Troubleshootings

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crocks86

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Just wondering if there is an off flavour/type of infection that can show itself in a very short amount of time? As in hydrometer sample tasted amazing on Sunday when I kegged, and as of Wednesday I couldn't stand to drink the beer. I would think it was the keg/CO2 causing the problem but one of my beers (brewed two for an IPA competition) had it before going into the keg (just less pronounced) and I've served great tasting beer from the exact same kegs the last time they were used.

I know lots of details on recipe are usually good for this type of thing but it happens with basically any style I make, but is hit and miss so I keep thinking I have the issue solved and then it appears again in a few weeks. I made two delicious beers just before Christmas, then had 3 straight dumpers in the new year. Then two delicious beers in April and May, and now 3 straight dumpers (2 not actually dumped yet but not exactly drinkable). The dumpers included a pilsner, an altbier, two IPAs and two pale ales. Good beers included two stouts (maybe masking off flavour?), a gose, and an IPA. Further back into last year I had an ESB that went down the drain (was tolerable but really not great), and a golden sour that as of 3 months in the fermenter tasted great (haven't tasted in a while), before the brett and bacteria got to work it was a very clean tasting base beer too.

The off flavour (not really one specific flaw but just a mess of a beer in general) is kind of dirty and astringent, and completely masked/removed a pretty prominent citra/cascade hop profile in just days. Sorry for lack of detail on the flavour but I really can't think of anything else to compare it too.

I haven't seen a noticeable drop in gravity in any of the beers after they went south, and from the very short amount of time and the fact that fermentation was complete, I don't think this seems like an infection. But really can't figure out what else it could be.

I'm going to bring the two IPAs to the competition anyway and see what the judges say, but that's a few weeks out so I was hoping to get some input here first so I don't have to wait as long before brewing.

Any advice would be great, thanks in advance.
 

flars

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First suspect would be cross contamination from one or more pieces of equipment used to brew one of the sour beers.
 

bucketnative

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How about bringing them by your homebrew shop, or to a homebrew club if you have one nearby? The one time that I had an off flavor, I was able to get a specific diagnosis from the porprietor, but then I was lucky enough to have a guy who is well-versed in the process and knows his stuff. That's not always the case.
 
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crocks86

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Would cross contamination be able to ruin a beer in 4 days at fridge temperatures (maybe about 5-6C)? Also, I've used all separate equipment for the mixed cultures except for the two kettle sours I did, which were boiled before going into the fermentors.

I have been planning on bringing a couple of bottles to the shop, just figured I'd give it a few days to carb up a little better. The owner is a BJCP judge (not sure what level but I think he's pretty new at it and we have very few competitions around here so probably not too experienced), but hopefully he could tell me what it is.
 
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crocks86

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Also, I should add. The off flavour develops at very different times in different beers. The altbier I did in February tasted great out of the fermentor, was tasting pretty good in the keg while it was under carbed a little. Once it was carbed to a proper level I started noticing a little astringency, then a week or two later it was undrinkable. Whereas my white IPA the was brewed a couple of weeks ago started showing signs of the off flavour(s) at a week or so in primary, also in a brand new fermentor and straight from the boil kettle, so little chance of picking up an existing contaminant. Others have gone south in variable timeframes between those two. Making it very hard to figure out what's going on.

I'm starting to think there could be something off within my ferm chamber. Not sure if that makes sense, but it seems like beers that are open a little more (for dry hopping etc) end up going bad quicker/more often. The stout and gose that turned out great were pretty much ignored between pitching and transfering to kegs, honestly not even sure if I took a gravity measurement before kegging day. Even one split batch I did (baltic porter main batch with a 1 gallon low gravity beer done with some extra run off) the main fermentor (large 8 gallon bucket) was terrible and the 1 gallon jug tasted fine. I think I was more concerned with getting a good ferment in the big beer and likely tested it more (still probably only one or two samples during primary), and I don't have my notes here with me but again I don't think I touched the small beer between pitching and bottling.
 

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