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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > HELP! First 2 batches are bad, what am I doing wrong?
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:37 PM   #1
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Default HELP! First 2 batches are bad, what am I doing wrong?

Both times the beer came out with an overpowering chemical smell when I took the lid off the bucket. This second batch is supposed to be an outmeal stout, but I can hardly smell any stout to it. The smell is sort of like chemicals with a sweetness to it. I checked my gravity today on my second brew and it is at 1.020, which is high (expected finish ~1.010), so fermentation didn't completely finish either. The second batch was rapidly cooled with a wort chiller to 75 or below, and then I threw in the yeast. The plastic bucket has been sitting in my basement bathroom shower @ 63 degrees for 2 weeks now. For this 2nd brew, I had someone experienced come help me, and nothing really changed in our process from the first to the second, so I'm thinking it's not a sanitation or brewing issue. So I'm wondering if this is my issue: My wife decided to clean that bathroom's toilet and after she cleaned it, she left cleaner in the upper tank so that every time you flush, the toilet water is blue and smells. In fact, the smell was pretty strong in the bathroom in general. Did that chemical get into my beer and ruin it twice? If that's the case, I'm pissed at myself for thinking the plastic fermenter would be completely airtight. If this is my issue, at least it's an easy fix.

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Old 11-26-2011, 10:40 PM   #2
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First brew i did, well it smelt like neat vodka. Give it time to mellow out in the bottle and youl be sorted. I think it may be DMS which is caused when you leave the wort unpiched with yeast for more than a hour. Hope this helps.

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Old 11-26-2011, 10:41 PM   #3
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What did it taste like after at least 3 weeks when you checked the FG? And after 3 more weeks in the bottle? You didn't dump it, did you?

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Old 11-26-2011, 10:46 PM   #4
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you brewing with chlorinated water? That will leave you with 5 gallons of liquid plastic after fermentation.

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Old 11-26-2011, 11:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverZero View Post
What did it taste like after at least 3 weeks when you checked the FG? And after 3 more weeks in the bottle? You didn't dump it, did you?
On my first batch, I bottled it, thought it might be an off flavor (though it was a really strong off flavor) that would mellow. I still have it sitting in bottles next to my 2nd batch that is 2 weeks old today, my first batch was brewed in September. I should crack one open and see what it smells like, but the first time I tried it the smell was still off, and I wasn't sure I wanted to drink it. I drank about 1/3 of the bottle before I stopped and dumped it. I felt sick to my stomach later that night.

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you brewing with chlorinated water? That will leave you with 5 gallons of liquid plastic after fermentation.
Our water quality report doesn't state anything specifically about chlorine or chlorination, so I didn't think we had any in our tap water. Looking again, I found this in a chart:

"Typical Sources: By-products of drinking water chlorination.
Turbidity KC 2010 0.08 0.02-0.49 ntu TT"

So, yeah, it looks like we might have chlorine in our water. The toilet cleaner my wife used also contained a bleach, which I assume would be chlorine. Guess I need to buy bottled water to brew with. Was really looking forward to this oatmeal stout. I'm kind of crushed this isn't working out. I have 3 more recipe boxes (2 just arrived today), hopefully I can get this straight.
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Old 11-26-2011, 11:23 PM   #6
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if your bucket was sealed the cleaner was no issue.

My best guess is chlorinated brewing water. I've experienced it and it is EXACTLY what you are describing. You don't need to used bottled water. You can go to Lowe's or whatever hardware store is near you and buy one of those in-line charcoal water filters meant to go under your sink (should run you about $35). You can get an attachment to hook the inlet of your filter to your garden hose faucet, thus collecting water from there. If you want to be extra careful (like me) go to your LHBS and get Campden tablets (could be in the wine section) and crush half a tablet into 5 gallons of brewing water to remove all traces of excess chlorine.

Since doing this, i have not had one chlorophenol (which is what you are tasting) issue.

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Old 11-26-2011, 11:54 PM   #7
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What do you use for a cleaner, and what do you use for a sanitizer? I've read a lot of folks get band-aid flavored from using c-bright or bleach.

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Old 11-26-2011, 11:56 PM   #8
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Did you use any sort of temperature control? I find it unlikely the bathroom cleaner navigated your airlock.

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Old 11-26-2011, 11:56 PM   #9
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Thanks for the help Jwood. I'll give that a try.

I've also read that just boiling the water will boil off the chlorine. Would that be sufficient to do before I brew, and then add the Campden tablet to make sure I got it all? Or would the Campden tablet be completely sufficient by itself? I'm not against buying the filter, I've just read that using that much water taxes the filter and doesn't get it all and so would probably be a waste.

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Old 11-27-2011, 12:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stratslinger View Post
What do you use for a cleaner, and what do you use for a sanitizer? I've read a lot of folks get band-aid flavored from using c-bright or bleach.
Cleanser was just regular non-scented dish soap, sanitizer is LD Carlson that came with my Brewer's Best Kit. In my latest order from Midwest, I received PBW and Star-San.



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Did you use any sort of temperature control? I find it unlikely the bathroom cleaner navigated your airlock.
I've checked the bathroom temp a lot (sticker on the side of the bucket in the middle), and it has read between 63 and 66 most days. Seems the temp is pretty stable.

The only reason I suspect the bathroom cleaner is because the smell was pretty overpowering in the bathroom from the cleaner sitting in the toilet bowl and the tank, and the bathroom door stayed shut most of the time. The smell in the plastic bucket is so overpowering you pull back from it when you get a whiff. And despite the oatmeal stout's wort smelling great when I put it in, I can't even get a whiff of anything that resembles beer from it now, and it smells exactly like my first batch which was a Boulevard Bob's '47 clone.
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