Horrible Sharp Bitter Aftertaste

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andreic

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Hi all,

I've got a big problem at the moment. I seem to have a series of home brews with a really sharp bitter aftertaste to them. I'm not good at describing tastes but its basically just an intense, sharp bitterness that lingers for quite a while afterwards. I saw this thread recently but I'm not sure my beer tastes "medicinal" or "band-aid" (who the hell knows what band-aids taste like?).

The first brew I have with this fault was an ESB Czech Pilsener 3kg kit brewed with W34/70 at around 10-12C for 2 weeks, lagered for 4 weeks in a jerrycan, then bottled. Its now almost 3 months in the bottle and has not improved. I noted during fermentation that it had a very bitter, almost sour taste (a little bit like one of those crap vitamin C tablets). I dumped an ESB 3kg Bock kit on the yeast cake and this brew seems to have a hint of the same taste, but not as severe.

I recently bottled a 3kg ESB American Pale Ale kit brew, and it was tasting quite good after 3-4 weeks, but just this weekend I opened a series of bottles with this same bitter aftertaste. I opened a bunch of them to see if it was limited to one bottle, but they all seem to taste crap now.

After the bock I did 3 more lagers, including 2 fresh wort kits which have not yet been bottled. I had a quick taste test of these and I think they both have a hint of this nasty aftertaste. Its starting to look like I have 5 or 6 batches of crap beer! java script:emoticon(':(', 'smid_2')
:(

I'm pretty thorough with my cleaning and sanitation regime. I'm thinking of 2 changes I have made - I am now cleaning with napisan instead of bleach and I am now sanitising with Iodophor instead of "one-shot". The other change I have made is the location of my fermenter. So here are some theories I have so far:

1. My "home brand" napisan is somehow contributing to this off-taste. I soak my bottles in this stuff and also leave it in my fermenters for days sometimes. I always rinse it out very thoroughly, but I used to do this with just cold water, now I am using hot water.
2. My new fermenter location is not as "clean" somehow and when I rack to jerrycan or bulk prime bucket I am getting an infection.

I think I can go back to bleach for bottle and fermenter washing and I can move the fermenter before racking next time to try and eliminate these possible causes. Does anyone have any other ideas?

I see people start threads with big infection problems sometime and now I think I understand the depths of despair they are going through... I have got the gear ready to start All Grain brewing and I am now dreading the prospect of all the effort of AG only to be disappointed by some fundamental cleaning / sanitation problem...

cheers,

Andrei
 

Batz

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Hi all,

I've got a big problem at the moment. I seem to have a series of home brews with a really sharp bitter aftertaste to them. I'm not good at describing tastes but its basically just an intense, sharp bitterness that lingers for quite a while afterwards. I saw this thread recently but I'm not sure my beer tastes "medicinal" or "band-aid" (who the hell knows what band-aids taste like?).

The first brew I have with this fault was an ESB Czech Pilsener 3kg kit brewed with W34/70 at around 10-12C for 2 weeks, lagered for 4 weeks in a jerrycan, then bottled. Its now almost 3 months in the bottle and has not improved. I noted during fermentation that it had a very bitter, almost sour taste (a little bit like one of those crap vitamin C tablets). I dumped an ESB 3kg Bock kit on the yeast cake and this brew seems to have a hint of the same taste, but not as severe.

I recently bottled a 3kg ESB American Pale Ale kit brew, and it was tasting quite good after 3-4 weeks, but just this weekend I opened a series of bottles with this same bitter aftertaste. I opened a bunch of them to see if it was limited to one bottle, but they all seem to taste crap now.

After the bock I did 3 more lagers, including 2 fresh wort kits which have not yet been bottled. I had a quick taste test of these and I think they both have a hint of this nasty aftertaste. Its starting to look like I have 5 or 6 batches of crap beer! java script:emoticon(':(', 'smid_2')
:(

I'm pretty thorough with my cleaning and sanitation regime. I'm thinking of 2 changes I have made - I am now cleaning with napisan instead of bleach and I am now sanitising with Iodophor instead of "one-shot". The other change I have made is the location of my fermenter. So here are some theories I have so far:

1. My "home brand" napisan is somehow contributing to this off-taste. I soak my bottles in this stuff and also leave it in my fermenters for days sometimes. I always rinse it out very thoroughly, but I used to do this with just cold water, now I am using hot water.
2. My new fermenter location is not as "clean" somehow and when I rack to jerrycan or bulk prime bucket I am getting an infection.

I think I can go back to bleach for bottle and fermenter washing and I can move the fermenter before racking next time to try and eliminate these possible causes. Does anyone have any other ideas?

I see people start threads with big infection problems sometime and now I think I understand the depths of despair they are going through... I have got the gear ready to start All Grain brewing and I am now dreading the prospect of all the effort of AG only to be disappointed by some fundamental cleaning / sanitation problem...

cheers,

Andrei
Hi Andrei
Sorry to hear of your disappointing results,does the beer smell similar to this taste?

Batz
 

Brewtus

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Do you pull apart your tap and clean it?
Also take a bottle or two before you rack to see if you can isolate where it happens.
 

andreic

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Hi Andrei
Sorry to hear of your disappointing results,does the beer smell similar to this taste?

Batz
Hi Batz,

I have now opened enough bad bottles to be able to have a quick smell and know whether it is crap or not. The smell is not overpowereing or anything, but I now find myself trying to detect it in every beer I open. The ESB 3kg American Pale Ale actually had a nice aroma and I can still smell the off-taste.

I am actually drinking one of the American Pale ales now that is not too bad - there is a hint of the nasty bitterness but it is still drinkable.

Andrei
 

andreic

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Do you pull apart your tap and clean it?
Also take a bottle or two before you rack to see if you can isolate where it happens.
Hi,

yep - always pull apart my taps and soak in napisan solution in pieces. Soak in iodophor solution before assembling. I always cover taps during fermentation with tightly wrapped glad-wrap and also spray with iodophor solution before and after any sampling or racking. I don't "think" this is the problem but I am considering an auto-siphon for future racking...

Taking a bottle or 2 before racking sounds like a good idea - I might try that.

Andrei
 

Stuster

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I'm not sure my beer tastes "medicinal" or "band-aid" (who the hell knows what band-aids taste like?).
It was amazingly clear to me what band aids tasted like when I got this sort of taste in my beer. :(

1. My "home brand" napisan is somehow contributing to this off-taste. I soak my bottles in this stuff and also leave it in my fermenters for days sometimes. I always rinse it out very thoroughly, but I used to do this with just cold water, now I am using hot water.
2. My new fermenter location is not as "clean" somehow and when I rack to jerrycan or bulk prime bucket I am getting an infection.
The napisan should have some info on it. Look for some which says fragrance free. Soaking for days in napisan shouldn't be a problem as you rinse well.

You don't have to rack if you are doing an ale, so why not try a cheap kit from the supermarket. Don't rack, bottle after 2 weeks. Should be ready to taste in a week after that and at least you can get relatively quick feedback on what's happening with little time and money wasted if the infection/contamination's still there. Hold off on the AG until you have this sorted out. Spending that long on making the beer to have to then throw it away is definitely no fun.

Is there another brewer nearby who can give you a second opinion on what it might be? Not sure where you are in Sydney, but somebody on AHB might be happy to try some infected beer. :lol:

Edit: Where is your fermenter now? Just noticed that you think it might be in a bad spot for some reason.
 

Screwtop

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Andrei, I read a quote from Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium Brewing "If you want to be good, you're going to have to dump some beer".

Didn't make me feel any better tipping 23L onto the lawn I can tell you, same infection and it happened in varying degrees on three occasions recently, but not to every batch. Checked out the variables, different malts, different yeasts etc etc. Same strict sanitisation regime, fermenters dismantled, taps, seals all removed. Taps and Airlocks stored in a small container of bleach between uses. The same common equipment (brewing gear) but not every batch was infected, then it became obvious the fermenters might be contributing even though they were sanitised before use with Phos Acid for 24hrs.

I remembered having an infection (ropey bacillus) in a couple of brews back in 2001. I was told then by a very experienced industrial brewer that the only thing that will kill bugs resident in equipment is bleach. Was amazed to discover that plastic carboys have an oxygen diffusion rate about 5 times higher than that of small oak barrels, (Ref, Wild Brews P. 220) the things are pourous. Mixed up some White King bleach and soaked the fermenters then and never had another bad batch until now so have just repeated the exercise for the last 3 batches. Have soaked the fermenters in bleach solution for 24 hrs and then rinsed before use. The result, no infections since but I won't really know if that was the source until all 6 fermenters have been cycled through the process.

As far as I understand Napisan is not a sanitiser but a cleaner. I feel sorry for you having spoiled beer and know how it feels after the planning, care in preparation and effort. Try some bleach 1 Cup in 5L of water, tip it in the assembled fermenter and give a good shake. Leave it for 24 hrs, giving a shake every time you remember, rinse well before use and hopefully the bugs will be a thing of the past. The bleach can be re-used to reduce cost. After 24hrs soaking tip from one fermenter into the next before rinsing out, I re-use mine about 4 times before tipping it out.
 

warrenlw63

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G'day Andrei

Can I assume you're not racking all these lagers onto the same yeast cake still? If you got bad vibes from the first batch I would not under any circumstances continue to re-use the same yeast slurry.

If you're keen about what you do may I suggest trying to isolate your problem in a similar manner to what Stuster is suggesting. It may set you back a few bucks. Maybe dump (or just set aside) your fermenter, taps and racking hoses and buy a new one.

I've known brewers who go to great expense to buy top notch ingredients etc only to be total tightarses with their fermenters and use them for years on end.

Maybe then opt for an "expendable" brew like a 10 minute kit or similar. Just ferment as normal, forgo the racking and bottle after 2 weeks. Condition the bottles and sample them. Don't expect a great brew but see if your strange flavours return.

Sometimes you've just got to go back to basics to isolate a problem. It's there you've just got to locate it.

Can be very difficult for somebody to detect over a forum without having tried the beers themselves. A somebody else may have suggested taking a couple of the bottles in question to your local hombrew store for sampling may be a good point to start. Either that or contact an experienced brewer in your area for an evaluation. Anybody would be glad to help you.

Hope it works out for you. :)

Warren -
 

Ross

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A quick cheap way of ruling out the fermenter is to line it with an a plastic bag - Most brew-on-premises use this method to ensure they don't carry a possible infection from one batch to another.
That said, the taste you're describing sounds more like the classic "kit tang" from old extract to me, some people don't mind it, but I find them undrinkable. Obviously if the fresh wort kits are fresh & end up having the same taste then it's not that, but check the use by date on the kits you're using.

The best way, like others have mentioned, is to get an experienced brewer to taste it for you.

cheers Ross
 

andreic

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Hi all,

some good replies and suggestions - thanks Stuster, Screwtop, Warren, Ross.

I think I will need to go through a methodical troubleshooting process with some simple kit beers to eliminate this issue before I do any AGs. I will try and get the home brew shop guy to taste one for his opinion. I've also updated my profile with a more specific location... any takers for a crappy tasting home brew? :)

I will use a good bleach soak to try and eliminate fermenter issues. The brew bag idea from Ross is also a good one - might actually try that first. I suppose I could also forgo the bulk-priming for a brew or 2 and go back to the old sugar scoop.

The napisan should have some info on it. Look for some which says fragrance free. Soaking for days in napisan shouldn't be a problem as you rinse well.
Its home brand napisan. It does not say "fragrance free", but it doesn't say "fragrance" either. I am still suspcious about this. Maybe for my first troubleshooting batch I will wash half the bottles in the napisan, and soak half in the bleach solution like I used to do.

Where is your fermenter now? Just noticed that you think it might be in a bad spot for some reason.
My fermenter is in a wooden box (my flash temperature control) in a little storage room off the laundry. The water pools up there after a rain and it can be a little damp. I also still store some of my fishing gear in the same area. I was just thinking that when racking from one fermenter to another (for bulk priming), the beer has some limited exposure and a small chance for infection if the location was "bad". Looking at my records, it looks like I had at least 6 "good" brews with the fermenter in the same location so I'm not convinced this is the issue.

Can I assume you're not racking all these lagers onto the same yeast cake still?
Yes - good assumption! I only did this once. Strangely, the second brew is actually not as bad as the first one when I did this. This made me suspect the jerrycan I racked into for lagering at first.

That said, the taste you're describing sounds more like the classic "kit tang" from old extract to me, some people don't mind it, but I find them undrinkable. Obviously if the fresh wort kits are fresh & end up having the same taste then it's not that, but check the use by date on the kits you're using.
Some of the ESB 3kg kits had "best before may 08" (do they really last that long?) The last ESB 3kg kit actually had "Aug 28" on it - I assume this is when it was packaged. I'm pretty confident the kits are not too old. If this is extract "tang" its the first time I've noticed it, and now I am tasting it everywhere! I haven't yet bottled the 2 fresh worts, but being paranoid now I had a quick sample from each jerrycan lagering in the fridge last night. They both taste good at this stage, but I felt I could detect a very faint hint of this bad taste in both of them. I am now so paranoid about it I'm not sure if I was imagining it this time...


One of the things that really puzzles me is the ESB 3kg American Pale Ale beer. It actually tasted great just one week ago, when it was 4 weeks in the bottle. But now every bottle I open is crap (some are drinkable, but most not). It's like the beer just turned bad overnight!

cheers,

Andrei
 

Beerpig

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What is your bottle cleaning & sanitising process?

Cheers
 

andreic

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What is your bottle cleaning & sanitising process?

Cheers
Hi,

after finishing a beer I rinse the bottle out and put it into a bucket of napisan solution. I don't really measure this out carefully, but I think my bucket for this is a 20l or so black bucket and I chuck in a capful of napisan and fill it with water. Bottles stay in there anything from 1 day to weeks on end. When I get around to it, I rinse out bottles thoroughly with water (sometimes warm, but used to rinse with cold water). I then drain on bottle tree, then cover top with foil and put in cupboard for future use. On bottling day I take foil off and rinse with iodophor solution (1ml per 1000ml) using one of those "push down thingies" and put on bottle tree whilst getting everything else ready. I leave bottle caps in iodophor solution and pick them out as I need them to cap bottles.

I used to soak bottles in a weak bleach solution and use one-shot as the sanitiser using exactly the same process with no issues at all.

Andrei
 

Steve

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Bleach and napisan needs to be rinsed two or three times with HOT water. Try not using any bleach or napisan for a while....just rinse with hot water and bottle brush with hot water after use.
Cheers
Steve
 

andreic

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Bleach and napisan needs to be rinsed two or three times with HOT water. Try not using any bleach or napisan for a while....just rinse with hot water and bottle brush with hot water after use.
Cheers
Steve
Hi,

I always rinse thoroughly (probably even more than 2-3 times). Why does the water need to be HOT? I've seen a number of people say this for the napisan, but is this also the case for the bleach? Perhaps I am a little overzealous in my washing and sanitation regime...

Andrei
 

Steve

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Bleach and napisan needs to be rinsed two or three times with HOT water. Try not using any bleach or napisan for a while....just rinse with hot water and bottle brush with hot water after use.
Cheers
Steve
Hi,

I always rinse thoroughly (probably even more than 2-3 times). Why does the water need to be HOT? I've seen a number of people say this for the napisan, but is this also the case for the bleach? Perhaps I am a little overzealous in my washing and sanitation regime...

Andrei

Not sure why - but after reading - the general consensus is to rinse with HOT water with napisan and definately bleach. I soaked half a batch worth of longnecks in napisan a few months back and didnt rinse thoroughly. Half the batch had a funny taste and the other was fine. I now just rinse and bottle brush with water now.
Cheers
Steve
 

Voosher

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Bleach and napisan needs to be rinsed two or three times with HOT water. Try not using any bleach or napisan for a while....just rinse with hot water and bottle brush with hot water after use.
Cheers
Steve
Hi,

I always rinse thoroughly (probably even more than 2-3 times). Why does the water need to be HOT? I've seen a number of people say this for the napisan, but is this also the case for the bleach? Perhaps I am a little overzealous in my washing and sanitation regime...

Andrei

Not sure why - but after reading - the general consensus is to rinse with HOT water with napisan and definately bleach. I soaked half a batch worth of longnecks in napisan a few months back and didnt rinse thoroughly. Half the batch had a funny taste and the other was fine. I now just rinse and bottle brush with water now.
Cheers
Steve

I think it's simply a matter of bleach not reentering solution, and hence not rinsing as easily in cold water as hot. I had a bleach taint on a couple of brews a while back I think because I never used to rinse with hot water. I now use Napisan which I find less intrusive but I still make sure I rinse well with hot water. Then it gets the OneShot and I even rinse that out with boiling water. I don't think you can be overzealous with cleaning regimes. You just have to use the right cleansers and sanitisers.
 

andreic

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Hi,

just thought I'd add an update. Took a bottle to the home brew shop (Dave's home brew) and he said its definitely an infection. He also suggested the bleach approach to solve the problem. I've bought a few more kits and will start fermenting my "infection be gone ale"s shortly after taking necessary steps bleach the bugs out of my equipment.

Well, now I'm really kicking myself for not getting on top of this earlier. I got a new fridge at the beginning of the year so I was really keen to try and do a few lagers over winter. I've bottled 3 kit lagers and have 2 fresh wort pilseners still in jerry cans in the fridge that I was really looking forward to. One of the jerry cans is swelling - I guess I now know why. The other one is not swelling, so perhaps this one may still be ok (here's hoping). So far I have 2 brews that need to be tipped out, 3 others bottled with varying signs of this problem from not noticeable to faintly noticable, and 2 yet to be bottled. My summer drinking stocks are now screwed! I think I'll start tipping the undrinkable beers out and putting all the still drinkable bottled beers in the fridge right now while I can still stomach them. I'll bottle the fresh worts ASAP and see how they go...

If I try and put a positive spin on this I suppose I at least stopped before doing yet another crap beer... and I'll have heaps of empty bottles to fill with AG beers in the near future...

aaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! :eek:

cheers,

Andrei
 

DJR

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have 2 fresh wort pilseners still in jerry cans in the fridge that I was really looking forward to. One of the jerry cans is swelling - I guess I now know why.
Are you serious? Take it back if it's swelled and get another one - i'm sure ESB/St Peters would like to know that they have an infected wort kit leaving the brewery...
 

andreic

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have 2 fresh wort pilseners still in jerry cans in the fridge that I was really looking forward to. One of the jerry cans is swelling - I guess I now know why.
Are you serious? Take it back if it's swelled and get another one - i'm sure ESB/St Peters would like to know that they have an infected wort kit leaving the brewery...
Hi,

just to be clear - they have both been fermented, racked into jerrycans and put into my fridge for lagering, where they are now. There was no swelling of the 15l fresh wort jerrycans before fermenting. Given I now seem to have a confirmed infection issue at home I don't think I can reasonably blame the ESB fresh wort kit as the cause.

Andrei
 

francismcphail

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I had a from the sounds of it very similar problem with my ESB Wheat beer, and a brew prior to that.

Was a souring aftertaste that lingered in the mouth for over 30 minutes. (Drinking water only exaggerated the sting of the taste.)

I had a really good look at what I was doing and moved to using iodophor away from Napisan, and also started to pull apart my tap which I suspect was the point of the infection.

I've now got a Pils in the tank fermenting furiously.

Francis.
 

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