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Old 03-21-2009, 11:57 PM   #1
JollyToper
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Default Unfermented Starsan taste?

I'm at wit's end gang. I'm hoping someone can help.

I brewed my first batch in many years a couple months ago and when I popped open the bottle it smelled and tasted just like burned tupperware in the dishwasher.

From the taste alone I figured it had to be a chemical I put in it so immediately thought about Starsan or Oxyclean which are things I didn't used to do. Back in the old days I never had a flavor like this.

After reading many threads about Starsan being consumed by the yeast and leaving no residual flavor I ruled that out. My next best hunch was that I fermented too hot. I pitched at 72 and it climbed to 78 (it was an APA FWIW).

I picked up a freezer and temp control to keep the fermentation temp at 67 for the next batch (an amber ale with Wyeast 1056). I had wet Starsan foam in my carboy and racked right on top of it on brew day. When I bottled today there was again a faint wiff of the same burned smell in my hydrometer sample. For bottling I dunk all my bottles for about a minute in Starsan and then invert them on the dishwasher rack until I fill them with beer. For the last bottle I only had enough beer for half of the final bottle so without thinking about it I drank it. I was dismayed to find it had a strong burned tupperware taste just like the first beer.

This swallow had a much stronger off taste than the hydrometer sample which makes me think it was related to the fresh Starsan foam exposure in the bottle.

I reread the posts that say don't fear the foam, but I'm afraid of the foam. Is it possible that Starsan would give this off taste when it is added to beer until the yeast gets to it? My first brew not only had the tupperware taste but taste like the priming sugar didn't get totally consumed in the bottle. It was too sweet...so I'm allowing for the possibility that the fermentation wasn't good...on the other hand it was carbonated!?

If my beer is drinkable in two weeks I'll know the answer but are there any guesses in the mean time?

I have another 5 gallon batch that is due to be bottled tomorrow and I'm afraid of using the Starsan again. I probably shouldn't have gone so crazy brewing multiple batches in parallel but I never had problems in the past and felt pretty sure that fermentation temp was the issue. Thoughts?

EDIT:
THE RESOLUTION
I don't know exactly but my next two brews were delicious. I changed lots of things in my process so it is difficult to point to which one it was but I suspect that controlling my fermentation temp or getting neurotic about getting Oxyclean film off of bottles made the difference. On my most recent batch I have stopped using Oxyclean to remove the labels. Ivory soap in hot water makes SN labels come off with a little elbow grease. It turns out that it was not the RO water from the store because batch #2 used the same water as #1 and had fine results. Lastly, it was NOT Starsan which I used copiously in all batches.

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Last edited by JollyToper; 04-08-2009 at 04:08 AM. Reason: Added solution to my problem.
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Old 03-22-2009, 12:08 AM   #2
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At proper dillution it is NOT possible...otherwise we'd not say that it is a no-rinse sanitizer.

Let's look at some other things shall we?

Like at what point are you tasting this...are you letting the beer carb and condition for a minimum of 3 weeks? And if the flavor is still present do you check them a few weeks later...

Green beer has all manner of odd flavors, but they usually dissipate over time.

Here's some info on that....if you are judging the beer BEFORE you bottle and carb it, you really can't relay on that, the beer changes considerably over the course of bottle conditoning.

Here's some info http://blogs.homebrewtalk.com/Revvy/Of_Patience_and_Bottle_Conditioning/

And also about what often happens if you leave you bad beer alone..http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/never-dump-your-beer-patience-virtue-time-heals-all-things-even-beer-73254/

If it doesn't mellow over time, then there is some other issues such as,

What kind of water do you brew with, is it highly chloranted?

There's a few other factors...but really, if you are diluting your starsan to what it says on the bottle, you should NOT be getting a flavor from that...if that were the case noone of us would use it...

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Old 03-22-2009, 12:14 AM   #3
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Sounds like you scorched your extract to me.

I was going to make a long drawn out post about how Star San wasn't the problem, and about why you shouldn't fear the foam, but Revvy beat me to it. To make up for the fact that I didn't post it, just read his post twice.

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Old 03-22-2009, 12:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Like at what point are you tasting this...are you letting the beer carb and condition for a minimum of 3 weeks? And if the flavor is still present do you check them a few weeks later...
I tasted the 1st batch at 2, 3, 4, 5 weeks after bottling. It got mellower but is still not drinkable. The second batch I bottled today after adding priming sugar. It was in the primary for a week and secondary for two. It is not a big beer (less than 1.050). I expect it to change but was alarmed by the same taste as the first batch.

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What kind of water do you brew with, is it highly chloranted?
100% RO water on both batches. The first batch was extract. The second was AG and I used the mineral mix the HBS gave me to keep the PH in place.

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you should NOT be getting a flavor from that...if that were the case none of us would use it...
I hear you and appreciate the response even though my question has been asked many times. I'm puzzled.
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Old 03-22-2009, 12:29 AM   #5
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Sounds like you scorched your extract to me.
Maybe on the first batch...but I added all the extract with the flame out and stirred it in pretty well before restarting the fire.

The second batch was AG. Could I scorch that on a full boil? If so, maybe you're right? I'm open to any ideas.
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Old 03-22-2009, 12:33 AM   #6
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StarSan can create some pretty nasty smells if it is exposed to residue from other chemicals, such as Oxyclean, which may carry over to the taste. Be sure to rinse everything several times after soaking equipment in a cleaner solution before sanitizing. By itself, StarSan is completely neutral in beer.

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Old 03-22-2009, 12:40 AM   #7
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Your question, like "is my beer ruined?" or "my fermentation is stuck I think because, like you, they assume it is something, because they are new to their understanding of the process and are assuming something...Just like all the supposed stuck fermentation threads, one would assume that is a constant issue, when it usually pan out the the brewer is using airlock to gauge fermentation, NOT the hydrometer...when we finally convince him/her that the hydrometer won't bite, or infect the batch, and they use it, they find out that the beer is fermenting fine...

look up the Latin saying under my name for an idea of what I'm trying to say...

But for ****s and giggles, just what dillution ratio ARE you using for your starsan?

And ARE you rinsing the oxyclean thoroughly after cleaning?

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Old 03-22-2009, 01:39 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ArcaneXor View Post
StarSan can create some pretty nasty smells if it is exposed to residue from other chemicals, such as Oxyclean, which may carry over to the taste. Be sure to rinse everything several times after soaking equipment in a cleaner solution before sanitizing. By itself, StarSan is completely neutral in beer.
Interesting.

On my first batch, the one that is confirmed to be FUBAR after 5 weeks in the bottle, I treated OneStep like a StarSan and "sanitized" the fermentor with it (i.e., poured beer on wet OneStep). I've learned since that it is a cleaner like Oxyclean and not a sanitizer so I was using it wrong. I just remembered this.

I used Oxyclean and Starsan for my second batch but had a similar smell at bottling. Maybe it will go away or maybe not. Some of my bottles had some Oxyclean residue on them before I put them in Starsan. They came out visually without the white residue so I assumed it was gone.

I'm going to run some experiments with each cleaner and the starsan and see if I can reproduce the smell without beer involved.

Thanks for the thoughts.
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Old 03-22-2009, 01:41 AM   #9
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It's definitely not Star San that's causing the problem. My guesses would be as follows:

1. Chlorine or Chloramines in the water. RO alone will not remove these. A carbon filter will remove the chlorine, but not the chloramines. Boiling or a campden tablet will take care of the chloramines IIRC.

2. Did you use a garden hose for the water at any point? These are famous for contributing a plastic/phenolic taste to the water.

3. Did you use any bleach that may have not been rinsed completely. Bleach (chlorine) can be detected at very low concentrations.

4. Scorched extract or, in the case of all grain, scorching in the mash tun if direct fired.

5. Contamination (possible infection). While unlikely, still a possibility. Some wild yeast or bacteria can produce phenols IIRC.

The most likely culprit is a chloro-phenolics of some kind in your water as these would most resemble a burnt plastic taste. I've also heard it described as plastic resin or burned insulation on electrical wiring. Zero in on your water and you will likely solve the mystery.

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Old 03-22-2009, 01:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
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look up the Latin saying under my name for an idea of what I'm trying to say...
I'm with you and am familiar with the fallacious argument (but I'm not too high-browed to snicker when I say fallacious).

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just what dillution ratio ARE you using for your starsan?
I put a little less than 1/4oz in a gallon of water. I eyeballed it so it is possible that I over shot the 1oz to 5gallon ratio by a little but not much. I could have also undershot it.

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And ARE you rinsing the oxyclean thoroughly after cleaning?
See my response to ArcaneXor. You guys are headed in the same direction. I think this is the most promising lead right now. I had forgotten about how I used OneStep in the first batch. For the second batch, there was some Oxyclean residue so maybe I am getting the same taste from that even though they are different chemicals.
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