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Old 01-17-2013, 07:51 PM   #1
WesleyBrewViking
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Default The Horrendous Stench of Cod Liver Oil

So I bought an old one gallon brown glass growler off kijiji. It still has the label on it, which says it's the "finest Norwegian cod liver oil." My idea was to use it as a bright tank for small experimental batches, because the amber colour would keep the hops from going skunky if I age it a long time before bottling. It came with about four inches of sludge in the bottom - congealed cod liver oil, I'm guessing by the antique label to be at least fifty years old.

Cod liver oil smells bad enough when it's fresh, so I can't even begin to describe how ghastly an odour was emanating from that bottle when I opened it. Then when I added hot water to help loosen up the blob, all the aromatic compounds that had been aging to perfection for decades began wafting through my kitchen, permeating deep into the fabric of my soul. Now I'm being haunted by the ghosts of a thousand codfish.

I loosened up most of the solids inside while managing to supress a gag reflex, and then filled it with bleach and hot water. Then I shook it out and filled it with hot water and dish detergent, hoping the surfactant will strip it down to glass. I left it overnight and I plan to replace it again with bleach-water to (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease) get rid of the smell.

My wife was appalled to say the least when she returned home to have her nostrils inundated with rancid fish stink. I assured her I would take care of it, though I'm not entirely sure how. My main concern right now is the jug, then I'll deal with the smell in the house.

I've done lots of canning and found that some food leaves a smell in the mason jars even after multiple cleanings, but it's never been strong enough that it's affected subsequent canning batches, so I've never bothered trying bleach. I'm concerned about imparting a foul fish liver smell to my beer, but I've suffered too much for this cause to just give up now and throw the jug away.

If anybody has had a similar experience and successfully eradicated the smells/tastes, I enthusiastically welcome your shared knowledge and wisdom. Otherwise, please feel free to have a good laugh at my expense.



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Old 01-17-2013, 07:59 PM   #2
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Seems like a lot of trouble to go through, with a lot of risk. Don't the microbreweries around you have brown growlers? Most of them around here only charge ~$6 for an empty growler.



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Old 01-17-2013, 08:04 PM   #3
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A 24 hour oxyclean full soaking and scrubbing, followed by a 24-72 hour starsan full soaking (maybe a little heavy on the starsan). I've found carboys with a residual hop smell seem to come scent free after a good scrubbing with oxy and repeated rinsing with starsan.

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Old 01-17-2013, 08:04 PM   #4
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You might have some success with getting rid of the smell by leaving a layer of baking soda in the jar for a while then thoroughly rinse it out after a few days.

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Old 01-17-2013, 08:10 PM   #5
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I'd try a very strong batch of warm/hot PBW first and let it soak in the growler for a long time. If that doesn't work try a strong acid like muriatic acid (Hydrochloric acid) since it wont etch glass, but be very careful with it and wear acid proof gloves, goggles, and a respirator. I agree with the above that it seems like a lot of work for a growler that you can probably buy for a couple bucks (some even come with beer in them already).

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Old 01-17-2013, 08:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reverendj1 View Post
Seems like a lot of trouble to go through, with a lot of risk. Don't the microbreweries around you have brown growlers? Most of them around here only charge ~$6 for an empty growler.
For me it's more about the process of taking something old and cheap and reclaiming it for the noble cause of home brewing. Maybe I'm just too stubborn, but I can't give up until I know I've really tried. There are microbreweries around here that I could get growler's from, and I guess now that I have decided to go this route, buying a new growler will be my backup plan if this doesn't work. Even if it does work, I'll probably buy some more. But in the mean time, my curiosity must be satisfied.
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:41 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies/suggestions. If the bleaching doesn't work, I'll keep trying these options until hopefully something works. If not, Ill head down to the Noble Pig and get a growler with some beer.

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Old 01-17-2013, 08:43 PM   #8
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To be doubly sure, if I get the smell out I will leave some water in it for a week or so to see if it picks up any old faint flavours.

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Old 01-17-2013, 09:17 PM   #9
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I'd try caustic soda (drain cleaner).
When trying out different methods, be sure to rinse thoroughly in between and not to mix cleaning agents! Especially when using bleach, under no circumstances let bleach be mixed with acid!



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