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Old 07-13-2013, 09:02 PM   #1
TLaffey
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Default Beer goes bad on bottling -- why?

Hi,

I've been brewing and bottling for a couple of years now and have had pretty good success. But lately, maybe half of the last 6 batches have gone bad soon after bottling--within a week, before they were even carbonated.

Basically I've taken fully fermented beer (light, highly hopped IPA, 6-7%ABV) that tasted wonderful and after a week or so have yuck. At bottling time I'm sanitizing bottles in the kitchen sink with Star San. For priming, I add 4 oz dextrose to about 24oz water and boil (covered) for 10 mins then cool (covered.) This is added to the bottom of an empty 5G better bottle sanitized with Star San. I then rack from my fermenter into the bottle with the sugar solution and bottle using a racking cane and bottle filler valve (all gravity, no CO2.) Caps sit in Star San before capping; I cap the bottles as they are filled. Beer temp at bottling was about 55-60 degrees each time.

I usually open one bottle 1wk after bottling to get an idea of when they will be ready. This last time the beer was almost flat, REALLY brown (maybe 6-7 SRM at bottling and came out looking like a brown at 1wk!) The taste is yucky but I can't really tell what's going on--it's not sour and does not smell dank.

I'd really like to know what this is if anyone can identify it. I'm going to put more effort into cleaning my kitchen sink and beer lines just in case that's a factor. But at present I'm thinking that the most likely explanation might be "dead" krausen pulled back into the beer when I chilled it (with the blow off tube still attached.) But wouldn't that be tastable when bottling? Or does the addition of a little oxygen at the time of bottling set off some kind of latent/potential reaction?

Anyone else seen this and definitively fixed it?

Thanks,
Tom

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Old 07-13-2013, 09:09 PM   #2
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They taste bad at one week after bottling? How do they taste after some time has past and they are conditioned?

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Old 07-13-2013, 09:48 PM   #3
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Do you have good carbonation in the bottles that are "yuk" I have had this happen to me before but it was when the cap didnt fully seal on the bottle, becasue I was using some bottles that someone else gave me and they didn't seal properly. That is why I mostly use left over Sam Adams bottles (The labels come off really easy too).

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Old 07-13-2013, 10:09 PM   #4
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Sorry if any of these sound like dumb questions, but were the bottles all really clean? Is there any gunk, etc in the racking cane or tubing? Is it possible you mislabeled and/or accidentally grabbed a bottle of a long-forgotten brown ale?

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Old 07-13-2013, 10:12 PM   #5
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Perhaps oxygen entering the bottles when bottling due to a loose want/tube/spigot connection?

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Old 07-13-2013, 10:18 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by FastAndy View Post
They taste bad at one week after bottling? How do they taste after some time has past and they are conditioned?
I saved the last batch that did this--wasn't quite as bad at the 1wk mark as the current batch, but it's been 9 wks since bottling and while there is now carbonation I don't consider the beer drinkable.

Tom
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Old 07-13-2013, 10:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JonM View Post
Sorry if any of these sound like dumb questions, but were the bottles all really clean? Is there any gunk, etc in the racking cane or tubing? Is it possible you mislabeled and/or accidentally grabbed a bottle of a long-forgotten brown ale?
The bottles were clean. Bottles are rinsed immediately after using. At bottling time, cleaned with PBW & brush and sanitized with Star San. There isn't bottle to bottle variation in this problem.

I have seen some kind of scale or something in the racking tube in the past and cleaned it out. And I've used the same equipment on other batches that don't have this problem. Since the same practices and equipment have been in use for both good and bad batches, and since the difference is so night and day, I've tended to discount this as a major problem. But I've also just bought some line cleaning brushes to help improve in this area. Do you have recommendations on how to clean auto-siphon, lines, etc -- both before and after use?
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Old 07-13-2013, 10:44 PM   #8
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Best to just replace the lines.

Check the little gaskets in the autosiphon and at the bottom of the racking cane. You might have gunk trapped in there too. Gently clean off any gunk you see and give the black ends a soak in PBW. Are there any scratches or imperfections in the racking cane plastic?

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Old 07-13-2013, 11:17 PM   #9
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Best to just replace the lines.

Check the little gaskets in the autosiphon and at the bottom of the racking cane. You might have gunk trapped in there too. Gently clean off any gunk you see and give the black ends a soak in PBW. Are there any scratches or imperfections in the racking cane plastic?
OK, I just disassembled the bottle filler and found some junk, so that looks like a good repository for Bad Things that I didn't get as clean as I thought. I'll replace the lines.

Still looking for other ideas--this has proven an expensive problem so looking for anything else I might have missed before my next bottling session.

Thanks,
Tom
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Old 07-14-2013, 12:05 AM   #10
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My Fermtech bottle fillers pin valve assembly doesn't come off for some reason. The others did. clean them wityh PBw rinse & sanitize after use though. As I do with all my racking tubes,bottling wand tubes,etc. I just got a 66" long 3/8" line cleaning brush from kegconnection to clean inside the lines with. That should help with the tubing parts of the process.

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