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Old 07-22-2012, 12:52 AM   #1
louisbrew
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Default Troubleshooting 1st and 2nd AG Brews

Hello All,

I have recently had the same problem with the first 2 batches I have ever brewed with my AG setup. I would like some help determining what the issue might be. Here is some background on the issue.

I have been brewing extracts since Jan 2012 with plastic buckets and recently (March) switched to a 6.5 gallon carboy. My normal fermenting schedule is 2 weeks in the primary with a temparture control ferment (around 68 degrees) using a big plastic tub, teeshirt, a fan on low speed, and a couple frozen water bottles. I use a stick on thermometer on the carboy and I check the temp ever 4-8 hours (more during the start of fermentation). So far, no issues with temperature getting above 70 degrees. I usually will use frozen water bottles at a rate of 1 per 8 hours to keep it in the 66-68 range. My apartment is around 75 degrees most of the time. I make 5 gallon batches only.

My first all grain was a simple brew in a bag recipe with 10lb 2 row/1lb crystal 40 + Columbus (3oz) during boil (60/15/5) and then 1 oz Columbus DH. The beer turned out great. I did this one in May and drank it through June.

Around the end of May 2012 I upgraded my setup to support more than BIAB AG to with a 10 Gallon Rubbermaid model 1610 cooler that I made into a mash tun using a 5/8" brass ball valve and zinc washers ( I am still hunting down 5/8 SS washers). I am using a stainless steel filter setup - washer hose with plastic hose removed setup as a SS screen.

The main issue I have had in the two brews - one english bitter and one rye PA is a weird aftertaste. it tastes kinda of sweet but definately OFF. Not really drinkable to my pallette. I am not really sure what a bandaid tastes like or what Phenols really taste like but alot of what I have read have mentioned these after tastes. All I can say is that it's not like medicine but more like a solvent or plastic after taste.

I have used the same vinyl tubing for 6 months to transfer from cooled kettles to my fermenters (carboy and plastic buckets) without issue. However, it was only since I started using the mashtun did I have the genius idea to use these vinyl tubes for hot side transfer as well. My mash is somewhere between 152 and 170 degrees when I lauter but the tubing should be rated to 180+ range. Do you think this could be the source of the issue?

I really don't notice the aftertase in the finished boiled and cooled wort pre-fermentation. But it starts to stand out at bottling and then after it's been in the bottle a couple weeks.

I would also like to mention that I use starsan to sanitize my carboy. That process hasn't changed much but I do put enough in the carboy for 5 gallons of water and normally only fill it with 2-3 gallons so I can swash it around to clean the carboy while I am boiling/mashing/etc. I drain it for a little bit but I never get all the foam out. there is a lot of foam left over, probably about 4 inches in the bottom when I do fill it with wort. Could this be the issue?

Also, on my second AG, I did catch the vinyl potential issue, so after I had lautered the first runnings (about 2 gallons) I removed the plastic hose and used the spigot only to drain. I can say based on tasting my second batch compared to my first (which i dumped after two weeksn in the bottle since it didn't improve) that the effect of the taste is lessened. Not sure if it's due to less exposure to the plastic or not.

Here are my thoughts so far:

1. Originally, I thought this was a yeast issue since I used wyeast 1099 liquid (1 pack smack) on my first batch. I figured I had under pitched the yeast. I didn't use a starter and the yeast was about 6 weeks old when I pitched it. However, on the second batch I used US-05, always a good dry yeast for me, I didn't hydrate but the effect on taste was the same - although somewhat lessened. Now, I don't think yeast is the issue.

2. Next I thought the issue was vinyl hosing. i made another test batch 1 gallon without any vinyl hose in the process and it definately tasted different after my boil - I didn't use hops - just two pounds of maris otter - and I didn't notice the taste after 1 week in the primary - however this was not a controlled test so I am really not sure I found the source of the issue. used US05 on this test as well.

3. Another idea is the season. I do know that my local water company uses Chlorophol/Chlorine in the water. However, I have not had any issues with my extract or AG BIAB brews, but maybe I just have entered a period of time during the year when they up their concentrations. Not sure. I did look at last years water report and it showed a concentration increase of about 20 percent in May through december. I started brewing in january so I wouldn't know what last decembers water and brews tasted like. ANyways, the current concentration is around 18.4 PPM for Chlorine. Do I need to get a carbon block filter and go that route?

4. Final thought is that the zinc in my mashtun, the ones on the inside, are the problem. i don't think they are treated with any chemicals but maybe so. however, the taste didn't show up in my 1 gallon test batch that i did with out hops and not using any vinyl tubing?

what's the best course of action here?

Switch to silicon hoses and try again?

Do I go back to one step or rinse out the carboy from excess starsan? Can starsan give you this type of aftertaste - sweet/solvent like?

Thanks for any help on this one.

Sincerely,

Louisbrew

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Old 07-22-2012, 01:17 AM   #2
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It's not starsan. Do not fear the foam.

Don't think it's anything with plastic (carboys, plastic, buckets etc) leeching plastic flavor into your beer. based on this article, your thought about your water may be on track.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/band-aid-taste-299042/

On another note, why do you sweat the fermentation temp so much? Hell, I just chuck my beer in the basement and let 'er rip. sometimes it's in the 70s, sometimes its in the 60s, sometimes its in the 80s. I read how you closely tracked your fermentation temps, and unless you're doing a lagering recipe, that really surprised me.

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Old 07-22-2012, 01:21 AM   #3
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Apparently, John Palmer (one of the brewing godfathers) seems to agree.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-2.html/

Look under 'medicinal'. see if this describes you.

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Old 07-22-2012, 01:26 AM   #4
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You definitely don't want to use vinyl tubing for hot side transfer (collecting wort from the mash tun). My guess is this is what's causing your problems with the plastic taste (especially after the test you did, good thinking on that by the way). Upgrade to high temp tubing and you should be fine. I think there are similar threads on this issue, so you may want to check those and see if their problem was solved and how they did it. Good luck and don't get discouraged. Cheers.

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Old 07-22-2012, 01:30 AM   #5
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I'd switch to silicon tubing, but I don't really think that was your problem.
The main things I would first try to remedy your problem is to get a cheap RV Carbon water filter from walmart, and I would also drop your swamp cooler water temp down to about 60-62F for the first few days of fermentation. US 05, along with other chico strains do really well at lower temps..
If that doesn't solve your problems you can continue trouble shooting one thing at a time..
Also, start reading up on water chemistry and download EZWaterCalculator or BrunWater and start learning how to treat your water according to beer style.

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Old 07-22-2012, 03:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jakeintoledo View Post
It's not starsan. Do not fear the foam.

Don't think it's anything with plastic (carboys, plastic, buckets etc) leeching plastic flavor into your beer. based on this article, your thought about your water may be on track.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/band-aid-taste-299042/

On another note, why do you sweat the fermentation temp so much? Hell, I just chuck my beer in the basement and let 'er rip. sometimes it's in the 70s, sometimes its in the 60s, sometimes its in the 80s. I read how you closely tracked your fermentation temps, and unless you're doing a lagering recipe, that really surprised me.
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Old 07-22-2012, 03:46 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jakeintoledo View Post
On another note, why do you sweat the fermentation temp so much? Hell, I just chuck my beer in the basement and let 'er rip. sometimes it's in the 70s, sometimes its in the 60s, sometimes its in the 80s. I read how you closely tracked your fermentation temps, and unless you're doing a lagering recipe, that really surprised me.
I think this goes against what the vast majority of most homebrewers believe and practice during this day and age. In case you haven't noticed it's one of the most emphasized subjects on this forum when it comes to fermentation. High temps vs. low temps will definitiely cause off flavors depending on yeast strain. Otherwise I doubt everyone would have swamp coolers and fermentation chambers. Lagers AND ales need fermentation temperature control!
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Old 07-22-2012, 03:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
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I would also like to mention that I use starsan to sanitize my carboy. That process hasn't changed much but I do put enough in the carboy for 5 gallons of water and normally only fill it with 2-3 gallons so I can swash it around to clean the carboy while I am boiling/mashing/etc. I drain it for a little bit but I never get all the foam out. there is a lot of foam left over, probably about 4 inches in the bottom when I do fill it with wort. Could this be the issue?
Louisbrew
Are you saying you put 1oz of starsan in the carboy with only 2-3 gallons of water? If so, you are making it about double strength. I have no clue if this would create any off flavors or not, but I don't think it's a good idea.
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Old 07-22-2012, 04:14 AM   #9
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Are you saying you put 1oz of starsan in the carboy with only 2-3 gallons of water? If so, you are making it about double strength. I have no clue if this would create any off flavors or not, but I don't think it's a good idea.
That's kind of the way I read it too. When Star-San is properly diluted, it has no taste. When Star-San is made strong, you can definitely taste it. The foam from your roided Star-San could be contributing to this off taste.
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:06 PM   #10
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I doubt that it is the star san. . . even though you are diluting it to double strength what ever is residually left behind is being diluted again by the wort. Your star san will last a lot longer and be just as effective if you diluted correctly though. My vote would be chloramines/chlorines from the water your using.

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