Black Rock Failure

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eueycollins

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Hi All,
I have been a home brewer for many years now. Ex sciece teacher so willing to explore. I've run into a problem with Black Rock Riwaka pale ale. for the 3rd time i have had to tip out a full brew.
My local supplier tells me it is because they supply insufficient yeast in their kit. I always kick start my yeast in all brews and unfailingly have a sealed glass overflowing with a vigorous froth from the yeast. This latest Blackrock kit I suspected a problem when the yeast failed to start with only about 4 or 5 mm of froth. The brew then went sour. At least i caught this one before I bottled.
I have contacted Black Rock (Lion Breweries) but had no response from them. Any one else had this problem? I am not happy with their service and am now contacting fair trading. I'd be pleased to hear from anyone who has also experienced this problem.
Cheers Euey
 

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MHB

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Ok we can agree that the yeast in the kit is really a bare minimum rather than an ideal pitch. It would be a good investment to get some better yeast when you are doing a brew, or even double up with the same yeast if that’s available. To the best of my knowledge Black Rock are using 514 Ale yeast in most of their kits. Were I making kits it’s probably what I would choose too.

If you are having a run of sour brews, its most likely to be a persistent infection.
The two most common are Acetobacter and Lacto Bacillus, the first makes Ethanoic Acid (vinegar) and the latter Lactic Acid and usually smells of sour milk.
The solution is usually proper cleaning and hygiene. It can be very difficult to stop embedded bacteria in a plastic fermenter. Often it’s a good sign that you need a new fermenter. Otherwise it’s time to soak the fermenter and all your parts in a strong sterilising solution, and then clean again before reusing.

Seriously its much more likely to be the brewer that is at fault rather than the kit. Have a good look at your equipment, where you are brewing and your cleaning processes.
Mark
 

Drubbing

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I second the above. The yeast and kit is extremely unlikely to be the issue. When I was kit brewing I used BR tins regularly and never had a problem. I rarely used kit yeasts, but when I did they were fine. Your retailer is wrong regarding these being deficient, or the cause of sour beer. They are optimised for kit brewing, so you get less grams.

Sour beer points to an infection. As brewers, we introduce the biggest variables and potential errors with our processes. Sanitising is probably the most important step.
 

TheAussieBrewer

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Sounds like a sanitation issue. Calling Fair Trade or Lion for this is like calling Betty Crocker complaining that your vanilla cake mix burnt.

Are you adding your yeast to pre boiled and cooled water to rehydrate? It isnt particulary nessecary when doing a standard strength brew with healthy yeast. I would be inclined to stop doing this step and pitch directly into the fermenter as well as giving all your equiptment a good clean and sanitise and see how you go.
 

eueycollins

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Ok we can agree that the yeast in the kit is really a bare minimum rather than an ideal pitch. It would be a good investment to get some better yeast when you are doing a brew, or even double up with the same yeast if that’s available. To the best of my knowledge Black Rock are using 514 Ale yeast in most of their kits. Were I making kits it’s probably what I would choose too.

If you are having a run of sour brews, its most likely to be a persistent infection.
The two most common are Acetobacter and Lacto Bacillus, the first makes Ethanoic Acid (vinegar) and the latter Lactic Acid and usually smells of sour milk.
The solution is usually proper cleaning and hygiene. It can be very difficult to stop embedded bacteria in a plastic fermenter. Often it’s a good sign that you need a new fermenter. Otherwise it’s time to soak the fermenter and all your parts in a strong sterilising solution, and then clean again before reusing.

Seriously its much more likely to be the brewer that is at fault rather than the kit. Have a good look at your equipment, where you are brewing and your cleaning processes.
Mark
Thanks Mark,
I agree that the fermenter could be contaminated but I am very careful with sterilizing and have produced a couple of good brews in between the sour Black Rocks. I have tried a different yeast with the Black Rock and had good results.
The photos show how lethargic the yeast was when I rehydrated it. (A process I am very familiar with) I believe the reason my brews failed was the yeast were very slow to become active allowing wild yeast/infection to develop. I will take your advice and give the fermenter a serious clean before I try again. Watch this space!
I am not happy with the brewing company for two reasons. The fact that they are scabbing on their yeast ,
and the wasted effort this has caused me . Also the company has not answered my emails.
A shame because I was really enjoying this brew!
Cheers
Euey
 

eueycollins

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Sounds like a sanitation issue. Calling Fair Trade or Lion for this is like calling Betty Crocker complaining that your vanilla cake mix burnt.

Are you adding your yeast to pre boiled and cooled water to rehydrate? It isnt particulary nessecary when doing a standard strength brew with healthy yeast. I would be inclined to stop doing this step and pitch directly into the fermenter as well as giving all your equiptment a good clean and sanitise and see how you go.
Hi,
Yes I used preboiled water mixed with quality filtered cold water to rehydrate the yeast. My main point is that the yeast was very slow to activate and then didn't get going , apart from a small bit of frothing (see Pics) .With all my other brews this would be overflowing the glass.
I have brewed many Black Rock kits with excellent results. Just these latest 3 out of 4 failed. Several brews done in between with other kits were fine
Cheers
 

Drubbing

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I am not happy with the brewing company for two reasons. The fact that they are scabbing on their yeast ,
They're not. Kit yeasts are optimised for kit brewing, so amounts you get are not the same as aftermarket brands.

I've used Coopers and BR yeast many many times and not had a issue with them. The only reason I started using aftermarkets was for either specialty yeasts like Saisons, or to get more style specific results.
I believe the reason my brews failed was the yeast were very slow to become active allowing wild yeast/infection to develop.
There's no reason to suspect this. I've had some brews take a day or more to get a decent ferment going. In 7 years of brewing I've not had one infection.

As other noted, it's more likely you introduced an infection in the fermenter or in the yeast when hydrating. The container for this needs sanitsing too, and anything you use in it, like spoons. I wouldn't both doing this, just pitch it dry, another potential variable eliminated.
 

eueycollins

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They're not. Kit yeasts are optimised for kit brewing, so amounts you get are not the same as aftermarket brands.

I've used Coopers and BR yeast many many times and not had a issue with them. The only reason I started using aftermarkets was for either specialty yeasts like Saisons, or to get more style specific results.

There's no reason to suspect this. I've had some brews take a day or more to get a decent ferment going. In 7 years of brewing I've not had one infection.

As other noted, it's more likely you introduced an infection in the fermenter or in the yeast when hydrating. The container for this needs sanitsing too, and anything you use in it, like spoons. I wouldn't both doing this, just pitch it dry, another potential variable eliminated.
thanks i will take your advice
 

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