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Soapy Beer Taste

Hey y’all

I’m about 6 batches of beer in (consisting of a pumpkin ale, stout, cream ale, esb, IPA, and a farmhouse), but each one seems to have come out with the same aftertaste. It’s almost to the point where I can’t tell the difference because it’s so overpowering. I’m wondering if I’m doing something wrong in the cleaning/sanitization process. Here’s what I normally do on brew/bottle day, in regards to cleaning.

  • Scrub the kettle with B-brite, rinse with cold water

  • Fill the carboy w/ about a 1/2 gallon of pre-mixed StarSan, shake it up, and cap it with seran wrap/rubber band which have been sprayed with mixed StarSan

  • Brew, dump out the sanitizer from the carboy, fill carboy with wort right on top of the excess foam

  • Cap with sanitized blowoff tube with end submerged in StarSan solution

  • Night before bottling day, scrub out bottles with B-brite (bottles have been rinsed after use with tap water)

  • Rinse in cold water, dry overnight

  • On bottling day, submerge bottles in StarSan solution with caps

  • Rack right on top of excess foam in bottles and cap immediately

All the little parts (racking cane, funnel, etc.) are submerged in StarSan solution until needed. None are rinsed off.

The aftertaste is almost soapy, like if I used detergent and never washed it out completely. The thing is, I don’t use detergent in ANY part of the process (from brew to bottle to glass back to brew). It hits the back of the tongue and tastes soapy/sour and a little bitter. Every single time. I’m not sure if anyone else has had this problem, but I’m thinking about throwing out 5gal of my new batch because I can’t stand the taste.

I should also mention, I used Ice Mountain spring water initially, but have switched to distilled water as an experiment - the taste persists. I was told spring water is better because the minerals help with the characteristics and I refuse to use St. Paul tap water…

Any insight is appreciated. More heads are better than one, and if we ever cross paths, I promise a beer to anyone who can help me pinpoint this problem.


I don’t think the distilled water is a good idea. I would use purified water instead. I also rack right on top of the starsan foam with no negative taste. When you say excess foam how much are you talking about? I dump the wort in the plastic primary and rack to a carboy for secondary, but after I rinse the carboy with starsan I leave it upside down for about and hour, so there is a very small amount of foam.

How much does the water factor into the taste, do you think? I didn’t notice any difference between distilled and spring, but could that be the problem afterall?

Thanks for the link! It looks like it could be because I’m leaving the beer in the primary too long. Come to think of it, the best beer of the batch was one I moved to secondary after two weeks. I should be able to move it even sooner, though, since primary fermentation only takes a few days…

I never do more than a week in primary, but really does that matter? There are many guys brewing in the big conicals and they don’t use a secondary (although they can drain off the trub pretty easily) and also many who just brew in a 6 or 6.5 gal carboy and never use a secondary.

Dude - that’s an amazing Number/Word Munchers avatar. Talk about a blast from the past! Apple IIe FTW! :cheers:

You didn’t mention your fermentation temperature. It could be a factor. I assume the temperature of the wort affects the time you can leave it on the yeast. We use refrigerators to slow spoilage, so it seems reasonable that warmer fermentations would show yeast breakdown - autolysis - sooner than if they were colder.

I’ve left lagers on the yeast for six weeks at 50 F and routinely leave ales on the yeast at 65 F for three weeks with no problems, but if you’re fermenting at 75, maybe the yeast will start rotting sooner. There are probably other factors that could accelerate yeast autolysis independently or in conjunction with higher temperatures: oxygen exposure, light exposure, poor yeast health, nutrient levels, etc.

I’ve not read this or experienced it, I’m just using the analogy of food spoilage to yeast spoilage. Any experts out there with some actual data to support or refute?

You have done 6 batches so this question may be meaningless. How long are you bottle conditioning and at what temperature?

The aftertaste is almost soapy, like if I used detergent and never washed it out completely. The thing is, I don’t use detergent in ANY part of the process (from brew to bottle to glass back to brew).

B-brite is a detergent.

I stopped racking on wet star san bottles, instead I let them dry over night upside down. but never had a bad soapy problem with star san, just do not like the foam. I never used b bright so can not say if u get soapy taste there. what I can say is sometimes yeast give off some strange flavors and these flavors will show up at different times in primary and secondary . after 25 or so batches I now almost never go more then 10 days before bottling ales.
can you tell us these things
1 what yeast have you used?
2 what temps in primary and how long?
3 the gravity of the beers? og fg
4 glass or plastic fermenters.

  as you can see I'm thinking of that free beer you offered. ha ha just kidding.

the fact that you changed water and did not get rid of the soapy taste is a big clue so hopefully with answers to 1-4 we can narrow it down more .

Quit using the b-bright.

I never “wash” my bottles at all. I rinse them 3 times right after I empty them and dry them upside down. On brew day all I do is put them through Starsan and onto the bottle rack. Then within 20 minutes I’m bottling.

I suggest putting all bottles you have in hot water in a tub and just rinse them a few times and dry them upside down. Then next time you use them just run Starsan through them and see how it goes.

Wow! Thanks for all the help so far. I’m going to see if I can answer all the questions:

  • Using two glass carboys - 6.5 for primary, 5 for secondary

  • Fermenting at ~68-70 degrees. I use a carboy heater in the winter due to fermenting it in the basement (finished basement, fermenting away from any outside-facing walls. Air temp gets a bit cool in the afternoon when I turn my heat down)

  • Bottle-condition for 2 weeks upstairs at ~70-72 degrees in a dark cupboard.

  • I use Wyeast (a couple times I’ve started it in a flask the night before with a DME – IPA and stout):

    • 1469 West Yorkshire
    • 1332 Northwest Ale
    • 1056 American Ale
  • As far as how long in the primary, I’d leave it in there anywhere from 2-6 weeks depending on the brew. For the longer ones (stout and IPA), I transferred to secondary after 2 weeks. I think the pumpkin ale I left in for 4.

Thanks again for all the suggestions, I think we’re starting to narrow it down

yep its got to be the b bright, you have varied all other things like yeast and water and your not using some cheep plastic fermenters so the only things left that I can tell would be b bright and a long shot that your letting it get stale before bottling but I doubt its that.
all my ales taste good with 10 days +1 to 2 weeks in the bottle
PS there has been times that I do not even use star san in my bottles, its mostly when I under estimate how many I need, not the best thing to do but never any bad beers yet.
let us know what happens and save me

Awesome, I’ll give the bottles a good rinsing tonight in plain warm water and get a brew started this weekend. If it all works, I’ll have a nice stout to get me through the winter. I appreciate all the suggestions! Beer’s on me if I ever meet any of y’all

I will bet my left arm this is primary fermentation temperature. When you stated fermenting at 68 degrees, were you referring to the temp in your basement being 68 degrees?

On average the basement is probably colder than 68. Although the carboy heater keeps it at around 70-72 according to the fermometer.

Had the same problem. The yeast make their own heat during fermentation, pushing the temp well into the 70s in my 66-68 degree basement. I was convinced it was my water for a while, but the flavor stayed from Belgian to Dunkel to Stout. Tap water or spring water. All beers tasted similar and it was a taste I didn’t want. Try keeping the beer itself no warmer than 68, even during peak fermentation. Cheapest way to do this is probably with a swamp cooler. Most accurate way is probably with a temperature controller and a freezer (tape the probe to your fermentation container, put in the freezer, then plug the freezer into the controller). Set the controller at the lowest recommended temperature for your yeast (look on manufactures website). ... mperature/

The fermometer is probably a decent gauge of beer temp; during active fermentation, with all the active yeast swimming around in there, I’d speculate that the wort is fairly uniformly mixed.

That said, groupthink is that beer should not be fermented above 68F for the homebrewer. So, next time, drop that heater down; for most yeasts, you shouldn’t need it to use it until the wort temperature drops below 62F…

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