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Old 03-09-2012, 11:36 PM   #1
sag1189
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Default Multiple Contaminated Batches

I'm relatively new to homebrewing (8 batches). The first 3 I did at my parent's house completely, brew day to bottling and they all turned out great. I did the remaining 5 in my apartment. The problem is that every batch I've done at my apartment tastes sour and over-carbs in the bottle, which leads me to believe they are contaminated. The first 3 I did at my apartment were with the same batch of Star San. Thinking that the Star San was no longer effective, I made a new batch for my last 2 brews. I tasted a bottle of the first of the last 2 most recent batches I did (an all centennial pale ale) after 2 weeks of carbonating in the bottle and it had the same sour and over-carbed taste as my other brews. Where I live has very hard water so I did this batch with all store bought spring water too.

Lastly, when ever I taste the beer as I rack from my secondary to the bottling bucket it tastes like a good brew, just without carbonation. Therefore, it seems the contamination occurs in the bottle. I use my dishwasher's "heat dry" setting to sanitize the bottles, could it be that the dishwasher doesn't get hot enough?

I don't know why it took me 4 contaminated batches to finally post but I got a batch in the secondary now I'm bottling on Sunday that I like to save.

Basically my question is have you ever heard of beer getting contaminated in the bottle and how do you normally sanitize your bottles? Or can you think of something that causes new brewers to have contaminated batches? I like to think I'm very careful when it comes to sanitizing.

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Old 03-09-2012, 11:45 PM   #2
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It very well could be your bottles. If you're using the same bottles from batch to batch you could have some sort of infection that is carrying over (possibly brettanomyces or another sour?) If you're just attempting to sanitize them using dry heat alone they may not be exposed to the heat long enough. Try running them in the dishwasher without soap, the combination of heat and moisture should do the trick.

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Old 03-09-2012, 11:45 PM   #3
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You should probably throw out ant racking stuff plus bottling bucket and start fresh seems like you have some contaminated equipment - I had the same issue once no biggie

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Old 03-09-2012, 11:47 PM   #4
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Also try to get some iodophor and rinse your bottles with a liitle after they come out of dishwasher

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Old 03-10-2012, 12:06 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by thebigt85 View Post
It very well could be your bottles. If you're using the same bottles from batch to batch you could have some sort of infection that is carrying over (possibly brettanomyces or another sour?) If you're just attempting to sanitize them using dry heat alone they may not be exposed to the heat long enough. Try running them in the dishwasher without soap, the combination of heat and moisture should do the trick.
When ever I have had a contaminated batch I dump then I do reuse the bottles. However, when I do reuse them I soak the bottles in OxyClean free, soak them in Star San, then I do run the dishwasher on hot without soap and then the heated dry. Do you think an infection can survive all that?
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Old 03-10-2012, 12:12 AM   #6
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Can you explain your process for priming your bottles? Do you use priming sugar or DME? Are you boiling your priming sugar or DME/water mixture? Is the pot you use to boil your priming sugars clean and without any food residue?

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Old 03-10-2012, 12:13 AM   #7
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Hmm, well if you put the bottles through all that then it's not the bottles. I'd check your racking equipment or priming procedure as previously noted

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Old 03-10-2012, 12:20 AM   #8
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Do you take the spigot on the bottling bucket apart. Most come apart into three pieces, and it is a great place for nasties to hide.

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Old 03-10-2012, 12:24 AM   #9
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Just for giggles, either bleach-bomb, or sterilize the bottles (oven bake, not sure the temp or time, but I'm sure it's out there someplace). Some buggers are tough to kill once established. I would also skip using the diskwasher for trying to sanitize the bottles. A simple full immersion in StarSan, rest for a moment, then drain and place either on a bottle tree, or on the counter (cover with either sanitized foil, or something else to make sure nothing falls in) should be more than enough.

If you suspect your racking equipment, or bottling bucket (could be either) then I would get replacements for all of it.

BTW, 'heated dry' is not the same as a sanitize setting. Since that's the final step in your process, there could be something in the dishwasher that the bottles are picking up, on the lip, and it's getting into the bottles during the rest of the process.

I bottled more than a few batches before I changed over to kegging. I simply cleaned the bottles (as I emptied them), soaking as needed in PBW solution. Dunked into, and filled with, StarSan solution to sanitize before putting them onto a bottle tree (sprayed with StarSan). I would prime the batch and bottle it up from there. Never had any infected bottles. Not a single bottle of mine ever went inside a dishwasher (partially due to not having one at home) for anything. I also hope you rinse the bottles really well after the oxyclean free soak. It will leave a residue if you don't. PBW rinses clean really easy.

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Old 03-10-2012, 12:32 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Rugrad02 View Post
Can you explain your process for priming your bottles? Do you use priming sugar or DME? Are you boiling your priming sugar or DME/water mixture? Is the pot you use to boil your priming sugars clean and without any food residue?
Yeah, I use corn sugar. I heat the water up so the sugar will dissolve easily. Take it off the heat, add the sugar and stir it up, put it back on the heat. Let it boil for 5-10 minutes then I put a sanitized lid on it. I never do anything special cleaning of the pot though, it's just as clean as any other pot in my kitchen. Maybe that's a problem. Also there's a very small hole in the lid to the pot I use to allow steam to escape. Do you think after it cools bacteria could get through there?
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