Question for Experienced Brewers who still bottle condition

Ok I have been brewing for almost 3 years and have had MAJOR improvements in my process and my beer, and have won a few comps. Added temp control, adequate/healthy yeast pitches from starters, and nice long primary ferments. I recently started kegging occasionally (only occasionally because I live in the city and don’t have room for a dedicated serving fridge) and noticed something.

I kegged my first lager, an Oktoberfest fermented @ 50 degrees (~3 weeks), lagered at 35 degrees for 4 weeks, but also bottled/primed about a gallon of it and allowed for natural carbonation in the bottle (still doing this with the majority of my brews, again given the absence of a serving fridge and using my spare fridge for a ferment chamber)

The O fest tasted GREAT out of the keg. A touch caramelly (maybe too much Vienna), but otherwise, great aroma, rich malt character, and clean/dry finish. I grabbed a 22oz bottle of the bottle-conditioned O-fest to take to my brothers house, which we had with a steak last night. The bottle conditioned version had a slight cidery/astringent/sherry ‘edge’ in the aroma (not so much in the taste). My brother couldn’t pick it up, but perhaps because I was expecting the beer I had out of the keg, I definitely caught something weird an unpleasant that I have noticed in other beers I’ve made, particularly those that are bottle-conditioned.

There is an off-chance I poured some yeast in the glass. There is also an off chance my bottles were not GLEAMINGLY clean (typically, I triple/quad rinse HEAVILY after emptying a bottle and store them uncapped prior to sanitizing only before re-use…I know it’s a bit of a dice roll, but I feel like I am dislodging any gunk, then rinsing away anything else with my ‘after-use’ cleaning of bottles).

My question is, has anyone ever experienced off-flavors from the priming sugar itself (I use corn sugar dissolved in boiling water), or conducted a side-by-side to taste a kegged beer vs. a bottle-conditioned beer? Usually, I will add the cooled simple syrup ON TOP of the racked beer prior to filling bottles, trying to minimize splashing. I do this because I want to know my exact volume to properly measure priming sugar weight (sans trub). Also, I am somewhat lax in CLEANING bottling wands, racking canes, hosing, etc., but typically rinse them heavily after use, then soak in sanitizer for 30 minutes or so prior to the next use. I know, I know, you can’t sanitize a turd and all that.

So it is likely there is an issue for me at packaging, and I need to discipline myself to clean AND sanitize everything.

Sorry for the long post, but just trying to pinpoint this and see if anyone else has had bottle-conditioning issues related to the sugar or process itself.

I’m not sure I can answer your question, but I can provide another data point for you in your comparison:

When I rack a beer to a keg, if I have too much, I’ll rack the remainders to bottles, and put in a carb tab. Those beers taste noticeably different than the keg; they are sweeter and fuller-bodied. However, I don’t notice any off flavors.

The only difference I have ever noted in bottled versus kegged beer (assuming a complete carbonation in the bottle and a careful pour with no yeast into the glass) is the fresher hop character out of the keg (I routinely keg hop after dry-hopping). I didn’t win a first place for an IPA until I started kegging.

When I keg a batch, whatever doesn’t fit into the four kegs goes into growlers and then I add 1/2oz corn sugar directly to that and cap tightly. They usually sit that way for months but the beer inside is just as good as the kegged beer. No off flavors. I’d soak your bottles in some hot water and B-Brite. They will sparkle like diamonds.

I mostly keg now also but bottle special stuff like my imperial pumpkin ale since most peeps want some. I never had tasted any diff in bottled vs keg. I do bake by bottles in the oven for 60 mins at 375 to kill any turds. Before that I use the bottle jet cleaner and yes also triple rinse after I drink a bottle. Never had any issues. One thing I did start doing after I did my first Belgian Double is adding a half packet of dry yeast and the corn sugar to the bottling bucket. I get way better and faster carbonation at normal volumes (2.5 vol) in 10 days. Whole packet for triples/doubles.

I’ve never kegged and bottled from the same batch, but I’ve done the same recipe both ways and never noticed a significant difference. Also, I tried bottle conditioning with table sugar, corn sugar, malt extract, maple syrup, and carb tabs, and honestly never felt like it made much difference. Of course you need to use different amounts to get the same level of carbonation, I just mean no flavor difference. So I ended up sticking with table sugar because its cheapest and my wife always has it around.

Hmm. I’m thinking this could be a slight infection then…going to try another bottle tonight and see.

How does this sound:

Since I realized I was just a lazy man who didn’t take care in packaging, I started doing the following (but of course didn’t do it on this batch, since it was just a gallon):

-bottles in case
-pinch of granules of oxyclean in each
-few ounces of water in each
-soak overnight
-blast with upside-down bottle washer thingy
-sanitize each with spray bottle
-dry on dishwasher rack while racking beer

of course I’ll keep up my triple rinse post-use.