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Medicinal Odour/taste Problem

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Ross

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A mate of mine who recently started AG brewing has lost several 100 litres of brew with an infection that we don't seem to be able to shift.
It gives off a medicinal aroma which is quite revolting. It can be barely noticable at the time of kegging, but within a short period it becomes totally unpalletable...
Short of replacing everything, it has all been sterillised to death, all brew day impliments kept in sanitiser solution, fresh yeasts used etc...
Any ideas on what causes this type of infection? Plus any ideas we may not have thought of much appreciated...
 

quincy

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My understanding is that a medicinal taste is a result of using bleach as a cleaner/sanitiser.
The trusty "how to brew" states:

"These flavors are often described as mediciney, Band-Aid like, or can be spicy like cloves. The cause are various phenols which are initially produced by the yeast. Chlorophenols result from the reaction of chlorine-based sanitizers (bleach) with phenol compounds and have very low taste thresholds. Rinsing with boiled water after sanitizing is the best way to prevent these flavors."

Hope this helps.

Cheers

Quincy (feeling VERY nervous about giving Ross help. Always seems to be the other way around :( )
 

johnno

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Hi Ross,
How about using a sanitiser that has not been used at all in the brewery?
You may have already tried this but if not it may be worth a shot.
It sounds like whatever is being used hass built up resistance to the bug.

cheers
johnno
 

Ross

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Quincy,

Thanks for that - read same & have instructed him to use napisan next time & not bleach - does anyone know if the bleach smell would get worse though over time, especially refridgerated? I would have thought it woult just impart an aroma flavour that would stay level?
 

berapnopod

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Ross said:
Quincy,

Thanks for that - read same & have instructed him to use napisan next time & not bleach - does anyone know if the bleach smell would get worse though over time, especially refridgerated? I would have thought it woult just impart an aroma flavour that would stay level?
[post="81125"][/post]​
Ross, if its a problem with chlorine (from bleach), then as previously mentioned, it could well lead to a chlorophenol problem, which is much greater than just a residual bleach odour. Chlorophenols smell strongly of plastic/band aid, which is not exactly the same as your medicinal, but might be close.

I should also point out that since chlorophenols can be detected at extremely low thresholds (parts per billion), its important to get the precursors (chlorine and chloramine) out. You can get this problem even from the drinking water, which in Sydney has both.

In fact, nearly every beer I have made with Cascade hops in Sydney has turned out to have this problem. I have no idea why its just the Cascades, but I am still experimenting.

Berp.
 

Mothballs

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Ross said:
A mate of mine who recently started AG brewing has lost several 100 litres of brew with an infection that we don't seem to be able to shift.
It gives off a medicinal aroma which is quite revolting. It can be barely noticable at the time of kegging, but within a short period it becomes totally unpalletable...
Short of replacing everything, it has all been sterillised to death, all brew day impliments kept in sanitiser solution, fresh yeasts used etc...
Any ideas on what causes this type of infection? Plus any ideas we may not have thought of much appreciated...
[post="81117"][/post]​
Ross,
Is it possibly an infection in his regulator/gas line/beerline/tap. If the beer has a slight taste when first kegged and carbonated and continues to get worse maybe there are some nasties hiding in the system. If he has ever had beer go back into the regulator this could happen. Does he bottle any of his brews? If so are they also infected? Perhaps on his next batch keg some and bottle some to see any difference.

:beer:
mothballs
 

devo

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Silly question but have you tried idophor instead of bleach base sanitisers?
 

Ross

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After much thought, I'm under the impression that the original infection problem may well have been solved, but replaced with an over zealous use of bleach - The original infection that took out a couple of brews would appear to have been a yeast infection (similar seeming, but more bad eggs than medicinal) & now it's been taken over by the bleach.

He is soaking all his gear in napisan as we speak & then going to be thoroughly rinsed & finally finished with a no rinse sanitiser - Fingers crossed :)
 

Jazzafish

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I'm a bit late as usual,

But the quoted remedy is all I can suggest at this stage...
He is soaking all his gear in napisan as we speak & then going to be thoroughly rinsed & finally finished with a no rinse sanitiser - Fingers crossed
However the only reason I added to this post was to add a document that may better identify what the infection actually is... mainly for future searches by other brewers.

View attachment OFF_Flavour.doc
 

pint of lager

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Ross, dig up the thread that Jgriff started which was very similar in nature. Get your brewing buddy to read through it and see if anything there helps.

From your description it is a bug that can survive and thrive anearobically and in cold conditions.

Get the brewer to do a kit and kilo style brew, this should rule out something in his ag setup.

I suppose the possibility of grain dust has been ruled out? All rubber/plastic tubing has been replaced? Any tap downstream from the boiler has been pulled apart, inspected and cleaned?

Make sure he uses a decent dried yeast to rule out some sort of starter problem.

The suggestion of bottling some as well as kegging is a good idea to rule out the keg setup.

Change the cleaning and sanitation regime. Use neopink or napisan instead of what is currently being used. If using idophor, go to phosphoric as a no rinse sanitiser and visa versa. In a brewery, they regularly change cleaning and sanitation products to avoid a bug becoming resistant.

A kit and kilo brewer that I know, had similar problems till he moved his brewing location from the kitchen to the laundry.

Hope all this helps. Hundreds of litres down the drain is heartbreaking.
 

pint of lager

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My last reply was ready to post, I had a long phone call and by the time it was eventually posted, looks like you have solved the problem.
 

Ross

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Thanks for all that guys/gals... POL, I pm J Griffin this morning about his problem to see if it was the same or not - Hopefully we're near solving it - I couldn't bear to lose 1 batch, seeing how many he's poured away, is as you say, heart breaking...

Cheers Ross
 

Darren

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Too late too, but wild yeast can give the dreaded medicinal flavour. Sounds like the culprit if it gets worse with time.
cheers
Darren
 

timmy

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I had a rotten yeast recently turn a brew sour. The sour taste made me quick to judge infections, condemning two very recently brewed AG beers,( a pils and a kolsch) from taste.

I thought I was the victim of an infection. I thought i was up for new fermenters, techniques and everything. Even had a fight with SWMBO over the whole saga.

Got home this arvo and did a retest.

Moral of the story:


DOnt taste beer after brushing your teeth.
<_<
 

Corellion

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Ok, newbie, so I'm not 100% familiar with the intricacies of an AG setup ... but:

IF there is ANY plastic at all involved within the setup (tap, hose, stirring spoon, o-ring, [suck-back-on-a] airlock, yeast-starter-jar, etc, etc ... then:

a) Is it definitely food-grade? Non food-grade plastics often contain residual chemicals that aren't properly removed from the plastic during manufacture, and thus will slowly be leached out over the time (amplified if you're working above or below neutral pH's).

B) Has it been bleached a little too much? Bleach is a somewhat caustic solution and plastics don't like extended exposure to these high pH conditions.

c) Is it old? Has it spent extended periods in sunlight (or warm & dry conditions?)

--> All these conditions will lead to the plastic "dying" and releasing chemicals into your brew, many of which are within the chlorophenyl family that you get in your pack of Strepsils.

I hope this is at least partially relevant...
 

Lebowski

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I'm relatively new to brewing but was reading the howtobrew site and they had this to say:
Some city water supplies use a chemical called chloramine instead of chlorine to kill bacteria. Chloramine cannot be removed by boiling and will give a medicinal taste to beer. Chloramine can be removed by running the water through an activated-charcoal filter, or by adding a campden tablet (potassium metabisulfite).
(http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter4-1.html)
 

herby

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I'm just a kits and bits brewer, but I had a similar problem around six months ago. I ended up solving the problem by buying a Brita water filter that fits on your tap, boiling all brewing water the night before and mixing my brews in the kitchen (I was doing them in the laundry). A little extra work, but nothing quite hurts as much as watering the garden with one of your precious brews :(

The above post makes sense to me because at the start of the year one of our local water supplies were struggling with nasties in the water, and I suspected the problem was solved by the council bumping up the chlorine levels (or maybe switching to this chloramine crap).

This is all just my theory though
 

Ross

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I don't think there's any doubt that my friend had multiple causes of infection.

All his water goes through a RO filter, so chlorine in tap water not an issue.

1. 1st infections were due to yeast that had been farmed & used in other brews. This was infected - another starter bottle from the same batch confirmed this.
2. Vinegar flies definately buzzing around several batches, - may or may not have infected later batches.
3. Regulator was full of crud, some insect had been building nests in there.
4. Fermenters many years old which have taken extreme bleaching in last couple of months due to infections & not realising bleaches potential damage to the beer.
5. General lack of hygenic practise (eg squeezing hop bags with bare hands into brew)

Steps taken:

1. Yeast pitched straight from XL smack pack (sterilised packet/scissors)
2. wort covered after boiling.
3. Regulator stripped & sanitised along with all associated airlines
4. Fermenters replaced. Bleach no longer used - Any equipment that had been previously bleached, soaked in napisan for 24 hours.
5. I spent a brew day watching & felt like a health & safety inspector :ph34r: All unhygenic practises hopefully rectified + Non-rinse sanitiser now used on all equipment prior to use...

The brew I was there for is currently in CC - sample tasting shows NO sign of off flavour/aroma - So fingers crossed we've licked it - thanks to everyone for your input... :beer:
 

JSB

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Hi Ross,

Problem solved ?
I'm going through a very similiar bug...at the moment - Sunday is going to be a day of cleaning and sanitising

Cheers
JSB
 

Ross

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JSB said:
Hi Ross,

Problem solved ?
I'm going through a very similiar bug...at the moment - Sunday is going to be a day of cleaning and sanitising

Cheers
JSB
[post="106043"][/post]​
Problem went on quite a lot longer - but finally now rectified.

Two main problems:

1) Tap from kettle was harbouring crud that stank - despite running through sanitiser & obviously the kettle boiling.
2) I'm convinced wild yeast was a major problem - since getting a counter flow chiller which enables him to keep the lid on after boiling, he has not lost one batch. Every batch that was cooled with the immersion with an open kettle, became infected...

I've had similar infection on a windy day with dust blowing over the brewery - I know cover kettle in glad wrap after flame out on a breezy day...

cheers & good luck...

Ross
 

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