Northern Brewer Bubbler - something is wrong

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Jonell

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So last summer I bought a 5 gallon Northern Brewer Bubbler so I could start doing some secondary fermentations on more complex brews. I've been brewing about 2 years and ~15/18 brews under my belt, some good, some bad, none ugly...until I tried doing secondaries with the Bubbler. I have made three beers with secondaries, and all three have had problems. I soaked the Bubbler in Oxyclean overnight when I got it (2 tbsp/5gal hot water), and then lots of rinsing and starsan. Here were the brews:

Brewers Best: Imperial Nut Brown - 10 day Primary, fully attenuated, 3 week secondary. It never carbonated despite 5 oz of priming sugar and 3 months of ~69-74°F temps, plus what I felt was a severe plastic-y taste. Girlfriend agreed bad, and we poured it out after 3-4 months in the bottle w/ no improvement.

Jaspers Homebrew: Fireside Winter Warmer - 10 day primary, fully attenuated, one month secondary, plus spice 'potion' of vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I can't drink it. Other than having too much vanilla I still smell and taste plastic when I drink it. 3 months in the bottle has helped, but the aroma and aftertaste are there. My girlfriend can drink it. She says she notices something off, but she enjoys the flavor none-the-less. Just now getting carbonated

Wolf Breakfast Stout (friend's tried-and-true recipe) - 10 day primary. finished slightly higher on OG (1.020). 6 week secondary with all sorts of sanitized cold brewed coffee goodness. Bottled one month. Slight plastic aroma, flavor is complex enough that off-taste is slight. barely carbonated.

After each brew the Bubbler is soaked in 5 gallons of Oxyclean for several hours, rinsed thoroughly, and then sanitized+airlocked.

What more can I do?!

I'm convinced that I'm not crazy, but has anyone else had this problem? Maybe I just received a bad one. If anyone doesn't know they are fairly thick PETE (recycling symbol #1).

Help! :confused:
 

beersk

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Hmm, untreated tap water can give plastic aromas and flavors from chlorine/chloromines. Plenty of people have used these bubblers with good results, so it seems doubtful to be the carboy. But ya never know. I don't like plastic, don't use it.
 
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Jonell

Jonell

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I've been using store-bought spring water and occasionally brita filtered tap (when I don't buy enough). Brews done concurrently with the above-listed ones that were not in the Bubbler tasted great.
 
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Jonell

Jonell

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I sanitize it the same way I do my HDPE buckets. Using properly mixed starsan. Tubing might be a good thing to replace, as it is being siphoned twice instead of once.
 

63belair

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You mentioned cleaning/sanitizing when you first bought the carboy and after each brew, but do you sanitize before every beer goes into it?

There isn't much point to sanitizing a vessel after you use it since you should sanitize it before use next time anyway. If you sanitize the vessel after emptying and cap it, then just fill it up next time, I could see this producing issues.
 

flars

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Seems like the common point to bad brews is the Bubbler and Oxyclean. Try putting some bottled water in the BB. Shake it up and let it sit at room temperature for 10 days.
Taste the water at room temp. Your BB may be scratched and has absorbed the Oxyclean.
Other possibility is you have added filtered water to the brews which involved the Bubbler and your filter is not removing chlorine and chloramine.
 
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Jonell

Jonell

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I swish a gallon of starsan around in the carboy before I fill it with fermented goodness, but you do make a good point, and I may give it a try.

In addition, yesterday afternoon I rinsed out the carboy with starsan and lots of hot water, and then added about a gallon of cold, filtered water to do a 'water test' to see if I can taste a difference.

I tested about half a cup of water after an hour side by side with a control. Same water that sat an hour in a glass pint glass. Taste was good. Slight aroma. Girlfriend blind testing confirmed.

Just tested it again, 24 hours (ok more like 20) later, and the water was undrinkable. Severe aroma and very plastic flavor.

To 63belair's point, I should try this again, by first soaking with oxyclean (and rinsing of course) BEFORE my 'water test'. At least this will cover all of my bases.
 

63belair

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I like the idea of more testing with water. Also try a control group of water sealed in a mason jar, a cleaned out juice or soda bottle, etc. Water can take on some funky tastes and smells if left standing for a few days.
 
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