Brewing up a stink?
February 17, 2008 10:29 PM   Subscribe

AromaFilter: Nice apartmemt, next to a brewery. Will there be unpleasant exhaust from the brewing?

It's quite a nice place, on top of a building (5th floor). But the brewery is nearly next door. Does brewing beer make for stink or excessive noise? Not big enough for a traffic issue, it's a smallish local brew (at least one of their brews is quite pleasant). Probably too big to call it a microbrewery, the appearance is more factory.
posted by Goofyy to Home & Garden (27 answers total)
Yes it will. Unless they've got some kind of system in place to remove the odour, but every brewery I've ever been near has been quite whiffy at times. It's not a really bad smell, I could think of worse things to live next to. However, as people say, you'll get used to it.
posted by Jimbob at 10:47 PM on February 17, 2008

I went to school in Milwaukee. There was a restaurant near my school that brewed their own beer and on weekends the area within a couple blocks smelled terribly of yeast.

I can't stand the smell of breweries, so I'd definitely avoid living near one.
posted by Becko at 10:49 PM on February 17, 2008

I live on the other side of the hill from the Anchor Steam brewery. I don't smell it all the time, but when the wind is right, everything smells kind of like toast. It's delicious.

YMMV. I've never lived next door to a really big facility.
posted by rtha at 10:50 PM on February 17, 2008

You should go take a whiff when they're brewing something. Some people love the smell some people hate it.
posted by jclovebrew at 10:52 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I used to live near the old Kent/Cub Brewery in Sydney. Roughly every Thursday, they'd mash the grain, and a thick malty scent would roll out across Chippendale. The aroma was somewhere between that of Weetbix, porridge and beer, pretty much how you'd expect industrial quantities of hot soggy grain to smell.

The Cub Brewery is probably a bit bigger than your local brewer, but all beer involves some hot water and grains at some point in the process. I always loved the smell, and miss it now it's gone.

For a second data point, Ms. Zamboni says she grew to like it in time.
posted by zamboni at 10:57 PM on February 17, 2008

If you like bready smells go for it, if not look somewhere else.
posted by brujita at 11:01 PM on February 17, 2008

Next door? Definitely. They brew various alcoholic beverages around here and on a good day you can smell it blocks away.
posted by wsp at 11:05 PM on February 17, 2008

Since you describe it as more factory than micro, I'm (along with everyone above) going to assume that yes, it will be making something of a stink on occasion. If you enjoy beer (and bread, though it's a rougher scent than a bakery) it's probably something that you will acclimate to, and consider more unique than troublesome. Just a local phenomenon, like being near a church and hearing the choir practice every week. Some day you'll move, or they will, and you'll find yourself missing it.
posted by mumkin at 11:16 PM on February 17, 2008

Wow, that was fast! Thanks! I've lived in Milwaukee, don't remember smells from the beer. The apartment is quite fancy, and even has an air filtration system. My partner points out that a bread/yeasty smell might cause hunger, and I need no additional motivation to eat.

Alas, the housing market here around Zug, Switzerland, is extremely tight (as in, only saw 3 places worth considering!) and there is some time pressure. Choosing housing in an environment that is so totally new can be very difficult. To add to the mix, landlords take multiple applications then choose whom they prefer. The second choice is just as fine, but 1 room smaller. Choice #3 is most convenient to trains (huge plus) but considerably lower quality. Add to the mix, lastnight was the first night in over a week I got enough sleep, and I'm still waking up.
posted by Goofyy at 11:25 PM on February 17, 2008

It may well smell of Marmite: travelling on the train through Burton-on-Trent, you'd get that unmistakeable whiff. If it doesn't suit you, get a British expat to take it off your hands.
posted by holgate at 11:33 PM on February 17, 2008

I'm going to agree with zamboni and describe the smell as more sweet and malty than yeasty or bready. At least all the small breweries around where I've lived or worked smelled like that. It also always seems to be on Thursdays.

I personally don't care much for the smell. It's not a bad smell really--it's not like you're next to a paper mill or a rendering plant--and it wouldn't keep me out of an apartment I really liked.

Now if they could exhaust the hops smell instead that would be much more acceptable.
posted by sevenless at 12:51 AM on February 18, 2008

As a brewer, I would say it depends strongly on how many brews a week the brewery is producing. If it's operating around the clock, the smell might be an issue. But generally the production process requires mashing (60-90 minutes) and a boil (60-90 minutes, plus the heat-up time). You are less likely to smell the mashing as it takes place at about 65C, not at the boil. If it's brewing on a daily basis, this would all probably take place in the morning.

The hops go in during the boil, and if you can smell the grain, you'll probably be able to smell the hops as well - it changes the smell from that of boiling grain to a more bitter, beery smell. You might consider it strong, but it's definitely not a bad smell.

One foggy Sunday morning I had the distinct pleasure of walking across an Edinburgh replete with the smell of brewing beer. One of the signs that all is right in the world, IMO.
posted by sagwalla at 12:59 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

We live near the Beamish factory, which is a large scale, industrial brewing operation and not a micro-brewery. Beamish is on South Main Street in downtown Cork, Ireland's second largest city. If it stank, it would be a civic issue, due to the location. It isn't an issue at all, however.

When they brew, it makes the entire city heavy with the smell. It smells, in a word, amazing. They brew both more traditional stout and Miller, and it's not like once smells great and one smells gross and chemical. It just smells like a cross between bread and Marmite.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:52 AM on February 18, 2008

It's not a bad smell. There will be a smell so hang around first and decide whether you like it - that is the main issue.
posted by fire&wings at 4:09 AM on February 18, 2008

I have worked at several breweries over the last 11 years. I don't even notice the aroma anymore. It's usually a bready-grainy type smell as most people mention. It's not a bad smell, but noticable.
posted by beachhead2 at 4:56 AM on February 18, 2008

Maybe I'm weird but I love the smell of breweries and yeast factories. Sadly, downtown Milwaukee has been sanitized of these smells over the years. For years a chocolate factory near the technical college emitted a strong, flavorful scent which has been absent for almost twenty years. I miss that the most but also miss the Red Star yeast factory off of 27th Street which shut down a few years back.

Brewery smells are sweetly pungent and are much better than those from coffee roasters which smell bitter and burnt. I did live a block away from the Alterra coffee roaster and that was pretty bad at times. If the place is a microbrewery, it probably won't release enough smell to be even noticeable.
posted by JJ86 at 5:53 AM on February 18, 2008

Goofyy - if you're familiar with Milwaukee, then the smell is strongest on I-94 around 27th street. Personally, I could get used to it, but it wouldn't be my first choice.

I lived near Sprecher Brewery, which is obviously a smaller operation than Miller, and I didn't notice a smell at all.
posted by desjardins at 6:13 AM on February 18, 2008

boy, this thread brought out the cheeseheads, didn't it? Hey there!
posted by desjardins at 6:14 AM on February 18, 2008

Desjardins: I have since remembered the smell along the freeway coming in to town, and I loved that smell! Funny enough, in Kansas City, I also liked the smell from the Folgers plant (smelled better than their coffee tasted, for sure).

It would be nice if we had the leisure of investigating well, but we don't. The place may even be rented before we can see it tomorrow evening. But we're seeing the other nice place this afternoon, in an hour. It's several hundred francs cheaper. Given that a very simple dinner for 4, in a university part of Zurich, cost us CHF 219 last night, every bit of savings will help! (the best dinner available in South Africa, where we lived before, cost half that much--Ironically, the chef was Swiss! And OMG, the buffalo fillet was fantastic)
posted by Goofyy at 6:32 AM on February 18, 2008

I have to agree with most that brewing does not cause objectionable smells. One source of funk, however, can come from spent grain (left-overs from the brewing process). If the brewery has a storage bin for the spent grain and only has it removed once a week, fermentation by wild yeasts and bacterias can set in to the pile. This can begin in a day or two. The smell can be revolting.
I would seriously doubt that a brewery in a residential area would do this, however.
posted by Seamus at 7:26 AM on February 18, 2008

I've visited the New Belgium brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, several times. The smell outside the facilities was not one I would call pleasant or bready or grainy; to me it smelled like nothing more than dry dog food. Not a scent I'd want to live with.

But, as others said, go take a whiff yourself. You might find it to be a bonus!
posted by Bud Dickman at 8:27 AM on February 18, 2008

desjardins said: Goofyy - if you're familiar with Milwaukee, then the smell is strongest on I-94 around 27th street. Personally, I could get used to it, but it wouldn't be my first choice.

That's not the brewery smell, it is the yeast factory which was closed a few years ago. Needless to say you won't be smelling it anymore :(
posted by JJ86 at 9:31 AM on February 18, 2008

I personally would call this an amenity. YMMV, of course.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:48 AM on February 18, 2008

The particular smell from breweries is Malt Extract -- you can buy it from homebrew shops (as well as Amazon). Its edible -- I was given it by the spoonful as a child so maybe you could get hold of some and give it a try to see what you will be letting yourself in for.

I grew up in a brewing town so its the smell of my childhood and I'm fond of it, though working across the road form a brewery now it does get a reaction from one person though everbody else is fine. Its not an everyday smell -- breweries have malting days when it's strong but you won't notice it the rest of the time.
posted by tallus at 10:03 AM on February 18, 2008

I have to agree with most that brewing does not cause objectionable smells. One source of funk, however, can come from spent grain (left-overs from the brewing process). If the brewery has a storage bin for the spent grain and only has it removed once a week, fermentation by wild yeasts and bacterias can set in to the pile. This can begin in a day or two. The smell can be revolting.

Interesting. I spent many a fine day a the Golden Gate brewery in North Berkeley. They used to have an 'all-you-can-drink' beer tastings each friday (which was pretty quickly revised to 'five-pints-of-beer'). The beer was delicious, but the smell was absolutely terrible. There's no way in hell I'd live next to that -- and I currently share a wall with a Svenhard's Bakery/Factory -- I don't think I'd say the smells are even remotely comparable: Svenhard's smells somewhat like Cinnabuns -- the Golden Gate brewery smelled like the devil's own taint.

That said, I'm willing to accept that perhaps what I was smelling was the waste yeast that Seamus mentioned, or pehaps that I'm particularly averse to the stank of yeast.

I'd weigh possibly missing out the apartment with being in a living situation that could be less than tolerable. Keep in mind you don't have to see the apartment to smell the stink; if possible swing by during the day and take a whiff.
posted by fishfucker at 10:27 AM on February 18, 2008

I live a mile or so from the big brewery here in St Louis. When the wind blows the right way, you can smell it even this far away. I happen to love the smell so don't mind it at all.
posted by slogger at 12:59 PM on February 18, 2008

When bittering hops are pitched into boiling wort, it's definitely one of the stronger smells around. I find it unpleasant and certainly wouldn't want to be living somewhere I had to smell it several times a week, much less continuously.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:00 PM on February 18, 2008

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