another bad batch. help please!

What went wrong? Was this supposed to happen? Should I throw it out? What do I do now?

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another bad batch. help please!

Postby joemez » Thu Jul 03, 2003 3:04 am

I am really bumming. I used to brew years ago and got many good batches of beer, but then I got 4 or 5 batches in a row that were pretty bad so I stopped doing it.
I recently got set up with some corny kegs and decided to get back into it. My first batch came out pretty good, but the second came out like all those other bad batches(I cant even describe the off taste they have but it is similar on all).
I sanitize with b-brite and use glass for fermentation(should I be using iodophor?). I feel I did a pretty good job of keeping everything sanitized. The only difference in the two recent batches is that I used a secondary fermenter on the first batch and only one on the second(I read somewhere that a secondary fermenter is only necassary when you will be leaving it for a long time(a month or so) in the fermenter. I left it in for a week and a half. The initial fermentation finished after 3 days or so but since I dont take hydrometer readings(i am trying to limit the possibility od contaminating the brew), i wanted to make sure it was finished. Also the malt was about ten years old, but i used new yeast and hop pellets(I was told that the malt should be fine, just a bit darker, as long as the can was still sealed)
Any input on what I am doing wrong would be greatly appreciated. The only thing I am thinking is that I should have put it into the second fermentor after the initial fermentation. Maybe I am picking up off flavors from the settled yeast?
Thanks alot!!
joemez
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Need More Info.....

Postby BillyBock » Thu Jul 03, 2003 7:51 am

Welcome back to the hobby. This may take a bit to nail down where the problem might be, so bear with us. We'd hate to have you leave the hobby again.

Between transfers from primary to secondary, and secondary to keg, have you smelled/tasted the beer? Does it at least smell like beer, or does it smell foul? Can you describe the smell? How does it taste?

Can you explain your methods for cleaning and sanitizing? Before you used these kegs for the first time, did you disassemble them and clean/sanitize all parts? Remember that sanitizers can only work effectively if the surface is clean--even if you have a product that claims it cleans and sanitizes. Clean it first, then sanitize it. I clean with percarbonate-based cleaners and sanitize with Star-San. I'm happy to say I haven't had any infections since switching to Star-San two years ago, and I brew and ferment outside. I used to use One-Step to sanitize.

As a basis of comparison, how fresh was the malt you used on the first batch that came out good? IIRC, old malt can lend some off flavors (vinegary?).

Ok, hope this give you a starting point and let us know so we can keep troubleshooting.

v/r
Bill
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more info

Postby joemez » Thu Jul 03, 2003 10:31 am

thanks for the response
I only used a single carboy for the batch in question. I tasted a sample before it went into the keg. It tasted off maybe skunky is a good description.
I clean with a detergent(if it needs to be) and sanitize everything with b-brite. It seems like most people use Iodopher to sanitize stainless and glass, and then something like b-brite on the plastic stuff. I was thinking of trying that this time.
The malt in the first batch was old too, but not as old(4 years as opposed to ten).
I was thinking that the amount of light I am subjecting to it during fermentation might be too much. It is in the basement out of direct sunlight but there are small windows that light the room up a bit. also the electric light(as small as it is) may have been on too often. I am going to move it to a closet and wrap the carboy in a towel.
Also, the basement is cool but it has been hot lately antd the basement might have gotten up into the seventies a few times
I would love to get your input on all this
joemez
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Skunky is a good clue

Postby fitz » Thu Jul 03, 2003 10:51 am

You said you use glass, and the taste and smell were skunky.
Did you have this batch anwhere that sunlight, or florecent light could get to the fermentor. It sounds as if the UV rays got into your beer and turned your hops into a foul smelling mess. That's why we use amber bottles, and try to keep the brew in the dark. Skunky is right, the sun transforms the hop oils into something that is quite close to the oil that a skunk shoots to protect himself. put your fermentor in a closet, or cover it, but don't let the sun bake on it. UV is Bad stuff to beer.
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Cover the Carboy

Postby BillyBock » Thu Jul 03, 2003 11:26 am

Yeppirs, I second what Fitz said. Sounds like its getting funked up before going in the keg. The only other things I would add are:

- Keep the ferment temp under control. You can probably get by with the wet-shirt evaporative cooling method. If you use a dark t-shirt then you can keep the light off at the same time.
- Make sure you use fresh ingredients
- What type of detergent are you using? A soap-type detergent could leave some nasty aftertastes if not rinsed well. You could use B-brite to clean as well. Just use it twice--once to clean with, and once to sanitize. Better yet, switch your sanitizer to iodophor, and cleanse your gear with B-brite.

Give it another whirl. Brew on!

v/r
Bill
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thanks

Postby joemez » Thu Jul 03, 2003 11:46 am

right on! thanks you guys! the pot is boiling as we speak. sunlight sounds like our culprit.
as far as the wet t-shirt thing... that helps to keep the temp cool?
should I use iodopher to sanitize the plastic too? someone told me that it discolors the tubing. not a big deal with me, as long as it doesnt make the tubing go bad
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Wet T-Shirt Contest

Postby BillyBock » Thu Jul 03, 2003 12:59 pm

Yea, you put the carboy in a shallow pan of water, drape the t-shirt over it, and allow the t-shirt to wick up the water. Then have a small fan blow air across the t-shirt. It can drop the temp about 5 degrees or so. Simple...until you get yourself a dedicated fridge :-)

v/r
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Postby DreamWeaver » Sat Jul 31, 2004 8:15 pm

I often use a dark garbage bag placed over my carboy to stop light.

I had a few bad... (well, I drank 'em anyways) batches because I read somewhere that Oxi-Clean was a good cleaner (sodium percarbonate) and convincing ("I've been using it for years ") type testimonies but found it to be un-rinsable leaving a dried film and tasted nasty. Even burnt my lips! I'm glad that I kept good brewing notes to be able to narrow this down to finding my problem else I mighta gone back to (gasp) drinking Budwater.
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