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What happened to my beer??

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littleladyshay

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Hi there, first time posting -
A few months ago I kind of franked-brewed this cream ale with a dark malt extract and belgian candi sugar. After two weeks in the bottles, the flavor was incredible, mildly sweet and toasty but not at all heavy or difficult to drink. But after a few months it has gone complETELY sour, and while the taste isn't bad (reminds me a lot of Victory Brewing's Sour Monkey), it wasn't at all what I intended for it to taste like.
So I guess my question is, why did it turn sour so quickly, and how could I get the same flavor next time and have it last?
Thanks!
 

Pacific Electric

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The simple answer is poor sanitation. Somewhere in your cold side process (fermentation, bottling) you introduced bacteria into your beer that made your beer sour. With out knowing exactly what you did, and did not do, it's hard to pinpoint where things went wrong. If you could list out your cold side process, what steps you took, how you cleaned and sanitized at each step, we might be able to help you narrow it down.

What did you ferment in?
What was your transfer procedure?
How did you ferment?
How did you take samples of your beer?
What was your bottling procedure?
How did you clean your bottles?
What was the source of your bottles?
How did you carb? (bottling sugar?)

I'm sure there are more steps, but this is a start.
 

IslandLizard

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That! ^

And what sanitizer do you use and how do you use it?

Sanitation of everything that touches your chilled wort (<150F) or beer (the cold side of brewing) is very important.

Also, everything on the cold side needs to be clean first, before it can be sanitized.
IOW, you can't sanitize dirt.
 
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littleladyshay

littleladyshay

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The simple answer is poor sanitation. Somewhere in your cold side process (fermentation, bottling) you introduced bacteria into your beer that made your beer sour. With out knowing exactly what you did, and did not do, it's hard to pinpoint where things went wrong. If you could list out your cold side process, what steps you took, how you cleaned and sanitized at each step, we might be able to help you narrow it down.

What did you ferment in?
What was your transfer procedure?
How did you ferment?
How did you take samples of your beer?
What was your bottling procedure?
How did you clean your bottles?
What was the source of your bottles?
How did you carb? (bottling sugar?)

I'm sure there are more steps, but this is a start.

I ferment just in 5 gallon buckets, but I use StarSan to sanitize them, and everything in them. I think where the sanitation went wrong was in bottling, it's almost definite that either my bottling bucket, siphon, or the bottles themselves weren't completely or properly sanitized. All the utensils I used were sanitized, so I don't think it was before I chilled the wort. I do use bottling sugar, but I boil it in water first so I haven't yet sanitized the small saucepan I usually use for that (amateur hour over here)
I DID chill the wort uncovered in an ice bath and it takes much longer when you don't have a wort chiller.... would prolonged exposure just too regular old kitchen air be part of it?
Thanks so much!
 

IslandLizard

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I ferment just in 5 gallon buckets, but I use StarSan to sanitize them, and everything in them. I think where the sanitation went wrong was in bottling, it's almost definite that either my bottling bucket, siphon, or the bottles themselves weren't completely or properly sanitized. All the utensils I used were sanitized, so I don't think it was before I chilled the wort. I do use bottling sugar, but I boil it in water first so I haven't yet sanitized the small saucepan I usually use for that (amateur hour over here)
I DID chill the wort uncovered in an ice bath and it takes much longer when you don't have a wort chiller.... would prolonged exposure just too regular old kitchen air be part of it?
Thanks so much!
OK, Starsan is excellent. On the hot side nothing needs to be really sanitized, boiling does that. But anything touching chilled wort or beer does [ADDED] need to be cleaned and sanitized properly.
Mind the context: wort becomes beer after pitching yeast.

The spigot on your bottling bucket may need some special attention.
It needs to be taken apart completely to be able to clean and sanitize it. There are two 3/4" barrels, one inside the other that makes it turn. The small space between them can hold onto wort and get infected. I had a nasty black deposit growing in there. They need to be split. Soak in very hot water for a minute and push them apart.

I doubt the open kettle placed in ice water picks up a lot of microorganisms, but it's best to avoid it. Maybe cover the kettle/pot with a lid or aluminum foil while it's chilling.

The saucepan should be no problem, and doesn't need to be sanitized with Starsan. Boiling kills pretty much all bugs.

Could well be the bottles. I always use a bottle brush to clean the inside and one of those jet sprayers that screws onto the faucet to rinse thoroughly. Then they get submerged in the Starsan bucket, about 10 at a time, and left for at least a minute (usually longer) as I fill the previously load of 10. Drain well and they're ready to fill, then capped.

Review your cleaning and sanitation processes thoroughly, and check if you may have missed something.
That bottle bucket spigot is often overlooked.
 
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littleladyshay

littleladyshay

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OK, Starsan is excellent. On the hot side nothing needs to be really sanitized, boiling does that. But anything touching chilled wort or beer does. Mind, wort becomes beer after pitching yeast.

The spigot on your bottling bucket may need some special attention.
It needs to be taken apart completely to be able to clean and sanitize it. There are two 3/4" barrels, one inside the other that makes it turn. The small space between them can hold onto wort and get infected. I had a nasty black deposit growing in there. They need to be split. Soak in very hot water for a minute and push them apart.

I doubt the open kettle placed in ice water picks up a lot of microorganisms, but it's best to avoid it. Maybe cover the kettle/pot with a lid or aluminum foil while it's chilling.

The saucepan should be no problem, and doesn't need to be sanitized with Starsan. Boiling kills pretty much all bugs.

Could well be the bottles. I always use a bottle brush to clean the inside and one of those jet sprayers that screws onto the faucet to rinse thoroughly. Then they get submerged in the Starsan bucket, about 10 at a time, and left for at least a minute (usually longer) as I fill the previously load of 10. Drain well and they're ready to fill, then capped.

Review your cleaning and sanitation processes thoroughly, and check if you may have missed something.
That bottle bucket spigot is often overlooked.

Thank you very much!
My only question now, is that I read about condensation in a covered pot ruining the taste of the wort, is this a myth? I can't remember if it was a tannin problem or what but it's why I hadn't previously covered the pot while the wort chills.
 

pdcm

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Thank you very much!
My only question now, is that I read about condensation in a covered pot ruining the taste of the wort, is this a myth? I can't remember if it was a tannin problem or what but it's why I hadn't previously covered the pot while the wort chills.
Probably it is DMS (dimethyl sulfide), which is really primarily produced in the condensation during the boil. I end up covering during both the mash and while chilling, and while there is still steam and condensation, I think the quantities there are minimal? I'm not an expert here, so hopefully someone else can explain it all better and correct any mistakes I might have picked up.
 

IslandLizard

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I read about condensation in a covered pot ruining the taste of the wort
During the boil, it could, yes, due to the formation of DMS that's not being driven off through evaporation.

DMS formation is mostly an issue when brewing all grain, much less with extracts, with which you're brewing right now.
Reason is, extracts have been boiled already at the maltster and DMS was properly driven off there, before it was condensed to LME (malt syrup) or spray evaporated to DME (malt powder).

In summary these are the preferred ways for lid on, lid off:
  1. During the boil, definitely with all grain boils, keep the lid off. Or leave on partially, if necessary to maintain a boil/simmer, such as when using a low powered or underpowered heating source (such as many kitchen stoves), a relatively large kettle with too much heat loss, etc. With all grain boils, evaporation is important (driving off DMS, while condensing the wort). With extract boils it's not.
  2. During chilling put the lid on if possible. Mostly to prevent nasties from dropping in.
  3. But if you need to remove the lid so you can speed up the chilling process, for example by moving the (immersion) chiller coil around or stirring the wort, that's preferred. IOW, faster chilling over a much smaller possibility of bugs dropping in.
  4. Once chilled, when racking to your fermenter, for ease of working, remove lid or better, leave on partially. If draining the kettle through a valve near the bottom, leave lid on, then ajar toward the end, so you can keep an eye on the wort level.
 
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