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Bad batch

I made a pale ale based on the Innkeeper recipe. LHBS didn’t have golden promise so I used MO. I’ve brewed this beer 5 times without issue. It’s a house favorite.

Followed the same process as usual, BIAB mash at 153 actually went 70 minutes this time because I got distracted with something else, boiled 60, chilled in about 20, pitched at 63, swamp cooler for 3 days below 65, then let it rise to ambient, FG 1.010 on day 10. Kegged it and tasted great.

It’s been in the keg 17 days and tastes progressively worse. Has a green apple odor, doesn’t seem to be holding carb and just tastes like a stale old flat beer.

I know the green apple suggests acetaldehyde but it tasted fine before kegging. I’m thinking sanitation issue. Either my auto siphon or maybe keg gas line. I rinsed the keg with hot water then sanitized with star san. Didn’t take it apart and clean this time. Probably 3 kegs since that’s been done.

Thoughts?

Yeast was a 1L starter of saved slurry 1469, second generation I think.

Certainly sounds like a sanitation issue. Bacteria can cause off flavors associated with acetaldehyde. Could be an issue with the keg since it wasn’t cleaned very well. A couple times I did exactly like you and once I looked and there was still yeast on the side/bottom that needed scrubbed out so I stopped doing that.

What makes you think gas line? Have you ever gotten beer in your gas line?

[quote=“Loopie Beer”]Certainly sounds like a sanitation issue. Bacteria can cause off flavors associated with acetaldehyde. Could be an issue with the keg since it wasn’t cleaned very well. A couple times I did exactly like you and once I looked and there was still yeast on the side/bottom that needed scrubbed out so I stopped doing that.

What makes you think gas line? Have you ever gotten beer in your gas line?[/quote]

It’s possible…I do roll them to quick force carb sometimes. Plus I remember a thread from a couple of months ago when someone, Beersk maybe(?), kept getting infected kegs and it turned out to be his gas line.

However I also discovered cracks in my auto siphon so that’s suspect.

I’ll definitely give that keg a thorough clean with PBW and sanitize it, check the gas line and siphon the new beer with a sanitized piece of hose until I get a new auto siphon.

Since it is getting worse you better get to drnking (which is another sign of infection)! Those auto siphons are nice but I noticed they are prone to breaking/cracking with very little pressure.

If I were you I’d stop quick carbing by rolling the kegs and check your gas lines to see if any beer got up in there, to be sure. Otherwise, cracks in the autosiphon might be your culprit.
My issue was beers turning butterscotchy. But I imagine it can show its ugly head in many forms. Silentknighty was having dms infections from a nasty gas disconnect.

[quote=“Beersk”]If I were you I’d stop quick carbing by rolling the kegs and check your gas lines to see if any beer got up in there, to be sure. Otherwise, cracks in the autosiphon might be your culprit.
My issue was beers turning butterscotchy. But I imagine it can show its ugly head in many forms. Silentknighty was having dms infections from a nasty gas disconnect.[/quote]

Yep. Mine was my QD. My autosiphon was blamed, but I still use it, and it’s fine. (It has no visible cracks, though).

I cleaned the inside of my kegs each time, but also hadn’t ever cleaned the lid PRV before. That was new, and something I’ll continue to do in the future.

I let the keg soak over night with PBW, used a tube brush on the liquid tube and rinsed it all this morning, star san’d it, under pressure opened the bleeder valve and both poppets to let some star san thru.

Both the liquid and gas QDs looked fine but I took them apart and cleaned them then star san’d them. Everything should be cleaned and sanitized now.

Since my auto siphon tube has cracks I just used the racking cane and tube to rack a new beer into the keg after sanitizing all.

I’m leaning toward the cracked auto siphon as the culprit here but i’ll probably use a little more intensive keg cleaning regimen in the future to be safe.

Thanks for your responses guys! :cheers:

I disagree that this was clearly a sanitation/cleaning issue. My money is on oxidation.

When a finished beer gets oxidized, it is basically like a hand grenade going off in the beer’s flavor. Intermediate compounds that are formed during fermentation and later, hopefully reabsorbed (such as acetaldehyde) rear their ugly heads in beer that once tasted great.

You mentioned you are quick/blast carbing. Are you purging the kegs with CO2 prior to doing so? If not, you are infusing that beer with O2 as well as CO2. Any other points where oxygen might have been introduced? I know most say hot side aeration is a myth, but I get the willies about any oxygen introduced during chilling until the wort gets below 140* or so, and usually don’t whirlpool until I’m there.

Not that infection isn’t possible. I’ve had plenty of butter beer from a draft line that was probably loaded with pediococcus/lactobacillus. But your problem is green apple, not butter. While some less common microbes spit out acetaldehyde, I might look for oxidation first. Also, the beer ONCE tasted great. Deteriorating flavor/short shelf life also screams oxidation to me. Finally, I know others will disagree with this, but in an alcoholic, cold, oxygenless (hopefully) environment (aka kegged beer), I am not nearly as weary of bug infection, especially since you had a decent starter in a relatively low ABV beer that likely outcompeted any bugs.

[quote=“Beersk”]If I were you I’d stop quick carbing by rolling the kegs and check your gas lines to see if any beer got up in there, to be sure. Otherwise, cracks in the autosiphon might be your culprit.
My issue was beers turning butterscotchy. But I imagine it can show its ugly head in many forms. Silentknighty was having dms infections from a nasty gas disconnect.[/quote]
Rolling the kegs is fine - if you have a one-way check valve installed.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/ball ... valve.html

I make it a habit to clean the keg every fill, and flush out the serving lines with each keg change. Does it need it that often? No, but if I always do it I won’t put it off the time it really does need it and lose a keg of beer.

[quote=“Pietro”]I disagree that this was clearly a sanitation/cleaning issue. My money is on oxidation.

When a finished beer gets oxidized, it is basically like a hand grenade going off in the beer’s flavor. Intermediate compounds that are formed during fermentation and later, hopefully reabsorbed (such as acetaldehyde) rear their ugly heads in beer that once tasted great.

You mentioned you are quick/blast carbing. Are you purging the kegs with CO2 prior to doing so? If not, you are infusing that beer with O2 as well as CO2. Any other points where oxygen might have been introduced? I know most say hot side aeration is a myth, but I get the willies about any oxygen introduced during chilling until the wort gets below 140* or so, and usually don’t whirlpool until I’m there.

Not that infection isn’t possible. I’ve had plenty of butter beer from a draft line that was probably loaded with pediococcus/lactobacillus. But your problem is green apple, not butter. While some less common microbes spit out acetaldehyde, I might look for oxidation first. Also, the beer ONCE tasted great. Deteriorating flavor/short shelf life also screams oxidation to me. Finally, I know others will disagree with this, but in an alcoholic, cold, oxygenless (hopefully) environment (aka kegged beer), I am not nearly as weary of bug infection, especially since you had a decent starter in a relatively low ABV beer that likely outcompeted any bugs.[/quote]

I always pressurize and purge the keg with a gallon or 2 of starsan in it and run that thru the beer line and out the faucet so the keg is full of CO2 and chilled when I rack the beer in to it. I rack very gently into the keg with the hose on the bottom to avoid oxidation and then purge the head space after closing the lid, then I’ll roll it.

Hot side aeration is a possibility. I do usually begin stirring the wort as soon as the flame is out and the chiller is in. Haven’t noticed any ill effects on other beers. I have seen discussion on hot side aeration and I guess I was leaning toward the ‘myth’ camp.

Definitely something to consider.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”][quote=“Beersk”]If I were you I’d stop quick carbing by rolling the kegs and check your gas lines to see if any beer got up in there, to be sure. Otherwise, cracks in the autosiphon might be your culprit.
My issue was beers turning butterscotchy. But I imagine it can show its ugly head in many forms. Silentknighty was having dms infections from a nasty gas disconnect.[/quote]
Rolling the kegs is fine - if you have a one-way check valve installed.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/ball ... valve.html

I make it a habit to clean the keg every fill, and flush out the serving lines with each keg change. Does it need it that often? No, but if I always do it I won’t put it off the time it really does need it and lose a keg of beer.[/quote]

I have inline shut off valves with a check valve on each line.

I flush the keg and lines with star san every time too but have not cleaned with PBW or scrubbed with a brush every single time.

I just kegged Denny’s Lake Waldo Amber in this same cleaned, sanitized keg, racked in with racking cane and tubing to avoid using the cracked auto siphon outer tube. I purged the head space and set it to forget it for a few days.

It doesn’t have the distinctive aroma of the Amarillo late hops. It has a faint green apple aroma.

It can’t be infection from the racking cane. Wouldn’t show up that quickly.

If Pietro is right the oxidation would have to have been hot side to present so early, right?

Could yeast health or contamination be suspect? I used different yeasts in these 2 beers but they were both starters from harvested slurry. I practice good sanitation at every step.

Poor yeast health could contribute to problems with acetaldehyde, but I don’t see how the beer would get worse with time if that was the case. Unless you are just getting progressively more sensitive and annoyed by it. How old was the yeast when you pitched it, and did you make starters to wake it up and get it multiplying before the pitch?

Based on the symptoms, I would guess aceto bacteria and too much exposure to oxygen post-boil, but by your process description I don’t see how that could happen. Do you happen to have a lot of fruit flies around, and is it possible that the fermenters were not well sealed against them?

It might be time to bite the bullet and replace plastics and hoses.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]Poor yeast health could contribute to problems with acetaldehyde, but I don’t see how the beer would get worse with time if that was the case. Unless you are just getting progressively more sensitive and annoyed by it. How old was the yeast when you pitched it, and did you make starters to wake it up and get it multiplying before the pitch?

Based on the symptoms, I would guess aceto bacteria and too much exposure to oxygen post-boil, but by your process description I don’t see how that could happen. Do you happen to have a lot of fruit flies around, and is it possible that the fermenters were not well sealed against them?

It might be time to bite the bullet and replace plastics and hoses.[/quote]

I’ve read a little about acetaldehyde today since that does seem to be what’s indicated by the green apple odor and off taste.

I don’t taste anything like cardboard that would indicate oxidation. The only possibility of oxidation would be hot side aeration but I’ve stirred while chilling on all my batches from the beginning so why would it rear it’s head now?

Everything I read re: acetaldehyde points to either high temp fermentation or racking off the yeast too early before clean up occurs.

The Innkeeper batch I noticed this in was racked to a keg after 11 days in the carboy. I had taken a gravity reading on day 8 and on day 11 both were 1.010.

With the latest one kegged yesterday, the amber ale OG was 1.071 and after 3 weeks in the fermenter it was 1.010 for a couple days in a row.

I followed the same temperature control measures as usual. Pitch at about 63, swamp cooler to keep temps in the 63-65 range for the first 3 days then let it rise, removing from the swamp cooler on day 5 or 6 and allow to rise to ambient of 68-70. It’s a bit cooler in my basement right now so final temp may not have gone above 67-68. Doesn’t seem like that should be a problem…

The only other difference over past brews was my grains. I bought grain from a new LHBS but they’re briess, rahr, reputable grains and seemed to be fresh.

So…all evidence seems to be pointing to my harvested yeast as not being pure or healthy…does it not?

Most but not all evidence. Yeast that is underpitched (which is essentially what happens when the slurry you pitch is in poor health) are stressed and won’t get the same level of vigorous fermentation followed by efficient clean-up of byproducts. Which could be a cause of acetaldehyde. Are you sure thought that the flavor is getting worse with time, because if it is, acetaldehyde is NOT the cause.

oxidation does not always manifest itself as cardboard/paper (though it often does).

I had the exact same issue with a number of beers, particularly an IPA last year, which is why I thought this was a possible cause.

The IPA tasted AMAZING when it was first carbed then bottled from the keg. I entered it in a comp, for which tasting was done about a month afterward, and it got 19’s all around. My palette wasn’t that far off, so I pulled out the one bottle I had left, and it was vile. All kinds of horrible flavors, including green apple. No hop aroma/flavor, and I remembered I didn’t purge the keg before blast carbing it. It doesn’t sound like you made the same mistake I did, but it sounds like you are having a similar flavor deterioration.

FWIW, hot side aeration is largely disputed and called a ‘myth’ by a lot of homebrewers, particularly on the homebrew scale. Now MAAAAAAYBE, us homebrewers are just a bunch of boozebags and our hot-side-aerated beer is being consumed prior to it deteriorating to the point of tasting bad, but thats beside the point. :mrgreen:

cracks in auto siphone and racking canes are tough to see, you have to hold up to light look closly and turn it while you are looking. Everyone I have seen that people say there are no cracks are FULL of hairline cracks. Not saying this is your issue but it could be

There were without a doubt cracks in my auto siphon. I bought a new one yesterday and a new length of tubing as well. Better safe than sorry(er).

If this turns out to be a sanitation issue due to my auto siphon then I just fixed it and I’ll be happy. Otherwise I’m stumped.

I have two beers in fermenters right now and I’m a bit anxious over whether they’ll show the same off flavor.

Obviously I’ll be examining if not adapting my processes in the next few brews with regard to sanitation, yeast harvesting, starter building, and hot side aeration. Not sure I’ll be storing starsan for as long as I have been.

There were without a doubt cracks in my auto siphon. I bought a new one yesterday and a new length of tubing as well. Better safe than sorry(er).

If this turns out to be a sanitation issue due to my auto siphon then I just fixed it and I’ll be happy. Otherwise I’m stumped.

I have two beers in fermenters right now and I’m a bit anxious over whether they’ll show the same off flavor.

Obviously I’ll be examining if not adapting my processes in the next few brews with regard to sanitation, yeast harvesting, starter building, and hot side aeration. Not sure I’ll be storing starsan for as long as I have been.[/quote]

you could have yeast issue to, but if this is happening to all beers I would think sanitation first

Why not wait even longer? If it’s an issue in the brewing/fermentation, it should show up after extended aging.

Also, try bottling half, first? If its your kegging system, it should show up in both the bottles & kegs. That’d be at least one way to determine a before/after point to allow you to focus further on a smaller subset of possibilities.

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