picked up by swirling the glass and taking a short sniff while holding the beer to the nose. Taking a taste of the beer will reveal a strong flavour very different from the beer. Musty flavours will taste like mould or dampness, while earthy flavours are more peaty or have a freshly dug soil taste about them.

What Does the Flavour Indicate?

Musty and Earthy taints can occur due to the poor storage of beer during and after production.  Musty is introduced by chloroanisoles in packaging and even in brewing raw materials before production. These chemicals can migrate through packaging (plastics, waxed paper and even some glasses are semi-porous) into beer and raw materials.

Earthy is produced by micro organisms in water and in the walls of damp cellars. These chemicals also can migrate across packaging just like chloroanisoles.