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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2005 * Archive through December 10, 2005 * OK, I'm stumped (and annoyed) < Previous Next >

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Graham Cox
Intermediate Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 314
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.248.92
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 05:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've brewed a Vienna, a traditional Bock, and an Alt in the last few months. All were fine out of the fermenter and right after bottling. All were bottle-conditioned at 60-72°F.

The Vienna and the Bock used WLP833 Bock. The Alt used WY1007 German Ale. The only common ingredient in all three is Weyermann Vienna malt.

A few days after tapping (Tap-a-Draft), the Vienna developed a bit of a clove taste. The Bock developed such a horrifying clove blast that I dumped it. Now, the Alt has done the same danged thing - it's somewhere in between the Bock and the Vienna in terms of drinkability.

"Well, that's easy," you say, "your tap or bottle is infected." I don't think so, because I have used them for many other beers and styles in the same time period, including IPA, American Stout, Brown Porter, Scottish 80/-, blueberry wheat, and pumpkin ale. None of these other beers have exhibited even a hint of this clove flavor. (I also used some of the same Vienna in the IPA, so I don't think it's the malt.)

The Bock in particular tasted the same in glass bottles as it did in the Tap-a-Draft. It was bottled at the same time using the same equipment, but again, it's the same equipment I use for all my beers, and I scrupulously sanitize it each and every time before use.

There are none of the visible signs of infection, such as turbidity, ring-around-the-neck, etc. There are none of the off-flavors that I have read about - vegetal, sour, etc. - save for the clove phenolic.

Interestingly, I picked up this same exact flavor in a dark lager at Trinity Brewing in Providence the week of the World Series. I didn't have another.

Any ideas?
 

Tim Wi
Intermediate Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 339
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 170.141.68.99
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 05:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You went down on some strange and now have a wild yeast infection, so that everything tastes like cloves.



Seriously, though, if you are sure that it was not infection, the only other common element I can think of would be your water supply. But you say you brewed many other batches during the same time, so...

I have no idea.
 

Skotrat
Senior Member
Username: Skotrat

Post Number: 1622
Registered: 04-2003
Posted From: 24.61.120.214
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 06:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"You went down on some strange"

Oh Man! That is funny...

Clove type tastes would make me think that you have picked up a wild yeast strain as mentioned above.

-Scott
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 4095
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.229.8
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 06:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Me three. Wild yeast it is. Don't repitch this yeast; it has become contaminated.

(Message edited by BillPierce on December 06, 2005)
 

Pacman
Advanced Member
Username: Pacman

Post Number: 744
Registered: 04-2003
Posted From: 192.249.47.9
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 06:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Heya Graham,

I feel for ya dude, i'm in the same predicament.. I have lost the last 5-6 batches to the exact same type of off flavor. Mine all have turned up clovey and fruity with no visible signs of infection which has led me to believe that it is a wild yeast infection. To me, it's almost like a Wit or Hefe yeast that i can't get rid of. I've lost 2 batches of Klösch, a mild ale, brown ale, and ESB. They all had the same flavor. I have cleaned everything that I can clean and tossed all the plastic parts that i can to try and get rid of it. The only problem is i haven't brewed since losing all that beer... i've been too lazy and too depressed to brew...

Good luck in figuring it out and cleaning it up...
Damn Brewing's Fun!!!! Kölsch Krusader!
 

Graham Cox
Intermediate Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 315
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.248.92
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 07:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am inclined to agree; however, I question why my non-German styles have not been affected in even the slightest (detectable) degree. I need to mark the affected bottles and taps, I think, and launch a full-scale chemical attack on my brewery.

I shall slay this unholy beast. Nobody f***s with my beer.
 

Pete Mazurowski
Member
Username: Pete_maz

Post Number: 226
Registered: 07-2003
Posted From: 12.173.222.115
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 09:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Interesting, there was just a discussion of sanitizing regimes on the green board, with a bit of info from 5-star. They were discussing a different infection, but the same info would apply to yours. Here's the link they supplied:

http://www.fivestarchemicals.com/brew/brewclean1.pdf

The acid #5 looks pretty intriguing. I think I took some of that back in college...

<edit> There's also a page 2 that goes along with this, at http://www.fivestarchemicals.com/brew/brewclean2.pdf

(Message edited by pete maz on December 06, 2005)
 

Tim W
Member
Username: Timw

Post Number: 184
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 56.0.143.25
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 09:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Do you use a bottling bucket with a spiqit?
 

Graham Cox
Intermediate Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 316
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.248.92
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 09:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

No, Tim, I rack directly from secondary (or primary, occasionally) using the large autosiphon and a 1/2" bottling wand. All are sanitized before and after use with Star-San. About every other time I use the siphon, I blast a cotton ball all the way through the tubing with high-pressure water to clean the inside.

I'm going to hit everything with double-strength Iodophor, rinse, then hit it again with double-strength Star-San. Hell, I may even start with PBW, then do the above. No more Mr. Nice Guy!
 

David Lewinnek
Member
Username: Davelew

Post Number: 218
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 198.51.251.199
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 10:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Stupid question, but do you disassemble the autosiphon to sanitize it?

I find some muck can get caught in the trub-catcher attachment on the end of mine, and I also worry about sanitizing the rubber on the inner hollow piston thing. I usually sanitize it in three pieces (trub-catcher, tube, piston).
 

Graham Cox
Intermediate Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 317
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.248.92
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 10:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Not a stupid question at all, Dave, as my intelligence is frequently called into question - just ask my wife (or me, for that matter.)

Yes, I disassemble it and soak all the parts in my Star-San bucket first, then I reassemble it and pump Star-San through it, letting the liquid remain inside it after a few pumps and letting it soak further.
 

Steve Funk
Member
Username: Tundra45

Post Number: 107
Registered: 06-2004
Posted From: 209.216.173.230
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 10:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Take no prisoners!
Clean, clean, clean, and then start over again. Use HOT (insert favorite cleaner), green scrubby pad, hot and cold-water rinses. Then use a normal strength sanitizer and all will be well again. Replace everything vinyl, rubber, and soft plastic. Use appropriately sized tubing brushes to aggressively clean the inside of any tubing that isn't being replaced and touches post-boiled wort. Items such as bottling buckets, valves, racking canes, sample thief and bottling wands rank high among the usual suspects. Also, thoroughly clean your CFC, if you use one. An acid and caustic wash may be necessary to remove stubborn deposits. Good luck to you. Free-loader infection beware
Steve
Stevenson, WA
*edited for typo*

(Message edited by tundra45 on December 06, 2005)
 

Sean Richens
Member
Username: Sean

Post Number: 224
Registered: 04-2001
Posted From: 142.161.108.42
Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2005 - 12:58 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have a similar but contrary problem with some styles - I have to pay obsessive attention to make British ales without a taint. Lagers? No problem!

If it's a wild yeast, it might grow in the presence of some desired strains, but not others. "Killer" characteristics are target-strain specific.
 

dave star
Junior Member
Username: Dave_star

Post Number: 99
Registered: 12-2004
Posted From: 66.245.134.65
Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2005 - 12:59 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If you have a wild yeast infection then I would recommend that heat is the best cure as I don’t think that sanstar or Iodophor will kill yeast. My basic theory is that if you can’t have it in near boiling water for 20 min than throw it away. Pleas don’t think that you are saving money by trying to keep vinyl tubing or some bit of plastic when the cost of making one or two infected beers is grater than the cost of replacement equipment.
Just my .02
Dave
 

Anil Tyson
New Member
Username: Anil

Post Number: 19
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 67.168.182.73
Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2005 - 04:23 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Graham, I too use an autosiphon, and am a little paranoid about cleaning it. I rinse it is warm water, soak it disassembled in warm PBW mix, rinse and sanitize in Star San before/between/and after every use.

Could blasting a cotton ball through it with water have left some sneaky infected fibers?
 

Aaron Meyer
Intermediate Member
Username: Meyeaard

Post Number: 282
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.229.233.170
Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2005 - 02:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

For a completely different theory...

Clove flavor and aromas are indications of phenols in the beer. However, phenols are also in a lot of plastics and can be extracted. Try cleaning your setup, fill it with clean water, let it sit for a day or two, then taste the water. Also smell the Co2 gas from a cartridge - don't sniff it directly - just a little burst in a semi-enclosed space just to see if it smells off.

If this all checks out, then you can sic the hounds on the other possibilities.
 

Tim Wi
Intermediate Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 340
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 170.141.68.99
Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2005 - 02:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've been thinking about this some more. Why are certain beers infected but not others?

Reviewing the facts:

Nasty beers share a common ingredient.

Beers without this ingredient brewed with the same equipment during the same time are not nasty.

The clove taste takes a while to develop.

Acid sanitizer is your usual routine (keep in mind that alkalli cleaners must be removed completely or they will cancel out the acid sanitizer).

It sounds like wild yeast to me.

Biologists speak of "limiting factors." In layman terms, ... Most things that organisms need to survive are available in quantities greater than they need. BUT, there is always one or two things that limit their population. Whether its food, nesting sites, cover or predation level.

With microbes, including yeast, its often a particular nutrient. Many times, a micronutrient.

Your infected beers probably have enough of the "limiting factor" (most likely a micronutrient) present that creates conditions most favorable to the offending yeast strain. The last piece of the puzzle, so to speak. The yeast is probably present at an unnoticable level in all your beers, but the wild yeast population of those beers is limited because one of its critical needs is in short supply. The common ingredient in the infected beers, the vienna malt, makes me think that that particular crop of barley had a micronutrient in it in unusually high amounts.

I think you have a house infection of a wild yeast.

Dave S is right. Remember that Star San works by lowering pH. Yeast is extremely tolerant of acid conditions. Wild stuff is probably particularly robust. You must choose a sanitation regime that does not depend on lowering pH. Wet heat (at a minimum: steam above 140 f for 30 minutes or longer) is probably the best approach.

Good luck!

T
 

Graham Cox
Intermediate Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 318
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.248.92
Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2005 - 05:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You guys are smart! That sounds entirely plausible, Tim.

I was thinking just a few minutes ago that a trip through the dishwasher for all my siphon equipment on the sanitizing setting, followed by an hour or two in the oven at 170°F (my lowest setting) might be in order. It's either going to melt or be reasonably sterile after that, I would think. Either way, I'm better off.
 

Graham Cox
Intermediate Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 319
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.248.92
Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2005 - 12:02 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, I'm happy to report that ordinary vinyl tubing and Autosiphons will survive 4+ hours in a 170°F stove. (I forgot about them while re-doing my Christmas card database.)

This is going to be a bear. I have a LOT of stuff that touches beer, and three batches in production that have to be assumed to be harboring this little bastard. Every tap, every bottle, every cap, every carboy, every stopper... sheesh, what a valuable lesson learned.
 

Greg Nolan
Member
Username: Greg

Post Number: 136
Registered: 06-2001
Posted From: 207.69.137.20
Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2005 - 02:38 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I had a run of infections that I could not trace. Like you I clean and sterilize everything. Finally I broke down and took everything apart down to washers and nuts. I cleaned the crap out of everything. I then coated everything with alcohol one way or another. I also began to boil or steam everything from hoses to my conical. I finally got on top of it. Now I routinely boil and steam. I figure some critter might escape a sanitiser back in the metal matrix of crack but them little critters can't escape heat. Nothing worse than watching beer drift down the driveway.
I am drunk therfore I am.
 

Graham Cox
Intermediate Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 320
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.248.92
Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2005 - 05:06 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)



You know the famous saying attributed to Ben Franklin, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."? God has intervened in this problem, and frankly, I'm glad.

My autosiphons didn't quite survive the oven treatment, as it turns out. There was enough subtle warping to render them unusable. Now I've just purchased two new large autosiphons and associated tubing and bottling wands so I'll have one each for beer and one for wine and mead, and never the two shall meet. That way I can eliminate freeloading wild yeast from the mead in particular as a culprit.

The thing that has me kicking myself the most here is that I assumed these sanitizing agents would kill most anything - evidently not. Now I'm paranoid.
 

Tim Wi
Intermediate Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 342
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 170.141.68.99
Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2005 - 01:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Good to be paranoid. Don't forget about washing yeast with acid to get rid of bacteria. The yeast survive.

BTW, a cheap $2 baster starts a syphon very well for me.

T
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 4106
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.229.8
Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2005 - 01:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sanitizers aren't effective unless the surfaces are clean--really clean.

When I had a dedicated brewing space, I had one of my mantras posted on the wall:

Clean it!

Before you use it...

Clean it!

After you use it...

Clean it!


You can see why I tell people brewing is two-thirds cleaning.
 

Tim W
Member
Username: Timw

Post Number: 185
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 56.0.143.25
Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2005 - 04:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I second the turkey baster method of starting a siphon. Nothing to clean, nothing to sanitize.

Thanks Tim for the idea.
 

Tim Wi
Intermediate Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 343
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 170.141.68.99
Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2005 - 05:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You are welcome, Tim (but it wasn't my idea, originally)

Tim
 

Graham Cox
Intermediate Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 321
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.248.92
Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2005 - 11:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

OK, I overcame my depression and discouragement and this afternoon I jumped right back up on that big beer horse (you know, the one with the fuzzy hooves that pisses macroswill.) American amber ale in the kettle as I type. The primary carboy has gotten at least 30 minutes of double-strength Iodophor in all quadrants, including the neck and the outside of the neck. I'll be pitching US56, so no starter infection is possible.

Today is a new day. I am wiser and I am meaner.

You know, somebody ought to make a brewery video game. Only this sanitizer kills that bug, only that sanitizer kills this other bug, malt is suspect, temps are off, hops are inappropriate for style... it's got potential, I think. (Right up there with opening your own brewpub.)
 

Tim W
Member
Username: Timw

Post Number: 187
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 56.0.143.23
Posted on Friday, December 09, 2005 - 06:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Don't forget to get a new airlock and use Vodka.
 

michael atkins
Intermediate Member
Username: Mga

Post Number: 288
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 216.170.58.10
Posted on Saturday, December 10, 2005 - 02:08 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"Don't forget to get a new airlock and use Vodka".

Tim W -- Good idea! Afterall the airlock is the passage way to all airborne particles. This could be the missing link! A very good post.
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