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OKCAg2002 12-20-2013 07:01 PM

Sour beer every time
Hey guys - I posted this in the beginners forum as well but thought I'd bring it here for your input as well. Thanks in advance for any help you offer. It's much appreciated.

I'm still a beginner at this, but I do have 8 extract brews under my belt. But I have noticed a trend with all of my beers to this point. All of them develop a sour kind of taste in the bottles. It's probably there prior to bottling, but for whatever reason it really comes out after being conditioned for a while in bottles.

All have been kits bought from either Midwest or NB. I use liquid yeast with a starter. I am pretty meticulous about sanitation. I have a 5 gallon container of Star San solution mixed with distilled water. I usually just reuse this for sanitation. I have a chest freezer for temperature control and keep fermentation temps at about 68 for ales. I have used several different fermentation vessels and all of them have produced a pungent beer regardless of style.

The one exception to this was an IPA I did. I didn't notice it as much. I think the hoppy profile either covered it or perhaps the hop oils from dry hopping protected it from any infection.

I want to transition to all grain, but before I do so is like to figure out where my process is wrong.

One thing that has come to mind. I don't aerate very well. I usually just pour in the yeast after some shaking of the fermenter. Could that be a big problem?

tally350z 12-20-2013 07:14 PM

Whats the PH of your 5 gallon star san solution? Could be that it is above the recommended level and your not sanitizing like you think you are.

OKCAg2002 12-20-2013 07:16 PM

I don't know. I need to get some pH test strips. That could be an issue. Another issue is that maybe my fermentation freezer is too warm and causing the yeast to put out some off flavors. I put the temp probe on the side of the fermenter and tape a paper towel over it. You think that gives me an accurate reading?

rawlus 12-20-2013 07:16 PM

How are you cooling the wort before fermentation?
What is your process for bottling and sanitizing associated with it?

OKCAg2002 12-20-2013 07:23 PM

My first few beers I used an ice bath. Now I have a wort chiller that works pretty well. Since I do extract at the moment, I get it down to about 90 and then pour in cold spring water.

Bottling goes like this. I always rinse out my bottles as soon as I decant. I use a bottling brush as well. Before I bottle, I let them soak in some oxiclean overnight and then rinse well. Before I actually bottle the beer, I use a vintinator to shoot some Star San into the bottle and then let the drip in a bottle tree. I bottle with a bottling bucket (sanitized of course), cap, and then I'm done. I use corn sugar to carb up. I boil it for 10 minutes and then pour into the beer before bottling.

Since my very first batch with new equipment had this off flavor, I think it might be something in my temps, water, or sanitation methods. Thoughts?

hou_me 12-20-2013 08:37 PM

What temp do you pitch your yeast? If you're using lme, how old is it?

OKCAg2002 12-20-2013 08:45 PM

I will pitch when it is about 75. It will cool down quickly in the freezer. Perhaps I should pitch it when it gets down to 67 or so in the freezer. I use LME that is from Northern Brewer or Midwest. I wouldn't think their kits had old LME.

BackAlley 12-20-2013 08:45 PM


Originally Posted by OKCAg2002
I have a 5 gallon container of Star San solution mixed with distilled water. I usually just reuse this for sanitation.

Why????? You have a possible infection issue and you're reusing StarSan? To save a quarter?

OKCAg2002 12-20-2013 08:51 PM

A quarter? It's more like several dollars per batch if you don't reuse it. 5 gallons on bottling day and 5 gallons on brew day. It adds up. Maybe I'm just cheap. :p

VT-NAV 12-20-2013 09:16 PM


Originally Posted by OKCAg2002 (Post 5756678)
A quarter? It's more like several dollars per batch if you don't reuse it. 5 gallons on bottling day and 5 gallons on brew day. It adds up. Maybe I'm just cheap. :p

Well, you don't need to make 5 gallons and fill the bucket all the way up. One gallon will do if you are careful to have the liquid and bubbles make contact with every surface of the bucket a few times.

If you're buying your Star San from the local shop, you may be getting gouged. A 32oz bottle is about $23 from Amazon, and should provide enough sanitizer for at least 60 or so batches.


After twenty or so batches, I had an IPA unexpectedly turn out with a very sour finish. I closely examined my process and determined that I had become complacent in several key areas of cleanliness and sanitation - namely my plastic tubing, auto-siphon, and bottling bucket spigot.

When bottling, my usual process had been to simply pump a little Star San solution through my tubing using my auto-siphon. After bottling, I ran a little more Star San through both items and called it a day. Unfortunately, Star San is a great sanitizer, but does not clean very well at all. My tubing and auto-siphon would dry out leaving behind a very faint, sugary film upon which all kinds of nasty things probably took root. Since switching to a careful rinse, clean with Straight A, rinse, sanitize with Star San process, I have not had any more noticeable bacterial contaminations (noticeable by my palate, at least).

Additionally, I discovered that my bottling bucket spigot was harboring some black sludge-like material in hard-to-reach corners. I had been rinsing it off with Star San after every use, but clearly that wasn't doing the trick. I am very careful now to disassemble it after every use and thoroughly clean it before putting it away.

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