Tasted great for one month and then ....

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

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Tasted great for one month and then ....

Postby hangtendesign » Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:54 am

I made an all grain Pale Ale, it aged in the bottle for a month and then I drank it for a month. People loved it and I was happy (a little grainy but). Then in the matter of just one week it got the off flavor that my HBS had once diagnosed in a batch from the past. This off flavor was the same in three of my recent batches (with some really good ones in between with no problems). These beers that "went bad in the bottle" tasted like the same beer even though each of them used different hops and malt. (all in the Pale Ale category though).

My sanitation is very good but I must admit to hangin on to a siphon hose too long. I let my bottles sit in a bleach solution for a couple hours and then rinse and scrub with a bottling brush with boiled hot water.

My question is, if a beer tastes fantastic at bottling, how can bacteria develop after that? I thought bacteria can't really survive or grow in beer post bottling due to the alochol. I must be wrong. Has anyone had similar experiences?
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contamination

Postby slothrob » Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:02 pm

It definitely sounds like contamination. Yes, there are flavor changing bacteria that can live in beer, just not dangerous bacteria.

From your procedure, it looks to me like the contamination is coming from your bottle brush. I'd recommend washing the bottles, using the brush then, then sanitizing the bottles. You can use the bleach and sterile rinse, but I'd recommend using a dedicated brewery sanitizer, like StarSan. It's even possible that you're tasting the bleach itself, if you're not rinsing well enough, though you'd probably notice it before a month passed.

Better yet, to test your sanitation, actually sterilize your bottles for the next batch. You can do this by stacking the bottles in the oven the night before you bottle, turning it to 320°F, let it run for 2 hours after it hits 320°F, then shut it off. Let the bottles cool overnight with the door closed. In the morning bottle right from the oven. If you have the problem again you'll know it's from another place in your procedure.
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Oven Ieda

Postby bfabre » Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:39 pm

stacking the bottles in the oven the night before you bottle, turning it to 320°F, let it run for 2 hours after it hits 320°F

Great Idea!!!
I like to mash in the oven. It keeps a really stable temp. I just use one of those digital oven thermometers suspended in a floating cork.
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Postby hangtendesign » Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:11 pm

Hi slothrob,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I took what you said very seriously but was also wondering why after 2 years of the same exact sanitation procedure is this happening now. The bottle brush comment got me thinking but I've been using a brand new brush and also sanitized as well.

So I decided to buy that PBW stuff (very expensive) and soak all of my wort touching equipment. I even took apart my bottling bucket's plastic spigot and wouldn't you know, I found BLACK CRUD in between those twisting parts! I soaked all of my equipment over night in the PBW. Then for my last brew night, I sanitized everything in One Step as usual and did my thing. I will then do another PBW soak (including spigot taken apart) for bottling night with the One step as well. I'll let you know if the gremlins were in that spigot if this batch comes out clean tasting. I certainly hope so. I'm doing a Belgian Pale Ale with that Antwerp Ale yeast. :-)
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Why use a bottle brush?

Postby billvelek » Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:28 am

Why use a bottle brush? I don't even own one, and never have during my 12+ years of brewing. Sure, I have a CARBOY brush -- that's an absolute necessity, as far as I'm concerned -- but I can't imagine scubbing out each and every bottle. That must take FOREVER. I do inspect my bottles before use, and I cull out any that have any suspicious marks on the inside. Other than that, all I do is rinse, soak in a no-rinse sanitizer, bottle, and enjoy. I have NEVER had an infection after bottling. I always try to be very careful to rinse all of my bottles immediately, even if only a short rinse and fill to soak -- but before they go into storage where they can dry, they are rinsed VERY well. On bottling day, they get a quick rinse just in case something crawled inside, an eye-ball inspection, then into a bucket of bleach-vinegar for a few minutes, then onto the bottle-tree, and then I use them. Any that I separate out (which is very seldom) are given a long soak in a bucket of PBW or Oxyclean left over from cleaning brewing equipment; if the spots are still there, they go in the trash.

As for your off flavor, have you considered oxidation as a problem? Have you changed your procedures -- even inadvertently -- like stirring too much when you add your primer?

Just my two cents. Cheers.

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Off Flavor No More

Postby hangtendesign » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:24 am

Well, to follow up. Ever since I removed that black crud in the spigot of my bottling bucket, that off flavor has never returned. I've brewed 4 batches since and the taste has been great! I still maintain my PBW soak now and I always take apart (carefully) the Italian spigot. I also went to Lowes and bought a fair amount of tubing that I change up more often. (3 or 4 uses)
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Off Flavor No More

Postby bfabre » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:32 pm

I once had a bucket with a spigot too. I took me three batches (in a row) to figure out what the problem was. I had to pour all three of them out because of an infection. Nevertheless, I tossed the bucket and purchased one without a spigot. I never used it anyway. Ever since then I never had a problem.
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