Thanks, Mack- I will try the kosher salt! For the first two experimental batches, I used One Step. I'd been using One Step and/or bleach in years prior (in completely different equipment), with the same flavor defects emerging. I am now using Star San exclusively, but haven't tasted the batches made with that yet- that will be a couple of weeks away.
Studmonk3y, I've read the same thing, hence the switch. I figured that since I'd been running into the same problems even when brewing with completely different ingredients and equipment that the common factor is ... me (I wasn't joking when I said I might have to wear gloves and a mask!).
I'm picking up some helpful hints - such as cold crashing before bottling. All good stuff that this old-timer never did back in the 90's, and am looking forward to trying it out. Even after I finally get a good batch I hope to have kept good enough records to go back, identify what I did right, then repeat two 1-gallon batches (one using the right way, the other the wrong way) in an effort to confirm the findings. The cost and time of knowingly producing another bad batch is insignificant (and hell, it's only one gallon); it will be so worth it!
I'd like to brew another two batches this weekend, in order to keep the pipeline going. Considering it takes 6+ weeks to determine the results of the batch (and a busy spring/summer is approaching rapidly), I'd better put my nose to the grindstone. I want to have this problem figured out for a single entry to a small competition this summer, but more importantly - for this coming fall when I can hopefully go back to the all-grain world and ramp back up to 5-gallon batches.
Thanks again, guys- I appreciate the input.