Dumped last 6 batches of beer - Infected?

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eugles

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My last 6 beers have been dumpers. I'm freakin bummed, but the bushes in my yard seem to be flourishing.

A few months back I noticed a weird muddled sour-ish/tart taste in my fermenter sample. The beer was somewhat tart and not the neipa it was supposed to be. I brewed again and the same thing happened. Different hops, yeast, grist...same weird flavor. I thought it was because of my new brew bucket and maybe I didn't passivate it correctly / get rid of machining oils. Did super thorough citric acid rinse and tsp cleaning...Brewed another beer...same crap with diff recipe. Ok starting to lose my mind. Maybe it was my starter procedure? Brewed simple all 2 row [email protected] and pitched directly from packet with no starter. Split into 2 vessels, half into the brewbucket, half into older glass carboy. 4 days after pitching took another sample...same crap. Noticed it fermented down from 1.046 to 1.003!!! Took a ph sample, 3.91! That explains the tartness. I recall in all of these brews seeing massive over attenuation. Did a MASSIVE cleaning of mash tun, robobrew, replaced all silicon, boiled all steel parts, pbw, starsan, etc. Lastly did a 1 Gallon batch of 2 row and dry us05. SAME CRAP!!!!

This seems like an infection right? That's common to see massive over attenuation and excessive ph drop? What could it be and where? I use an igloo cooler mash tun - could it be in there? Wouldn't boiling the wort kill off everything? I use PBW and starsan on everything I can. I did read that milling grain in same area you brew in could cause grain dust containing lacto to fall into the beer. Would that particular scenario just lead to ph drop or would it drop gravity as well? I brew / ferment I n my garage, should I move it somewhere else? Could it be really crap in the air in my garage.

Tldr: last 6 brews all taste same regardless of ingredients with slightly acidic tang. All over attenuated. Measured ph of last one, 3.91. Infection? Where most likely? How do I nuke it?

Help me please, I'm losing hope.
 

EnglishAndy

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How are you transferring to the fermenter post chill? I'm thinking specifically of bugs that can grow inside ball valves. There's a Brulosophy blog posting where that caused a string of infections for someone.
 

ESBrewer

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Probably the transfer from the kettle to the fermenter (or the starter culture) as it becomes sour in the fermenter. Do you keep the kettle properly covered during wort cooling so that all the stuff in the air wont be landing there? Then immediately pitch when it has been cooled down and transferred. Did you use fresh/dry yeast from company or some washed / stored cultures ?
 

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Sounds like a solid infection to me. Do you taste also something phenolic which shouldn't be there? Doesn't have to be there, but would be another hint towards an infection...

I guess getting a brand new bucket to ferment in and not using any valve post boil plus using a brand new equipment to transfer and bottle would show what's up. Also use a recipe without a starter and pitch directly from the pack of yeast without rehydration etc.

If that turns out fine, you can reintroduce old equipment one by one each batch to see where the infection is sitting.
 

Dgallo

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If this was happening to me, I would get all new transferring lines/equipment and a new fermenter. When you’re dumping tht many batches in a row it’s a serious problem
 

IslandLizard

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How are you transferring to the fermenter post chill? I'm thinking specifically of bugs that can grow inside ball valves. There's a Brulosophy blog posting where that caused a string of infections for someone.
This one gets my vote!

I doubt it's in your fermenters, certainly not your stainless one after thorough cleaning, although the spigots need attention too.

It's most likely in the transfer from your Robobrew to the fermenters. Even those kettle valves can harbor bugs, boiling wort doesn't seem to get them hot enough to kill 'em off. One of my brew friends encountered nasty Pediococcus infections that traced back to his kettle valve, a black tarrish deposit behind the ball.

Inspect and thoroughly clean and sanitize every place that can harbor bugs. Brew a small batch of a simple beer and check.

Generally, yeah, don't mill (and possibly not weigh) grains in your brew area. The dust, the Lactobacillus... Mill outside!
 

grampamark

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This one gets my vote!



It's most likely in the transfer from your Robobrew to the fermenters. Even those kettle valves can harbor bugs, boiling wort doesn't seem to get them hot enough to kill 'em off. One of my brew friends encountered nasty Pediococcus infections that traced back to his kettle valve, a black tarrish deposit behind the ball.

I was doing some cleaning this morning and pulled the valve out of my BK. It hadn't been cleaned since about 5 or 6 brews ago. This is the schmutz that had accumulated. When cleaning, make sure to remove the ball and the nylon seats on either side of the ball (the white ring at the bottom of the valve body; there's one at each end and the rounded inner edge must be installed towards the ball when reassembling). The crud builds up behind those valve seats.


845D50BA-033F-4E00-9B0A-2204F3541384.jpeg
 
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eugles

eugles

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How are you transferring to the fermenter post chill? I'm thinking specifically of bugs that can grow inside ball valves. There's a Brulosophy blog posting where that caused a string of infections for someone.
Great point, but before the last brew I took apart every single ball valve that I own pbw/boiled/high concentration star sanned them all. No dice :(
 
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eugles

eugles

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Probably the transfer from the kettle to the fermenter (or the starter culture) as it becomes sour in the fermenter. Do you keep the kettle properly covered during wort cooling so that all the stuff in the air wont be landing there? Then immediately pitch when it has been cooled down and transferred. Did you use fresh/dry yeast from company or some washed / stored cultures ?
So no, i have not been keeping kettle or fermenter covered during transfer and that is what i am looking to change up next. Tried numerous kinds of yeasts and the last batch was just a 1 gallon batch with dry us-05, with the intention of dumping it as soon as possible if it got infected
 
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eugles

eugles

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Bottling? Kegging?
I keg, but i only kegged the first batch since this whole infection mess started. I have been able to tell within 4 days of fermentation in multiple different kinds of vessels. I suspected it was my fermenter, until i tried 2 others ones with same result. I am slowly eliminating complexity and variables trying to debug this...down to a 1 gallon glass jug, dry us05 yeast, all 2 row.
 
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eugles

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I was doing some cleaning this morning and pulled the valve out of my BK. It hadn't been cleaned since about 5 or 6 brews ago. This is the schmutz that had accumulated. When cleaning, make sure to remove the ball and the nylon seats on either side of the ball (the white ring at the bottom of the valve body; there's one at each end and the rounded inner edge must be installed towards the ball when reassembling). The crud builds up behind those valve seats.


View attachment 618809
Def found same nasty crap too after someone gave me the same advice. Its scrubbed and cleaned, but the problem persists.
 
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eugles

eugles

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If this was happening to me, I would get all new transferring lines/equipment and a new fermenter. When you’re dumping tht many batches in a row it’s a serious problem
Replace all silicon tubing and gaskets. no dice
 
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eugles

eugles

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Thank you all for the awesome help and support as I battle this infection/bug thing! I think my next move is that I am going to brew 2 concurrent 1 gallon "dumper" batches to identify this issue. 1 batch will be in the robobrew and another on my old propane burner and different kettle. Going to take mash tun out of the equation, even though I don't think its the problem and just do BIAB. Also going to move brewing location to outside. Anything else you guys can think of to help be identify the culprit? One thing I was thinking is that my Robobrew does boil the wort, its the most aggressive boil. Could something be surviving this?
 

Transamguy77

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Where are you fermenting at? Have you tried fermenting in a different location?

Years ago I lived in a over 100 year old house and fermented in the basement and in the summer time is started to notice an off flavor and sometimes a white film after several dumpers and new this and new that I tried fermenting in another part of the house and just like that no more infections.
 
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eugles

eugles

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Where are you fermenting at? Have you tried fermenting in a different location?

Years ago I lived in a over 100 year old house and fermented in the basement and in the summer time is started to notice an off flavor and sometimes a white film after several dumpers and new this and new that I tried fermenting in another part of the house and just like that no more infections.
Interesting, I ferment in temp controlled fridges in the same garage where i brew. The fridges are well cleaned though.
 

IslandLizard

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Nobody mentioned barbs and threads yet.

Especially threaded parts needs to be cleaned (brushed) well regularly and inspected for harboring dirt and microbes.
Ball valves need to be rinsed out and drained in certain ways and left half open, to allow them to dry inside when stored.

Quick disconnect collars and such things need some special attention too.

Other places to inspect, clean and sanitize:
  • Fermenter lids, pay special attention to the rim groove, airlock hole, and grommet.
  • Racking canes, siphons, hoses, adapters, anything that touches your chilled wort <150-160F).
  • Blow off tubes are bug heaven.
  • Spigots, especially their inside parts and surfaces.
  • Most plastic spigots (such as used on bottling buckets) and all their parts (rubber washers, nuts, etc.). Many consist of two 3/4-1" barrels that rotate into one another. One holds the nut the other the spigot end. The space between those 2 barrels is a notorious bug trap. Those barrels halves can be separated easiest by pushing apart after a brief soak in hot (near boiling) water.
 

rwc_617

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Do you aerate or oxygenate? If you do have you tried boiling the aeration stone?

Also, Starsan kills bacteria, but maybe your infection is from yeast. So you might try adding iodophor to your sanitation regimen.
 

rwc_617

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Denny Conn comes down on the side of Star San not killing wild yeast, and some people use it for yeast washing. I don’t know if he’s right or wrong. Regardless, SOMETHING is surviving the OP’s sanitation regimen, and switching sanitizers is an easy thing to try. Five Star Chemicals, the makers of Star San, also makes IO Star, an iodophor sanitizer. I switch between the two.

And I boil my aeration stone.
 
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Are you bottling or kegging? Edit: nevermind, just read above.

I bottle, and had diastaticus infection for a few batches after a saison and finally chased it down to the little black tip on my bottling wand; I hadn't realized it was two parts with a little o-ring. That fixed it for me, no more hyper-attenuated gushers. Inspect and clean every last little part, I do a brief soak in bleach solution and a thorough rinse before storing my gear, then wash again and sanitize with starsan on brew/bottling day. I got a long flexible tube brush on amazon to clean out vinyl tubing, that helps too. Good luck!
 
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ESBrewer

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Denny Conn comes down on the side of Star San not killing wild yeast, and some people use it for yeast washing.

StarSan is a sanitizer, not a guaranteed sterilizer. So small amounts of anything may actually survive if equipment is contaminated and sometimes that could be enough. It is probably true that some microbes are more vulnerable to StarSan than others. I haven't heard this about wild yeast before.
 

RPh_Guy

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Denny Conn comes down on the side of Star San not killing wild yeast
Star San is listed and approved as a broad spectrum bactericide and fungicide. Yeast are fungus.

The astronomical number of clean batches brewed by homebrewers and professionals using Star San is plenty of empirical evidence beyond what Five Star presented to the FDA to get that labeling.

It's a surface sanitizer. Dumping yeast into it doesn't say anything about its effectiveness for sanitizing clean surfaces. Large quantities of yeast dumped into Iodophor aren't killed either.

More info here
http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Quality_Assurance#Homebrew_cleaners_and_disinfectants
 
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NeverDie

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Maybe increase the dwell time on your use of star san? I only say that because when I watch youtube videos by people who are attempting to educate others, I sometimes see that their dwell time is just seconds rather than minutes. Also, on the packaging, I see that it says, "For all applications allow to air dry, but surface must remain wet for at least 1 minute." I presume the air drying part is important, or else they wouldn't put it on the label? I almost never see air drying being done by the people in the youtube videos. In fact, one just said to soak it for 2 minutes. Another said to just soak it for 5 minutes. I'm starting to wonder which of these is right! :confused: On the one hand, we're not supposed to fear the foam, but, let's face it, if there's foam, it's not air dried. So, what's up with that?

It doesn't help that the written instructions refer to pretty much all of the above: air drying for some things, 1-2 minutes of immersion for others, and 5 minutes for yet others. https://www.fivestarchemicals.com/wp-content/uploads/StarSanTech-HB2.pdf
 
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bracconiere

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you know, i hate to be the barer of good/bad news....but the first post just reminded me of a song.....kinda off topic but, if it fermented and had alcohol, it reminded me of this! lol :D

 

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"For all applications allow to air dry, but surface must remain wet for at least 1 minute."
They're saying don't rinse or use some kind of towel, because those are unsanitary.

Wet for 30 seconds is probably enough (quoted off the record from Five Star). 60-120 seconds is probably better.
 
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eugles

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Thanks for all the good info on starsan front. I'm totally down to try anything, but I've been using a high concentration starsan solution and giving everything ample time to soak and to air dry. I'm not even positive where what is ruing my beer is even living. Tried 3 diff fermenters, 2 of which I've used for many years. All tubing and gaskets replaced as well. I'm going to attempt to brew a 1 gallon batch this upcoming wednesday outside of my garage and another 1 using a different kettle on the stove. If both turn out fine, probably my garage, if the Robobrew turns out bad and the stove turns out fine, its the Robobrew. If both turn out bad, i may have to take a brewing break before i go bananas.
 

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How are you transferring to the fermenter post chill? I'm thinking specifically of bugs that can grow inside ball valves. There's a Brulosophy blog posting where that caused a string of infections for someone.

100% this. If you use ball valves, you should get the 3 piece that are really easy to take apart. I recommend taking them apart after every single beer. Wort will get trapped in there and eventually things will grow.
 

Terpene

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Try iodophor, just for the hell of it.

I use a spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol. Remember, though, you have rinse it well or wait for it to completely evaporate.

Sounds like you're on the right track, though. Keep going, you'll find the culprit.
 
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My setup has two 3-piece ball valves; I clean them by slowly cycling them from open to closed while recirculating pbw solution at 180f, ten times each valve. After several batches brewed following that routine I tore them down to inspect and they were both spotlessly clean.
 

IslandLizard

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My setup has two 3-piece ball valves; I clean them by slowly cycling them from open to closed while recirculating pbw solution at 180f, ten times each valve. After several batches brewed following that routine I tore them down to inspect and they were both spotlessly clean.
That's sort of what I do and haven't found anything hiding in there either, when taken apart every 6-8 brews.

After the last rinse out, I leave them half open at a 45 degree angle to dry.
 

IslandLizard

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"For all applications allow to air dry, but surface must remain wet for at least 1 minute." I presume the air drying part is important, or else they wouldn't put it on the label?
I always understood not to let air dry: Surfaces remain sanitized as long as they remain wet with Starsan or covered with its foam. Once it dries the sanitizer isn't active anymore.

I've also read to assemble parts while wet with Starsan, like spigots, auto siphons, tubing to canes, etc. That's what I've always done and never had an unintentionally infected batch so far in 10 years of brewing. I still use the same vinyl racking hose. It's taken on a greenish tint over the years.

Now I've had some infected starters and infected experimental fermentations.
 

NeverDie

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I always understood not to let air dry: Surfaces remain sanitized as long as they remain wet with Starsan or covered with its foam. Once it dries the sanitizer isn't active anymore.

I've also read to assemble parts while wet with Starsan, like spigots, auto siphons, tubing to canes, etc. That's what I've always done and never had an unintentionally infected batch so far in 10 years of brewing. I still use the same vinyl racking hose. It's taken on a greenish tint over the years.

Now I've had some infected starters and infected experimental fermentations.
Yes, I would think so. The quote is directly from the back of the bottle though.

I think probably rph_guy nailed it as just star san's poorly worded way of saying not to rinse it off or dry with a towel.
 
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