Fermentation gone wrong

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Brian66

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Three of the last 5 beers I've made came out tasting really bad. It's a bad bitter (not from hops) industrial type taste - undrinkable. I did notice on these beers as they were fermenting that there was no air lock activity - although they did ferment fully. I brew small batches 2 - 1/2 gallons. When I opened the valve for samples, it did seem to have a bit of a surge to it. After cleaning this last batch it seems like the air lock was kind of clogged - although I couldn't see any blockage the water didn't pour out of the air lock easily.

The beers that turned out OK were not in a fully sealed fermenter, so CO2 had a way to escape. (using a brew demon where the top allows for co2 to escape.

Is it possible to get a bad bitter taste like this due to CO2 not being able to escape the fermenter?

edit to add: these are all NEIPAs - which usually I have no problem with. Could it be Ethyl Acetate that is staying or pushing into the wort since it can't escape?
 
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micraftbeer

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A few thoughts on this.

1) Whatever was plugging your airlock might be more of the culprit than pressure itself. I.e. some kind of contamination.

2) Fermentation under pressure is a growing trend. The chemistry going on there is the pressure suppresses/changes yeast metabolism, such that you usually get less off flavors, not more.

3) Unless your fermentation vessel was made for pressurized fermentation, it's unlikely you had 0 leaks. Built up pressure was coming out some other path than your airlock. And if it wasn't, it probably would've pushed your airlock out. And if you truly had 0 leaks, your samples would've more than surged a bit. It would've sprayed everywhere as all that pressure fought to equalize.

4) All that being said, I was unhappy with my IPA flavors until I started doing low oxygen transfers into a purged keg. I thought they had a ragged bitterness to them. So maybe the difference could be in your process after the fermentor.
 

DuncB

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No I wouldn't think that you could contain the CO2 from a ferment even a small vol one like yours. I pressure ferment often up to 25psi and flush out kegs and pressurise them prior to transfer. Must be a few hundred litres at least of CO2 produced.

I'd look at the basics with your issue.
sterility and is it a no rinse or rinse out sanitiser ?
Water Removing chlorine prior to brewing?
Any water treatment ? Mag Sulphate can make the beer quite astringent.
Yeast is it happy ie enough used, yeast nutrient and well aerated and is the ferment at the right temp and staying stable?
I assume you mean the tap at the bottom of the fermenter surged when you sampled ? If this was your sample method did you meticulously clean and sanitise this after doing it. Was the tap really clean before you started to ferment they can retain stuff inside and get a nick cocktail of new yeasts to use.
 
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Brian66

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Thanks for the input. This is happening in the fermenter before kegging so it's not the transfer. I am doing water treatment using brunwater based on sending my water out for testing. I'm basically adding calcium chloride, gypsum and epsom salt. Not sure it's the tap at the bottom of the fermenter - It's happened with both the brew demon and the anvil stainless steel fermenter - which seals pretty well. I use a no rinse cleaner and a no rinse sanitizer but I admit, I'm not taking the taps on the fermenters apart everytime. The only other thing I can think of is that maybe the immersion chiller wasn't cleaned well? That's the other common factor here.

I'm brewing two batches this weekend. I will thoroughly clean every part and cross my fingers. Do you think soaking the immersion chiller
 

bkboiler

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not exactly sure what industrial means.
Sometimes it can be lack of passivation leading to a metallic taste, or too high in a brewing salt...or too high of dry hops has tasted "coppery" to me before (even tho I have no copper in my brewery).
Sometimes when people say "industrial" they actually mean solventy or chemical tasting.
off flavor reference:
Solventy
 

DuncB

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So are you removing the chlorine from the water? Half a campden tablet will treat over 5 gallons of water just leave it for about half an hour before adding the brew salts .
I would at least be flushing those taps out with cleaner and then sanitiser. Great temptation to lift the fermenter up and tip it out but if you empty the cleaner and then steriliser out by the tap you should get most of the gunk out.

If you put the immersion chiller into the boiling wort about 10 minutes from end of boil you will kill all bugs. Just leave it in the anvil in the cleaner during anvil cleaning will do the outside fine and rinse it off and store it.

How are you doing with the temperature control / range for your yeast?
 
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Brian66

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I forgot - the last few batches I have added 1 campden tablet (sounds like too much). I have been putting the water additions and campden tablet in the night before - or at least 1 hour before heating the water. I do always flush the taps out with cleaner and sanitizer, but I'm not taking them apart every time. I always put the immersion chiller in with 10 mins left in the boil - but have just been rinsing it off when done.

By industrial I meant a different kind of bitter than you'd get from hops, so solvent or chemical bitterness would fit the description.
 

DuncB

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Time delay here to reply @Brian66
probably half a campden tablet for 25 litres enough. Let that work then add the mash salts. That said though I think some people who do LODO brews
are adding more Sod Met than this to there mash.

Better tell us what your water is to start with and what you are adding for your NEIPA ? and pH
Your cleaning of taps, chiller sounds fine.

I've read a lot about NEIPA but only brewed one ( just finished ) and it came out good, but by far the most challenging beer I've brewed.

How about something more straightforward to help iron this problem out like an American Pale ale or a best bitter without any dry hopping. Ingredients are much less expensive to have an issue with. Malt is cheap and hops hardly any in a best bitter.

I assume you are all grain? It's not a Tannin astringent type taste is it? you say solventy or chemical bitterness.
 
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Brian66

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Time delay here to reply @Brian66
probably half a campden tablet for 25 litres enough. Let that work then add the mash salts. That said though I think some people who do LODO brews
are adding more Sod Met than this to there mash.

Better tell us what your water is to start with and what you are adding for your NEIPA ? and pH
Your cleaning of taps, chiller sounds fine.

I've read a lot about NEIPA but only brewed one ( just finished ) and it came out good, but by far the most challenging beer I've brewed.

How about something more straightforward to help iron this problem out like an American Pale ale or a best bitter without any dry hopping. Ingredients are much less expensive to have an issue with. Malt is cheap and hops hardly any in a best bitter.

I assume you are all grain? It's not a Tannin astringent type taste is it? you say solventy or chemical bitterness.
I agree that brewing something more like a pale ale would make sense until I figure this out. However I've committed to bringing a couple NEIPA's for a get together on Memorial day. I brewed them this past weekend and I've removed all of the recently new things I had incorporated. Plus, one of the recipes is a kit that comes with it's own water additions with instructions to use distilled water. Here are the things I won't be doing that I had started doing in the last few months:
No wort chiller. Will go back to the ice bath​
no sous vide for heating up the strike water​
no yeast nutrients​
Not using filtered water with my own water additions. Buying spring water - will only add some gypsum and calcium chloride​

Then I will slowly add these back in one at a time. I did have a couple of Pale ales in the mix that came out good.
 
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