Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

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Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby royco » Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:40 pm

This is my first total disaster since brewing with BM, but it is nothing to do with BM.
2 days into the ferment the action had slowed right down. I don't usually take SG readings before about 2 weeks but just through curiosity decided to check. It was 1.020. On raising the beaker my nostrils were assailed by this pungent chemical,
burnt oven-cleaner kind of odour. This also happened two years ago with a pilsner and consensus on HBT was that it had to do with cleaning chemicals.
I have just switched to a Star-San clone. It is meant to be no-rinse, but I rinsed anyway. Quite a lot of foam remained.
The post-boil wort tasted great, if you like very sweet wort. No hint of trouble. The WB-06 was re-hydrated in a jar, also sanitised with "Star-San". The wort was oxygenated at 2L/m for 3 minutes and the slurry pitched at 18°C.

Has anyone else experienced this problem?

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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby niels » Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:11 pm

Do you mean that it smelled like sulphur? I suppose not, but I'll have to burn some oven cleaner to get an idea of the smell.

I had a lot of sulphur when brewing a wit, which might have been caused by a lack of oxygen or a not violent enough fermentation to drive of the sulphur. I added some extra sugar which kicked the yeast in the but and resulted in a burst of CO2 reducing the sulphur. A little remained when bottling, but after some bottle conditioning I don't detect any traces.

Sorry, not much of help, but just wanted to share.

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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby Dan » Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:33 pm

I've brewed 2 or 3 wits and every one of them smelled disgusting.
Worst smelling ferment of any brew I've done so far.
Give it 10-14 days from pitching before assessing/tipping it out.
Mine have always cleaned up around the 10-12 day mark and end up tasting delicious.
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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby royco » Fri Nov 14, 2014 5:19 am

Thanks Dan and Niels. Was about to fertilise the lawn, but will give it some more time. It is not a sulphur smell, definitely a weird chemical smell and taste. Also the ferment had stopped at day 3 but the gravity is still high.
I will try adding some sugar. The oxygenation should not be a problem as I used pure O2.
I am not normally a compulsive gravity-checker so maybe I jumped the gun here!

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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby malzrohr » Fri Nov 14, 2014 7:14 am

If the yeast has dropped out of solution (sedimented) you could try to swirl the fermenter. That way you get the yeast back in solution and drive off some CO2 which may take bad odours with it.
But I see you have a BM50 so your volume is probably too large for a one man job.
Last edited by malzrohr on Fri Nov 14, 2014 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby Elderberry » Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:55 am

I'm with the give it time school. If it's still at 1.020 after 10 days or some, then you might have to consider some troubleshooting.

How did you determine that the ferment has stopped? Airlock activity isn't a good indication. You'll need a steady hydrometer reading for 3 days or so to be sure.

Don't add sugar. There's plenty of sugar in there.

This early on, a swirl won't hurt.

The star-san won't be a problem. Rinsing it could introduce bad beasts. There's no need to rinse star-san (or a clone). Just let it drain well. It takes a lot of the stuff to have a detrimental effect on beer.
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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby royco » Sat Nov 15, 2014 6:11 pm

Thanks malzrohr, Elderberry. Day 5 down to 1.010. Still that awful chemical smell/taste. Agreed I won't add sugar as it was the sweetest wort I have tasted post boil. Maybe the freshly harvested orange zest (only the outer peel, no white pith) was a cause. My son tells me when he squeezed the remaining oranges they were black inside. Perhaps there was some kind of bacteria in there that went berserk after meeting the wort and yeast!
Will report back after another week.

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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby Dan » Sat Nov 15, 2014 9:07 pm

royco wrote:Thanks malzrohr, Elderberry. Day 5 down to 1.010. Still that awful chemical smell/taste. Agreed I won't add sugar as it was the sweetest wort I have tasted post boil. Maybe the freshly harvested orange zest (only the outer peel, no white pith) was a cause. My son tells me when he squeezed the remaining oranges they were black inside. Perhaps there was some kind of bacteria in there that went berserk after meeting the wort and yeast!
Will report back after another week.

Royco


I hope you didn't add the zest straight to the fermentor?
Should be added to late boil - both to kill bacteria and extract flavours and a little bitterness.
I added mine with 10 mins to go.

If you did - I still wouldn't stress until you taste the finished product - pitched yeast should hopefully take over first and drop pH enough to halt/slow bacterial growth?
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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby Dicko » Sun Nov 16, 2014 4:50 am

The oranges being "black" inside sounds like it may be a worry. :?

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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby royco » Sun Nov 16, 2014 10:36 am

I added the zest and coriander at 10min. The strange thing is that the wort tasted great, in a syrupy sweet kind of way.
I only found out after 3 days that some of the oranges were black inside. Sounds like a problem. Better QC required next time.
Next weekend will be 2 weeks from pitching so I will see what happens.
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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby Elderberry » Sun Nov 16, 2014 2:05 pm

10 minutes should be enough time to boil off the nasties. Hopefully. I'm still thinking it's not an infection, since it was noticed so quickly. A well-pitched yeast slurry will work a lot faster than a few bacteria. I'm curious to hear what happens after another week.
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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit. Chlorine?

Unread postby royco » Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:05 am

I may have found the cause. In a moment of temporary insanity I filled my water filter with StarSan solution thinking it would kill any bacteria in the filter.
However, the filter did its job really well and absorbed all the chemicals from the StarSan. Even after running many litres of water through to flush the filter the chemicals would stay behind.
Sorry to have wasted everyones' time. The fresh, very sweet wort must have disguised the taste.

If I had another half a brain I would be a halfwit.

Royco
:oops: :oops:
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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby niels » Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:13 am

Well, lesson learned! Just brew a new batch and you'll forget about the failed to in no time.

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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit. Chlorine?

Unread postby Elderberry » Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:20 am

royco wrote:I may have found the cause. In a moment of temporary insanity I filled my water filter with StarSan solution thinking it would kill any bacteria in the filter.
However, the filter did its job really well and absorbed all the chemicals from the StarSan. Even after running many litres of water through to flush the filter the chemicals would stay behind.
Sorry to have wasted everyones' time. The fresh, very sweet wort must have disguised the taste.

If I had another half a brain I would be a halfwit.

Royco
:oops: :oops:


That's pretty funny, but I still don't believe that would cause a problem. Your yeast worked. If enough acid from the StarSan made it into the beer to have any affect on anything, you wouldn't have gotten down to 1.010. Patience.
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Re: Disaster. Undrinkable Wit

Unread postby Spoonie » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:28 pm

What did it taste like? You mentioned the smell but that's sometime hard to diagnose due to a mixture of components.
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