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Old 01-10-2010, 06:59 PM   #1
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Default Brew ruined by bottling(?) - Help please.

OK. This is going to be rough because I don't know that I can explain the problem well enough to get a reasonable suggestion for a solution.

I am an experienced extract brewer. The vast majority of my beers have been quite good. I keg most of my brews, but have started bottling more to increase the variety of beers on hand.

Recently, I brewed an APA with this recipe.

0.50 lb Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM) Dry Extract 6.58 %
6.00 lb Pale Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM) Extract 78.95 %
0.50 lb Munich LME (3.0 SRM) Extract 6.58 %
0.60 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 7.89 %
1.00 oz Magnum [15.10 %] (60 min) Hops 34.2 IBU
0.25 oz Chinook [11.40 %] (10 min) Hops 2.3 IBU
0.50 oz Centennial [8.30 %] (10 min) Hops 3.4 IBU
0.75 oz Chinook [11.40 %] (1 min) Hops 0.8 IBU
0.50 oz Centennial [8.30 %] (1 min) Hops 0.4 IBU
1.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) Yeast-Ale


There's nothing terribly unusual in there. I tasted this beer uncarbed on bottling day and it tasted great! Lots of hoppy flavor on top of a nice pale base. Now it's been bottled and it's lost all character. The hoppiness is mostly gone. There is a strange aftertaste that I can't quite identify. Moreover, the carbonation is a bit too fizzy (like champagne) vs what one would expect in a beer.

I brewed 2 brown ales that had similar "off" flavors and carbonation. One was a nut brown ale that had hazelnut flavoring added at bottling. I thought the flavoring killed the brew. The other was a kit brown ale with no flavoring addition. Both had a similar flavor and one had the fizzy-carbonation.

There are no other signs of a possible infection (e.g. ring around neck of bottle, bottle gushers, etc.). I'm pretty anal about cleaning and sanitzing. I think this beer would have been great had I kegged it. So, what happened? Anyone experience something similar to this?

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Old 01-10-2010, 07:36 PM   #2
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Possibly a gusher infection. Gusher bacteria will ferment sugars yeast cannot leaving little or no body. This type of infection leaves no visible sign, other than extreme fizzing. I lost a 4 year old barley wine last year, a whole cornie. Fine last Spring, nothing but foam last month.

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Old 01-10-2010, 07:40 PM   #3
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I'm going to guess that the problem doesn't lie in the ingredients you're using, but the brewing process you're using. Have you tried changing water? Do you use hot tap water to cut down on heating times? What kind of sanitizer are you using to clean your equipment and bottles? I've never experienced this problem, so I'm just trying to think of some possibilities other than infection. I can't see it being an infection if you clean your equipment properly and it's happened in three batches.

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Old 01-10-2010, 07:59 PM   #4
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I boil filtered tap water and top-off with bottled water. I use StarSan to sanitize and PBW to clean. Different batches, different times, different fermenters - same results.

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Old 01-10-2010, 08:04 PM   #5
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Might want to replce your bottling bucket and any tubing you're using in bottling in case it is a gusher infection. If all bottles are having it, that could be where it's getting picked up. Plastic buckets can get scratches that harbor bacteria and aren't getting reached by your sanitizer.

How much sugar are you using to bottle with? It's also possible they're just getting overcarbonated and the odd aftertaste you're tasting is the buildup of carbonic acid in the beer from the high CO2 levels.

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Old 01-10-2010, 08:09 PM   #6
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What (and how much) are you using to prime them? (sugar, malt?) and how long are they in bottles before you are trying them?

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Old 01-10-2010, 09:20 PM   #7
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The only source of infection would seemingly be the bottling bucket, racking cane, tubing, and/or the bottles themselves. Since it affects the batch, that mostly rules out the bottles. The bottling bucket, cane, and tubing are frequently used for other brews that come out OK. I'm not saying that can't be the problem, but this have affected only 3 out of about 30+ batches.

I prime with priming sugar (dextrose?) and measure per Beersmith. Usually around 3/4 cup. This batch did call for more than expected, so I suppose too much carbonic acid could be it. Can anyone explain this taste for me?

This latest batch is only 3-4 weeks in the bottle, but the older batches were tasted at many different intervals.

Thanks for the continued help. Would really like to sort this out.

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Old 01-10-2010, 09:36 PM   #8
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Nothing comes to mind from what you have said...

I do 6US gal batches, I prime with corn sugar, usually 1 1/3 cups, so it doesn't seem like too much sugar to me...

I clean with oxyclean and sanitize with sodium metabisulphite. I rinse out my sanitizer (not recommended, but no issues in my 18+ batches to date.)

I don't have a lasting head, but I do have good lacing. Only batch with a funny taste was my first kit, and I think that was just that I didn't like the beer... I have only brewed kits, so not sure what effect the recipe itself could add, but I doubt nothing.

If you aren't having any trouble with your racking cane (as per other brews) maybe buy a new wand, just in case. I bottle from my primary fermenters, so you could try that if you have a dedicated bottling bucket (before replacing it.)

What about your caps and capper. I am going to assume you are sanitizing the caps. I use crown caps, a bench capper and twist off bottles. Maybe there is something there?

Good luck!

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Old 01-10-2010, 10:28 PM   #9
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Measuring sugar by volume isn't exact. Depending on how loose or packed the sugar gets in the measuring cup you can end up with more or less sugar than you expect. Measure by weight and you'll always have the exact amount you want. You could have overcarbonated it that way.

Carbonic acid gives an odd bite. Bitter, but different from hop bitterness. Kind of a salty sourness to it. Maybe someone else can describe it better than I can.

If it were me, I'd measure sugar by weight AND replace my bottling gear just to cover all the bases and see if that helps. It's good to replace plastic stuff like a bottling bucket and tubing every so often anyway.

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