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Old 12-02-2010, 08:39 PM   #1
elchicharron
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Default Beers turning sour. Need advice.

Hey everyone. My name is Justin and this is my first post here. I'm glad to have discovered this site; it's a great source of information.

My brother, a friend and I recently started homebrewing, and we've encountered a problem: Our beers are turning sour.

We put together an Irish dry stout for our first batch. It tasted great in the fermenter, but three weeks after it was bottled, it's become pretty sour. Maybe three weeks is still a bit early to be judging it, but this is so sour I don't see it going away with more bottle conditioning. It's definitely drinkable though. It's a lambo-stout I guess

Our second batch was a California common. It's been in the fermenter for about three weeks, and only in the past couple of days did the fermentation seem to finally quit. I pulled a sample for a gravity reading (1.020) today and tasted it. It's developed the same sour flavor as the stout, which is a bummer because, until this point, it was wonderfully smooth and clean tasting.

I'm a bit flummoxed because there are no strange smells and the beers look fine. There are no weird growths or slimes or films. The California common is crystal clear.

To get to the point, we were going to start a Belgian wit this weekend, but I don't want begin another beer if I've got a source of infection in our equipment somewhere. I thought we had been doing a good job of sanitizing things, but maybe we missed something. I'm kind of suspicious of our autosiphon.

Thanks in advance for your advice. Until then, I'll just RDWAHA(S)HB.

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Old 12-02-2010, 08:47 PM   #2
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if it doesn't taste unpleasant the general consensus here it that you need to age it longer. Stouts and porters usually benefit from aging. I say wait a month and if you open a few gushers, then yea it's an infection. I've accidentally done some stuff to beer that should have gotten it infected (once dropped ice from my ice bath into the wort by accident, the bucket the ice was in was filthy and had previously been used to store old donated clothes) never an infection.

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Old 12-02-2010, 09:05 PM   #3
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i agree. i let mine sit a month in the primary now then bottle. i let them sit at least a month in the bottle if not 2 monthes before i try them. i have made several that had a cidery taste to it. letting them age for awhile has always seemed to take care of the problems in the cidery taste. if it is just plain sour i don't have a clue. i have never had any that was just plain sour. could happen tomorrow, but not so far.

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Old 12-02-2010, 09:09 PM   #4
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I'm not 100% sure but I think that a very stressed yeast can produce off flavors so bad that you may think it is an infection.
I have some experiments going on, fermenting pure crystal malts, so not much food for the yeast, and it taste like crap, somewhat sour. I don't think it is infected, just the yeast saying "where is the good stuff?".
Have you fermented at controlled temps?

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Old 12-02-2010, 09:13 PM   #5
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If it's truly a sour infection, throw out all your hoses and anything plastic. Get a glass carboy and starsan the hell out of it.

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Old 12-02-2010, 09:16 PM   #6
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Are you entirely certain it's sour? My first stout was slightly sweet when I first sampled it, but after a few weeks, it seemed to be sour. However, the "sourness" never went away, and when I sampled a bottle much later, I realized it had simply become dry as the yeast in the bottle consumed the remaining sugar.

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Old 12-02-2010, 09:17 PM   #7
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I have no problem letting these sit longer. I just want to make sure that if it is an infection, I don't spread it to a third batch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilo View Post
Have you fermented at controlled temps?
The stout was just left to ferment at room temperature. For the California common, I put the carboy in a shallow tray of water and put a wet T-shirt over it. With a fan blowing on it, the temp stayed in the mid '50s to low '60s. Over the past week, the weather cooled off a great deal, so I took it out of the tray and let it sit at room temp.
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speter View Post
Are you entirely certain it's sour? My first stout was slightly sweet when I first sampled it, but after a few weeks, it seemed to be sour. However, the "sourness" never went away, and when I sampled a bottle much later, I realized it had simply become dry as the yeast in the bottle consumed the remaining sugar.
I'm not a homebrewing expert, so I'm not 100 percent certain, but to me, it seems that it's just sour.

Thanks everyone for the tips so far. I appreciate the help.
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:21 PM   #9
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Does it taste like apple cider?

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Old 12-02-2010, 09:24 PM   #10
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What are your sanitization procedures? What do you use, how do you use it, etc.

Most importantly, what is your bottle prep procedure? It sounds like it is fine in the fermenter but turning in the bottle. Where do you get your bottles, how do you wash them, how do you sanitize them, what is your bottling procedure?

Can you describe what you are tasting with any greater detail than sour? I don't like sour beers at all but love the bitter. I get a lot of people who try bitter beer that describe it as sour.

Finally, how long are you leaving beers in the primary (or primary to secondary if applicable)? And what is your transfer/ priming procedure?

More info will help diagnosis so please be as specific as possible and don't worry about the length of your response as long as you think the info could be pertinent to the issue.

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