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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2004 * March 16, 2004 * Removing Beerstone - Cleaning a converted boil keg the correct way.. < Previous Next >

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Travis Adams (24.21.204.196)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 04:41 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

After dumping 6 AG batches and now an extract batch boiled in my converted keg I now see where I may have a problem. Every "bad" batch I have brewed has been boiled in this converted keg.
So how do I clean it? I have been told to clean it with PBW and then give it an acid washing with phosphoric acid or similar. Has anyone done this? After dumping all of this beer I really really want to get this right this time. Can I take it somewhere and have it dipped or something? And if I can buy the acid, how much do I use?
Thanks everyone!
Travis
p.s. I have had the beers sampled - they are not infected - but they taste thin and smell like sherry etc. Regardless, i gotta get rid of this beerstone.
Thanks!
Travis
 

Paul Edwards (199.46.200.231)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 11:45 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I scrub my converted keg after each use with a green scrubby and either Barkeeper's Friend or Zud. Then I rinse really well. Last, I put the kettle back on the burner, boil up a few gallons of water and flush out my CFC with the boiling water.

Both Barkeepers Friend and Zud cleansers contain oxalic acid which will help remove the beerstone.

BTW, I don't think that the beerstone is the cause of the sherry flavors. That would indicate oxidation of the wort to me. How are you chilling the hot wort and transferring the wort to your fermenter? What kind of fermenter are you using?
 

Bob McCouch (68.81.62.77)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 12:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yep, BKF (Bar Keepers' Friend) is the way to go on anything you can reach to scrub. When setting up to brew yesterday, I finally decided I needed to clean both my MT and boil kettle (before anyone asks, I swapped roles on those two kegs, so each one has had wort boiled in it). I just spent about 10 minutes per keg using a scrubbie and BKF, and they look like new inside.

Double bonus, if you (or SWMBO) have nice stainless cookware like All-Clad, BKF does a great job of getting those shiny after someone goes and burns some olive oil or butter in them.....
 

Belly Buster Bob (142.177.113.95)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 12:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Travis...how long are you keeping these beers before dumping. I have never dumped a batch. I still have my "bad" batch from about 6 weeks ago. My brain tells me it might get better.
Gotta applaud you, after 6 "bad" batches I'd give up.
Also, highly doubtful beerstone has anything to do with your off flavours. Alcohol off flavours are usually caused by too high ferment temps "Palmer"
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.129.137)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 12:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Why would beerstone in the kettle affect the beer? Remember that the wort is being boiled and all bacteria would be killed. The source of your off-flavor is elsewhere, perhaps oxidation of the beer.

However, as the others have mentioned, the best way to remove beerstone for homebrewers is to use Barkeeper's Friend, Zud or another oxalic-acid based cleaner. It requires a nylon pad and a little elbow grease, but this will do a very nice job.
 

Travis Adams (137.161.201.253)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 02:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am aware that I might just be aerating my beer - and the connection is still my converted keg because it is the only time in any brew session where I do indeed have to dump hot liquid. I will definately be doing that differently in the meantime.
I agree with Bill that oxidation may be the issue if I get sherry flavors/smell according to miller - in a dark beer, oxidation tends to appear as sherry like flavors etc.
However, I am skeptical that the oxidation would appear in the first week of fermentation. Nevertheless I will definately not move liquids the way I was.
I kept one AG batch (batch number 5) for six months - both in the carboy and in the bottle. It never got better. Didn't get worse (which was a good sign) but didn't get better either.

I don't have an issue with high ferment temps. Both of these beers never got over 70 - and when moved to the basement the ambient temp is 60.

I will be taking samples of each up to Steve Bader on friday.

Fine - my source is somewhere else. Then if that is the case than it is my house - because I have now brewed 6 AG and one extract batch with these flavors - and they have all been in this converted keg. The other extract batches I have made in a small boil pot have turned out just fine (I actually made my best extract beer ever in october). So I still feel I need to clean this keg out correctly. I will wash with barkeepers friend over and over again.
Thanks everyone.
Travis
 

Travis Adams (137.161.201.253)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 02:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill - what do you think about this:
http://www.birkocorp.com/brewing/biofilms.asp

Thanks - Travis
 

aleman (199.154.238.242)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I had a professional brewer from Denver and a homebrewer recommend pure undiluted Star San for removing Beerstone.

Its works great. Wipe it on, let it soak for 10 minutes, then wipe it out and rinse.

Wear rubber gloves if you do this.
 

Paul Edwards (199.46.199.230)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Travis,

How are you chilling your wort?

And give us an example of your recipes and some insight into your brewing process. That'd help the folks maybe get to the bottom of what's causing your problems
 

Don Million (65.126.180.254)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Beerstone in the fermenter or in your kegs can affect the beer flavor. In the boil kettle, though, no. Getting rid of the beerstone is probably a good idea, but it is not the cause of your sherry-like flavors.
 

Travis Adams (137.161.201.253)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul - I have regergetated my story so many times I don't want to waste any more of everyones time.
I now have a brand new immersion chiller that chills the wort in 10 minutes. I put it in with 20 minutes left in the boil. I don't think that is what is going on.
For the record - took the sample up to Bader brewing. Steve wasn't there - buy JP was. He has now tasted 2 of my beers. The first time he couldn't place the taste - thought it might be astringent - and it was very thin.
The one he tasted yesterday was a huge milk stout - that smells slightly sweet like sherry and has absolutely no mouth feel or flavor - it doesn't even taste like beer. Gravity is still 1.020 but it tastes like water.
Thanks - travis
 

Travis Adams (137.161.201.253)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 04:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

For the record - my next AG beer will be a 2 gallon batch of pale ale - mashed and boiled all in one 5 gallon pot. I will use bottled water and some burton water salts and keep brewing small batches until all of my problems go away.
But in the mean time, I think this keg needs a good cleaning!
Thanks everyone - Travis
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.129.137)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 05:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Travis, beerstone can be an issue in fermenters and especially in kegs and serving tanks where the beer spends a lot of time. It's true that a thick layer of beerstone can harbor bacteria and make it difficult for cleaners to do their job. However, any bacteria from the mash tun or kettle will be killed in the boil. In this case beerstone is mainly a cosmetic issue. Most commercial breweries periodically acid wash and rinse their vessels after every so many cleanings in order to remove it. At one brewery where I worked we washed the kettle with an acid product once or twice a month; it also required climbing inside and manual scrubbing afterward. Of course we cleaned it with PBW or caustic after every batch.
 

Travis Adams (137.161.201.253)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 06:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill - I don't disagree with the fact that the issue may not effect me because I boil in the kettle - and boiling should kill any bacteria - but will it kill flavor compounds? I bought this keg from a LHBS - converted by them (they cut the lid off). Who knows what was in it before I got it. It was a pete's wicked/bridgeport keg - if I was gonna be negative I would say that is what has given me these off flavors after tasting bridgeports new Ropewalk Amber last night -
But in all seriousness I do know what you are talking about Bill - but I would rather clean it right this time. It's been through 6 batches of bad beer - so it deserves a good scrubbing.

I just found it interesting that I can brew extract in a small pot - but if I do AG in the big pot - or now extract in the big pot - I get this off flavor. It definately could be oxidation - no doubt. But I honestly didn't think it would show up that fast.
Thanks everyone
Travis
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.129.137)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 06:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Travis, I'm assuming the keg was cleaned after it was cut open and the fittings were welded or otherwise attached. Stainless is inert in almost all situations and should not acquire any flavors; that's only one of the reasons it is used extensively in food and beverage applications. Of course you're right there is nothing wrong with a good cleaning to remove any beerstone that may be there. But I doubt that's the source of your off-flavors.

I don't recall all the specifics of your situation, which I believe have been discussed previously. But I'm going to ask a couple of obvious questions. Have you had your beer sampled by a well-respected and experienced judge? And have you had an experienced all-grain brewer ride shotgun with you on one of your brews? There may be something you are overlooking that a more experienced hand might notice.
 

Belly Buster Bob (142.177.7.129)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 07:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I gotta agree with Bill on this one...get your beer tasted by someone who has no reason not to give you an honest opinion. Not saying your LHBS guy is giving you a bad diagnosis, (I hear Walt will do anything for a sale) but some one completely outside your loop
 

Travis Adams (137.161.201.253)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 07:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill - I had JP up at Bader Brewing taste two of my beers recently. I will take 2 samples to Steve Bader this friday just to make sure - giving him all recipe specifics etc.
There are no fittings in my keg at all - I just syphon out of it when cooled. I have a fitting to install, but have held off until I get this problem figured out.
I have not brewed with another brewer. Steve Bader has a class on the 27th that I am going to go take - but I have walked through my brewing process here and at HBA 100 times. The only thing I now see as a problem is that I may be oxidizing my wort after draining it off. I don't drain into the kettle - I drain into smaller vessels and pour it into the converted keg. So my 150 degree wort is definately seeing some aeration when it is hot I guess. But this has not always been my problem. I have had tons of AG problems.
My first problem was zinc washers in my mash tun. Remember green apple beer?
Then I replaced everything - brewed a 5th batch and got terrible "astringency" acording to JP up at bader. I kept that batch for almost 6 months to see if it got better. It didn't.
So to combat that on batch 6 I batch sparged.
This was the recipe:
The recipe is:
7.5 lbs Pale
1.5 lbs Vienna
1.5 lbs Victory
.75 lbs Crystal 40
.75 lbs Crystal 80
.25 lbs Chocolate Malt
OG 1.050, FG 1.014 so far. Nottingham Yeast pithced directly into carboy to avoid infection potential.
Hopped with
1 oz Willamette at 60
1/2 oz Centennial at 20
1/2 oz Willamette at 5 until cool.

I treated the water this time - portland water. I treated it with .25 grams/gallon of gypsum, 0.5 grams per gallon of cacl2, and .33 grams per gallon of baking soda.

John Palmer told me that though I treated the water to get the pH correct and to ensure I had enough calcium - since portland water is so soft. I checked the pH at mash in and got 5.2 to 5.4 on the strips - which i thought was good. Palmer emailed and said I should have put CaCo3 in the mash and let the pH go up and that I should have got a lower pH with the grains I used.

I hit my gravities - but it smelled like sherry after a week in the secondary and it tastes thin. As of yesterday it didn't smell as bad. But it is thin, and no hop flavor or smell. This is common to all my batches in the keg - no matter how many hops I put in - they disappear. This is what makes me think I have oxidated my beer - but I get the same problem with the extract I just brewed in the keg. The beer has 6 lbs dme, 12 oz lactose and 8 oz maltodextrin and in JP's words "It just isn't there" - doesn't taste like beer at all - like slightly thick water.
Again - I will let Steve Bader tasted the beer on Friday hopefully and I have bottled 4 bottles of the AG brown ale to see if it gets any better.
Thanks guys - Travis
 

Travis Adams (137.161.201.253)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 07:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

OK - I will mail some bottles of brown ale out to some people on HBA for their tasting. Thanks guys...
Travis
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.129.137)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 08:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

We're back to running around the mulberry bush here chasing after off-flavors. Portland is full of good, experienced beer judges; take your beer to a meeting of the local club and ask for someone to evaluate it at home when they have time and their palate is not fatigued.

Yes, it's possible oversparging could be resulting in astringency. Use a little less sparge water next time; if the pre-boil gravity is high dilute it with a little water in the kettle. To increase body, try using up to a pound of Carapils malt per 5 gallons. As for oxidation, don't splash the wort until it's chilled and then not after the yeast is pitched. Check for air leaks in your racking cane and transfer tubing when you rack to secondary and/or bottle. Fill the bottles carefully (from the bottom with a filler) and don't leave too much headspace (no more than 1.5 inches).
 

Denny Conn (140.211.82.4)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 08:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree with Bill...I think it's very possible you're misdiagnosing the problem and setting yourself off on a wild goose chase. Get your beer to somebody like Dan Schultz or somebody on the OBC....they have a bunch of people who have just taken the BJCP test and should be able to offer you invalubale advice.
 

chumley (216.161.216.114)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 08:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Good advice from Bill & Denny. However, don't expect Travis to take it. Recall on September 12, 2003 he posted the following:

>>I was gonna have dan or someone from OBC taste it, but I was embarrassed to take it to a
>>meeting. I don't want to go to a meeting until I can make a drinkable beer. I don't want to
>>subject anyone to nastiness.

As long as he keeps dumping his beer out, it is unlikely that a solution to Travis' brewing woes is forthcoming.
 

Denny Conn (140.211.82.4)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 08:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yeah, I was thinking about that when I posted, but I'm hoping he'll put aside his pride in order to figure out what's going on. The OBC guys are great and would be only too glad to help...and it's not like any of them haven't ever had a bad batch!
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.129.137)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 09:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Homebrew clubs are very seldom unwelcoming to new brewers. As Denny said, they are almost always a social bunch of folks who enjoy sharing their passion for brewing and beer. And I can bet that every one of them has brewed a less than outstanding batch of beer and understands the frustration. Travis, take the plunge. There's only so much we can do from afar when the solution to your problem is almost certainly in your own back yard.
 

Travis Adams (137.161.201.253)
Posted on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 10:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill - I understand - I was honestly just sure it was something stupid I was doing - some stupid mistake - too hot fermentation - the zinc washers in the mash tun - over sparging etc.
I have mostly resisted the Brew Crew because of other commitments - namely my 14 month old son. Working 60 hours a week, I have trouble justifying spending even less time with my Child. But I know I need to get this figured out - otherwise then I am missing even more time with my child brewing undrinkable beer.
I see there is a meeting this thursday. I don't think I will be able to make it. But I will try to make the April meeting. I know now after 6 batches and having the LHBS guys taste it that there is nothing obvious I am doing wrong - i.e. too hot or whatever. So I will definately get it taken care of. Thanks for the help everyone.
Travis
 

Denny Conn (63.114.138.2)
Posted on Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - 04:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Travis, why not shoot Dan Schultz an email? Maybe the 2 of you can get together at some more convenient time.
 

Tim W (56.0.84.111)
Posted on Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - 06:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Travis, back 6 or so months ago you said you where pouring your hot beer from a 4 foot height back and forth to cool. This would cause oxidation for sure. You now have stopped doing this but still you are pouring the hot wort you collected from sparging, from about a three foot height, into your boil kettle and this amount of splashing is still enough to oxidize your wort. You have proven that hot side areation is a fact. I too have poured collected wort into my boil kettle resulting in sherry flavors and it didn't take months to develop.
 

Travis Adams (24.21.204.196)
Posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 05:29 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Denny - I will definately do that. I decided to condition 4 bottles and see what it tastes like this week and next. That way - I can see how bad it is. I would rather have someone try a carbonated sample.
I plan to take 2 uncarbonated samples up to bader brewing in vancouver on friday. Hopefully I can get some feedback.

Tim - On my first 3 ag batches I did not have a big pot - so i collected in a bucket and poured into two 5 gallon pots for boil. I then did indeed dump this beer - after it was done boiling - into a sanitized bucket so I could take it inside to cool.
Since then I have used the keg - but have indeed poured some hot wort into the keg. So it is entirely possible that all I have now is HSA - or oxidation. This has not always been my problem - but maybe now this is all I have left. I have defeated everything else. If you have indeed experienced this same issue than I would have to say that is definately a serious probability in my case. I have been told that oxidation takes months to develop - and that I wouldn't see it when I racked to the secondary. I think I am highly sensitive to it - after having dumped 5 batches - so anything slightly off clearly gets on my nerves.

Again - I will have the two fresh samples tasted by steve bader. I will condition the 4 bottles and talk to Dan. And I will also brew a 2 gallon pale ale recipe - mashing and boiling in a 5 gallon pot. Not transfer until all the liquid is cool.
Thanks everyone - cross your fingers.
Travis
 

Tim W (56.0.84.111)
Posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 04:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I now collect the runoff in my bottling bucket and then transfer to the boil kettle using the spiqot and a piece of tubing.
 

Travis Adams (137.161.201.253)
Posted on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 01:01 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tim - that is what I was thinking of doing now instead - so that I didn't have to lift the full keg - only a bucket with liquid. Still heavy - but not as heavy. I have a tall 2 burner stove that limits my overhead space - hence the reason I was dumping it.
For the record for anyone that is reading this and thinking about my first 3 green apple brews - I collect right into the 5 gallon pots - so that wasn't oxidation - definately the zinc washers leaching into the wort.
Thanks everyone - esp. Tim for pointing out that maybe all that is wrong is a little splashing!
Travis
 

Kent Fletcher (206.170.107.30)
Posted on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 01:53 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Travis, looking at your recipe and OG, the efficiency looks more than a little low, it's at 57%. To me that indicates that you are leaving a lot of sugar behind in the mash tun.

Another thought, are you kegging and force-carbonating your beer? If so, be diligent about purging air from the head space. Forcing air into solution is a sure way to ruin your beer, and that flavor WILL show up in only a few days.

Doing AG brewing on a stove top is pretty challenging, good luck with your search! DefinItely take your beer to the local club. I took my second batch ever to my club, and learned about diacetyl (I had kegged the beer at 2 weeks, being anxious to take MY beer to the meeting) and how to avoid it.
 

Sean Richens (142.161.105.62)
Posted on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 01:55 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Can you knock up an immersion chiller to chill the wort before transferring? Sounds like a good idea whether or not that's actually your problem.

Another thing that's always bugged me about people's systems - how do you get your wort out of the kettle? Racking or through a valve?

Nearly all of the systems I see have ball valves on the kettle and obviously most of those systems are making good beer. However, that would never fly where I work. If it's meant to be sanitary we use diaphragm valves, which start at around $500 US. The closest thing in my budget range is a piece of tubing with a clamp.

If you must use a ball valve, pay the extra (about double) and get a 3-piece valve. These come apart for cleaning and sanitizing. You basically get to open and close this valve once per beer and call it sanitary. Same goes for fermenters.
 

Kent Fletcher (206.170.107.30)
Posted on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 02:20 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

An ordinary ball valve is just fine for a boil kettle. Obviously a fermenter another story, but still wouldn't require a diaphragm valve. A SS butterfly valve is the brewing industry standard for fermenters, etc., connected via Tri-Clover sanitary fittings. Would a diphragm valve would have a high enough cV?

But again, on a boil kettle a standard ball valve is just fine.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.129.137)
Posted on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 12:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Kent is right on target. A ball valve in a kettle is not a problem. It will be santized by the heat of boiling.
 

Travis Adams (137.161.201.253)
Posted on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 02:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The effeciency is low because for this recipe I was batch sparging to avoid astringency. Batch 5 of AG brewing was almost perfect - just astringent. So to compensate for that, I chose to batch sparge - and to only collect 5 gallons of wort. I collected 5 gallons of wort and added back 2 gallons of preboiled - mineral treated water. The OG was right on target for what I was going for. I know that I wasted some sugar - but after dumping 5 batches I didn't care about that at all. I still don't.
I do not keg or force carbonate. I haven't even bottled this stuff yet. I have bottled a few bottles to see if it becomes drinkable - but that is it.
I do not have a ball valve on my keg. After cooling I pull out the wort chiller and syphon with a sanitized autosyphon into a carboy. I syphon through the funnel and screen to collect random break material and to also aerate my child wort. On this batch, pitching dry yeast directly into the fermenter I had activity in a little over an hour. I thought that was good.
Thanks guys.
Travis

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