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Old 08-09-2010, 07:32 PM   #1
BeerNoob
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Default Beer keeps getting infected...

Ok, so I'm on my 6th batch of beer now. my first batch was awesome, second was ok, 3rd, 4th, 5th and now I think my 6th have all been infected.

I have no idea why or when this is happening, everything seems to start out great but they seem to be getting infected earlier and earlier in the process.

I'm very maticulous about the cleanliness of my brewing equipment. I always hand wash everything before I start and use a pink powder called Diversol that my LHBS gave me with my starter kit a couple years ago.

Once my beer is in the primary, I don't mess with it or move it around more than I have to. I don't even take gravity readings. Every other day I will pull out the airlock to make sure it doesn't get clogged.

My last batch looked and poured great but it tasted horrible! Pretty much like a musty-sour taste. You can't drink more than a few swallows before your stomach starts to hurt. I had tasted it when I racked it to my secondary and it tasted perfect and when i bottled it, it tasted sour so something happened either when i racked or in my secondary. I was hoping it would "clear up" in the bottles but it just gets worse as time goes on(that was over 6 months ago). I still have nearly all the bottles, they're still carbonated and look great but they just taste awful.

I pulled the airlock out of my latest batch which has been in the primary for almost 4 days and it smells EXACTLY the same as the sour beer that I bottled 6 months ago and it isn't even the same recipe!

There are a couple things I am suspicious of:

The instructions I got from my LHBS say to "top up" my wort in my primary after the boil process with cold tap water. I've been doing this but I'm unsure of the quality of the tap water in my municipality.

My airlock nearly always foams over and clogs with krausen at which point I have to pull it out, clean and sterilize it. I use vodka(or gin) in the airlock as an added precaution although I don't know if there's a point to that.

All of my brewing equipment other than my glass carboy are plastic and I read that scratched plastic can harbour bacteria.

The beer gods hate me.


I 100% refuse to give up on brewing beer. I will not be complete until I make the perfect beer. However, I've hit a few roadblocks along the way to my quest for beer-lightenment.

Any advice?

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Old 08-09-2010, 07:42 PM   #2
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you didn't mention any sanitizing in your process. the diversol (pink powder) is only a cleanser, not a sanitizer. you need something like starsan or iodaphor to sanitize your equipment. definitely risky to be topping up without boiling that water first. i would boil 3 or so gallons first and let it cool before you add it at the end of the brew day.

another problem with adding straight tap water is that it probably contains chlorine or chloramines which will impart bad flavors to the beer.

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Old 08-09-2010, 07:51 PM   #3
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So basically everything I'm doing is wrong, sweet!

I guess I'll dump this one and start my next batch after picking up some legitimate sanitizer and boiling 3 gallons of water.

Does boiling water take care of both chlorine and chloramine or are the tablets required no matter what in the case that chloramine is present? I ask because my LHBS is closed today and completely across town.

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Old 08-09-2010, 07:52 PM   #4
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If your water is safe to drink, topping with tap water should probably be okay (I do it too).

Why does your airlock get clogged? What size batch in what sized primary?

Use Star-San to sanitize. Kill all your old buckets and hoses and get new ones. Something seems infected.

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Old 08-09-2010, 07:52 PM   #5
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My advice would be to grab some "SANATIZER" as opposed to "CLEANSER" to clean everything for your next batch and also invest $5-6 in 5 gallons of distilled/spring/drinking water jugs from your grocery store.

Also you may want to invest in a "blow off tube" if your fermenter is too small for your batches...or a bigger fermenter

PS. The caps weren't meant to be disrespectful, just to emphasize that there is a difference between sanatized/sterilized/clean

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Old 08-09-2010, 08:01 PM   #6
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Sorry to hear about the infections, man.... :[
StarSan is the way to go..

I use distilled water (~$1/gallon at the grocery store) to dilute up my StarSan solutions... You can keep the solution (in a capped container) after use for a few months!

Also, if you're afraid of your tapwater, you can get bottled water pretty cheap in those big 2.5gallon containers at the grocery store.

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Old 08-09-2010, 08:02 PM   #7
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I would start with a new bucket, buy some sanitizer, and use bottled water. If this one goes ok, you could try and sanitize one of the old buckets and see if thats ok.

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Old 08-09-2010, 08:02 PM   #8
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The water here is considered safe to drink but I probably won't risk it any more.

My airlock gets clogged nearly every time I brew. I have a 30 litre primary which I only fill to 23 litres. the last 7 litres seems to fill up with foam almost immediately when fermenting starts and it will get plugged by the krausen.

I used to leave the hops in the primary from my boil but now I strain them out because it was a harder problem to manage when they were inside. I will probably be investing in a hop bag too.

I'm not sure if a blow off tub would help me because it clogs the 3/8 hole in the stopper not inside the hose. My next beer is a wheat beer which I don't plan to rack to a secondary. Would it be better for this batch to ignore the plastic pail and just use the glass carboy for the whole process? It wouldn't have more headspace but I could eliminate one of the possibilities.

Lastly, once my beer starts to smell "sour" should I just dump it? This particular odor seems to persist and the beer tastes just like it even after months in the bottle.

Man this is frustrating.

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Old 08-09-2010, 08:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeerNoob View Post
The water here is considered safe to drink but I probably won't risk it any more.

My airlock gets clogged nearly every time I brew. I have a 30 litre primary which I only fill to 23 litres. the last 7 litres seems to fill up with foam almost immediately when fermenting starts and it will get plugged by the krausen.

I used to leave the hops in the primary from my boil but now I strain them out because it was a harder problem to manage when they were inside. I will probably be investing in a hop bag too.

I'm not sure if a blow off tub would help me because it clogs the 3/8 hole in the stopper not inside the hose. My next beer is a wheat beer which I don't plan to rack to a secondary. Would it be better for this batch to ignore the plastic pail and just use the glass carboy for the whole process? It wouldn't have more headspace but I could eliminate one of the possibilities.

Lastly, once my beer starts to smell "sour" should I just dump it? This particular odor seems to persist and the beer tastes just like it even after months in the bottle.

Man this is frustrating.
It is very frustrating, but can be rewarding. I will never ever advise to dump a beer. Even brewers with blatant disregard for sanitizing, procedures etc can make a good beer (And you are definitely not in this group). The only way to tell is to bottle it and taste it. If it tastes bad then at least 6 months in the bottles will either help it, or tell you whether it is bad.

Your sanatizing procedure seems great, but the problem could lie in the fact that your LHBS employee gave you some poor advice with the cleanser.
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:09 PM   #10
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Couple more things...

Do grocery stores sell Starsan?

Would any places other than my LBHS sell hop bags or something similar or is using a strainer when I pour my wort considered ok? It seems to me that a hop bag would restrict the boiling action of the hops.

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