White Specks In Bottle Neck. Infection Or....?

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Fat Bastard

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Just shone a torch through a couple of bottles down in the cellar and I noticed that most of them have some small whitish specks around the meniscus of the beer. 2 different brews, both about a month in the bottle, one made with US-05, the other WLP-002.

Neither tasted infected when sampled last week, and neither gushed or did anything else funny, although I didn't much like the Porter (WLP-002) but that's mostly because I mashed it with Christms Pudding boil water. A bit rich for my tastes.

Anyway, what the hell are the white specks? There's a cider down there with no evidence of them, although it's only been in the bottle a week. The ciders that have been bottled for a month and two months from the 2l test batches don't have them either, although they do seem to have some yeast in suspension on the surface of the cider which sinks when disturbed.

Could the white specks be Calcium Oaxalate precipitation? Given that the cider has been fermented in one of the two cubes the others were fermented in, and the bottles subject to the same sanitising regime, the root cause seems to be somewhere in the kettle or chiller, neither of which were used to make the ciders.

I don't add anything to my mash to alter the profile of Sydney tap water, and from what I can glean from HTB and the net, wrong PH can cause Calcium Oaxalate precipitation as well as some of the husky/grainy/astringent flavours I noticed in my early AG brews, but don't notice any more.

Edit: the 2l test batches of cider were not fermented in the cubes. My sanitising regime is pretty thorough though, and I have 3 fermenters, and have only done 9 brews between them!

Any advice taken with gratitude.

Cheers,

FB
 

raven19

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Most likely just some yeast clumped together. If the beer tastes fine you can relax.

Interesting call using pudding water in the mash though!
 

ekul

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+1 to yeast clumping. This used to happen to me all the time when bottling. I think when the yeast ferments the priming sugar it forms a tiny krausen, which can sometimes stick to the neck of the bottle.

The main thing is if it tastes good it generally is good.
 

darrenp

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Probably way off the mark but its not your priming sugar is it?

I used to always bulk prime but now that I have kegs on the last batch I kegged 19 litres and bottled the rest adding dextrose to each bottle which formed white clumps along the neck where it stuck to the damp surface. Most of this disolved but any above the beer level and around the meniscus still remains two weeks later.

Just a thought you never know.
 

dr K

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Calcium Oaxalate
You may have nailed it, how many times have you used your bottles?
OTH white specks around the neck, may not quite fit.....well, as they say "If the beer does not taste infected it aint infected"

K
 

Fat Bastard

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Calcium Oaxalate
You may have nailed it, how many times have you used your bottles?
OTH white specks around the neck, may not quite fit.....well, as they say "If the beer does not taste infected it aint infected"

K
Bottles have been used between 1 (factory filled) and 4 times. I don't keep a count. Definately not priming sugar as I bulk prime.

I'm in a position to do 2 identical DIPA's in the upcoming weeks, so I guess the second will be getting some PH checking and correction to see if that changes anything taste-wise and white speck wise.
 

KillerRx4

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If it was calcium oxalate i'd expect the bottles to be gushing.
 

Fat Bastard

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If it was calcium oxalate i'd expect the bottles to be gushing.
Bingo. I've opened a bottle of the Summer Ale after chilling down to about 14 degrees and I got a gusher. Taste is completely normal, if a bit yeasty where the gush has lifted the yeast off the bottom. The bubbles were obviously nucleating on the white specks. I possibly didn't notice this last weekend because I chilled down to about 4 degrees before serving. Carbonation once in the glass is also completely normal.

Bugger. Now I need to do a bunch of research on how to correct this. Anyone have any good ideas on where to start?

Edit: There's definately some astringency there. Even Mrs. Bastard can taste it.

Cheers,

FB
 

Fat Bastard

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Just a follow up on this, since I've been correcting my water using the EZ water calculator and coloured pH test strips, I've seen neither hide nor hair of the dreaded white spots in the bottle neck, had no gushers and the astringent tastes seem to have dissapeared too.

Not sure if it was something common to Sydney water or a more local issue, but I've noticed similarly coloured, greyish white stones (more like small grains of sand) in the aerator on the kitchen tap. I have no idea if this is linked to the original problem or not though.
 

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