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Old 04-17-2008, 05:48 PM   #1
yeqmaster
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Jul 2007
Santa Cruz, CA
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The title says it all ... I think its up to the last 5 batches that have all gone bad. I started brewing about a year ago. My first 5-7 batches were amazing!!! My first 2 were actually the best. But now, I have seemed to come to a dead end and am about ready to jump out my window. I CANNOT get a good turnout.

All the batches have gone bad in the same way... The beer turns out very clear (so clear it could have been filtered). When I serve into a glass, it comes out all foam. It smells somewhat chemical like. It tastes somewhat chemical like and it just tastes bad. I'm not to good at identifying the smell and taste yet. I went to the local brew shop and they said it has a chemical kind of taste in it. However, they said it did not seem like the band aid smell that occurs a lot.

My process of brewing is as fallows;
I am brewing partial mash kits. Usually the kits contain around 2-5 pounds grain and the rest extract. I use PBW clearner first on everything (Scrub all the carboys, kettle and everything with it). I then use Star San to sanitize and am very thorough with it. I never rinse after. I brew and then transfer to carboy by pouring into sanitized funnel. I then pitch the yeast and plug it up and either use an airlock or blow off tube. After about 2-3 weeks, I transfer to secondary. Next batch that I do, I am going to try the beer at this point. I let it sit another week or so and then bottle.

Previously when I bottled I would cook up the sugar solution, put it in a bottling bucket and then rack the beer on top of it. I would then fill all the bottles with the spigot attachment. After I went to the brew shop, they told me to try eliminating the bottling bucket and try racking the beer onto the sugar in another carboy. I did this and then used the auto-siphon and a bottling attachment to bottle. I have another couple weeks to see how that batch turns out. The first batches that I brewed that were bad I kegged. They were both TERRIBLE so I thought it might have something to do with the kegs since I bought them from somebody on cragislist. But the bottled beer has come out bad too. I have let a friend barrow my auto-siphon a few times during the midst of all the bad batches and his batches came out fine. So i want to say that I can eliminate the transfer hose. However it could not have been cleaned well enough when I did it. Basically... I am frustrated and stumped. I want some good home brew again!!! ahhhh!!! Any help, comments, and suggestions are much appreciated. I am in San Luis Obispo, CA so if any one is located near by it would be awesome if you could try it out. Thanks,
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Old 04-17-2008, 05:53 PM   #2
stever
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Mar 2008
St. Louis
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Can you think back to your first bad batch and then remember did anything change in your process from that last good one to the bad one?

 
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Old 04-17-2008, 05:56 PM   #3
maltMonkey
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Jan 2008
Kansas
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It's probably hard to remember back this far, but can you think of any equipment or procedure changes between your last good batch and your first bad batch?

{edit--beaten to the punch}

 
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:00 PM   #4
tranceamerica
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Jan 2008
seattle WA! WA! WA!
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Ok, really there's only a couple things that you could be doing wrong.

1) you have some infection somewhere in your equipment that you're unable to clean

2) there's something wrong w/your technique or ingredients.

the gushers sound to me like a bacterial infection, however...

Try doing this, and see if it eliminates your problem:

1) clean and sanitize all your equipment. If you have anything that might be suspect (perhaps a plastic fermentation bucket w/scratches in it?) you replace it.

2) brew a malt extract batch - keep it simple (see my basic ME recepie). This will help you find out if it might be what you're doing with the grains.

Use bottled water.

Use new ingredients - mostly here I'm thinking that you buy new dry yeast (keep it simple)

be careful between brewpot and yeast pitch. cool your wort as fast as possible, and keep it covered while you are cooling. pitch the yeast asap.

make sure it's covered when you are fermenting. Are you using a plastic bucket or glass carboy?

maybe post some more of your technique at each step so we can see if there's any place that might be suspect.
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:05 PM   #5
tranceamerica
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looking closely at your post.

do you rinse after using the PBW? you are supposed to rinse after using it. Star san is no-rinse, but PBW is a rinse product.

also, it seems to me that it's somethign that it getting into your fermenter. Really, I imagine that we all get bacteria into the wort before the yeast goes in, but the yeast overpowers it. but if if there's something nasty living in your fermenter (again, this makes me think a plastic bucket w/scratches) then that might explain it.

really, I think after the beer has fermented, it's not so susceptable to infection, because of the alcohol in it & lack of sugar. so, your bottling process isn't the issue, unless the bottles are nasty or have something in them.

...thinkin...
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:12 PM   #6
The Pol
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Id say this #1 has to do with some chemical getting into the brew, OR that there is a problem between the boil and the fermenter. I agree with the above post, after fermentation, PH and alcohol will protect your beer pretty well against infections. You are not noting any film, mold, or anything VISIBLE that would indicate an infection. Id lean toward some sort of chemical issue perhaps.

 
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:12 PM   #7
tranceamerica
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what is your cooling and pitch process? you want to cool fast, and pitch asap too.

I'd say eliminate the PBW. I clean my hot side equipment just like regular dishes (dish soap and rinse), and my cool side get soap and water (if possible) or soaked in starsan (carboy) (of course, before I use them, they get sanitized too) . if I can't really scrub them. I'd rather not get something into my carboy that I can't get out (soap? PBW?)

maybe you need to soak your carboy overnight w/starsan(?)

in my mind, you either have a sanitization issue, or some chemical is getting into the beer (PBW or soap?) or somewhere along the line, wild yeast or bacteria is making it into your fermenter or wort.

but definately try doing a ME batch. Just stick to ME + hops + water & see if you can get a decent batch.

yes, do try sampling your beer along the way. (at racking time & at bottling time).
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:14 PM   #8
Franzi
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Maybe boiling any loose components that won't melt might help. That way the hot water can get in every little crevice. Can also try filling your buckets/carboys up with boiled water and let it soak?

 
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:17 PM   #9
Dr_Deathweed
 
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What temp were you fermenting at? Are you re-using yeast?


You said you kegged your first few batches that were bad. Have you cleaned these kegs througly (replaced all 5 o-rings, sanitized dip tube, posts, lid, and keg?) When you kegged, did you purge the headspace with some CO2?

Your techniques seems fairly solid, I will keep looking to see if I notice anything blatently wrong...
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:22 PM   #10
BierMuncher
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Simplify:
  • Reduce your cleaning to using just a mild bleach solution and hot rinse. (I've used it exclusively with no bad batches).
  • Try using bottled water on your next batch.
  • Use your glass carboy as a primary and don't transfer to a secondary.
  • Pitch a fresh packet of dry yeast (don't know what you've pitched before).
  • Return to the boil / cool procedure for your priming sugar.

 
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