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Damn Chlorophenols!

I am frustrated by chlorophenols! I have had these boogers pop up in some batches…and confirmed by judges in competition. I’m talking about the plasticy aroma and flavor version of phenols. I have treated my last 6 or 7 batches with campden and they have been pretty clean. However, after some time in the bottle, my last batch began showing some chlorophenolic character in addition to being very overcarbed. This appeared in some of my remaining bottles, but not all of them. None of the bottles opened earlier showed this character. My most recent batch, after 1.5 weeks in the primary , is smelling very plasticy in the primary. WTF? I sanitize with iodophor, brew either extract or partial mash, and ferment in a better bottle or glass carboy. I typically do not secondary and bottle after three weeks. All of my bottles are rinsed and brushed after using and are then cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized on bottling day. Am I picking up an infection somewhere along the way? Is it showing late in the bottle in the previous batch and showing sooner in the batch that’s in the primary? (The previous batch was a lager, btw, and pretty tasty until last week). Do infections show themselves as chlorophenols? I treat every bit of water that touches anything with campden. Could the iodophor play a role? Help!!! Any ideas, suggestions, advice would be greatly appreciated!

I vote infection. Maybe bottling bucket spigot, autosyphon, or other small inaccessible part with some funk on it that is occurring during bottling Time to investigate and or replace some gear. Sounds like you got a handle on everything else. Hope you track it down. Good news should be a relatively cheap fix.

I am going along with that too. You might want to start replacing equipment a little at a time to isolate it. Kind of expensive but cheaper than tossing out your beer.

I am not a huge fan of iodophor as my only sanitizer. It’s a good sanitizer but it doesn’t clean at all- so you really have to make sure everything is spotless first. I’d use star-san as part of your sanitation regime. And before that, I’d bleach the heck out of everything with a dilute bleach solution.

Thanks for the advice. I think I’ll try some star san and bleach bomb some of my equipment. The thing that kills me right now is the batch in the primary. None of my bottling equipment touched this. It went from kettle…immersion chiller…funnel into carboy. Carboy seems unlikey…funnel maybe. Or…it’s airborne. Any ideas on that one?

Are you making a yeast starter? If so, that could be part of the problem. If not, that could also be part of the problem! :smiley:
You say it gets worse over time, so that does say “infection”… but I believe a lot of off flavors that are called “infection” are actually produced by unhappy or insufficient amounts of yeast.

I always make a starter when I pitch liquid yeast. The batch that developed this character in some of the bottles was a lager, so I pitched a 2 qt starter. The batch in the primary that smells has rehydrated safale 05 pitched. I thought about yeast health too…and stressed yeast, but that batch in the primary certainly had enough yeast, and was fermented at about 65-68 degrees. While there may have been some fluctuation in fermentation temp., it never fermented hot.

I have had that happen before. I had kind of gotten out of brewing for a time because of a string of bad batches. I replaced ALL of my plastic with new, and have not had a problem since.

Also started using more bottled water to cut tap water. Got a simple carbon filter for tap water. switched to Star San as sanitizer too. I now replace plastic on a regular basis if it is looking quesitonable (especially cheap things like tubing and spigots).
Smooth sailing for the last 3-4 years.

Personally, I would stay away from bleach. Good PBW/oxyclean soak. Good Star San soak.

I think replacing my plastic is a good idea. Some of it is old - like 4-5 years old. Not my tubing, but my spigots, bottling bucket, etc. I am starting to wonder more and more about the batch in the primary though. If I’m getting an airborne infection, isn’t that really aggressive? This batch started fermenting within 12 hours. Those would have to be some super competitive wild beasts. Oh…and I will stay away from bleach…I will oxy and try switching to star san. I really appreciate all the suggestions. It certainly is helping me think about this more objectively.

Have you tried bottled water to isolate the problem. Campden tablets aren’t necessarily a fix all for any water.

FWIW I also used to deal with this sort of issue when topping up after partial boils, with either filtered or bottled water. I know some pro brewers do it, but I wouldn’t even consider it. After almost 20 years, I still remember the results of the first full wort boil beer I made: it was just a simple hefe 100% extract brew. I was hooked after that!

I am a partial boiler…although I try to minimize my top off water. I usually top off with 1 to 1.5 gallons.

It is likely that your top off addition might not be effective in reducing the temp to optimum. If you pitch immediately the wort temp is still rather high and you get some off flavors from that (not to mention that keeping wort at higher temps will encourage the likelyhood of infection, maybe this is where it’s happening?). Always cool fast and pitch cooler than ferment temps.

It appears to me you know what you’re doing and enjoy this hobby. I believe the investment in the necessary items for full wort boils would prove beneficial to you: chiller, large kettle, maybe a burner.

Although I understand in the beginning that keeping it simple and affordable will encourage new brewers to the hobby, I think partial boils are a huge sacrifice to the quality of brew. From a technical standpoint, if a partial boil wort is at a pH of 5.2 and 30% tap water with a pH of 8 is added to that wort, the resulting pH is probably off far enough it stresses the yeast and gives you some off flavors. If a pro brewer is topping off you can bet they are adjusting pH and/or water constituents to ensure optimum conditions.

Thanks Zwiller…I usually pitch in the range of 70 degrees…I think what you have said about the ph is interesting. I have never paid any attention to ph…nor made any attempt to control it. I do have a mongo chiller and could probably pitch a little cooler. I do enjoy brewing and get frustrated when I feel like I am being careful regarding sanitation and temperatures and water (chlorine) and then have off flavors. I’ll keep at it and try to isolate the problem…I certainly have plenty of things to isolate.

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