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Need Help – Mystery Infection

http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=30910

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Need Help – Mystery Infection

Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:29 am
by Brew Engineer
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on here, but I’m still an active and dues paying member of the BN Army! I need help. I’ve got a mystery infection in my system, and I’m getting fed up with chasing it. I need ideas. Sorry for the length!

Background:

I haven’t been brewing frequently, so I’ve had several beers sitting on tap for up to 8 months at a time. A few months ago, I noticed that my beers were all starting to taste “the same”. The malt became more pronounced, the hop aroma and flavor disappeared, and eventually the beer began to have a very slight sour/acidic taste.

I replaced a bunch of my potential contaminated materials. I replaced ball valves pre and post boil. I replaced tubing between the kettle and the fermentor. I replaced all the gaskets on my fermentor, and my serving kegs (I usually ferment in a keg).

I brewed a batch of Pale Ale (Tasty’s Pale Ale Recipe, so lots of hops). When I transferred the beer to the serving keg, it smelled wonderful. I force carbonated, and put it in the fridge, not connected to CO2. A few days later, I tasted it, good, but it was undercarbonated, so I connected it to the CO2, and tasted it again a few days later. Within two days, it had changed. The aroma was gone, and it was slightly sour.

So I then turned to the kegerator. I replaced all my beer lines. I took apart and cleaned/sanitized my 3 faucet heads. (I did not replace the internal gaskets, but did replace one whole faucet with a new one).

I brewed another pale ale (21A Bitter American Clone). I fermented in a brand new plastic carboy. I racked into a cleaned/sanitized keg with the gaskets replaced. I connected it to CO2 and the brand new faucet. And it’s turned again!! So now I'm going to replace my CO2 lines, but how far do I need to go??

My questions:

What can be turning my beer so quickly at 45 degree refrigerator temps?

Is it possible that the infection is into my CO2 connectors and supply lines?

If so, how can I clean/sanitize a gas manifold (4 line splitter) or should I replace it, and would I even need to replace my tank gage if it’s contaminated in there?

HELP! It’s been over a year since I’ve successfully brewed a beer that wasn’t infected. I’m losing my faith. I’m about to just give up.

Thank you for any help/experiences you can share!

Re: Need Help – Mystery Infection

Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:58 am
by elsinore
Brew Engineer wrote:
My questions:

What can be turning my beer so quickly at 45 degree refrigerator temps?

Is it possible that the infection is into my CO2 connectors and supply lines?

If so, how can I clean/sanitize a gas manifold (4 line splitter) or should I replace it, and would I even need to replace my tank gage if it’s contaminated in there?



Is it possible that, at some point, a beer backed up through your co2 quick disconnect and in to your manifold/regulator? I think all you'd have to do is boil/sanitize the manifold and you'd be good there. You can disassemble the regulator and check to see what's going on in there. The last time I did that I lost a piece without actually knowing which piece was missing, and ended up chucking the whole thing.

That sucks, though, and terribly frustrating when it happens.

Re: Need Help – Mystery Infection

Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:16 am
by hoodie
Are you using pbw? Are you rinsing it out really well? That or the beer lines. I know you said you replaced them, but did you replace them with new lines? I had the same problem awhile ago, it drove me crazy. Almost quit brewing. This is what worked for me.

Re: Need Help – Mystery Infection

Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:16 am
by Brew Engineer
I don't think it's ever backed up into the splitter manifold, but possibly into the regulator while doing a lap shake carbonation maybe...

That's what I'm more afraid of. I may change out my tubing and still have problems. And the regulator is more expensive to replace.

Thanks for the advice on boiling the manifold. Good idea.

Re: Need Help – Mystery Infection

Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:18 am
by Ozwald
Tip 1: Replace ALL your soft lines. Pre-boil, post-boil, kegerator, everything at the same time. While chances are good it's not coming from the lines on your system, you should still replace them annually. Don't let the new ones touch anything until you've cleaned everything out.

Tip 2: If you had a back up into the CO2 system, I'm assuming your gas manifold has check valves (if not, that's likely the culprit - get a new one), so your regulator should be fine. But the manifold/check valves won't be. Disassemble, loose 2 pieces, cuss a few times, find the pieces, boil it, loose the same 2 pieces, cuss once more, find the pieces, reassemble. (You can cut a couple of those steps out, but just trying to be realistic)

Tip 3: When you rebuilt the serving kegs, did you replace the poppets? If not, rebuild them over again. Use a diptube brush on both tubes & a faucet brush on the posts before you put the new rings on.

Tip 4: The keg connectors. Nuff said.

Tip 5: Try a different fermentor. Since you can't see inside there (or at least not very well if you're using a corny), it's possible there's something in there.

Hopefully there's a few ideas in there that might help you out. When in doubt, disassemble & clean it really really well.

Re: Need Help – Mystery Infection

Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:19 am
by Ozwald
Brew Engineer wrote:I don't think it's ever backed up into the splitter manifold, but possibly into the regulator while doing a lap shake carbonation maybe...

That's what I'm more afraid of. I may change out my tubing and still have problems. And the regulator is more expensive to replace.

Thanks for the advice on boiling the manifold. Good idea.


That's why I always unhooked the gas line when using the shake method. Shake, hit it with gas until you don't hear it flowing, disconnect, repeat.

Re: Need Help – Mystery Infection

Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:23 am
by Brew Engineer
hoodie wrote:Are you using pbw? Are you rinsing it out really well? That or the beer lines. I know you said you replaced them, but did you replace them with new lines? I had the same problem awhile ago, it drove me crazy. Almost quit brewing. This is what worked for me.


I had been running PBW for a few minutes, followed by star San. But I replaced with brand new beer line and star San-ed it before running beer thru. I've since bought some 5 star line cleaner. But haven't had a chance to use it yet.

So, were you thinking residual PBW was changing the flavor?

Re: Need Help – Mystery Infection

Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:26 am
by Ozwald
Residual PBW won't make it go acidic though. It'll definitely mess up the flavor, but it'll turn your beer the other way.

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