Every batch I make is sour

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Comradesour

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Hey team. I'm despondent.

I'm a beginner in this hobby, using pre-hopped kits. First couple I made were great! Then one got infected, and ever since then they've all tasted sour.

I was using a plastic fermenter with mangrove jacks no rinse sanitiser. (It's a granular form sanitiser. )

I brought a stainless steel fermenter (ss brewtech brewmaster bucket), thinking maybe I had scratched the plastic one.

But first batch I made in the new fermenter came out sour as well. ****ing gutted!

Only plastic equipment I'm still using is the original plastic stirring spoon (would a stainless steel one scratch the new fermenter?).

With the granular no rinse sanitiser, I fill the fermenter with 5l of warm water add the sanitiser, shake it up a lot, then leave to sit for 10 minutes.

Also sanitise the spoon, can opener, scissors, airlock separately.

What else could I be doing wrong ?
 

milkflakes

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It's fine to go ahead and replace that spoon, that could easily be the source of all your problems. Any equipment you reuse after the boil can infect a batch if it isn't sanitized glass or metal.
 

bracconiere

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lol, i was just saying in another thread. "if anyone ask me about sour beer, i'd tell them to not bother with sanitizing"....

not that it will help you but i ALWAYS get sour beer when i sanitize. so i just pasturize with 180f water.....

it's not classical advice but what works for me.....


oh, and try some UV from sunlight, and open air.....
 

Calder

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Can you describe 'Sour'?

Most organisms that affect beer (sour beer) take a long time to affect the beer. If you get a decent start to fermentation, most souring organisms will take a long time (months or even years) to make a significant impact to a beer. The one that will quickly affect a beer is acetobacter, which will convert the alcohol the acetic acid (vinegar).

For acetobacter to affect a beer, it obviously need to be present, but it also need oxygen. If you leave a beer too long in a fermenter that is not completely sealed, it can be a problem.

I don't know any details of your set-up or process, but, assuming you clean and sanitize everything that touches the cold side, and fermentation starts in a reasonable time (24 hours ...... even a couple of days), I'd start to look at leaks and delays in packaging the beer.

It is good to sanitize equipment to minimize any infection, but you could put your arm into a fermenter to fish out something at the bottom, and not impact a beer. Beer is fairly tolerant of minor contamination, and most organisms take a long time to affect a beer because the alcohol and hops really slow them down.

If you are concerned about your plastic spoon. put it in some boiling water; that will kill off any contaminating organisms.
 

FromZwolle

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With the granular no rinse sanitiser, I fill the fermenter with 5l of warm water add the sanitiser, shake it up a lot, then leave to sit for 10 minutes.
i'll assume this is similar to oxyclean and the various other names. it's not a great sanitizer, especially if you already have an infection hiding in your equipment.

bleach or boiling water or both on everything. new yeast! and do your best to keep everything post boil clean, not just 'sanitized'. any kind o scrum is going to harbor bacteria and even protect it from surface sanitation.
 
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Comradesour

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Can you describe 'Sour'?

That's a hard one. My most recent is a Black Rock wheat beer kit. It's not vinegary, taste or smell. It's a medium sour, and smells sour and also a tiny bit metallic or chemically. The sour is not extremely intense but still there, like an exaggerated version of the cheapest piss beer.

I've done a wheat beer kit before that turned out fine, and I'm not expecting it taste amazing. But it doesn't taste like a wheat beer at all.

It's not really drinkable for me.

My process is basically:

Sanitise everything
Boil 3L of water, chuck that in the fermenter
mix in the kilo of brew enhancer / dextrose / dme.
Mix in the prehopped kit.
Add cold water to make it up to 20l / 5 gallons
Lid on tight
Stick it in the fridge for a couple hours till it hits around 22c or 20c
Open lid, and sprinkle in the yeast.
Lid back on.
1 week in the fermenter
then bottled with sugar added to each bottle individually.
2 weeks in bottle for carbonation.

This particular one smelled and tasted sour before bottling.

I dont really want to invest in all the kit to brew all grain until I can get this flaw in my brews fixed.
 

Miraculix

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That's a hard one. My most recent is a Black Rock wheat beer kit. It's not vinegary, taste or smell. It's a medium sour, and smells sour and also a tiny bit metallic or chemically. The sour is not extremely intense but still there, like an exaggerated version of the cheapest piss beer.

I've done a wheat beer kit before that turned out fine, and I'm not expecting it taste amazing. But it doesn't taste like a wheat beer at all.

It's not really drinkable for me.

My process is basically:

Sanitise everything
Boil 3L of water, chuck that in the fermenter
mix in the kilo of brew enhancer / dextrose / dme.
Mix in the prehopped kit.
Add cold water to make it up to 20l / 5 gallons
Lid on tight
Stick it in the fridge for a couple hours till it hits around 22c or 20c
Open lid, and sprinkle in the yeast.
Lid back on.
1 week in the fermenter
then bottled with sugar added to each bottle individually.
2 weeks in bottle for carbonation.

This particular one smelled and tasted sour before bottling.

I dont really want to invest in all the kit to brew all grain until I can get this flaw in my brews fixed.
It might be the yeast. Wb06? Many of the wheat beer kits are sold with a witt yeast that might get a bit tart.

Otherwise, try akit with real hops and boil it, maybe the hopping rate was not high enough to keep the lactos quiet.
 

brewNYC

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That's a hard one. My most recent is a Black Rock wheat beer kit. It's not vinegary, taste or smell. It's a medium sour, and smells sour and also a tiny bit metallic or chemically. The sour is not extremely intense but still there, like an exaggerated version of the cheapest piss beer.

I've done a wheat beer kit before that turned out fine, and I'm not expecting it taste amazing. But it doesn't taste like a wheat beer at all.

It's not really drinkable for me.

My process is basically:

Sanitise everything
Boil 3L of water, chuck that in the fermenter
mix in the kilo of brew enhancer / dextrose / dme.
Mix in the prehopped kit.
Add cold water to make it up to 20l / 5 gallons
Lid on tight
Stick it in the fridge for a couple hours till it hits around 22c or 20c
Open lid, and sprinkle in the yeast.
Lid back on.
1 week in the fermenter
then bottled with sugar added to each bottle individually.
2 weeks in bottle for carbonation.

This particular one smelled and tasted sour before bottling.

I dont really want to invest in all the kit to brew all grain until I can get this flaw in my brews fixed.
Hang on- reading the above, it appears you are not boiling your wort, just mixing the DME in with hot water in your fermentation vessel. Perhaps this is per the instructions in your pre-hopped kit, but I would think that it would make inferior beer.

I would also be concerned about topping off with cold water that hasn’t been boiled. That could be the source of infection.

My two cents - I think your process is the problem. Maybe you got lucky with the “no boil” method, and it worked once or twice, but it won’t consistently make good beer. Have you ever tried a more typical process? (Boil your wort in a big pot, cool it in an ice bath, ferment for a couple of weeks then bottle)?
 
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brewNYC - I understand what you are saying, but have you read about Hopped Malt Extract lately? I was surprised as hell to read something recently (I think from Coopers) and they specifically said, "don't boil it". I was researching for a friend who wanted to make a Canadian blonde and I knew there was one you could do 'from the can,' or as a Kit and Kilo. I think Comradesour just needs to bleach bomb everything. My humble opinion.
 
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madscientist451

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Hang on- reading the above, it appears you are not boiling your wort, just mixing the DME in with hot water in your fermentation vessel. Perhaps this is per the instructions in your pre-hopped kit, but I would think that it would make inferior beer.
Extract has already been boiled so it doesn't required any more boiling. The only reason you boil an extract beer is to get the hop bitterness.
Pre-hopped extract doesn't need to be boiled, just heated to sanitize temperature, which is about 180F.
To the OP, you're going to need to spend a little money and get some star-san or similar brewing sanitizer. A little goes a long way, I mix 1/2 oz in 2.5 gallons of water and keep it on hand in a bucket and re-use it several times. Your infection could be in your fermenter, the bottles, the caps the siphon, everything that touches the beer needs to be sanitized and kept sanitized. If your bottles aren't clean, they can't be sanitized. Each one needs to be visually inspected before use, oxi-clean or PBW will get rid of residue in the bottles, and you need a bottle brush as well. If the bottles don't clean out easily, recycle them and get some more. When bottling, the bottles should be immersed in the bucket of star-san and dumped immediately before filling, have the caps sitting in a dish with star-san.
Your method (above) indicates that you are heating 3L of water and then adding 17L of tap water that is not heated.
Your brewing water doesn't have to be boiled, but heat it to at least 180F, that includes your top off water.
 

brewNYC

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brewNYC - I understand what you are saying, but have you read about Hopped Malt Extract lately? I was surprised as hell to read something recentmy (I think from Coopers) and they specifically said, "don't boil it". I was researching for a friend who wanted to make a Canadian blonde and I knew there was one you could do 'from the can,' or as a Kit and Kilo. I think Comradesour just needs to bleach bomb everything. My humble opinion.
Yeah, agreed that you don’t want to boil your hopped DME kit. I’m just suggesting that the inferior quality of the ez-kit, the unboiled tap water, or the short 1-week fermentation time could all result in beer that’s, well - funny. Personally, I’d try a more traditional extract beer kit/method a few times to see if you like the result before doing something extreme.

Side note- the makers of star-San insist that that a standard dilution of normal sanitizer will effectively kill off and infection on a clean surface. Bleach if you want, but a good scrub, soak in PBW and a sanitizer rinse really should do the trick for anything glass or metal.
 
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Comradesour

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Cheers guys. Will definitely take all suggestions into account.

Will sanitize and clean the bejeezus out of everything.

I've just ordered some proper star san, and will get a cleaner. Pkrd mentioned oxiclean. Never seen that in N.Z. Is that a laundry detergent / stain remover ??

I do have TSP which is what I was advised to clean the stainless fermenter with originally. Will that work as a general cleaner to replace pbw/ oxiclean or is it too intense?

I'll definitely boil all the water next time.

I'll make the move to extract / all grain eventually. But everything I've read says get your process right first!


Cheers
 
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Birrofilo

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My process is basically:

Sanitise everything
Boil 3L of water, chuck that in the fermenter
[...]
You should start from "clean everything". Cleaning is 95%, sanitizing is the last 5%.
Many homebrewers tend to concentrate too much on sanitizing but that sometimes takes attention away from what really is important.

Besides that:
vinegar flies (fruit flies) are the enemy! They fight for the dark side and they sweared in their childhood to never make peace with homebrewers. It's either them or you. Be prepared to kill.
 

Birrofilo

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Also, is the problem on all bottles, or only on some bottles? If the problem is on all bottles of a certain batch, the problem is in the beer. If some of the bottles are fine and some not, the problem is in the cleaning of bottles. But I suppose you already considered this aspect.
 

Birrofilo

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To be fair, there’s some research suggesting that yeast evolved the genes that make beer tasty to attract fruit flies who propagate the yeast to fresh sugar.

But now they have done that, yes, kill them. Kill them all.
I suspect fruit flies are attracted to sugar in whatever sauce you cook it ;-)
 

mark300y94

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Can you describe 'Sour'?

Most organisms that affect beer (sour beer) take a long time to affect the beer. If you get a decent start to fermentation, most souring organisms will take a long time (months or even years) to make a significant impact to a beer. The one that will quickly affect a beer is acetobacter, which will convert the alcohol the acetic acid (vinegar).

For acetobacter to affect a beer, it obviously need to be present, but it also need oxygen. If you leave a beer too long in a fermenter that is not completely sealed, it can be a problem.

I don't know any details of your set-up or process, but, assuming you clean and sanitize everything that touches the cold side, and fermentation starts in a reasonable time (24 hours ...... even a couple of days), I'd start to look at leaks and delays in packaging the beer.

It is good to sanitize equipment to minimize any infection, but you could put your arm into a fermenter to fish out something at the bottom, and not impact a beer. Beer is fairly tolerant of minor contamination, and most organisms take a long time to affect a beer because the alcohol and hops really slow them down.

If you are concerned about your plastic spoon. put it in some boiling water; that will kill off any contaminating organisms.
 

mark300y94

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ah ha. I brewed a Stout one august, left it too long the fermenter. It came out So Bitter. It was drinkable, but with the almost unsweetened lemon-juice type of sour. Unpleasant.
 

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my personal approach to sterilizing is to put all my plastic items in my plastic fermenting bucket with a 1/4 spoon of sodium metabisulphate, just have to be cautious taking of the lid as the sulpher dioxide is a bit potent, everything is perfectly sterile and ready for use.
 

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Cheers guys. Will definitely take all suggestions into account.

Will sanitize and clean the bejeezus out of everything.

I've just ordered some proper star san, and will get a cleaner. Pkrd mentioned oxiclean. Never seen that in N.Z. Is that a laundry detergent / stain remover ??

I do have TSP which is what I was advised to clean the stainless fermenter with originally. Will that work as a general cleaner to replace pbw/ oxiclean or is it too intense?

I'll definitely boil all the water next time.

I'll make the move to extract / all grain eventually. But everything I've read says get your process right first!


Cheers
I posted earlier about mixing TSP and an oxygen cleaner to get a PWB substitute. I use 7 parts oxy to 3 parts TSP. It cleans really well. Don't make it too early someone mentioned that oxygen cleaners lose their effectiveness over time.
 

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I'm a scrupulous cleaner and sanitiser, but last summer I had an acetobacter infected batch of rye ipa. I usually keg, but for this batch I decided to bottle. I had been juicing apples and pears for cider and perry, so there were plenty of fruit flies around, but all my bottles and lids were sanitized and covered and I was bottling direct from the secondary with the hose going through a rubber stopper. Of course, it could have been due to a fly getting into the bottle, but I was as careful as possible and surely that couldn't account for 95% of the batch getting infected, right? Anyway, I found out the cause the next time I went to bottle a brew - a dead fruit fly in the bag of carbonation drops. That was my first (and probably last) time using carb drops. Dissolved and boiled sugar for me from now on.
 

Birrofilo

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I bottled yesterday evening and in order to bring my wheeled shelf in the kitchen in the morning I had to take the bubbler away from a tall fermenter on the highest shelf (or the entire thing did not pass under the lintel).

Immediately when I was in the kitchen I noticed a vinegar fly hovering around the hole. Those beasts are satanic. A few seconds of complacency and they get to the food. They can actually enter the most before one closes the lid. They are not easy to spot on dark wort.
 
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Comradesour

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That's not very long. It's possible that what you are calling sour is more of a "green beer" flavor. I get a lot of green apple Acetaldehyde flavor if I don't give the yeast enough time to clean up after itself.
This really might be the problem. I did leave the first couple of batches I did longer in the fermenter (2 weeks or so) and they turned out better. I think it is a green apple flavour, but my girlfriend reckoned it wasn't! The wheat beer hasn't improved at all in the bottle though.

The instructions for the kit said between 5-7 days in the fermenter, and I read an article that said you should get the beer off the yeast cake as quick as possible.
Hence my change to 1 week ferment.

There's so many contrary opinions!

To be sure, I'm not at risk of infection if I leave it in the fermenter for another week after it's fermented am I ?
 

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Out of interest, your granular sanitizer, how long do you store it for? Most of those "oxygen cleaners", once mixed, specially with warm water, stops "sanitizing" after something like 15 minutes. The hydrogen peroxide it releases is gassed off and it does not sanitize at all anymore. It's actually the hydrogen peroxide that releases oxygen (which is why it's called "oxyclean" or "oxygen cleaner" and names like that, because of the release of oxygen) which does the actual sanitizing and cleaning, and once the oxygen is out, it's useless.
 

Birrofilo

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The instructions for the kit said between 5-7 days in the fermenter, and I read an article that said you should get the beer off the yeast cake as quick as possible.
Hence my change to 1 week ferment.

There's so many contrary opinions!

To be sure, I'm not at risk of infection if I leave it in the fermenter for another week after it's fermented am I ?
The instructions on the kit are not written by the brewing department but by the marketing department. Marketing department says homebrewing must be easy, otherwise people is discouraged. If you put too many instructions, caveats and precautions in it, people will run away from the kit screaming.

Don't pay attention to the instruction if you want the best quality your kit can give.

Don't use sugar, use dry malt extract (DME).
Don't count days, use a hydrometer or a refractometer and evaluate the advancing of the fermentation. The fermentation is completed when the density remains stable for 3 days.
Then, let the beer sit on the yeast for a few more days. It will clean because the yeast will begin using some substances as food which they initially discarded as not tasty enough (or actually which they vomited).

It's certainly not unheard of in my homebrewing experience to bottle after 1 months from preparation. Fermentations can have a "long tail".

After you bottle, wait a couple weeks for a proper carbonation at ambient temperature before putting the bottles in some cooler place (or colder).

Then leave the bottles undisturbed in the cooler place for a few weeks. The tastes will blend nicely. When the beer is green, I have a strange sensation of separation, as if the bitter in the beer doesn't make love with the sweetness in the beer.

Two-three months after the cooking is the normal and proper delay before enjoying your beer IMHO. Much less than that, and the beer is "green".
 

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The instructions on the kit are not written by the brewing department but by the marketing department. Marketing department says homebrewing must be easy, otherwise people is discouraged. If you put too many instructions, caveats and precautions in it, people will run away from the kit screaming.

Don't pay attention to the instruction if you want the best quality your kit can give.

Don't use sugar, use dry malt extract (DME).
Don't count days, use a hydrometer or a refractometer and evaluate the advancing of the fermentation. The fermentation is completed when the density remains stable for 3 days.
Then, let the beer sit on the yeast for a few more days. It will clean because the yeast will begin using some substances as food which they initially discarded as not tasty enough (or actually which they vomited).

It's certainly not unheard of in my homebrewing experience to bottle after 1 months from preparation. Fermentations can have a "long tail".

After you bottle, wait a couple weeks for a proper carbonation at ambient temperature before putting the bottles in some cooler place (or colder).

Then leave the bottles undisturbed in the cooler place for a few weeks. The tastes will blend nicely. When the beer is green, I have a strange sensation of separation, as if the bitter in the beer doesn't make love with the sweetness in the beer.

Two-three months after the cooking is the normal and proper delay before enjoying your beer IMHO. Much less than that, and the beer is "green".
What he said. I always have trouble leaving the beer long enough to age properly. I want to drink it.
 

bwible

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lol, i was just saying in another thread. "if anyone ask me about sour beer, i'd tell them to not bother with sanitizing"....

I ALWAYS get sour beer when i sanitize. so i just pasturize with 180f water.....
I use Star San religiously and none of my beers are sour. I do rinse the foam completely out. I have read where some people think Star San oxygenates their beer - I also have not run into that.

For bottles I soak in PBW for at least an hour then rinse and transfer to soak in Star San again for at least 15 min. I use 2 old 8 gallon plastic pail wine fermenters for this. I sanitize bottle caps in a small container of Star San too - just scoop a little out. Bottle filler and tubing also has to be soaked and santizied. If you are using a bottling bucket with a plastic faucet, be sure to run some sanitizer through that too. Any syphon cane and tubing used too. And any spoon you stir with.

I always thought the other way - tell the guys who actually want to make cloudy, sour and lactic beers to just forget about cleaning or sanitizing anything.
 
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bracconiere

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I always thought the other way - tell the guys who actually want to make cloudy, sour and lactic beers to just forget about cleaning or sanitizing anything.

yeah, i'd agree. but what ever my natural funk is, it tastes alright to me. like beer probiotics, and if i do anything more then pasturize, i have to rebuild the biome...
 

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Is your water high mineral content? Extract beers are best brewed with soft/ro water since all the minerals are in the extract already. High mineral levels can come off as sour.
 

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Nobody has asked so far. How do you bottle? Do you sanitize the bottling wand or siphon you use to get the beer into the bottle. Are you using a bottling bucket and, if so, have you stripped the faucet to pieces as critters hide inside.
 
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Comradesour

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Out of interest, your granular sanitizer, how long do you store it for?
I wasn't storing it at all. With a clean fermenter, when I was ready to brew, I'd mix it up and sanitise everything just before, leave 10-15 mins then chuck the liquid out and start adding ingredients.

I've switched to starsan after the recommendations from this thread though, and I heard you can reuse that.


Is your water high mineral content? Extract beers are best brewed with soft/ro water since all the minerals are in the extract already. High mineral levels can come off as sour.
Never even thought about the mineral content of the water. Is the best bet just to get bottled water?


Nobody has asked so far. How do you bottle? Do you sanitize the bottling wand or siphon you use to get the beer into the bottle. Are you using a bottling bucket and, if so, have you stripped the faucet to pieces as critters hide inside.
I'm bottling straight from the fermenter, with a short tube attached to the a bottling wand. Both of which I strip and sanitize thoroughly before use. Would you recommend transferring from the fermenter to a bucket?
I was just adding dry sugar straight from the packet to each individual bottle though. Next time I bottle I'll boil the sugar and add the sugar liquid to each bottle.

I did notice the sourness in the beer when tasting from the fermenter before bottling, so I don't think its the bottling that's caused it.
 

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Yeah StarSan can be reused many times. I use it until it becomes physically dirty and then I dump it. It'll probably last even longer now that I'm going kegging though.
 

Bigdaddyale

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Check underneath the lid gasket on your fermentor- I fought an infection for almost a year before I pulled out the rubber gasket and found nasties living in there
 
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