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Old 02-21-2008, 07:03 AM   #1
tranceamerica
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Default update of depression

Ok...


tonight I racked my first PM batch and it has a HORRID medicine taste - I can only imagine this means a bacterial infection...yuck.

Someone please dear god help me, it looks as if I've killed off two batches in a row.

These are my first PM batches & both are ruined. I can't imagine them ever being drinkable. I'm only keeping them because I can't bear to throw them away yet.

I've never never never made a bad batch of beer until I started this PM thing. all my ME brews have been excellent. What am I doing wrong?!?

Oh, and I tasted the ASSTringent beer again...tonight...and yeah, it's still astringent...maybe a bit less...but maybe I also tasted the medecine taste in it too?!? blah.

what could I possibly be doing different/wrong with the PM batches, versus my ME batches? I"m going to soak all my equipment overnight in sanitizer and for my next batch - it will be ME & I will be very very anal about everything being clean.what else can I do?!?

Then, I need some help figuring out what I'm doing wrong w/PM...before I try it again.

*******************

Ok, for the batch I racked tonight - it had a very watery taste (no malt flavor). I attribute this to the fact that I had to crack the grain myself with my GD rolling pin. and of course, it had the medicine taste too.

The second batch - same recepie - but with properly cracked grain - it seemed to have a bit more mouth feel, but was astringent (too hot on the sparge) and I think it also tasted a bit medeciney. yuk.

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Old 02-21-2008, 07:16 AM   #2
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note:

I have been reading other threads on nasty medecine tastes. I first assumed that my hoses were the issue, because I haven't changed them in awhile...BUT, neither of these brews were in the hose until tonight when I racked the first one.

So, cross that one off the list

could be bad sanitization procedure. I use bleach - and I do try to rinse it really well.

BUT - for these batches, I didn't worry about too much about sanitizing anything on the hot side of the brew - ie: I didn't worry about my mash tun, big stainless spoon, brew pot...because all that stuff went into the wort and got the heck boiled out of it...right?

Maybe the carboy had some nastys in it?

My procedure is to do the mash, get everything into the brew pot, then add the wort to cold water that's in the carboy & top off with more cold water. The two batches of cold water come straight out of the tap. Then, I cover the lid of the carboy with sanitized tin foil (just to keep crap from falling in it) and put the carboy in the garage overnight to cool...then pitch yeast in the morning.

Please give me some advice. I'm going to get some star-san for one thing.

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Old 02-21-2008, 09:36 AM   #3
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It's very frustrating to have several batches go bad or have off flavors. I've been there man. There was a time I had about 6 batches all have a weird off flavor before I figured out what was wrong and it gets so frustrating you just want to give up and go back to buying beer.

My first AG was a pilsner and I ended up getting grain bits in the boil. That beer tasted like tortillas for months, but was drinkable. I certainly learned my lesson!

Now, here's some advice; It sounds like you need some work on your sanitation. Even a tiny bit of bleach smell in the carboy will translate to that bandaid-y goodness. Anything that's been bleached HAS to be rinsed until you don't smell bleach anymore. If you can still smell it, then it's still there. Definitely go with the star-san. Also, throw out your tubing and buy new tubing. Seriously. It's cheap and easy to do.

For your sparging, you can keep using the vegetable steamer, as long as you put the grain in a grainbag first. That'll keep it from escaping. 180º sparge water is fine. I typically dump 180º to 190º sparge water into my batches to get the sugars nice and dissolved. The mash temp rarely gets above 175º that way.

Also, it's not recommended to let the wort sit with unpitched yeast overnight. That's the most likely time of getting contamination from wild yeasts and bacteria, so that's just asking for trouble. At least use an ice bath, and boil and cool your top up water for now until you get your sanitation woes under control.

And don't dump them yet! Off flavors have a way of mellowing out and disappearing as the beer ages. The taste of beer as you rack is normally very watery tasting, so that has nothing to do with your crush.

That's all I can think to type for now, I'll probably add more later.

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Old 02-21-2008, 01:23 PM   #4
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I agree that you ought to switch sanitizers. That medicinal smell and taste can come from chlorophenols, which can result from leaving even just the tiniest bit of bleach behind. They also can come from the chlorine in that tap water that you add, so look into bottled water or treat your water to remove chlorine. Those chlorophenols have a very low perception threshhold, too, so a little goes a long way.

The medicinal notes also can come from a wild yeast infection, rather than bacteria. Bacterial infections will sour a beer. To avoid those infections, you really ought to cool your beer and pitch as soon as you can. Look into a wort chiller or use some boiled, chilled water to get your temperature down more quickly.


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Old 02-21-2008, 03:59 PM   #5
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thanks much for the advice guys. Here's my idea for the next batch, tell me if I'm missing anything:

1) do a malt extract batch, just to keep it simple this time
2) rinse the heck out of everything
3) heck, boil some of the stuff, if it will take it
4) get star san
5) replace rubber bits - stoppers and hoses
6) preboil top off water, cool it (I'm thinking that I boil 4 gallons the night before, let it cool in the brew pot, then pour it into a second carboy to store until brew time?)
7) get a big plastic bucket for sanitizing in - I've been using one bowl of my sink, but not sure it's really big enough. Can I use a home depot type bucket, or do I need to invest in a more official brewing bucket? It's just for sanitizing.
8) replace my funnel, it may have some scratches in it.
9) get a wort chiller - or at least do the ice bath (note that "overnight" usually means just a few hours - I finish brewing about 2 am...then up at 7 to pitch)

yeah, the yeast coming out of the batch I racked last night had a horrid smell, really really bad. I guess I'll bottle this batch, but I can't imagine how it'd be good in time.

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Old 02-21-2008, 04:20 PM   #6
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Bleach is what I would bet the house on. Look into your water profile and get star san..This stuff rocks..It hands down has made my brewing easier and better than just about anything. I think getting rid of tubing will help eliminate that this could be wild yeast but it sounds like you didnt rinse the bleach well. Dont rinse after star san..it will have tons of bubbles but believe me it will not affect the beer one bit..dont fear the foam..This stuff is a bit more pricy than bleach but than again dumping 10 gallons of brew is as well.

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Old 02-21-2008, 06:37 PM   #7
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It sounds to me more like a wild yeast issue than an infection, too. But, well, there are several things to suspect here:

1. Bad tap water. Chloramine in city water can be a problem; low-risk (but bad-tasting) pathogens in country water, likewise. To control for this, you can boil your top=off water the night before, like you said -- another idea is to get some quart Mason jars and lids and fill them with water, put them in your kettle (as many as will fit) and fill it up with water and boil it for 10 minutes. This will give you a gallon or two of sanitized topping-off water, hermetically sealed in quart jars, and another couple gallons of sanitized rinsing-off water. You don't want to be sanitizing with bleach and then rinsing the bleach off with unsanitized tap water.

2. Wild yeast. With the carboy open and no yeast pitched, you're kinda ripe for this, I'm thinking. Especially if you're putting it up in a place where fruit is stored. Grapes and apples are lousy with wild yeast. It could get into your carboy with the natural draft that occurs when a vessel of hot stuff cools down -- it sucks air in as it does so -- which is how Mason jars seal. I'd press the bathtub into service for this, or at least the kitchen sink -- set your kettle in an ice bath. (I'm lucky in that my sink drains across the middle, so I just set the kettle in there and run water continuously into it, letting it drain to the other basin. If yours is the same, you can do that and save money on ice.) You can also boil some water, cool it in the kettle with the lid on, pour it into sanitized Tupperware filling it three-quarters full, and freeze it (with the lid on), to be dropped directly into your wort.

The important thing is to give the yeast you pitch a massive competitive advantage on any stray spores that land in the wort, instead of the other way round, as can be the case if they get into warm wort with a few hours' head start. Also, make a starter and pitch big! 24 hours in a sanitized Mason jar in previously-boiled 1.030 wort will give you a yeast colony capable of totally dominating almost anything.

3. Aluminum. If your brewpot is aluminum, or if you're mashing in an aluminum tun, depending on what your pH level is you could be getting metals off your pot.

I wouldn't bother replacing your rubber stuff. Boil it. It'll be fine.

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Old 02-21-2008, 08:04 PM   #8
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My thoughts on:

6) preboil top off water, cool it (I'm thinking that I boil 4 gallons the night before, let it cool in the brew pot, then pour it into a second carboy to store until brew time?)

I would look into campden tabs( sodium or potassium metabisulfite) to get rid of chloramines. Chlorine is removed from tap water by boiling but I don't believe that Chloramines are. Or to be extra safe this next batch use bottled water (@ 50 cents a gallon it's not a huge expense)
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthre...t=41018&page=1

7) get a big plastic bucket for sanitizing in - I've been using one bowl of my sink, but not sure it's really big enough. Can I use a home depot type bucket, or do I need to invest in a more official brewing bucket? It's just for sanitizing.

A bucket form Lowes or HD will be fine for sanatizing

8) replace my funnel, it may have some scratches in it.
Good idea

9) get a wort chiller - or at least do the ice bath (note that "overnight" usually means just a few hours - I finish brewing about 2 am...then up at 7 to pitch)

For full boils you really need a wort chiller, for a partial one its not too hard to use an ice bath, both are better than letting it sit around. Also do make sure to make a starter to give your yeast a head start.

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Old 02-21-2008, 08:34 PM   #9
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Ok, went to my local HBS at lunch - he didn't even know what Star San was, but had One-step, will that work?

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Old 02-21-2008, 10:41 PM   #10
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one-step works, but its not as economical as Star San, and you MUST make sure it dissolves fully, or it can leave residue that can make the beer taste funny.

one-step needs several minutes of contact time to work, and will only stay active a few days. star san works in 30 seconds, lasts for weeks/months...and will not give the beer any funny tastes if you have some residue.

it would be worth ordering star san online if you have to. the big bottle is like $14 at Willaims brewing and makes a few hundred gallons of sanitizing solution.

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