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Old 09-14-2012, 03:47 AM   #11
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Thanks again.

terrapinj: My tap water is essentially RO (check it out ). I only use campden tablets as a precaution. I'm using the "Bru'n water" spreadsheet for the next batch to get the preferred salts, but I really can't see this being an issue. I've seen the water chemistry primer, but I like the supposed precision of Bru'n water.

ColumbusAmongus: Can I bleach my plastics without leaving residual chlorine? I'd gladly bleach a glass carboy, but I'm worried that the bleach itself would lead to chlorophenols unless I can rinse sufficiently. What's the forum consensus on bleaching plastics? What is the recommended bleach concentration? I'd love to salvage my plastics, but I've always heard it's near impossible to kill the buggers once they colonize plastic.

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Old 09-14-2012, 01:41 PM   #12
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I think adding some calcium would be good thing to try both for yeast health and possibly oxalate issues. I'm not sure how much credibility this theory would have, but I've heard oxalate can have a very harsh (borderline burning sensation) taste. Normally most of it precipitates out when it binds calcium (and forms beerstone), but in very soft water it can be an issue. It's really rare, but oxalate crystals can form in beer and cause nucleation sites which promote gushers too. Oxalate can also build up on your equipment and make sanitation difficult, but the PBW you're using should take it off.

If you want a pseudo-test for an oxalate flavor, if you boil spinach in a small amount of water the leftover water should have some oxalate in it.

Brewing in what is essentially RO water can be done, but there are issues with it. If you repost this over in the brew science forum you'll probably get some pretty detailed answers about what could be going on.

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Old 09-14-2012, 06:19 PM   #13
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Thanks bdh. That's encouraging. I'm planning a number of tweaks for the next batch (including adding calcium to the water) to try to eliminate anything and everything that could be an issue. The flavour is so noticeable that I can't believe it's just a minor tweak, but sometimes a series of minor things can add up to something serious. This is the primary reason why I think it's an infection. If it is, I think I'll try to clean my equipment with PBW then water then bleach+vinegar (24 hrs soak), then campden-treated water and of course starsan before use. With everything I'm doing, one of them has to be the culprit. If this doesn't work I'll be back here crying about my failure and buy new plastics.

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Old 09-14-2012, 08:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tedclev View Post
My vote is that you are underpitching your beers-
+1 to this. Wyeast smack packs contain barely enough cells when first bagged. Depending on transport, etc., they can easily lead to under pitching, particularly with high OG brews. What OG was this last batch? I'd suggest making a healthy 1.5-2L starter next time, and see if things improve.

Question: Does the off flavor seem to disapper (improve) as the beer warms in the glass - almost as if it were degassing?
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Old 09-14-2012, 10:02 PM   #15
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Thanks for your comments PLOVE:

It's certainly possible that underpitching contributed with this batch, for the reasons you mentioned, but I've experienced this flavor with/without starters. The OG was only 1.048. I have a stir plate and usually use Mr. Malty to predict starter size so I'll make sure to use one with my next batch to be on the safe side. I was actually just trying to simplify the last time to see if I could narrow down what was going on. This in combo with my other tweaks may be the magic formula.

I'm testing your question about whether the off flavor dissipates as it warms in the glass. After 5 minutes, it's still there...15 minutes, still there...30 min still there (but the beer is quite different now). The warm flat-ish beer has a more subdued quinine flavor, but it's still present. What would it mean if the flavor disappeared completely?

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Old 09-15-2012, 05:36 AM   #16
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I'm leaning towards the infection (wild yeast or bacteria) as I typically use use starter cultures. I really don't want to throw out the autosiphon, but if a PBW soak overnight won't get rid of the bugs, I guess I'll have to. Any chance I can keep my primary bucket? The beer was delicious before touching the bottling equipment.
Soaking it overnight in PBW? Yeesh. I get a film after only 20 minutes on my plastic stuff that I either need to wipe/scrub off or use StarSan to get rid of. A long soak in StarSan would be better. Or put it through your dishwasher (top rack only) with no soap or rinse agents and then StarSan it. A long soak in StarSan should take care of any bugs you've picked up, or just spend the $15 and get a new siphon.

To help with the general techniques aspect, if you don't give a rinse with StarSan after cleaning, do so from now on. You'll get rid of all the alkali cleaner and any bugs on there at the time.

When did you last replace your hosing? I do it yearly, if not more often since it's so cheap.
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Old 09-15-2012, 02:21 PM   #17
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Soaking it overnight in PBW? Yeesh. I get a film after only 20 minutes on my plastic stuff that I either need to wipe/scrub off or use StarSan to get rid of. A long soak in StarSan would be better. Or put it through your dishwasher (top rack only) with no soap or rinse agents and then StarSan it. A long soak in StarSan should take care of any bugs you've picked up, or just spend the $15 and get a new siphon.

To help with the general techniques aspect, if you don't give a rinse with StarSan after cleaning, do so from now on. You'll get rid of all the alkali cleaner and any bugs on there at the time.

When did you last replace your hosing? I do it yearly, if not more often since it's so cheap.
I meant an overnight soak in bleach+vinegar, after a short PBW soak. It may seem excessive, but I might as well. It's either that or replace everything. I will however just replace the siphon tubing outright (it has been awhile). And thanks for the tip about rinsing with StarSan after cleaning (for storage). I don't usually do that so that may help. Cheers.
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Old 09-16-2012, 03:11 PM   #18
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Brewzombie,
Sounds like you've pretty much ruled the idea of a underpitching. The few times I've underpitched and it resulted in some off flavors, I've noticed that they tend to disappear as the beer warms. I'm guessing this is because they cause is organic solvent-like products due to stressed fermentation. They evaporate more easily at room temp. This approach never saved the beer completely, but sometimes made it drinkable. The other thing that can happen is any CO2 bite (overcarbonating) softens, but this doesn't sound like your problem if your bottling. Have you ever tried running your bottles through the dishwasher sans soap/jetdry? Hot cycle pretty good at sterilization if bottles are clean. Would let you test whether the PBW or related chemical byproduct is the culprit.

Bummer. It's frustrating to have a systemic problem you can't track down.
Good luck
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Old 09-16-2012, 04:47 PM   #19
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Brewzombie,
Sounds like you've pretty much ruled the idea of a underpitching. The few times I've underpitched and it resulted in some off flavors, I've noticed that they tend to disappear as the beer warms. I'm guessing this is because they cause is organic solvent-like products due to stressed fermentation. They evaporate more easily at room temp. This approach never saved the beer completely, but sometimes made it drinkable. The other thing that can happen is any CO2 bite (overcarbonating) softens, but this doesn't sound like your problem if your bottling. Have you ever tried running your bottles through the dishwasher sans soap/jetdry? Hot cycle pretty good at sterilization if bottles are clean. Would let you test whether the PBW or related chemical byproduct is the culprit.

Bummer. It's frustrating to have a systemic problem you can't track down.
Good luck
PLOVE
I wish I had a dishwasher (for so many reasons), but this old apartment is lacking one big time. Hopefully my bottle rinsing is good enough. I have a tap-mounted bottle washer for rinsing and vinator for starsan.
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:05 PM   #20
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  • I oxygenate the wort by pouring the chilled wort through a sanitized screen and sealing the primary bucket with a stopper and shaking it on the floor for about 5 min (occasionally opening the stopper to let more air in).
That much shaking is way overkill, especially for a 1.048 beer. Try 30 seconds of shaking and see if that helps. It could be fusels caused by too much oxygen in the wort. I only say this since it is a fairly low gravity. Normally you can't over oxygenate by shaking. According to Greg Doss of Wyeast, 40 seconds of shaking will get you 8 ppm of dissolved O2. That should be plenty for a 1.048 beer. The fact that the off flavor goes away after leaving it out for a while further supports that it could be fusels.

1 pkg of yeast should be fine for this gravity. You could do a starter, but I don't think that is the issue.

I still don't think infection is the issue either. Don't use bleach. It can cause more harm than good and can damage your equipment. There is no need for anything stronger than PBW and starsan for cleaning and sanitizing. I soak my hoses in warm PBW or Oxyclean Free for a few hours. Then rinse with hot water. When i'm ready to use them, I soak in Starsan for a few minutes. Definately clean right after you use your equipment. I have never had an infection when doing this.
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