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Old 02-11-2011, 11:03 PM   #1
tubz
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Default Most frustrating hobby ever?

I need your help oh lords of homebrew. I have been brewing about twice a month for 6 months or so. I have never made a single drinkable batch of beer. Every single beer I do ends up with the same puckering, sour smell and taste, which I'm sure is an infection of some kind. I've been trying to troubleshoot by removing one element of my process at a time but nothing has worked. I've stopped making starters, pitching straight out of the smack pack (which i sanitize, along with the scissors i use to cut the pack). I've started only doing month long primary fermentations in order to reduce my chances of infection. I feel like I've tried everything.

I do 5 gallon all grain batches on my stove. I soak and scrub everything in PBW followed by StarSan. I'm very careful with cleaning and sanitization even pre-boil because I've gotten so obsessed with avoiding infection. I ferment in a glass carboy which I also soak overnight in PBW followed by a several hour soak in StarSan.

The only things I can think of are the fact that my electric stove doesn't exactly boil very vigorously so perhaps it's not killing off microbes in the wort? I also never cover the kettle when I'm using my wort chiller, perhaps the little guys are falling during that ten minute period?

I need to get this figured out. I would like to just once make something that I can actually enjoy instead of pouring it down the drain.

Any ideas/suggestions?

-Tubz.


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Old 02-11-2011, 11:06 PM   #2
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Maybe you can walk us step by step through your process in as much detail as you can give?

Oh and don't discount how frustrating shipbuilding in a bottle would be.


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Old 02-11-2011, 11:10 PM   #3
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Maybe you are trying beers that are beyond your current skill. Not to sound like an @$$ but did you just jump into home brewing by starting with AG? Any extract kits ever? My first couple of AG batches were bad but drinkable. I am a firm believer in starting with extracts in order to get the basics down. Let me know a little more about your processes post boil and hopefully I can help.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:10 PM   #4
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wow. thats terrible to hear. wish i had the know how to tell you where your going wrong but if your doing everything your saying there im stumped, though i am no expert thats for sure. maybe sanitize everything with just a simple bleach water solution if you really think that infection is the problem. another thing to consider are you allowing your beer to ferment in the same area every time? if it is getting the same infection (similar off taste everytime??) i would maybe move it to a different area during brewing, cooling, fermenting, and bottling. just my .02 best of luck
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:11 PM   #5
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Are you using an immersion chiller? If so, boiling it in your wort for at least 15 minutes? And if it's a counterflow, how are u cleaning it?

It sounds like you are doing a full-wort boil, which is good. If you are concerned about the strength of your boil you could always invest in a turkey fryer, but as long as you are boiling even a little bit no beer-spoiling microbes will survive. Any grain dust around? That can be a source of lacto, but I have grain dust near where I chill my wort and don't have any of those problems.

Are you topping off with tap water at all? Are you boiling your priming sugar? Have you tried the beer right out of the fermenter to see if it's the fermenter or the bottles that is causing it?
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:11 PM   #6
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It sounds like to me that your first batch got an infection and it still lives in your gear.

Throw out any plastic gear you have been using. Fermenters, funnels, siphons etc... Even with vigorous cleaning and sanitizing they can still easily harbor bacteria.

Switch any gear that you can to glass or metal. You might even try switching the rooms in which you ferment. It might sound extreme but it's worth a shot.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:11 PM   #7
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More specifics would surely help. Do you use tap water or bottled?
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:13 PM   #8
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It starts the night before when I fill my carboy with PBW to soak overnight. I give it a good scrub with the brush in the morning and fill it when Starsan. This soaks for a few hours while I mash and boil. I fill a five gallon bucket with pbw and soak and scrub everything else (racking cane, tubing, airlock, even my mash paddle, etc.), then I soak all of these things in Star San until I'm ready to use them. I mash and lauter in my home made cooler mash tun for an hour. I collect the runnings in my kettle and boil. After flame out I move the kettle to the sink where I cool with an immersion chiller. While this is happening I empty the star san from the carboy and rack the wort into it. I aerate the wort and pitch the yeast, throw on an airlock and put it in the closet.

Several weeks pass.....

I crack open the carboy and I'm greeted with the same sickening smell. At first I thought it was just green beer so I let it go for a while. But every batch is the same.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:13 PM   #9
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And now that I reread it, u are doing all-grain? There are lots of other potential areas to look at then. Getting full conversion? pH not too high?
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:15 PM   #10
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Where are you in Wisconsin?


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