First dumped batch

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by mrskittle, Oct 23, 2020.

  1. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    Well it finally happened. I've been brewing for the duration of 2020 with at least 6 - 8 good batches under my belt and this last one, ugh... I first got worried when I went to dryhop it and I got a whiff of the most astringent, boozy smell it burned my nostrils. I decided to save the hops and wait for the beer to "mellow"?. Well it never mellowed. Sure the odor subsided a bit but it never went away. After about 23 days in the fermenter, I decided it wasn't going to get any better so I kegged it up with a fool's hope that it might be okay. I tried burping the keg for a few days thinking that maybe the co2 might force some of the ickiness out of solution but no luck. It was undrinkable.

    The real kicker is that I have no idea what went wrong. I thought maybe infection but I didn't see the signs of infection that I found doing some searching. I started a separate thread inquiring about pitching rates but it doesn't sound like my issue was caused by yeast. One of my last suspicions in a tainted bucket. I had a fermentation get a bit hot over the summer and the resulting beer had the same hint of boozyness as the current wasted batch, but it was still drinkable. I didn't notice before I put the recent batch in, but now the bucket seems to be stained with the stink, regardless of how much I scrub. Is it possible that a plastic fermentation bucket could impart such terribleness into a batch?
     
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  2. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    Can you describe your recipe and your technique? Maybe that will shed a bit of light.
     
  3. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    It was a pretty straight-forward recipe/process. I was shooting for a 7% abv IPA. It was all grain, batch sparge with a 60 minute boil. The wort cooled fine with an immersion cooler. I put it in the fermentation bucket, left it overnight to fully cool, and pitched the yeast about 10-12 hrs later. Fermentation temps were well within the range and maybe even a little low, if anything. A couple of long-shot culprits could be my whirlpool technique of using a paint stirrer on my drill. I read a little about hot-side aeration but I didn't agitate the wort that much. And lastly, there was a very small amount of grain particles in the bottom of the fermentor. I'm still pretty new to all-grain and my vorlof technique still needs some practice. Some bits must have been carried into the fermentor in the hop trub from the bottom of the kettle.
     
  4. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    When you say astringent, the first that comes to mind would be a high mash temperature. You can start extracting tannins at temperatures over 170 F. I don't think the small amount of aeration or grain in the fermenter would cause major issues to the point of being undrinkable. The booziness could come from a high fermentation temperature.

    But I think the biggest culprit might be you fermenter. I would be inclined to suggest a new bucket prior to your next batch.
     
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  5. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Lose the bucket! ASAP! I suspect that you've got wild yeasts making fusels and/or ethyl acetate at warm fermentation temp. It can be a cloying, nauseating aroma and very "solventy" flavor that can read as boozy. Fingernail polish remover is the closest thing to compare it to but anyone old enough to remember Super Elastic Bubble Plastic from the 70s knows exactly the odor I'm describing.

    You can get lucky with plastic buckets but if you ever have a hint of infection, it'll get worse with every batch. I never trusted buckets more than a few batches.
     
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  6. Semper Sitientem

    Semper Sitientem Well-Known Member

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    I’m with JA. Go with stainless steel. I’m not a fan of plastic fermentation for many reasons, one which you described. My bottling bucket is plastic, but the beer is in for a very short period of time. It’s the long term I have issues with.
     
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  7. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    I switched to a stainless fermenter a few years ago and have not looked back. It’s a bit of an investment, but my fermenter is in use 28-30 days a month.

    SS Brewtech has some nice ones, but are a bit pricey. I use the 3.5 gallon brew bucket. They also make a 7 gallon size. I like the conical bottom.
     
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  8. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    Thanks for the input folks. I've been skeptical of the bucket from the beginning. I started with a 6.5 gal carboy and never had an issue. I knew it was clean and I could see the process. It's a real nice piece-of-mind. Sadly, it was broken while cleaning a ring of krausen that I left in there too long. So while it was an honest accident when it broke, it was all on me for having to take all the extra effort to clean off that crusty ring. I've since picked up a 5 gal carboy and have a batch of American Wheat currently fermenting. I think for now that I'll stick with glass instead of SS for my fermentation vessel. The COVID budget is pretty tight at the moment.
     
  9. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Plastic isn't the end of the world, but buckets are bit eh... to me. I have 2 PET fermonsters and those things are great, way cheaper than steel too.

    I'd honestly agree with the other though, your most likely culprit is the bucket since it looks like everything else was fine.
     
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  10. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    You make a good point Hawkbox. Not all plastics are created equal. I'd be fine using PET or Lexan kind of plastic but not the soft kind that buckets are made of.
     
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  11. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Even PET carboys are fine, safer and lighter than glass. They just don't last forever the way glass does.
    I just like the ones with big openings cause I can get my hand in with a rag to clean.
     
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  12. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    Not to mention that large mouth makes dry-hopping a lot easier since you can use a mesh bag. It also reduces the trub in a batch of IPA.

    I can see the convenience when it comes to cleaning too, but I've devised a nice "rag on a stick" device to use my drill to clean the carboy. That is if I can remember to clean it out right away....
     
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  13. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    An n=1 counterpoint: I use buckets for fermentation sometimes - without issue. If the bucket is spigoted, remove, disassemble and clean the spigot, the gaskets and the spaces behind the gasket. If it's scratched, use it for gardening; otherwise, there's not a lot of difference between buckets and any other plastic fermentors (I use several): They need to be clean and sanitized.

    For beers where I'm dry hopping or doing late additions, I love buckets. If I harvested yeast, I'd use buckets due to the ease of skimming yeast. There's nothing wrong with a bucket! Like any other tool, they have their place.
     
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  14. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Oh they work, I just find they seem to be the easiest for people to have problems with. I think the 90 degree angle at the bottom often doesn't get properly handled. I'd use one in a heartbeat if necessary but I prefer other solutions.

    They are however nice and cheap, and realistically disposable if something does go wrong. I use my foodsafe ones for my water and wort transfers before the boil.
     
  15. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    They're some of the most versatile tools in my brewery, probably just behind my collection of four good old fashioned dairy crates (one old fashioned, three bought). But the OP's problem is not the bucket, it's sanitation. There's a "beginner's luck" factor that lets beginning brewers get away with poor sanitation practices early on because the equipment from the shop is relatively clean and sanitary and wort-loving bacteria and wild yeast have not yet colonized the brewery. Their luck does not hold. Rather than spending a lot of money on stainless or risking amputations with glass (I brewed for 9 years in nothing but plastic and my only infection was caused by unpasteurized strawberries), I'd recommend the OP look at sanitation and cleaning practices. Not as sexy but with enough time, even the stainless fermentors will become infected if the sanitation and cleaning procedures aren't solid.
     
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  16. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Ah milk crates, I have a half dozen of them around. They are great carboy carriers.
     
  17. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Buckets are great as long as they're not compromised. The problem is that they're much, much more easily compromised than any other option. The first time you scrub a bucket with an abrasive that's harder than the material it's made of (virtually anything), it develops tiny scratches that are bound to harbor microorganisms. If you're extremely fastidious and always use soft cloth for thorough cleaning, they're fine.
    I would much rather use a bucket than a carboy for the small batches I use to build yeast pitches, but unless I buy a new bucket, I'm leery of taking a chance of a tiny infection ruining an entire 15 or 20 gallon batch of beer. Just not worth the risk for me.
     
  18. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    While I was looking into possible infections, I stuck to bacteria. I never really considered wild yeast. One abnormality that I hadn't mentioned yet is that the active, vigorous fermentation went on for an extra 2-3 days, at least. At the time I contributed it to low fermentation temps in my basement but extra yeast is a more reasonable explanation.

    Considering the likely culprit, I can't defend my sanitation practices too vociferously, but I will say that my personality, and background as a biologist, doesn't really allow me to slack in that department. I've taken apart and thoroughly cleaned the spigot each time. I've also thoroughly cleaned the bucket with a rag and soap. With that said, I'll also admit there are always places to tighten up the program. The 90 degree corner at the bottom of the bucket is definitely a place that could get overlooked.

    Regardless of everyone's success or horror stories related to plastic buckets, personally, I really like carboys for the simple fact that I can see what's going on. It fits my personality to see the whole process and in this particular instance, It would probably have clued me in to the problem.
     
  19. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    My one advice is be careful cleaning you plastic that's when you can create scratches that your cleaner is going to have trouble accessing. I'd go a soft cloth at most no scrubbing. I'f your scrubbing your using the wrong cleaner.
    I havnt laid a cloth upon the inside of my pet fermentor just a good healthy blast with water when done fermenting then a soak in percarbonate then rinse warm rinse air dry good to go once sanitizer has gone through it;).
     
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  20. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    #20 Trialben, Oct 23, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
    Bloody double post finally did it!
     

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