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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Sour beer? What happened?
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Old 04-09-2009, 08:39 PM   #1
MissLeah26
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Default Sour beer? What happened?

Hi all, I have a question about my first batch of beer (which explains why I'm posting to the beginner brewer forum... duh, Leah).

Anyway, I got a starter kit with the two buckets for fermenting and bottling for Christmas, and a Continental Light ingredient kit. I got it all started on Feb. 28, doing all the initial steps before putting it into the fermenting bucket according to the instructions in the kit. We bottled it (after cleaning out our recycled bottles with C-Brite [I think that's what it's called] and rinsing them well with water) on March 17, in honor of St. Patrick's Day. I was patient and anxious to drink it, which I finally got to do this past Tuesday, April 7.

I stuck a couple of beers in the fridge for a few hours before cracking them open and pouring them into pint glasses. It looked just fine, held a decent head, and smelled all right to me. Then, I took a sip and almost gagged. The beer tastes sour, like something went wrong with the hops in the kit or something. The only other thing I could think of was that it might have stayed in the fermenting bucket too long before bottling... does that have anything to do with it?

I'm trying to figure out what could have gone wrong with this batch before starting another one (I'm hoping to get a hefeweizen kit tomorrow) so I can learn from any mistakes I made. Any ideas?

Thanks for your help!

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Old 04-09-2009, 08:47 PM   #2
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Hmm, I doubt it stayed in the bucket too long, I think you had it in primary the right amount of time (I rarely go shorter than 3 weeks).

It could be that the kit was old, but it shouldn't be that bad. I've had a sour beer before (my first one as well) and that was due to poor sanitation. After that I bought some Star-san sanitizer and cleaned everything well and made sure it was all sanitized.

Getting an infection (Bacteria that are bad for your beer, but won't hurt you) on your first batch doesn't happen often though. Are there any other descriptors you can think of besides sour that may help?

This page may help some. http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-2.html

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Old 04-09-2009, 08:52 PM   #3
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Probably a lacto-bacteria infection. If they are all sour, it happened in the fermenter or while bottling.

Some people pay extra for sour beers, but I dislike them.

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Old 04-09-2009, 08:52 PM   #4
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It definitely sounds like a lactobacillus infection. What did you use to sanitize all of the brewing gear and bottles with? I don't use C-brite, but if it's a no-rinse sanitizer, it shouldn't have been rinsed.

What kind of technique for cleaning and sanitizing did you use?

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Old 04-09-2009, 09:00 PM   #5
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I looked up C-Bright and their website says something to the effect of it is actually a no-rinse sanitizer but due to some laws, they needed to package it as a "cleanser" and by law, they could not put "no-rinse" on the label because it is a cleanser...

Leah, I don't know enough about C-bright but you might consider buying a different sanitizer like Star-San on your next trip to the hb store.

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Old 04-10-2009, 04:39 PM   #6
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Hmm... it looks like I'll have to pick up a different sanitizer. Good thing I'm heading over to the shop this afternoon anyway, or I'd never remember to do it. Star-san seems to be pretty well-recommended, so I'll grab some of that.

The package of C-Brite *did* say to rinse well with potable water, so that's what we did. I had a brand-new 5-gallon bucket with the C-Brite and water mixture (mixed according to the package), submerged the bottle in the bucket, scrubbed out the inside with a bottle brush (included in my kit), then rinsed very well with water from my kitchen sink. I dried them inverted in recycled boxes so all the water drained out while they were drying.

@conpewter, sour is definitely the first word to come to mind... though vinagery and astringent sound like they might fit. Honestly, I was so disappointed by it that I tried not to taste it much after the first sip, which I now regret. Maybe I'll try it again tonight to see if it was just the bottle I drank or if it's the whole batch.

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Old 04-10-2009, 04:43 PM   #7
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It's definitely possible for beer to get infected in the bottle, so it could be as little as one bottle that was bad. Keep checking them before you think about throwing out the batch.

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Old 04-10-2009, 05:01 PM   #8
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Leah, when you run out of C-Brite, you can also use Oxyclean as a good cleaner (but not sterilizer). I got a tub of the perfume-free/dye free stuff at the grocery store (I also hear you can find the generic at a dollar store). I throw a scoop into a 6.5 gallon carboy after brewing and let it sit for a few hours. It really does a number on the dried krausen on the sides and cleans it out quite well. Oxyclean is also good for recycled beer bottles, soaking them in a tub or bucket will help remove the labels from the outside with no effort and the insides get really clean too!

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Old 04-10-2009, 05:38 PM   #9
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Great tip with the OxyClean! I was wondering if there was an easy way to remove all the labels... I'm assuming that I would sterilize the bottles afterwards with one of the sterilizers mentioned earlier, though, right?

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Old 04-10-2009, 05:43 PM   #10
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I normally clean them then store the bottles until I am ready to use them. On bottling day, I go through my sanitizing routine when I am bottling the beer.

Everyone uses different methods for sanitizing. I am the kind that puts the whole kitten-kaboodle into StarSan and soak for 15 mins then take the bottles out, fill them and the hubby caps them up (with sanitized caps). Some people use dishwashers, some use bottle racks to dry them after the StarSan, some bake them in the oven. If you search, there are some good recent conversations about bottling and bottle sanitizing. Revvy has a great thread on bottling around here somewheres....

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