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Old 10-06-2010, 11:45 PM   #1
Bradmont
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Default Trying to track down an off flavour...

So I'm three bottles into my second batch, and I'm having some inconsistent flavour. The first bottle was exquisite, but the second and third tasted off. This is the same off taste I had in my first batch (both extract), but I chalked that one up to having left my fermenter in the sun.... Interesting thing is that when I tasted the beer at the beginning of bottling day, the first taste was great, but when I drank the dregs, I had a bit of the sour/bitterness. Is it possible that the beer got skunked over the course of bottling? I used a plastic bucket for bottling, but it wasn't covered. I did the bottling at night in my kitchen, and I'm pretty sure the bulbs are incandescent (I'm out of town ATM, so I can't check).

The other possibility running through my head are that there's some problem with my plastic (bucket or siphon) which I got second hand. Could this be it?

So, a few details on the brew:
1 can Cooper's English Bitter + 1kg light DME, with a full boil. I made sure the liquid extract wasn't expired.
3 weeks primary, three weeks in bottles.


Any ideas?

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Old 10-07-2010, 12:01 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradmont View Post
I tasted the beer at the beginning of bottling day, the first taste was great, but when I drank the dregs, I had a bit of the sour/bitterness. Is it possible that the beer got skunked over the course of bottling?
Sure it's possible.... but far from probable. Your problem is highlighted in bold... dude of course the crap at the bottom is going to be sour/bitter. That's pretty much what that stuff is made out of: sour and bitter.

The off flavor you're experiencing in the bottles can be a few things. I'm leaning towards either you splashed a bit too much and introduced oxygen, or (the more likely scenario) is that your beer is too young and you are experiencing what HBT elders call a "green" taste. Most likely the flavor will fade with time, especially if you're keeping your bottles at 70*F.

Hope that helps. Others could probably help further if you could describe the off-flavor you're getting. Is it like: band-aid, cardboard, butter, an odd "twang", or more of a general extra-acidity sensation?

EDIT: You do know to leave the junk at the bottom of each bottle when you pour, right? Drinking that (mostly yeast) will contribute an odd flavor.
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:03 AM   #3
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Stupid idea, I know, but are you careful when you pour and rack to leave the sediment at the bottom ? Were the bottles bottled at the same time ? Maybe your second and third bottles have more trub/crap still in suspension giving you the "off taste". If you use brown bottles and don't let the bottles in direct UV light (as in by a window), I doubt you can skunk a beer in a few weeks.

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Old 10-07-2010, 12:13 AM   #4
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Yeah, I know not to drink the sediment in the bottles. I left the trub in the carboy when I racked into the bottling bucket.

Reno, I'm sceptical that it's green flavour -- it tastes just like my first batch, which I did in the spring. The off taste in that batch got worse with time. I still have a few bottles of that one around, and they taste absolutely terrible now.

I don't know if I can describe the flavour, I guess "twang" would be the closest thing... doesn't taste like anything I've tasted before, but I can't say I've ever tasted bandaids, either.

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Old 10-07-2010, 12:37 AM   #5
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Who doesn't nimb on a band-aid every once in a while ? What sanitizer are you using and are your bottles spotless ? Spotless. I inspect every bottle with a strong light and you would be suprised at the number of them who appeared clean and still had minute amount of crap at the bottom. Even after three chlorine soaks and vigorous brushing. I even pitched some who were still dirty after such a rigorous cleaning.

If I were you, I'd brew a very small batch, clean and sanitize three times, assure I wouldn't splash anything and bottle with new bottles. Your brew cannot get worse over time the moment if there's no infection or oxydation.

If you have plastic buckets, maybe try to use glass instead, just to be sure they don't have small scratches that can harbour bacteria. But I would doubt you would have one very good beer and then bad ones from the same batch if your primary was the source.

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Old 10-07-2010, 12:55 AM   #6
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Last batch I used aseptox (oxygen-based), this time I used Starsan. When I was washing the bottles, I held them up to bright sunlignt (several hours before bottling) and didn't see any crud, I guess I can check more closely in the future... I also soaked them overnight beforehand in a strong aseptox solution then rinsed and dried before sanitizing.

As to plastic, I fermented in a glass carboy, I just used the bucket for bottling.

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Old 10-07-2010, 04:28 AM   #7
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Well... I'm assuming aspetox is a sanitizer (which StarSan is, as well.) It may not be a sanitizing issue but simple a cleaning issue; big difference. What do you use to clean your equipment?

Most on here I believe either use PBW or Oxyclean Free (which are essential the same IIRC.) Regardless of how strong your sanitizing solution is, if you don't scrub off the tiniest bit of gunk you could be leaving behind microorganisms that can live beneath crud, dust particles or within minuscule cracks.

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Old 10-07-2010, 02:24 PM   #8
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Well, I examined the bottles pretty closely and didn't see any gunk, those that had stuff in the bottom I scrubbed out with a brush, and chucked a couple because I couldn't get them clean. As I've been getting bottles, I rinse them thoroughly just after pouring, so I'm sceptical that the problem could be sanitation. Not going to dismiss it though.

Is it possible that the problem is that I've been using twist-off bottles? I've seen people dismiss them as a bad idea, but I've never heard any good reason why. I use a floor-stand capper, and they're carbonating, so they seem to be sealing fine...

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Old 10-07-2010, 03:02 PM   #9
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I used to do coopers kits as well and found the same thing. My thoeries:

1) Often, the kits have been poorly stored and by the time they end up in your kitchen, they are off before you even start brewing them. I have has some coopers taste close to awesome, and some taste like I would guess my mouth would taste after licking the back of Rush Limbaugh's knees.

2) You have an infection, which does usually taste worse with time. You need to buy brand new siphon hose/cane. These are hard to keep clean and many people replace them after 10-12 uses because of their inherent tendency to harbour unseen bacteria.

Side note - full boil? What does that mean, you boil your kit/DME for 60 minutes? My coopers kits only tasted good when I boiled only until hot break, then cooled. Boiling longer than that is only caramelizing your LME. Now, you could use fresh hops and boil them in the water for 15 mins or more before adding your kit/LME/DME.

Hope that helps you get to the bottom of your troubles

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Old 10-07-2010, 03:32 PM   #10
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Thanks jjones. I'll try replacing the syphon for my next batch. I think I'll try something without liquid extract too.

By full boil I mean that I boiled the whole volume of the wort. Though yeah, I did boil it too long, too...

Hey, you're from Nanaimo? I grew up in Comox. Random.

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