Elastoplast Off Flavour -I feel ready to quit homebrewing


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Elastoplast Off Flavour -I feel ready to quit homebrewing

Post by non.operational » 3 years ago

Hello all,

I am posting at a complete loss.
I took up home brewing in Jan 2012, using BIAB, had over a year of great homebrew (11 or 12 batches), and considered myself to be quite a good brewer. Then something happened -I have been plagued by some sort of contamination, and by my reckoning have now dumped EIGHT batches due to this elastoplast/bandaid off flavour. That's basically eight months of brewing, time money and effort wasted.

I brew all grain in a stainless steel pot with a propane burner, chill with a copper coil, use a plastic auto syphon and plastic fermentation buckets. Sometimes dry yeast sometimes liquid starers (shake aeration). I ferment in a temp-controlled fridge, and bottle my beers by batch priming with boiled and chilled dextrose in the SS pot. To prep my bottles I painstakingly fill with powdered brewery cleaner, bottle brush, rinse 3x then fill with Starsan.

Efforts I have made to overcome this problem are:
Using RO water.
Using unfiltered tap water with Campden.
Using Unfiltered tap water with Campden and Calcium Chloride, plus CRS (based on my water report).
Soaking all equipment in PBW then rinsing.
Replacing my Syphon tubing.
Replacing my fermenter in case it was scratched.
Soaking my copper coil, in StarSan to clean it.
Putting my BIAB bags through the washing machine, or boiling them, or StarSan soaking them.

I'm struggling to think of anything else I can do to salvage this hobby, but feel I can not justify many more attempts at producing good beer again. The off-flavour seems to appear after bottling -I am tempted to invest in a keg setup to avoid the effort and risk of bottling, but if I find myself kegging elastoplast-tasting beer Ill be in an even worse position!

Can anybody suggest anything I've missed, before I give up, or has anybody else experienced a sudden downturn from producing really good beer to producing awful beer?!?

With best wishes,
Pete

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Post by Mad_Scientist » 3 years ago

Do you have a ball valve on your boil kettle or fermenter?

Have a read on this thread, for the moment and see if this could be it;

http://biabrewer.info/viewtopic.php?f=1 ... ion#p41155

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Post by Mad_Scientist » 3 years ago

Another link to read;

http://biabrewer.info/viewtopic.php?f=9 ... =infection

In this case, it was an infection on the bung / tab of a no-chill container.
Last edited by Mad_Scientist on 19 Nov 2014, 06:16, edited 1 time in total.


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Post by non.operational » 3 years ago

Thanks Mad Scientist, I've just had a good read of that post -no, all of my wort transfers as done with a plastic autosyphon, so no taps or valves involved I'm afraid. :roll:


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Post by non.operational » 3 years ago

Hmm, it says I'm not authorised to read that second link.
I am gearing myself up for a massive, all-encompassing deep cleaning session, followed by one final "make or break" brew, possibly with bottled water. :interesting:


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Post by joshua » 3 years ago

Non-op, this is from John Palmer.

"Medicinal
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."

I don't know if helps though......

Have you tasted that flavor after mashing, or after boiling, or as the wort goes into the fermenter. or in the Pre-Bottled/Kegged Beer????

Or only after the Bottles/kegs are opened or Tapped????
Last edited by joshua on 19 Nov 2014, 07:01, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

A few quick things... If your bottling bucket has a plastic tap, replace it. These need to be broken apart and cleaned/santised and/or replaced from time to time. Smell your plastic tap while opening and closing it to see if you can detect the medicinal smell. Bottling wand???

Also make sure your cleaning/sanitisation process involves both a base chemical and an acid.

Hold off on your next brew for a bit until you think we have covered everything in this thread. It is often the small things, easily missed that are the culprit.

Not much fun when this stuff happens :sad:.
Last edited by PistolPatch on 19 Nov 2014, 06:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by 2trout » 3 years ago

Frustrating to be sure....

Things to rule out.
1. Your water. Your early batches were good, so unless your water source has changed, your water should be ok. Skip the Campden tabs (unless you used them from the start), let your water stand for a day or two to allow the chlorine to dissipate.

2. Everything before the boil. It truly sounds as though you have an infection and that has to come into play after the boil.

On this "make or break" brew, Go back to basics? Maybe a quick beer like a brown ale and cut out any equipment that is not vital.

Skip the copper coil cooler. Ask Bob Brews about his experiences with such a device.

Maybe a step by step discussion of your process starting with the boil?

trout
Last edited by 2trout on 19 Nov 2014, 07:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by safebrew222 » 3 years ago

Non-operational,

The water is the most likely culprit.

Do you make your Star San with RO or treated water?
Do you make your yeast starters or do you rehydrate yeast with RO or treated water? On brewday, after you wash your all your equipment before you start brewing, do you let it dry completely or rinse with treated or RO water? If your water has any chloramine residuals from treatment at your water source, it will not dissipate with time or boiling. Campden tabs or activated charcoal filter is the only treatment solution, besides RO/DI water. For some people, I am one, the flavor threshold is very, very low. My dad and I will have the same beer, I want to dump it and he doesn't think there is much wrong with it.

Keep at it, brother. Don't give up!


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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

non.operational wrote:Hmm, it says I'm not authorised to read that second link.
That thread was in a BIABacus Beta forum so you wouldn't be able to read it. The good news is that problem did get solved. It related to no-chilling problems...
2trout wrote:Skip the copper coil cooler. Ask Bob Brews about his experiences with such a device.
:lol: Bob's problem was well water leaking back into this wort. There is nothing wrong with chilling. Design your chiller so the inlet and outlet are outside your kettle. Just as much chance of getting infectio problems with or without active chilling I reckon ;).
2trout wrote:Your early batches were good, so unless your water source has changed, your water should be ok.
safebrew222 wrote:The water is the most likely culprit.
A few apparent contradictions happening here but that is all good as it forces some focus and any forced focus is good in these situations.

I don't think your water will be a problem for several reasons but I can see what things safebrew might be pointing out. E.g. Don't make your Starsan up with crappy water. Also don't rinse any sort of sanitiser with tap water.

...

I honestly think that the hardest part of brewing is maintaining a sanitised system. It's unbelievable how often, in comps, new brewers beat 'older' brewers. One thing people don't understand is that all beer is infected to varying degrees. It is not an either/or thing. Obviously, we want to keep these levels of infection below detectable limits so it is so important to not let infections gradually creep in.

You will find an answer to this. The trick will most likely be to slow down and really analyse each step of your brewing. Often we thing that brewing is just a few simple steps. There are actually many, many , many steps. I can't remember if 'The Checklist' is still on this site (see The Master Guide) but if it is, it will have something like 80 steps and that doesn't even really cover fermentation. I suspect that your problem is fermenter or bottling bucket or acid/base related.

Slow down, buy some nice commercial beers and think this through. Do not brew again until you are 95% certain you know what the problem is. Keep answering the suggestions here (even ones you think are dumb) so we all get gradually forced into the right 'corner' of thinking. Failing to solve this problem is just a failure by us all to think this through thoroughly. Most new breweries (home and craft) get infections at some point for reasons I won't go into here. BUT, we home brewers are far more likely to get infections for many more reasons, one being that our equipment sits idle for relatively extremely long periods.

Imagine you are a bug and can sit undisturbed for a month with a heap of food. Imagine you are the same bug being continually hosed.

Home brewers have to be the most careful brewery maintainers of all.

:dunno:
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 19 Nov 2014, 20:08, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by non.operational » 3 years ago

Thanks so much for all the suggestions, everybody. That's really useful to hear other people's experiences, as I don't know anyone else who brews near me.

I was hoping to brew this week, but I think Ill put it on hold and plan it carefully, or Slow Down as you say PP.

Water:
I think that chloramines are are a likely culprit -I only treat my liquor with Campden, not my Starsan water (does anyone do this? I am Bevin ing to think I might need to). I use bottled water for making priming solution. I might use bottled water for my liquor this time, to completely rule-out chloramines. And skip the wort chiller.
One thing I didn't mention -I did move house around the time of my brewing downturn. It was only 4-5 miles away (same county/borough), and I got the updated water report, but maybe they're are more chloramines in this area.

Sanitation:
Time for another deep clean, especially the bottling wand -it has a little spring and valve that I suspect may be had outing germs. The auto syphon also has a few small, moving parts.

All input greatly appreciated!
Thanks

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Post by mally » 3 years ago

non.operational wrote:One thing I didn't mention -I did move house around the time of my brewing downturn. It was only 4-5 miles away (same county/borough), and I got the updated water report, but maybe they're are more chloramines in this area.
Can you tell a difference between the two sites non.operational?
If you can drink untreated tap water from both houses and it tastes OK then it is "less" likely to be the water.
90%+ of beer is water, so if it tastes OK raw out of the tap it is "usually" OK for brewing.
Last edited by mally on 19 Nov 2014, 21:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by non.operational » 3 years ago

Thanks
-Trout, I will post a step by step when I get home!

-Mally, my tap water tastes fine, I drink it all the time and don't really think about it. I will check whether Chloramine is quoted in the water report I have.

I have brewed two good beers at my new address, but one was using a spicy, phenolic Belgian Ale Yeast (??WLP550), and the other was a heavily hopped Double IPA, so both could have masked any off-flavours.

These days I generally use dry yeast, non-dehydrated, in order to skip a potentially hazardous step. When I was more confident I used to do liquid yeast starters!

Thanks again.


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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

Back-track ;)

I need my questions answered on bottling buckets and fermentor taps!

We can't afford any questions missed here.

...

Hold on, did you miss my last post? Why are you skipping the wort chiller?

Slow down!!!!!!!!

:)

Seriously!!!
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Post by Lylo » 3 years ago

I am convinced that problem (for me) was caused by my auto syphon. I was sure that I had it well cleaned and sanitized but the problem was solved when I bought a new one,
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Post by 2trout » 3 years ago

Slow down!!!!!!!!

:)

Seriously!!!
Pistol is quite correct here....We all have thrown a BUNCH of darts at your dartboard without knowing what game we are playing?

As has often been suggested, consider giving the problem solvers here all the tools they need; a breakdown of your process, and recent changes that may have happened to your ingredients such as water(you may have moved recently? ;) )

So relax, open up a tasty beverage and give us all the info you can.

trout
Last edited by 2trout on 20 Nov 2014, 00:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by non.operational » 3 years ago

Thanks for all the replies - I don't expect anybody to reply, but the fact that so many people are offering help is fantastic - I feel very grateful.

OK, I'm going to post a reply to each of the above queries, then I'll post a run-through of my brewday process:

Joshua:
Palmer's quote about medicinal tastes coming from Chloro-phenols sounds pertinent. It seems plausible that chlorine based cleaners have not been effectively rinsed-off.
My off flavour only becomes apparent after opening a bottle (on bottling day the unconditioned beer generally tastes good). Once, I got the off flavour in the fermenter, but this was in the one batch where I re-used a yeast cake by pouring new wort on top of it).

PP:
I don't use any fermenters with plastic taps. I do have one, but I avoid using it due to the increased risk of contamination.
I do use a bottling want, and it has lots of nooks and crannies for germs to hide in! I'd certainly consider an alternative if there is one.
Regarding acid/base products, I use a powdered product called Ypungs Steriliser and Cleaner to clean (it's a Powdered Brewery Wash type product, and I have noticed that it leaves a slippy film on your hands after contact, if you don't wash them thoroughly). After rinsing the cleaner off, I use StarSan to sanitise.

Trout:
Yes, my water source changed. I have always used Campden, and usualy let the treated water sit overnight. I do use a copper coil, but as PP said, I haven't had any problems with the chiller water splashing into the beer.

Safebrew:
I do just use regular tapwater to make up my StarSan, or "crappy water" as PP puts it!! is this a significant process error?
For yeast, I tend to use dry sachets now, but don't re-hydrate (there's an argument in itself!).
Regarding rinsing on brewday, I don't rinse anything after it's been in StarSan. I generally have all of my post-boil equipment sitting in a fermenter bucket filed with StarSan, and just pluck things out as I need them.

Now my brewing process...


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Post by joshua » 3 years ago

Non.Op, just curious,

What is used to clean and sanitize the Beer Bottles???

That may be the 'Root' problem..
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Post by non.operational » 3 years ago

Pre-brew Cleaning:
Items are cleaned at the end of the previous brew, allowed to dry, then put in the cupboard. I generally use Youngs Steriliser and Cleaner to clean, although the instructions are very vague about what quantity to use, so it's usually 3-4 tsp per 10L of water. I rinse "several times" with tapwater.
I sometimes get the kit out the night before, and repeat the above process. Hop bags and grain bags are generally rinsed at the end of the brew day, periodically boiled, then steeped in StarSan pre-brew.
I then make up about 10L of StarSan with tap water, at a ratio of 1.6 ml per Litre. I usually do this in the fermenting bucket I intend to ferment in, and I place all of my cleaned post-boil equipment to soak in the bucket of StarSan throughout the brew day. (auto syphon, thermometer, airlock, voile bags, spoon).

Water prep:
I put 20L of tap water in a fermenter bucket, and cut 1/4 tablet of Campden and crush it between 2 spoons (lame, I know!). Usually, I let it sit overnight.
I then treat my water, using my water report and the calculator from JimsBeerKit. It's generally 8-10ml of Carbomate Reducing Solution and 1/2 tsp of CaCl. I have done a couple of brews without these additions and they still came out bad.
FYI, my report quotes Mean Chloride as 15ppm, Mean Chlorine as 0.65ppm, but not Chloramine.

Mash:
I use approx 18L of liquor, and heat it up by putting 12L in the kettle over a propane burner, and 3 x 2L in the kitchen kettle, with the belief that this will speed up this step. When I hit mash temp I put the voile bag in, dough-in, insulte the mash tun and leave it for an hour.
I then remove the insulation, apply heat, sometimes ad FWH hops outside the bag, and give the bag a couple of dunks as it approaches mash-out temp ~70C. I then pull the bag and let it hang, with a twist. I sometimes put it into a StarSanned pot and "sparge" with a litre of kettle heated brewing liquor at 70C, which I then pour into the kettle.

Boil:
When it starts boiling I skim-off the protein hot break and discard it. I generally boil for 60mins. I add my hops in Small voile bags (because I get too much volume loss to kettle trub, if I use loose hops). With 15' left I put my copper coil in the pot. With 10' left I put Whirlfloc in. I often add lots of late / flameout hops.

Chill:
I let the pot sit, lid on, for about 10 mins. Then I start the Copper Chiller. after 10 mins I put the whole thing in a salty icebath. I admit, I occasionally lift the lid and use a StarSanned metal spoon to stir the wort (whilst not breathing!) and increase contact with the chilling equipment.
When I've reached ~20C on my StarSanned glass thermometer, I remove the chiller, tilt the pot, and give it a final "whirlpool" with the metal spoon, then leave it to settle whilst I clean up.

Pitching:
I pluck the auto syphon out of the StarSan, shake it off a bit, tip the 10L of StarSan out of the fermenting bucket and syphon the wort into it. I then remove my dry yeast sachet from the bowl of StarSan it's been sitting in, and use StarSanned scissors to open it, then sprinkle it on the wort. Since the fermenter lid doesn't fit in the bucket, I generally use a spray bottle of StarSan to sanitise it. I put the lid on and give it 2mins vigorous shaking. Because my lids have a hole in for the airlock, I clean and StarSan my fingertip and cover the hole whilst I shake.

Fermenting:
I put it in my temp-controlled fridge and keep within recommended range. I don't do gravity readings, I just give it at least 2 weeks.

I can post my bottling process if needed!?!


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Post by joshua » 3 years ago

Non.Op, as Palmer states it, the Ban-aid flavor is from the yeast and Chlorine Residue, left over from a Chlorine acid wash/Rinse.

It no bleach is used in your fermenter, or Bottling Process, than this can not be your problem.

JMHO YMMV.
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Post by non.operational » 3 years ago

OK, beer bottles:

After drinking (or dumping!) a homebrew I always rinse the bottle 3x with tapwater, then fill it with tapwater and leave overninght, then empty and stand to dry.

The day before bottling day, I make up a solution of Youngs Steriliser and Cleaner (approx 3 tsp per 10L), and fill each bottle by dunking. I leave them to sit either overnight or for a couple of hours. I then scrub inside with a bottle brush, then empty them out.
I then rinse with tapwater 3x and empty them. Then I make up some StarSan at 1.6ml/L and fill the bottles by dunking. Here they'll sit, filled with StarSan until I'm all ready to bottle, whence I empty them out and fill via my bottling wand and syphon. I am not super-careful about getting 100% of the StarSan drops out of the bottle, due to it's "odourless and flavourless" claims.

To make my priming sugar I boil some bottled water in the kitchen kettle, put it in a StarSanned saucepan, add my dextrose, then simmer it for 15 mins, then chill it (I always seem to google How To Brew for this bit!).

Then, using cleaned/rinsed/StarSanned equipment, the fermented beer goes from fermenter to syphon to bottling bucket to syphon/wand to bottles. All bpttle caps are StarSanned.


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Post by DaveDoran » 3 years ago

Hey non.op

Ive had problems with spoilt beer and probably thrown out 3/4 batches this year. I mix up my brews between chilling with a plate hex and no chilling into cubes. This wont be the culprit for you but i found some of the cubes i were using were not suitable.
I also had a batch go bad after using the hex but this was down to other factors (yeast health, power went out on temp control fridge etc). Since then ive done 2 good batches.
If i could offer advice i would as the others have mentioned stop and think for a minute. For me and for my own peace of mind i broke it down completely to discover where my issues were. Things i tried were

Fermenting out a Fresh Wort Kit in the fermenter and bottle: This check for me would either show the problem is either on the hot side or the cold side. This way your narrowing it down to half your brewing gear.

Try a no chill brew - See if its the Chilling coil

Try brewing in a different location. This is a far fetched one but ive met other home brewers who have had to change where they brew (ie Tom cant brew in the back yard because anytime hes brewed there he gets an infection, but he can brew in the garage or the kitchen)... Tom is fictional but you get the idea.

Just a couple of ideas

I have my doubts its the water. Generally rule of thumb being if the water is good for drinking its good for brewing. Might be worth looking that its getting enough calcium and zinc though.


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Post by joshua » 3 years ago

Non.OP, I gave up using Sanitizer in my bottles.

I wash them out thoroughly, and put them into a 375F oven for an hour.

When Cool, I cover them with a towel until Filling them, and since then, no Off Flavors.
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Post by safebrew222 » 3 years ago

non.operational wrote: Safebrew:
I do just use regular tapwater to make up my StarSan, or "crappy water" as PP puts it!! is this a significant process error?
For yeast, I tend to use dry sachets now, but don't re-hydrate (there's an argument in itself!).
Regarding rinsing on brewday, I don't rinse anything after it's been in StarSan. I generally have all of my post-boil equipment sitting in a fermenter bucket filed with StarSan, and just pluck things out as I need them.
Before I respond... I want to say that guys here really know what they are talking about and have a TON more experience than I do. I hope what I say helps and doesn't muddle the waters (pun absolutely intended) :headhit:

What you are doing with the Star San is only a "process error" if the water supply has chlorine or chloramine residuals in it or some other problem. Chloramines are less detectable in water by taste and smell at disinfectant levels, so smelling and tasting the water may not tell the whole story. They are also much more stable and don't go away with evaporation. Chlorine is much less stable and will evaporate quickly (overnight) in standing water. I would eliminate any untreated tap water in my brewing process unless you plan to let it dry out (like when washing your kit after brewday is finished) or you are going to re-rinse with treated water, or you are one-hundred percent sure none of these are in your water. Chloramine is a problem in Milwaukee tap water. I had 3 brews go south on me and then started using campden treated water for everything, yeast starter, rehydration water, starsan water, hot liquor, etc... the subsequent beers were much, much better.

Another thing I changed, and now remember after PP mentioned that all brews have infection to some extent, is yeast usage. Consider your pitching rate and how you use your yeast. Not pitching a proper-sized, healthy yeast colony can result in wild yeast taking over a good percentage of your fermentation and producing these off flavors. I know Jamil and Chris White talk about killing off half of the viable yeast cells by just sprinkling them into your wort and not rehydrating first. I went to making yeast starters about this same time and it undoubtedly had an effect on those subsequent beers.

That said, I constantly fret about sanitation. I break down ALL of my equipment before and after each usage and clean and sanitize EVERYTHING. I take my bottling wand apart, take the ball valve on my pot apart before and after each use, take apart my bottling bucket before and after each use, you get the picture. Its part of the landscape for me.

Again, I hope this all helps.
Last edited by safebrew222 on 20 Nov 2014, 10:28, edited 1 time in total.


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Post by kaiserben » 3 years ago

Some interesting info on phenolics here, http://beersmith.com/blog/2012/06/19/ph ... ewed-beer/

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