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Old 10-22-2012, 08:48 PM   #1
Jared_from_Subway
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Default Beers keep going bad

I have had a terrible after taste on the last 4 batches I have brewed. It was so bad on a lager that I had to dump it. The other batches have been bad but drinkable, and the latest (Octoberfest lager) is also very bad. My others were an IPA and a stout which were not as bad probably because it was masked. The taste has been bad enough on all not to share the beer with friends.

The taste doesn't hit until you pull the beer away. It is minimized by simply drinking the entire beer in one sip, which causes other problems.

My Specs:

  • I use kits from reputable online vendors (Northern Brewer, Austin Home Brew)
  • I keg
  • I always do at least 1 week, then 2 weeks, then force carbonate

My suspected issues:
  • I have a small crack in my primary bucket lid, on the side. It was caused by pulling the lid off and it splitting. I have brewed good batches with it, though, so didn't suspect it until now.
  • I use pure tap water, and I know our tap water has lime in it. I'm considering boiling all water in advance but don't know if that is the right solution. Again, I used this tap water successfully on batches for about 6 months, then things started going bad.
  • I live in Texas, so our indoor temps have been closer to 75 degrees than 70.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts! I have 3 batches waiting to be brewed but am obviously very leery.

~Jared
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:52 PM   #2
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What's the bad taste? If you can describe it then it will be easier to figure out the source.

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Old 10-22-2012, 08:54 PM   #3
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Without any recipes or processes or description of this terrible taste it is difficult to help, but here's a shot in the dark..............

Try using bottled water or R/O water for the next batch
Try to keep the beer in the primary longer, like 2-3 weeks or even 4 and forget the secondary
Do not continue fermenting at ambient room temperatures, ales like 62-68 and lagers need to be fermented cold and for a longer time. A swamp cooler is not adequate for lagers either but work for ales
Replace the cracked lid
Evaluate your cleaning and sanitizing process and what products you use.

If you can shed additional light on something of the things I mentioned in terms of process, temperature, description of off flavors, etc. we can help narrow things down or pinpoint problems with what you are doing. If you need help with off flavors look here: http://www.kroc.org/Links/TroubleshootingGuide.htm

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Old 10-22-2012, 08:57 PM   #4
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You can't make lagers without precise temperature control

Ales are more workable, but still - your problem is most likely temp control, followed by your primary being too short

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Old 10-22-2012, 09:00 PM   #5
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From what you described in you post, I can think of two things.

It could be your water, brew a batch with bottled spring water from the grocery store. Tap wateroften has chlorine in it at can cause off flavors.

Second get your fermentation temp down. 75 is too warm for most yeasts. If you brewed a lager at those temps , it is definitely way too high.Look up the recommended temp for the yeast you use and try to stay at the low end of that range. Search swamp cooler as a way to easily keep the temps down.

Any other information you can give us will help to pinpoint your problems.

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Old 10-22-2012, 09:31 PM   #6
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You said you have brewed good batches. Has anything changed at all from those batches?

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Old 10-22-2012, 09:41 PM   #7
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Thanks, gang. I just ran out of CO2 so won't be able to more precisely pinpoint the taste until I reload tomorrow.

I've brewed many batches using the same process and similar kits, so I think I can safely rule them out as culprits. The lager that was terrible was temperature-controlled in my chest freezer per the instructions, so that makes me scratch my head regarding the fermenting temps for that batch and in general, though it does seem to be the most likely suspect. It's been the same bad taste in all 4 batches, just at varying levels.

More to come in terms of understanding the taste better. Attaching an image of the lid crack.

primary-lid-crack.jpg  
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:45 PM   #8
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"Bad taste" is far too generic to troubleshoot. We need a better description.

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Old 10-22-2012, 09:53 PM   #9
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sorry double post

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Old 10-22-2012, 09:59 PM   #10
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I don't think the issue is with the crack in your lid unless your doing a long primary or your keeping your fermenter in some odd or funky place. Even then when fermentation takes off airborne critters have a hard time getting in during active fermentation from all the co2 that is gassing off. Do replace it though.

I recommend replacing the following then brewing with bottled spring water. Use SPRING water not distilled or anything labeled "drinking" water".

Replace: All transfer tubing (this is cheap)
Bucket and lid (scratches in bucket can lead to funk and your lid is toast)

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