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Brewing problems?

Hope everyone had a fantastic holiday. I am a very frustrated brewer. I have made about 8 kits from Northern and the last 3 have been spoiled/sour. I always clean my equipment before/after a brew session. I use PBW to soak my equipment and then starsan. I also leave the equipment in a bucket with the starsan until I use them. Wondering what the heck I am doing wrong. is there any type of long term treatment I can do to my carboys/equipment to avoid this?

Can you describe the off flavor/aroma of your ‘bad beers’ a little better? Sour apple, band aid, bubble gum, vinegar? How does the beer look? Clear, hazy, thick/foggy, anything on the surface?

If your beers are truly infected then something unsanitized is touching the wort after the boil.

You need to describe your brew day process a little better in order for someone to advise you. What’s your water like? Extract or AG? What yeast are you using? At what temp do you ferment? What do you use for fermenters?,

It’s possible your issue is not sanitation related if in fact you’re cleaning/sanitizing as well as you think.

I will grab a pic and try to upload it to show color/appearance. thanks for the quick response.

Two often overlooked items to clean is the bottling wand, spring tip type, and the spigot of the bottling bucket.

Then end of the spring tip bottling wand can be pulled off for cleaning. Don’t do it over the sink drain. Inside is the small plunger, and spring. The plunger has an o-ring which needs to be removed for cleaning underneath.
The bottling bucket spigot needs to be removed for cleaning around the washers and inside the spigot. Most spigots can be dismantled by pulling up on the handle with a twisting motion. Gunk can build up inside the spigot body.

Leaving your equipment in Starsan solution can cause damage.

I am an extract brewer so all steps are referencing extract brewing and I brew on my stove indoors

Drain stansan from carboy to bucket – place utensils (funnel, spoon, auto siphon) into bucket
Grab my wyeast slap pack out of the frig – slap the pack
add water to boil kettle – using tap water - I have a large kettle so I do 6 ½ gallons
if doing specialty grains will steep until correct temp and then bring to a boil and add malt
add hops at recommended timeframes
15 minutes left for boil – add wort chiller
take kettle off of burner, cover kettle with lid, cool wort
move wort to carboy, add yeast and store in cool place

only things I could think of might be adding the yeast when the wort isn’t below 80 degrees? My kettle has a thermometer built in. Maybe its not as cool as it seems?

the beer normally kinda taste like spoiled orange juice (only thing I can reference the taste too)

let me know what you guys think or if you think I should switch something to test where the failure point is in the brew process.

Only potential red flag I see in your process is the temperature at which you pitch and ferment. You mention pitching under 80. Do you have any method of controlling fermentation temps?

Accepted best practice for fermenting ales is to keep the wort temp within a few degrees of the yeasts’ low range. Generally this means low 60s. fermenting in the upper 70s could certainly give you some off flavors.

+1 to danny’s statement about the temp range for yeast. Try to cool and ferment at a few degrees above the LOW end of the yeast’s range.

If you have followed this exact same process every time and now all of the sudden the beer is sour it’s not the temps IMO(would depend on the yeast I guess). I’m figuring something is not as clean as you think it is. I"m guessing bottles/ bottling bucket/ racking cane.

How old is the starsan? Are you checking the PH of it to make sure it’s still good? Make sure to use RO or distilled water for starsan solution as it will last longer.

I appreciate all the feedback. any suggestion on the best way to clean it. I normally do PBW for an hour then drain/rinse and then use starsan. is that the best practice?

If you’re only soaking your glass carboy in PBW for an hour, are you brushing visible crud off the surface first?

I run the brush around the inside of the dirty carboy to remove as much visible crud as possible then soak fill with PBW and soak overnight. Rinse 3-4 times with very hot water, then store until ready for next use. When I’m ready to use it I rinse with starsan, usually no more than 1-2 quarts swirled around inside to coat the surface.

Starsan is good for months as long as the pH is below 3.0. Having said that I believe I had a batch go bad once that caused a long running infection in stored yeast slurry, auto siphon and ultimately about 4 batches of beer. If there is debris in the starsan or it’s really cloudy I make up a new batch. Lots of guys prefer making it with distilled h20 but as long as your water allows it to be under 3.0pH it’s fine.

As to the picture you posted…hard for me to tell but it looks like a great deal of bubbles? If so it’s probably just off gassing? How long has it been in that carboy and how long since the krauesen dropped?

If that stuff on the surface is more thick and cottage cheesy…then it’s probably a pellicle from infection.

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