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Old 03-16-2013, 12:30 AM   #1
2rowlover
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Default 4 sour batches in a row - could it be mold in my house?

Hello everyone. So I have been making a few batches. I have a 6.5 gallon plastic bucket and two 1 gallon glass carboys. I have a huge problem.

  • 1st batch was a 5 gallon beer kit which turned out almost transparent, and sour during fermentation and bottling. Undrinkable after 2 months in bottle.
  • 2nd was a 5 gallon wheat extract and special malts. Turned out sour during fermentation and bottling. Undrinkable after 1 month in bottle.
  • 3rd is a 1 gallon wheat extract and special malts. Sour smell one week into fermentation.
  • 4th is a 1 gallon Belgian Ale all grain experiment. Sour smell one week into fermentation.

Beginner mistakes in the two first 5 gallon batches are very probable. Such as not sanitizing well enough, opening the bucket lid to have a peek at the the beer etc etc.

When doing my 1 gallon batches I was super paranoid and cleaned everything beforehand not once, but 3 times. Sanitized every little thing even if it went in the boil! Could it be my sanitizer? I use powder potassium metabisulfite which is the no1 suggested sanitizer here. Every other Italian seem to use it to make fine beer.

I haven't opened my 1 gallon carboys until now, only because I was so worried of that horrible smell of failure. In fact, I'm predicting a failure once again.

For two of the batches I used different pots. I have not siphoned anything. Nothing really touches the wort by the time it cools down and goes in the fermentor. I use the lid on the pots while cooling. For one of the 5 gallon batches I bought and used ONLY bottled water from the supermarket.

What could be causing this awful sourness? Could it be the air in my house? I live on the first floor in an old Italian stone building. Not much air circulation to be honest. This is why I'm afraid it could be mold or odd particles in my air.

To me it seems absurd but I'm getting so frustrated that this weekend I will try to brew another 1 gallon batch at a friend's house to see if things will be different.

Please, help me!
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:40 AM   #2
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How much are you hopping the beers? I notice sour/tartness at hopping levels of less than 0.3 IBU/OG. To me, they don't taste balanced until above about 0.4 IBU/OG.

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Old 03-16-2013, 01:01 AM   #3
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Newbie here

I would guess that yes, the air in your area is not good for brewing. I would say to sterilize everything, go straight from the boiling to a glass carboy, and never open it again. Pop the top off just long enough to throw the yeast in, at the right temp, and then seal it back up. And don't open it.

edit: I meant, to add the almost boiling wort to water that is already in carboy; do not pour boiling liquid into an empty glass container.

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Old 03-16-2013, 01:04 AM   #4
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Get yourself some starsan or iodophor. AFAIK meta is not a reliable sanitizer.

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Old 03-16-2013, 01:14 AM   #5
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Brew outside (if possible) then seal that fermenter and don't peek for 3 weeks.

Don't judge your beer after one week in fermentation. Fermentation is an ugly, smelly process. Ferment for 3 weeks, bottle condition for 3 weeks. If things are still sour then your sanitation practices may be off somewhere.

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Old 03-16-2013, 01:23 AM   #6
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K-meta is not a good sanitizer IMHO. I make wine too and only use K-meta for sulfite maintenance on aging wine. It has the potential to severely restrict yeast growth if the concentration gets too high. I don't know the concentration you are using but full strength it will kill yeast no problem.

If those yeast are inhibited to any extent, the bad bacteria get a foothold and your beer is ruined.

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Old 03-16-2013, 01:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billpaustin View Post
Newbie here

I would guess that yes, the air in your area is not good for brewing. I would say to sterilize everything, go straight from the boiling to a glass carboy, and never open it again. Pop the top off just long enough to throw the yeast in, at the right temp, and then seal it back up. And don't open it.

Please clarify about "go straight from the boiling to a glass carboy".

Putting boiling wort into a glass fermenter is certainly a recipe for a potentially messy and extremely dangerous disaster when the carboy breaks.
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:02 AM   #8
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Yeah, I should have been clearer.

This is what I did: (newb alert )

Boil the wort, and then let it cool for a short time. In my recipe, the wort was 3 gal of a 5 gal recipe, so add two gallons of un-heated water to the carboy. Then scoop out the very hot, but not boiling, wort and add to the carboy, at a cup at a time. Then seal off the carboy. I would say never pour anything boiling into an empty glass container.

This minimizes the exposure to oxygen and bacteria in the air.

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Old 03-16-2013, 02:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfstar View Post
Please clarify about "go straight from the boiling to a glass carboy".

Putting boiling wort into a glass fermenter is certainly a recipe for a potentially messy and extremely dangerous disaster when the carboy breaks.
I was going to post something to this extent if I didn't see it already. I challenge anybody not to jump once near boiling wort starts running over their lower legs and feet. Add in shards of freshly broken carboy still flying through the air and it sounds like a terrible time.

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Originally Posted by 2rowlover
that horrible smell of failure
I don't have any advice for you but I just want to let you know I'm adding this phrase to my arsenal.
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