Which of these ruined my batch?

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Mechphisto

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I've had ANOTHER batch completely ruined, now. Just opened the first bottle of this batch and it's horrifically sour! Nauseatingly sour.
I am SO careful about cleaning and sanitation! Nothing comes near my beer unless it's been oxypowder-stuff cleaned and soaked or sprayed with StarSan sanitizer (pH checked to be strong!)
These are the things that I can think of that may be the culprit; any feedback on the likelihood?

1. As I cooled the wort using a wort chiller, it took 20 minutes to get it down to 70F. As it was doing so, I left the pot uncovered and I kept gently stirring the entire time to help move move the liquid around the chiller.
Could it have gotten infected being open like that?

2. To help quickly cool the wort and bring the volume up to 5 gal, I use a couple chilled gallons of sealed sanitized drinking water. I spray the jug, the lid, and even the neck of the jug after removing the cap with sanitizer before I pour the water in, even so, could it pick something up from that?

3. On the 3rd day of the primary fermentation, I discovered it had basically overflowed the 5gal carboy... Even though I used a blow-off hose with the end down in a bucket of sanitized water, beer had bubbled up through between the neck of the carboy and the tube (which was SUPPOSED to be tightly sealed in the neck. The brew supply store I got it from for that purpose is telling me no way it was too small... yet I had a bool of beer on the floor around the carboy to prove otherwise. I sanitized and wrapped cellophane around the neck and hose for the remainder of the primary fermentation.

Thanks for any feedback!!
Liam
 
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LeeH

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Nothing above has caused issues for me.

Is your FV plastic? If so maybe time for a new one and a new set of hoses. Do you have any valves that haven’t been disassembled and soaked?

Edit, you carboys are large glass demijohns I think...
 
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Mechphisto

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Is your FV plastic? If so maybe time for a new one and a new set of hoses. Do you have any valves that haven’t been disassembled and soaked?

Edit, you carboys are large glass demijohns I think...
Sorry, "FV"? I can't think of what that refers to :( My autosiphon is plastic, my bottling wand, bottling bucket, secondary carboy is PET plastic (and never before used before this batch), uhm... stirring paddle is plastic.
Primary carboy is glass, hydrometer is glass, wort chiller copper (with PVC hoses I think?)....
Might something be contaminated? Anything's possible! But I tell you, I oxypowder clean everything sparkling and then soak if possible, spray down at least, everything with StarSan water. :(
And yeah, my carboy is demijohn-shaped. I have an angled cleaning brush to scrub up where the neck widens.
 

Gulo_gulo

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Nothing sticks out to me. But to be clear, starsan isn't a cleaner. Oxiclean or pbw, or even dish soap, are cleaners. Clean with one of the above, then use starsan to sanitize.

Also, and not related to potential for souring I don't think, if you're fermenting 5 gallons of wort, with krausen and trub, a 6.5 or 7 gallon fermenter is better, lest you lose a lot of volume out of a blowoff tube.
 

Gulo_gulo

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Another thing though, your copper chiller, is it an immersion type or type you pump wort through? I don't scrub off the patina on my immersion type, or use chemicals. I put it in the boil kettle about 10 min before the boil is done to sanitize it. Then just give it a good spray off after done.
 
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Mechphisto

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Nothing sticks out to me. But to be clear, starsan isn't a cleaner. Oxiclean or pbw, or even dish soap, are cleaners. Clean with one of the above, then use starsan to sanitize.

Also, and not related to potential for souring I don't think, if you're fermenting 5 gallons of wort, with krausen and trub, a 6.5 or 7 gallon fermenter is better, lest you lose a lot of volume out of a blowoff tube.
I originally misspoke and corrected it: I use the oxyclean-like powder stuff for cleaning, StarSan for sanitizing.

And yeah, I discovered that size issue when I discovered the pool of beer on the floor around the carboy. :) I plan on getting a 7 gal carboy for my primary for next time. (If I'm not too demoralized to try yet again)
 
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Mechphisto

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Another thing though, your copper chiller, is it an immersion type or type you pump wort through? I don't scrub off the patina on my immersion type, or use chemicals. I put it in the book kettle about 10 min before the boil is done to sanitize it. Then just give it a good spray off after done.
It's immersion. And yeah, I do the same thing, put it in for the last 10-15 min of the boil.
Then rinse and sanitize afterward.
 

Gulo_gulo

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To help quickly cool the wort and bring the volume up to 5 gal, I use a couple chilled gallons of sealed sanitized drinking water. I spray the jug, the lid, and even the neck of the jug after removing the cap with sanitizer before I pour the water in, even so, could it pick something up from that?
What do you mean by 'sanitized drinking water'?
 
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Mechphisto

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Oh no, very very definitely a spoiled sour taste! No doubt about it!
But, good to know about the copper and sanitizer! Will be aware of that in the future.
What do you mean by 'sanitized drinking water'?
Sorry, misspoke again. Meant "purified" drinking water, not "sanitized." You know, the kind you get in gallon jugs at the grocery store.
 

davidabcd

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As said, none of the things you mentioned in your original post jump out and and you're following the "whatever comes in contact with the cooled wort is sanitized" thing. Going by what you said, there are not particles on anything and the surfaces are then sanitized with Starsan.
You mentioned "another." Was it sour as well or some other malady?

On paper, there is nothing wrong with your process (though obviously there is something).
Did you change anything from when your batches were fine?
Are your FGs coming out way lower than they're supposed to?

"FV" is fermenting vessel which is the primary fermenter, glass in your case.
 

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I originally misspoke and corrected it: I use the oxyclean-like powder stuff for cleaning, StarSan for sanitizing.

And yeah, I discovered that size issue when I discovered the pool of beer on the floor around the carboy. :) I plan on getting a 7 gal carboy for my primary for next time. (If I'm not too demoralized to try yet again)

Skip the carboy and go for a bucket fermenter instead. Carboys are heavy, slippery when wet, and expensive. The are also hard to clean since the opening is so small.

How long has it been since you bottled the beer and what is the recipe. I find that my porters will have an off flavor, slightly sour, when opened before they have a chance to mature. Your beer may simply need more time for the yeast to settle and beer to mature.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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.. autosiphon ... bottling wand ...
Can these be fully disassembled, cleaned, and sanitized?

update: there are (at least) two different styles of auto-siphons. One can be disassembled for cleaning. The spring tipped bottling wand that I have can also be disassembled for cleaning.
 
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Day-Day

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I see you cooled the wort down to 70 degrees... were you able to control fermenation temps after you pitched the yeast? If so what were they? If not what was the ambient temp of the room you were fermenting in? Also what type of yeast, starter, etc? It could be a temp or yeast issue.

My beers often tasted sour ...like a green apple kinda flavor until I got my pitch rates and fermentation temps under control.
 

dwhite60

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I had a batch this year overcarbonate from what I thought was an infection. In
looking over my gear a found a piece of muck in the valve of my bottling wand.

Luckily, my batch wasn't infected just hadn't hit final gravity before I bottled but
finding that stuff in my bottling wand was a real eye opener.

All the Best,
D. White
 

RPh_Guy

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Contamination can come from anything that touches the wort or beer or any time it's exposed to air (after the temperature drops below ~140-150°F).

A lot more detail about your brewing & bottling process, equipment, and cleaning/sanitation process is needed to help determine what might have caused the contamination and what steps could be improved.

Posting the recipe (including everything added to the beer at all points in the process) also might be helpful.
 
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Mechphisto

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Wow! Surprised about no one thinks it's one of the possible failure points I mentioned.
OK, more info (and recipe at end).
I used buckets when I lived in MO and never had a bad batch.
I switched to carboys after moving to OR (and getting all new equipment) because the buckets I got here wasn't making an airtight seal. And the buckets have the corners and edges and all kinds of angles that makes cleaning more challenging than smooth, rounded glass.
Even so, I've not had a good batch once since moving to OR!

I do disassemble everything, including the siphon, and clean thoroughly with the oxy-powder stuff, then soak in StarSan water. Except the bottling wand... I've never taken that apart, I just soak it in hot water, run cleaning water through it, then soak in StarSan water. Didn't know I could disassemble it! I will now.

I do keep the temperature regulated between 68 and 70F for the entire primary (glass 5 gal carboy), secondary (brand new PET 5 gal carboy), and bottling (to bottling bucket and using wand). Then in the fridge for a week. Primary for a week, then secondary for 2 weeks. Then bottles for 4 weeks. Then fridge for a few days. And the spoiled sour I do NOT think is from unconditioning! It's a nauseating, spoiled sour taste. Like rancid orange juice.

Recipe:
PRIMARY
Add to cold water, bring up to 180F. TTL time should be 30 min:
12 oz Caramel Malt - Crystal 60L Grain
8 oz Briess - Chocolate Grain
8 oz Carapils Grain
8 oz Roasted Barley Grain
4 oz Carafa II Grain
(remove grains, sparge, bring to boil, then off heat)
8 lbs LME - Light Extract Dissolve then Boil 60 min
1.5 oz Fuggles (A: 5.3%) Boil in bag full 60 min
.5 oz Fuggles (A: 5.3%) Boil in bag last 10 min
8 oz Lactose (milk sugar - non-fermentable) Add in last 5 min
1 pkg ClarityFerm Pitch with yeast
1 pkg Safale S-04 Yeast Pitch at 70F

SECONDARY (1 week)
(Racked to 2ndary carboy after 4 days due to blowoff hose leak)

BOTTLING (4 weeks)
3/4 cup Corn sugar (supposed to be 4 oz by weight, except scale didn't work) Sugar
Boil 5 minutes in 2 c. water, allow to cool. Add to bottling bucket.
 

Day-Day

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Could you elaborate on "Oxy-powder stuff" ?

Have you ever taking the spigot off of your bottling bucket... disassembled, cleaned, and sanitized it (should do that every use)?

Have you tasted the beer before bottling? Did it taste okay? Is this sour taste only appearing after the beer has been bottled?

If the beer tastes good out of the fermenter... then you might be able to narrow the issue down to the bottling process.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Except the bottling wand... I've never taken that apart, I just soak it in hot water, run cleaning water through it, then soak in StarSan water. Didn't know I could disassemble it! I will now.
With hop-forward recipes and my spring-tipped bottling wand, the spring will occasionally capture some hop trub - which similar to is what @dwhite60 mentioned back in reply #15. Also similar to what @Day-Day mentioned wrt cleaning the bottling bucket spigot.
 
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Mechphisto

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Could you elaborate on "Oxy-powder stuff" ?

Have you ever taking the spigot off of your bottling bucket... disassembled, cleaned, and sanitized it (should do that every use)?

Have you tasted the beer before bottling? Did it taste okay? Is this sour taste only appearing after the beer has been bottled?

If the beer tastes good out of the fermenter... then you might be able to narrow the issue down to the bottling process.
My bottling bucket doesn't have a spigot, I use the autosiphon with the wand.
No, I did taste it after primary, and it tasted fine! But I did not taste it before bottling. Should have. Definitely will start now.

EDIT ADDED: Oh, the oxy-stuff... I forget what it's called. It's just a white powder cleaner that my brew supply store sells. It's like an oxyclean I guess. I pur it from the bag it comes in into a tupperware so I don't have the label :(
 
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Mechphisto

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One more thing to check is if your bottles rinse visibly clean. I had a series of infections and the source was crud that built up on the inside of my bottles.
Brand new bottles, run through the dishwasher (just high heat, no detergent) to sanitize. And bottled straight out of the washer.
 

Gulo_gulo

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Wow! Surprised about no one thinks it's one of the possible failure points I mentioned.

...


8 oz Briess - Chocolate Grain
8 oz Roasted Barley Grain
4 oz Carafa II Grain
I didn't think the points you mentioned in the original post were of concern (except losing beer because of a small carboy is a shame).

I would suggest making a lighter beer next time to see if the taste is still there. That seems like a lot of dark grain that might be contributing or at least disguising the flavor of what's really going on. Do something like a pale ale with DME and 12 oz of Caramel 40, balanced with around a 0.5 IBU to Gravity ratio, and relatively minimal finishing hops.
 
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Mechphisto

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I didn't think you the points you mentioned in the original post were of concern (except losing beer because of a small carboy is a shame).

I would suggest making a lighter beer next time to see if the taste is still there. That seems like a lot of dark grain that might be contributing or at least disguising the flavor of what's really going on. Do something like a pale ale with DME and 12 oz of Caramel 40, balanced with around a 0.5 IBU to Gravity ratio, and relatively minimal finishing hops.
Oh, ok... you know, come to think of it, the one (and only one) good batch I'd made since moving to OR was an amber ale. The rest have been some kind of stout. Maybe I just can't make stouts right LOL! (Or I have infected equipment since that first batch) :(
 

Bilsch

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I plan on getting a 7 gal carboy for my primary for next time. (If I'm not too demoralized to try yet again)
Part of the fun of the hobby. You might not get to drink or enjoy every batch but you will learn something from each one.
 

Day-Day

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Brand new bottles, run through the dishwasher (just high heat, no detergent) to sanitize. And bottled straight out of the washer.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding this but... you didn't soak the bottles in starsan after you washed them in the dishwasher?

If so this might be your likely culprit... I'm not convinced the heat of a home dishwasher is enough to ward off all potential nasties... I would personally have still soaked them in starsan...

What do others think... do people reguraly use this method with success... not saying it's not possible... but I wouldn't trust it.
 

WBB

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Putting them in dishwasher should kill nything as dishwater water gets 140*+. But I would skip the dishwasher and soak in PBW and then rinse thoroughly and then soak in sanitizer.

I would also NOT just opened store bought purified water and use it to top off cooled wort. I would boil and then cool the water.

You say you have to use a couple of gallons to top off, which means you’re around 3 gallons? What calculations are you using to get your wort volume?
 

Day-Day

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Putting them in dishwasher should kill nything as dishwater water gets 140*+. But I would skip the dishwasher and soak in PBW and then rinse thoroughly and then soak in sanitizer.
I agree with that...

Also if OP just opened a new box of bottles and sanitized them without washing them first that could be an issue also... just because they are new doesn't mean they are clean... there could be all kinds of nasty stuff in there that needs to be washed, rinsed, then sanitized (either through heat or sanitizer solution).
 

RPh_Guy

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OP:
I think the bottling wand is the most likely culprit if it wasn't disassembled for cleaning and sanitizing... But I'll go over some other stuff too. Just things to think about, no need to answer every question. :)

Did you open more than one bottle to see if they're all contaminated? Maybe not all of them are bad, especially if the contamination was from the bottle itself.

Cleaning: Do you use warm water for the oxy cleaning solution? Does it bubble? Do you soak all your cold side items in it? Disassemble all parts? Make sure you don't scrub plastic with anything abrasive that might cause tiny scratches? Rinse thoroughly after soaking? Clean immediately after equipment is used?
Do you inspect for residue after cleaning and drying?

**** Soaking in sanitizer is not needed and not helpful. Star San in particular tends to create a film, so soaking isn't good.

Brew day: Immediately before use do you sanitize all your [disassembled] equipment and place on only a sanitary surface? Avoid touching any surface with your hands that will touch the wort or beer? Avoid having particles fall into the wort after or during the chilling step? Do you put your chiller in the boiling wort for several minutes to sanitize? Chilling tap water doesn't leak into your kettle?
I agree the top-up water should ideally be boiled, but the risk of it adding contamination is probably low.

Yeast: Do you sanitize the yeast packet and scissors used to open it? If making a starter, is it boiled and then kept sealed (foil or foam stopper)? Was the yeast repitched?
How do you aerate the wort?
Do you also sanitize the Clarity Ferm vial?

Fermentation: You don't add any unsanitary ingredients (except commercial dry hop pellets that haven't been handled)? You keep it closed? Finding a way to seal the fermenter is a good idea.
**** You should generally leave the beer in the primary vessel, no secondary vessel. Using a secondary vessel significantly increases the risk of contamination.

Bottling: Again, all equipment has previously been cleaned is sanitized and then assembled immediate before use? The process is fairly quick to avoid contaminants falling into the bottling bucket? Bottles were cleaned and sanitized? Do you sanitize the caps?
Good that you boil the priming sugar.
Make sure you don't put the hydrometer sample back in the batch at any point.

Taste your beer whenever you transfer it, to help determine when a contamination may be occurring.

Bummer about your batches. Hope this helps.
 

CascadesBrewer

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Or I have infected equipment since that first batch
This is where I would start. I am not an expert on all types of infections and what sanitizers can rid them, but I do believe that once you have an infection a standard "clean and soak in StarSan" process may not be enough to get rid of it. I would look to heat sanitize anything that you can fit in a pot of water, maybe try a soak in Iodophor or Bleach, and replace plastic/hoses/gaskets that are either cheap or that you don't think can be sanitized.
 

RPh_Guy

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I am not an expert on all types of infections and what sanitizers can rid them
This is my specialty, and of particular importance to me because I frequently use Brettanomyces, Pediococcus, Lactobacillus, and every other wild microbe under the sun in my brews. :)

Once you appropriately remove all residue from your equipment with a good cleaning process, pretty much any sanitizer will kill all problematic organisms. Star San, Iodophor, Bleach + vinegar (at no-rinse concentration), and 70% ethanol are all good options.

You should not "soak" in Star San or any other sanitizer. They work within 1-2 minutes.

On the other hand if you don't remove residue with proper cleaning, then none of the sanitizers will work.

Heat is good for sanitizing but since hot water doesn't remove residue, there may still be issues with future batches.
Replacing cheap plastics is definitely a good option for someone having recurring contaminations.

Cheers
 
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CascadesBrewer

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This is my specialty, and of particular importance to me because I frequently use Brettanomyces, Pediococcus, Lactobacillus, and every other wild microbe under the sun in my brews. :)
Ahh...my guy to ask in the future!

I guess I have read info that Star San is not that effective at killing wild yeasts and mold...that Iodophor is better at that and there seems to be debate if Bleach is effective. There is also a quote in "How to Brew" about Iodophor that says "Soaking equipment for longer, for 10 minutes at the same concentration of 12.5 ppm will disinfect surfaces to hospital standards."

Plus a nice long soak in a 25 ppm Iodophor sanitizer will give all your plastics a brown stain..err...lovely golden hue.
 

RPh_Guy

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I guess I have read info that Star San is not that effective at killing wild yeasts and mold
Star San is more than adequate.
This MTF wiki article touches on the scientific evidence and debunks the myth:
http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Quality_Assurance#Homebrew_cleaners_and_disinfectants
There is also an unpublished study from a biologist on MTF that shows Star San is effective at killing both yeast and bacteria.

I use Star San because I like that it has a very long shelf life and short required contact time.

Spores:
Mold should never be a problem for brewers because it requires lots of oxygen to grow.
Anecdotally, I've made at least a dozen wild batches and wild yeast cultures that I'm sure had mold spores and none of the ones I protected from oxygen ever grew mold.
If mold is ever a problem, you need to fix your process.

Sporulating bacteria are also generally not a problem (fortunately) because they rarely contaminate beer.

Sporulating yeast have never been documented to cause a contamination.
there seems to be debate if Bleach is effective
There is debate? Slightly acidified bleach is capable of rapidly achieving sterilization. Vinegar drops the pH slightly, enough to drastically increase the concentration of the active anti-microbial hypochlorous acid.

Edit to clarify: it is extremely effective as a sanitizer, not as a cleaner.
Iodophor that says "Soaking equipment for longer, for 10 minutes at the same concentration of 12.5 ppm will disinfect surfaces to hospital standards."
Iodophor is indeed highly effective, but it does take a bit longer to sanitize at the lower concentration. I would probably stick to 25ppm.
 
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WESBREW

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-I would not toss water bottles in the to help cool the wort.
-make a tub of warm water with some bleach and soak all tubes & siphons overnight. anything the wort goes through. rinse
-fill the carboy up to top and do the same. soak overnight, then rinse,
-sanitise all when its time to brew. I would make a tub of sanitizer and wipe thoroughly all over equipment with clean sponge (not just spray it). and submerge all tubes/siphons in that tub of sanitizer just prior to brew.
 

balrog

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Since you moved to OR.
How's your water source, compared to MO water? Chlorine for instance.
 

eric19312

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I don't think he is tossing in bottles, he is pouring in cool top up water. That practice especially as described, is fine.

You mention this is happening in another batch. So you previously had an infection and didn't manage to get rid of it. I suspect that blow off hose you are describing. If the krausen climbed up the neck, into the hose, and then fell back into the beer...

But regardless of what I or others suspect a batch is too valuable to risk this happening again. Replace everything plastic that touched the previous batches. Autosiphon, bottling wand, stopper, airlock, blow off hose, racking hose, plastic spoon. Next batch make sure to clean and sanitize everthing that might come in contact with the cooled beer. Try not to let things that don't absolutely need to contact the beer come into contact. Don't put your hydrometer into the carboy. Don't take samples out of the fermentor until the beer is just about done.

One more thought...Check that immersion chiller for leaks. I have seen them leaking at the hose connection and dripping unsanitary water into your cooling wort.
 

brewbama

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Star San is more than adequate.
This MTF wiki article touches on the scientific evidence and debunks the myth:
http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Quality_Assurance#Homebrew_cleaners_and_disinfectants
There is also an unpublished study from a biologist on MTF that shows Star San is effective at killing both yeast and bacteria.

I use Star San because I like that it has a very long shelf life and short required contact time.

Spores:
Mold should never be a problem for brewers because it requires lots of oxygen to grow.
Anecdotally, I've made at least a dozen wild batches and wild yeast cultures that I'm sure had mold spores and none of the ones I protected from oxygen ever grew mold.
If mold is ever a problem, you need to fix your process.

Sporulating bacteria are also generally not a problem (fortunately) because they rarely contaminate beer.

Sporulating yeast have never been documented to cause a contamination.

There is debate? Slightly acidified bleach is capable of rapidly achieving sterilization. Vinegar drops the pH slightly, enough to drastically increase the concentration of the active anti-microbial hypochlorous acid.

Edit to clarify: it is extremely effective as a sanitizer, not as a cleaner.

Iodophor is indeed highly effective, but it does take a bit longer to sanitize at the lower concentration. I would probably stick to 25ppm.
The only problem with Star San is the foam. I use Iodophor because it’s low foam.
 

Bubbles2

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When I bottled. The bottles were cleaned way before bottling day. Example would be a used bottle was rinsed and then submerged into a bucket (see you might be a brewer thread) that is in my kitchen charged with Oxyclean. When bucket was full, I would use bottle brush to wash and then rinse WELL hot water. Drip dry.
Bottling day, Star San 5 gal bucket 1oz to 5gal water, (takes about 3 gallons to cover a full bucket of bottles. Star San loses it's effectiveness when it dries. So you want to pull bottles as you are ready to fill them.
EG., Bottles submerged, next to dishwasher open, rack extended and of course clean and sprayed with Star San, reach in grab 12 pack out of Star san empty into bucket they are in and then hang em on dishwasher rack prongs. While they drip, reload bucket as above. Fill those 12-20 that are not dry and still foamy. Cap Repeat. Those are clean bottles.
Your OCD on bringing down the temp is not worth the rub. Yes bringing down the temp helps with proteins and having a clearer beer...However you will never have a perfectly clean beer if you are bottle carbing. There will always be TRUB So you can skip the cooler. Just cover the top of your kettle and if you have a bathtub if your kitchen sink is not large enough to accommodate your kettle. Fill with cool water and set it in there for an hour. Yes you can refrigerate your back fill water too. That water does not have to be boiled. IF the yeast cannot handle clean water as we would it is not worth buying. The cultured or hot rod yeast should plow through any wild yeasts (within reason) 180ºf is the number for pasteurization so logic would dictate that is the sanitation degree not 140 your dishwasher get to. OR you could pasteurize at 140....Louie.
I found a Big Mouth Bubbler that is 6.5 gal works great for fermenting. A secondary is only needed for long haul (longer than 30 day fermentation or Lagering) Stop that. Only another opportunity to oxygenate and or contaminate. 40 batches and no infections thus far and only one crappy batch, the 1st one where I transferred into a secondary due to antiquated instructions making a chocolate stout. Almost the same ingredients you used. LOL
Your Yeast will determine sourness as well, Stressed Yeast that is pitched say 10º over or under what it is at or being hydrated at will stress it. Too hot of a fermentation or erratic temps hot day cold night.
Sour makes me think your yeast. IF all bottles are sour as well as Oxygenated like a green apple
 

bleme

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No, I did taste it after primary, and it tasted fine! But I did not taste it before bottling. Should have. Definitely will start now.
If it tasted fine after primary, then the problem is probably after primary as well.
Have you taken apart the tip of your bottling wand yet? That's the most likely culprit.
 
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