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Old 06-19-2011, 11:36 PM   #1
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Default Had to dump last 6 batches - Need help finding culprit!

As I stated in the subject, I've had to dump the last 6 batches due to off flavors or infections. Now, they're not horrible brews but they are not up to my standards and are certainly far below what I have brewed in the past. That being said I have an semi-automated electric HERMS systems. I hit my mash temps every time and always get 75% efficiency or better. I have a controlled fermentation chamber and always ferment at 68 degrees. I only ferment in a stainless conical or glass carboy. I use a pump and CFC to chill and transfer wort to fermenter. I use PBW to clean and Starsan to sanitize.
I use S-05 and 1056 with proper starters and usually achieve 70-75% attenuation.

Now of the last 6 batches 4 have tasted very promising in the secondary or while being transferred into the kegs. 2 batches have had the off flavor before kegging. In all 6 cases the off flavor gets worse with time and eventually becomes piss water in 4-6 weeks. None of the 6 batches have had any visible signs of infections. Also, I've noticed the body and hop presence has been severely lacking in the past brews as well as head retention.

Description of off-flavor - metallic flavor in finish, slightly cidery, stale, sticking your tongue to a 9v.

Hop flavor/aroma quickly dissipates

Things I've checked - No beer in regulator or gas side of things
pH of StarSan is 3

What I have done this weekend - Cleaned every hose, utensil, kettle, copper piece ect with a high PBW concentration. Took pump head apart and valves and cleaned and soaked. Recirculated 120 degree PBW solution through CFC for an hour in each direction and at variable flow rates. Did the exact same thing with StarSan after rinsing everything with warm water. Took apart all keg fittings and again cleaned and sanitized.

I will be brewing again this coming week to see if I've corrected my cleaning/sanitation problem. Does anyone have any other advise?

Thanks

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Old 06-19-2011, 11:57 PM   #2
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Difficult to say without tasting the beer, but the metallic off flavor could be from your brewing water (possibly high iron contrent). Cidery is a little tougher, but coupled with stale it could be an oxidation problem. The last could be astringency I suppose. Hop flavors and aroma fading could be a problem with not chilling fast enough. Hops tend to fade some no matter what. Has anyone other than you tasted these beers? Might get an outside opinion before doing anything exttreme. I would do what you are planning regading cleaning. Boil everything you can in addition to cleaning the equipment.

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Old 06-20-2011, 12:02 AM   #3
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Has your water source changed in the last 6 brews? It actually sounds more like an infection process, but I always wonder about water if the process is sound.

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Old 06-20-2011, 12:36 AM   #4
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Forgot to add the I filter my water and perform slight modifications to my water. I also have a pH meter and I'm always in thr 5.2-5.6 range. I've had about 5 people taste them and they all agree there is something "going on" but no one can pin point it. I'm wondering if there are possible infections that can exist they won't show visible signs?

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Old 06-20-2011, 12:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger9913 View Post
Forgot to add the I filter my water and perform slight modifications to my water. I also have a pH meter and I'm always in thr 5.2-5.6 range. I've had about 5 people taste them and they all agree there is something "going on" but no one can pin point it. I'm wondering if there are possible infections that can exist they won't show visible signs?
Has it been getting progressivly worse over the last 6 brews? When was the last time you changed your filter?
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:01 AM   #6
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It seems each beer starts out the same and gets progressively worse. Filter is new and shouldn't matter since it's pre boil. The only things I use post boil are the CFC and pump.

It did have some grain specs and crud built up in my pump head.

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Old 06-20-2011, 01:27 AM   #7
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The head retention and hop issues are on the hot side of the production cycle, head retention is most likely from low mash temperatures caused by a mis-calibrated controller and temps in the 145 -150 range. The hop aroma problem is more likely related to fast fermentation losses.
The cold side is where you are having the most significant problems. Any and all tube fittings, threads, ball valves, can and will trap material that will only surface sanitize and flake off later to cause grief, I have had the same problem before with CFC tube fittings. Aeration of the cold wort with unfiltered ambient air invites all manner of wild yeasts, most commonly Brett, and to a lesser degree bacteria, to mix in and ruin things specially when the weather has warmed up. I would suggest taking all the cold side connections, hoses, valves apart, then clean and sanitize them before reassembling, and leave them capped after cleaning and sanitizing for system layup.

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Old 06-20-2011, 01:36 AM   #8
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Well, I'm using a BCS-460 system and a Blichmann dial thermometer in my MLT. I've also checked and calibrated with ice water and have used other thermometers and I'm within a +- 3 degree difference. I usually mash at 154 so even being a little low shouldn't be to big of problem. However, after switching to S-04/S-05 I have had extremely fast fermentation. My last IPA went from 1.057 to 1.02 within in 48hrs.

This weekend I did as you mentioned and took EVERYTHING apart and cleaned and sanitized. It took me over 6 hrs hours but I'm hoping it's worth it.

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Old 06-20-2011, 01:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
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Forgot to add the I filter my water and perform slight modifications to my water. I also have a pH meter and I'm always in thr 5.2-5.6 range. I've had about 5 people taste them and they all agree there is something "going on" but no one can pin point it. I'm wondering if there are possible infections that can exist they won't show visible signs?
I would suggest trying a batch with spring water or some other water source, to make sure the water isn't the problem. Even though I have been filtering, I still had some problems with chlorophenols. The filter may not be removing enough of the unwanted stuff.
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:49 AM   #10
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Can't hurt. I've been wanting to try using different water anyway.

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