Bad taste in my beer!

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Hello all!  I started brewing about a year ago and have only had 2 good
batches out of my 7 attmepts.  Both were good batches were after buying
new fermenters.  So, I assume Cleaning is my issue.

But what doesn't make sense is Why?  I clean my hands and arms well
before starting like a doctor scrubbing up.  Then I use a clorinated
cleaner or Iodine to make sure my equipment is clean.  Then I rinse it
well several time with tap water (I have been told by other brewers in
the area that our tap water is excelent for brewing).  Then I use One
Step and do not rinse, just like the directions say.

Then on to brewing.  NO ONE stands over the pot or breaths on the beer.
 It is covered with an electric thermometer in it to keep the boil temp
right.  I then cool the wert by emersing the pot in cold water in the
sink and adding ice.  I then pump the beer into the primary fermenter
(Also cleaned with the above process just before brewing).  at 1 week,
I do the same cleaning and move to a secondary fermenter.  I make sure
my fermentation temp is within range at all times.

On bottling day, I clean my bottling bucket and flush all my bottles
with one step.  I then taste the beer.  Tastes terrible.. Like plastic
or a bitter medicin.  A Harsh, soapy taste..  I go ahead and bottle
anyway hoping it is just the priming sugars making it taste like that.
 Come the 2 week period, I have a terrible tasting drink that will make
your gut hurt with just a few sips..

Any thoughts anyone?  Is it possible to be TO carefull cleaning or
clean too much?

Thanks for all your help.. I'm ready to give up but trying one last
call for help!


Re: Bad taste in my beer!


DeanWesterburg wrote:
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Two things stand out in your description as being possible causes of the
bad taste.  The first is the statement: "It is covered with an electric
thermometer in it to keep the boil temp right. "  Keeping the brew
kettle covered during the boil is not a good idea.  This keeps the
precursor elements of DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide) for escaping.  Instead,
they stay with the condensate on the bottom of the lid and drip back
into the wort.  The taste is often described as tasting like cooked corn
or cabbage.  This can be made even worse by slow cooling.  If it is
taking you longer than 20-25 minutes to get your wort cooled, this may
be a contributing but not sole factor in the taste.

A second statement: "Tastes terrible.. Like plastic or a bitter
medicine.  A Harsh, soapy taste." points to a couple of different
problems.  An actual soapy taste is generally the result of yeast
autolysis.  This happens when the beer sits in primary so long that the
dead yeast on the bottom of the fermenter begins decomposing.  This is
obviously not what is happening in your case.  Autolysis  generally
doesn't begin until the beer has been sitting on the yeast and trub for
2-3 months.  Even then, it won't manifest itself in the taste for a
couple more months.

Eliminating autolysis, that leaves us with the plastic or medicinal
taste.  This generally points to chlorine as the culprit.  You are
apparently doing a good job of rinsing, but that and the brewing water
itself are probably part of the problem.  If your water company treats
the water with either free chlorine or chloramines, that is the likely
source of this taste.  If free chlorine is the problem, this can be
eliminated by boiling the water before using it in your brewing or by
running your water into an uncovered kettle and letting it sit at least
overnight.  If your water supplier uses chloramines, then you need to
either filter it or treat it with Camden tablets.  Actually a good
charcoal filter (available at any home improvement store) will remove
both types of chlorine.

A good source of information about off flavors and possible causes can
be found at this link: http://howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-2.html .

My guess would be that the two good batches of beer may have been
relatively dark ones.  Dark beers are less likely to have DMS problems
because of the roasted grains and they are also heavy flavored enough to
hide other problems.

I hope this helps you a little in tracking down your problem.  Good luck
on your next brew.

Wayne
Bugeater Brewing Company


Re: Bad taste in my beer!


Could it be phenolics you are tasting? Here are a few links I found. In
my experience anything that tasted like that was due to wild yeast,
although there are other causes such as bacteria or insufficiently
rinsed bleach.

http://hbd.org/hbd/archive/4471.html#4471-14
http://chef2chef.net/kb/index_v2.php?id=500&c=7
http://chef2chef.net/kb/index_v2.php?id=510&c=7




DeanWesterburg wrote:
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Re: Bad taste in my beer!


DeanWesterburg wrote:
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<snippage>

I see 2 possibilties.. the first is chlorine or chloramine in your
water.  Do you use chlorinated water?  Do you do anything to get rid of
the chlorine?  Even if you've been using the same water without problems
in the past, chlorine/chloramine levels can change drastically without
warning and give the kind of flavors you describe.

The second is the ice.  If you're adding it to the water in the sink, no
problem.  But if you're putting it in your kettle of wort, you could be
introducing bacteria via the ice.

    ----------->Denny
--
Life begins at 60...1.060, that is.

Re: Bad taste in my beer!


Good answers already to your question.  I'll add one thought that
occured to me:

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...
...
...

Does it really make your gut hurt or is that hyperbole? ... Once I "ate"
few grains of dishwashing detergent (that was on the side of a glass)
and it almost immediately gave me a stomach ache.

The one time I heard of a REAL soapy taste was when a friend of mine on
his first brew, switched his sanitizing powder and his cleaning powder.
He ended up doing no-rinse sanitizing with cleaning powder.  I don't know
the brands.

I don't use one-step.  If you are on "city" water, try rinsing the
one-step out of everything with tap water and going from there.  City tap
water should be fine for rinsing in practically all locations (ie., no
infections from tap water).

So... I'd be extra double sure that the "one-step" you are using is
the real thing and I'd rinse it off (or try completely without it or
get some other sanitizer).  Is the one-step in a commercial container
or is your LHBS repackaging it?  The example I pulled up thru google
said 1 tablespoon per gallon - is that the strength you're using?

Derric


Re: Bad taste in my beer!


Wow!  Lots of good info here!  Thank you all!

Some answers to some of the questions asked along with a few new
questions:

-Water-
  I am using tap water, although I did try using bottled water (Spring
Water actually) and still had a problem.  I was brewing a kolsh in that
instance.  I have had other people in our area that brew good beers
tell me our water is very good for beer brewing.  Not sure why it's
good but it works for them!  I have no problem with spending a few
bucks on bottled, spring, or dionized water if they would help.  Which
is the best to use?

-Sanitizer-
 One-step that I have purchased from my local beer supply house
(www.listermann.com) comes in a small bag with the official label.  I
guess they could be repackaging it though.  It is like a extra strong
ziplock bag..

-Wild Yeast-
  I buy the recipes  with all the ingredients allready measured out.
The yeast is a dry yeast in a sealed package..  I can't imagine more
people would not complain to the beer store if it was the issue.
Anything is possible though!

- The 2 good batches-
 One was an irish stout with the acidic additive to look and taste like
guiness  (and it and it's foam did look just like guiness!).  The other
was a very hoppy Pale Ale.  I think the pale ale was so hoppy, that a
mild case of this bad taste may have been there and It was so covered
by the hops that it went unnoticed.

-Bad flavor and stomach aches-
  It will really give you a stomach ache without drinking but a few
ounces.  The guy at the beer supply mentioned phenolics (spelling?) as
well.  He stated that you usualy dont taste them much, but you will
recognize the hangover feeling and the stomach ache.

So, I think I have a good idea now from all of your responses that the
problem is related to a cleaner of some kind.  Either Chlorine in the
water, or some leftover residue from a sanitizing product.  I should
mention, after my first batch (which was a good batch) I cleaned with
dish soap.  I learned later that Dawn dish soap leaves a residue that
lead to my first bad taste in batch #2.  My 3rd batch included all new
equipment and an upgrade to a autosyphon and 2 glass carboys.
EVERYTHING but the bottle capper was replaced.

That being said, would it be ok to boil water and put my equipment in
it to sterilize it and kill off any remaining residue?  How about
pouring boiling water in the fermenter?  How long would I have to boil
for?

I had a brewing friend ask his brew mentor about my issue.  His friend
replied with "Don't use those sanitizers.  Flush out your equipment
with a little bleach and water, rinse well, and then brew".  Any
thoughts on this?  I'm not wild about bleaching something that will
contain an edible drink, but it would be a different cleaner!

Thanks again for all your responses and information!  I look forward to
your replies and will be picking up a new batch of stuff for a Irish
Stout for my next attempt over the holidays.


Re: Bad taste in my beer!



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There are two things to check for your water...  1. do they use Chlorine
or Chloramines.  And, 2., what is the mineral content of your water.

Your note above seems to indicate that the mineral content (#2) is fine.
If your water is just chlorinated, that is fine too.  However, if is had
chloramines, then you need to do some extra treatment to get rid of it.
Just using "spring water" from the store should prove or disprove this
as your problem.


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Listermann's should be good... talk to Dan there and see if he can help
you.  He frequently posts to some of these groups, like
"rec.crafts.brewing."


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...

It is rare that anyone mentions actually getting a stomach ache from
their beer.  That makes me think it is some chemical.


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I use cheap dish soap and just rinse well.


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I think that is way overkill.  There should be no need to try to
sterilize with boiling water...  sounds a little dangerous too.


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That's what I do.  Just a few tablespoons bleach in 5 gallons.  Use about
a 15 - 20 minute contact time, then rinse well with hot tap water.
That's it.  It works well and the chlorine is all gone.  Any chlorine from
your tap water shouldn't be a problem.  The main benefit from One-Step
and others is that they are no-rinse.  Rinsing has never been a problem
for me.


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You certainly don't need to follow those with One-Step.  That's overkill
again...  and that mixture of different chemicals may be doing something
strange.  Chlorine based cleansers should be rinsed (tap water for
rinsing is fine in 99% of the cases).  Pick ONE sanitizer and stick with
it... don't mix them.  Personally, I clean with cheap dish soap and
sanitize with bleach and just rinse everything well with plain tap water.

Derric


Re: Bad taste in my beer!


Derric wrote:

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He still needs to get rid of chlorine if he's got it.  But that's easier
to get rid of than chloramine, though.

    --------->Denny
--
Life begins at 60...1.060, that is.

Re: Bad taste in my beer!



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Hmm.. I got a water report in the mail late this summer.  I'll have to
dig it up. Are there any easy ways or tests to find the water content?
I'll try Spring water the next time just in case.

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Thanks!  I'll definatly ask for him and maybe bring a bottle with me
incase he is daring enought to try it!

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Agreed...


Again, I agree.  Boiling would be dificult, but I want to make sure to
get rid of any residues.

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Excellent.. I'm glad to here others back up this method.  I will try
your percentage of bleach and contact time.

Thanks again!


Re: Bad taste in my beer!


DeanWesterburg wrote:
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I use Ward Labs.   www.wardlab.com Household Mineral Test W-6 (runs
about $15) will give you all the info you need.

    --------->Denny

--
Life begins at 60...1.060, that is.

Re: Bad taste in my beer!




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For a quick Chlorine/Chloramine test, fill a white tub or even a white
plastic bucket with tap water.  If it looks clear or slightly blue, its
Chlorine.  If it looks green then its Chloramine.


Re: Bad taste in my beer!



For less than a $1.00 a gallon at most grocery stores why not spend a
little
just to be safe.  With as many unknowns as to what may be in
public water
supplies these days why not make about a $5 to $10
investment on some good clean
purified water.  Even if you have your
water tested it still may not show if
there are unusual chemicals in it
or even rust, algae, or other organisms.  Most
of the time I use the
generic brand of so called spring water for my brews.
Supposedly it
has all the natural minerals you would find in pure spring water.


--
dlihcsnatas

nothing like kicking back in a lawn chair on a beautiful
morning with a
mug of dark ale to start the day out right.
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Re: Bad taste in my beer!


Sorry, missed answering 2 questions:

-ICE-
  Yes, I put the ice in the sink, NOT in the brew kettle! (good to be
through)

-One-Step mix-
Yes, I follow the 1 TBSP per gal.  Do you think that is too little or
too much?

-Other cleaners I have tried-
Chlorinated "PINK" powder.  The local supply said this should kill
anything..  Aparently, it kills the taste of beer too!  I rinsed
several times after that and still did the one-step stuff after that.

B-T-F Brand Iodine - Followed the directions on the stuff to a tee.
Again, I followed with One-Step after several good rinses.



Thanks!


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