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Washing my keg

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I have a question about cleaning my fermenter (LBK?).  My basic process is that as soon as I bottle, I rinse the keg with warm water until all of the sludge is out.  I then wash the inside with unscented dish soap (usually Dawn or Palmolive) and a brand new sponge.  I will wash the inside, rinse and then repeat 1-2 more times.  I just finished up my third batch and I noticed that my keg is starting to get that flat, stale beer smell that my college apartment seemed to permanently have after the 2nd party.

 

I assumed I didn't do something correct in my cleaning procedures and this smell is going to effect future brews.  I looked on here and saw the comments about using OxyClean so my wife picked up some of the powder for me.  However, I'm reading the container and I think I may have the wrong stuff.  It looks like this is a stain remover for laundry.  Now I am afraid to use it.

 

Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. 

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This is what I use; it's the perfume- and dye-free one, of course.  I only use it when I have some really stuck-on residue.  A little goes a long way; I use about 1/8th of a scoop.  Fill the LBK most of the way with warm water, add the Oxiclean, shake it up, and let it sit for about ten minutes.  Then pour out the liquid and if there's any wort residue still in the LBK it should easily wipe away with a paper towel. Then rinse it out really, really well.

 

Normally, though, I just do as you do and use unscented soap.  That's usually good enough.


As I normally brew right after bottling, the next step after cleaning is to go straight to adding the sanitizer into the LBK.

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9 hours ago, rjmanning said:

I have a question about cleaning my fermenter (LBK?).  My basic process is that as soon as I bottle, I rinse the keg with warm water until all of the sludge is out.  I then wash the inside with unscented dish soap (usually Dawn or Palmolive) and a brand new sponge.  I will wash the inside, rinse and then repeat 1-2 more times.  I just finished up my third batch and I noticed that my keg is starting to get that flat, stale beer smell that my college apartment seemed to permanently have after the 2nd party.

 

I assumed I didn't do something correct in my cleaning procedures and this smell is going to effect future brews.  I looked on here and saw the comments about using OxyClean so my wife picked up some of the powder for me.  However, I'm reading the container and I think I may have the wrong stuff.  It looks like this is a stain remover for laundry.  Now I am afraid to use it.

 

Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. 

All my fermenters smell like beer. They still ferment fantastically 

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Thanks guys.  I appreciate the responses.  Sorry if my questions seem silly but I had a bad second batch and now I am terrified of making mistakes. I decided to go with something that should be a little simpler with the American Lager. 

 

Though, in reading around the boards, I'm thinking my mistake in the second batch was probably not enough conditioning time. Allow me to ask this.  Do the darker beers require more conditioning times? My bad batch was an Irish Stout that I tried drinking a month after bottling and then dumped when other people told me it didn't taste good.  I'm wondering if longer conditioning might have helped. 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, rjmanning said:

Thanks guys.  I appreciate the responses.  Sorry if my questions seem silly but I had a bad second batch and now I am terrified of making mistakes. I decided to go with something that should be a little simpler with the American Lager. 

 

Though, in reading around the boards, I'm thinking my mistake in the second batch was probably not enough conditioning time. Allow me to ask this.  Do the darker beers require more conditioning times? My bad batch was an Irish Stout that I tried drinking a month after bottling and then dumped when other people told me it didn't taste good.  I'm wondering if longer conditioning might have helped. 

 

 

Stouts and porters (your darker beers) do require much more conditioning time... at minimum 3 months and some even about a year. Also, NEVER dump a batch, come here, consult with the fine folks on this forum and we can help out in determining what may have happened or what needs done, such as longer conditioning time. 

 

side note, Plastic loves to absorb odors but they do not affect your beer as long as you are following proper cleaning and sanitation practices. i have 3 LBKs a 6gallon brewmax and a couple bplastic big mouth bubblers......they all have retained the beer smell but none of my batches have been affected by it.

 

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If you dump beer, please leave the forum.

 

If you dump beer because other people don't like it, please leave the forum.

 

Based on zero information about what might have been wrong, if anything, with your brews, no one can tell you that more conditioning would have changed anything.

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RJ...  diagnosing a failed beer without facts and details is like trying to walk someone over the phone through removing an appendix. beer is really really hard to screw up. you can, but making absolutely undrinkable beer is rare unless you have the hygiene practices of  an animal or use a toilet brush to stir your wort.  beer first came about to make water safe to drink... and a long long time ago. if fat sweaty sumerians could do it without even knowing about yeast or germs... anyone can really.

 

so if you want help on this, tell us some facts. what recipe did you do?

how did you make it?

what yeast?

what temp did you ferment it at?

how was your sanitation process?

did you see anything 'weird' or spooky in the fermenter other than foam on top and gunk on the bottom? did it form a hardish white/grey scale called a pellicle?

 

things CAN go wrong but usually they wont ruin beer. it might make it sour. it might make it taste like unflavored yogurt. you could end up with apple juice flavors... or rubber bands or any number of other off tastes.

 

a guy where I work complained he and his dad never got good beer. they always ended up with something that tastes like rubber bands.  their problem? using heavily chlorinated tap water from a hose to make beer.  garbage in...garbage out. chlorine and chloramine produce really bad flavors in beer.  they gave up rather than trying to find the cause and fix it.  a lot of ppl do that. give up too easy.

 

now- to answer, dark beer doesn't make the need for longer conditioning.  high alcohol content will. since most stouts tend to be on the beefy side of the abv%, those would get longer conditioning time.  drinking one early wont make it taste like crap. it will be beer.. just not great beer.  aging lets the flavors meld and helps lessen a little the effects of fermenting too warm and getting acetaldehyde.  (green apple taste).

 

don't be discouraged... and as rick said don't dump beer! learn from mistakes.  discover what went wrong and fix it. until you do you will likely keep making the 'bad' batches. also remember that other people's tastes buds differ. if they are used to drinking American corn adjunct swill, they will likely find a Belgian saison to taste like crap in their opinion.  they wont appreciate the complexity of a Trappist dubbel. all they will care about is does it get them jacked up and is it free.

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dark doesn't necessarily mean a longer condition is required... IF you are doing extracts.  if all grain and you don't cold steep your darks/black grains then you could get unpleasant astringent flavors that would require longer conditioning time to mellow.   your longer conditioning times come from the higher alcohol content usually.  there's a formula floating around of conditioning time as a function of starting gravity.   this too is a guide and not a rule.  I rarely age a beer for months and months or years. that's just absurd in my book.,  beer was meant to be enjoyed, not looked at or left sitting around.  my taste buds aren't so developed that I care to age a beer for anything more than 3-4 months for a very heavy beer.  i'm old. I don't have that kind of time! 

 

so many beers to drink... so little time left to do so...   sadness.

 

 

edit- RJ when you served your home brew beer did you chill it first then do a slow careful pour to keep the bottle trub in the bottle?  when you bottled it were you careful to not put the crap in the bottom of the fermenter in your bottles.?  trub will make beer taste bitter, yeasty, and unpleasant in most cases. one exception is hefeweizen yeast which is meant to be swirled up in the bottle and consumed with the beer as it adds a tart wonderful complexity to the beer.  this is bottle trub I'm talking here.. not fermenter trub.  the crap in the bottom of the lbk is fats, proteins, dead yeast, sleeping yeast... and tastes nasty.  keep that out of your bottles.  many of us here when using lbk's prop up the spigot side a little to keep the trub below the spigot... to help keep it out of the bottles.

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First off, RJ, please never hesitate to ask a question on here.  If the answers help you make better beer, then your question isn't silly.

 

There are lots of good responses above so I only have one thing to add:  IME, the darker Mr. Beer's taste better served at warmer temp's.  For example, one of the stouts I'm drinking now is the Angry Bovine.  If I take it straight from the fridge, pour it, and drink it, it's decent.  But if I let the bottle sit on the kitchen counter for about 20 minutes before popping and pouring, it tastes much, much better.

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9 hours ago, zorak1066 said:

so if you want help on this, tell us some facts. what recipe did you do?

how did you make it?

what yeast?

what temp did you ferment it at?

how was your sanitation process?

did you see anything 'weird' or spooky in the fermenter other than foam on top and gunk on the bottom? did it form a hardish white/grey scale called a pellicle?

 

 

I know I harp on this, but my first question with off flavors is always "Did you fill up the LBK with cold water before you added the wort, or room temp?" This is because pitching the yeast while it is still too warm is one of the leading causes of off-flavors with our kits. Using cold, near-frozen water (we use 34-36 F) is the quickest and easiest way to make sure the temperature is right. I stopped even measuring the temperature before I pitch because it was always exactly 65 every single time I've checked.

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very true.  pitching while way too hot is one of the leading causes of apple cider flavors (esp with the fromunda yeast).. or a ferment that doesn't get started because the yeast were fried.

 

newbies often don't follow the instructions then blame mr b for 'bad beer'.   hopefully they will return to investigate what went wrong rather than walking away from a really rewarding hobby.

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21 hours ago, MRB Tim said:

 

 

I know I harp on this, but my first question with off flavors is always "Did you fill up the LBK with cold water before you added the wort, or room temp?" This is because pitching the yeast while it is still too warm is one of the leading causes of off-flavors with our kits. Using cold, near-frozen water (we use 34-36 F) is the quickest and easiest way to make sure the temperature is right. I stopped even measuring the temperature before I pitch because it was always exactly 65 every single time I've checked.

 

To be fair to those who are new to the hobby, it would be nice if the Mr. Beer instructions were changed to reflect that.  I just looked at a few recipes to verify (American Ale and Calavera, selected at random) and just as I thought they still say "Fill keg with cold tap water to the 4-quart mark on the back" and "Fill keg with cold tap water to the #1 mark on the back".  When I first started brewing years ago, I took that to mean exactly what it says and put the LBK in the sink and filled it with cold tap water.  Knowing what I know now I was definitely pitching too warm.

 

When I started brewing again last year I did some research on how to improve my beers.  Among other things, water temp was one of the things I saw that I was doing wrong.  So now my SOP is to put a gallon of spring water in the fridge the night before brew day and use that.  When I top off after adding the wort I use the filtered water from the dispenser on the front of the fridge,

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7 hours ago, zorak1066 said:

very true.  pitching while way too hot is one of the leading causes of apple cider flavors (esp with the fromunda yeast).. or a ferment that doesn't get started because the yeast were fried.

 

newbies often don't follow the instructions then blame mr b for 'bad beer'.   hopefully they will return to investigate what went wrong rather than walking away from a really rewarding hobby.

 

See my post above.  The instructions really need to be updated.

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1 hour ago, Shrike said:

The instructions really need to be updated.

 

Well, the instructions included in the kits were updated. I'm not sure whether we went through every refill and recipe on the site and changed them as well, but it seems that might be necessary. I'll bring it up.

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Let me jump in here.

 

First, pitching when the wort is too hot is almost impossible for Mr. Beer recipes.  Yeast doesn't die until well over 100 degrees.  And, many yeast manufacturers recommend a pitching temp that is in fact higher than you'll get with a normal Mr. Beer recipe.  

 

Green apple flavors are from several things, and can be avoided by allowing fermentation to complete and allowing the beer to condition for a long enough period of time.  

 

I've posted an equation before, and let me do so again:

 

272 ounces total

1 gallon of cold water (temp TBD)

4 cups of boiling water, then a can of wort (assumed 2 cups) = 6 cups around 165 (never checked, just estimating)

96 oz of cold water top off (temp TBD)

 

If you assume that the water is 37 degrees because it is refrigerated, you get (128/272 * 37) + (48/272 + 165) + (96/272 * 37) 

=> (0.471 x 37) + (0.176 x 180) + (0.353 x 37) = 59.5 wort temp

 

To get 72 degree wort temp, your "cold" water would need to be 52 degrees...   (0.471 x 52) + (0.176*165) + (0.353*52) = 72

 

To get 80 degree wort temp, your "cold" water would need to be 62 degrees.

 

This excludes steeps where you may have more than 4 cups of boiling water. 

 

So it is really hard to pitch too warm unless you're using hot tap water.  

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1 hour ago, RickBeer said:

Let me jump in here.

 

First, pitching when the wort is too hot is almost impossible for Mr. Beer recipes.  Yeast doesn't die until well over 100 degrees.  And, many yeast manufacturers recommend a pitching temp that is in fact higher than you'll get with a normal Mr. Beer recipe.  

 

Green apple flavors are from several things, and can be avoided by allowing fermentation to complete and allowing the beer to condition for a long enough period of time.  

 

I've posted an equation before, and let me do so again:

 

272 ounces total

1 gallon of cold water (temp TBD)

4 cups of boiling water, then a can of wort (assumed 2 cups) = 6 cups around 165 (never checked, just estimating)

96 oz of cold water top off (temp TBD)

 

If you assume that the water is 37 degrees because it is refrigerated, you get (128/272 * 37) + (48/272 + 165) + (96/272 * 37) 

=> (0.471 x 37) + (0.176 x 180) + (0.353 x 37) = 59.5 wort temp

 

To get 72 degree wort temp, your "cold" water would need to be 52 degrees...   (0.471 x 52) + (0.176*165) + (0.353*52) = 72

 

To get 80 degree wort temp, your "cold" water would need to be 62 degrees.

 

This excludes steeps where you may have more than 4 cups of boiling water. 

 

So it is really hard to pitch too warm unless you're using hot tap water.  


 

Actually, it's extremely easy to pitch too warm.  All you have to do is follow the instructions.

 

Rick, I live in the Deep South.  In the coldest part of the winter around January/February-ish, my "cold" tap water is pretty damned cold.  The rest of the year?  See my picture below.  I took that reading just now.  Our low temperatures over the last week have been in the low 60s, highs in the high 70s.; it hasn't even begun to get hot yet.  So if I'm a newbie brewer and follow the Mr. Beer instructions I would be pitching my yeast in wort that is way, way, too warm; around 89 degrees if I did your equation correctly.  That's not using hot tap water, that's the cold stuff straight from the faucet.
 

This is why I say that the instructions should be updated.  Then there's no guesswork needed (although the stick-on thermometer eliminates that), no equations, etc. If the water should be at refrigerator temperature then the instructions need to reflect that, not "fill with cold tap water".  Cold tap water in Maine in January is a hell of a different temperature than cold tap water in San Antonio in August.




 

33611240620_5a47e3879c_z.jpg

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Yeah, So - what is "too warm"

1. As per Rick Beer's post, If it is REALLY HOT the yeast can get killed and not ferment. As he says this is very unlikely.

2. The pitching range as per Fermentis documentation is higher than the preferred fermentation range, so in general, providing you are going to have it cool down real soon after pitching you are probably OK pitching warmer. The yeast does not take off immediately but should start faster if warmer. I often do this. Mine gets into the 60's in a few hours when my basement is cold. That said though, the initial growth phase of the yeast is where many of the flavors are made, so if you do not want that you need to make sure the temp is low before they you get them.  You can also wait until the LBK is cooler before pitching if it reads too warm There is a possibility of infection by other organisms in this lovely fermentation food, but I don't think it is high if it is capped. I have done this too for lagers.

3. What kind of beer are you making? Some beer styles require warmer fermentation as the yeast makes all sorts of flavors at higher temperatures, more than at lower temperatures. These can be desirable or undesirable, depending on the style and the yeast. Many styles start with it cool then let the yeast warm it up as it goes ending up at quite a high temp. Home brewers can put a blanket over the LKB to help this effect if they want (but you need to monitor the temp).

You want it cool fast but you don't have fridge space? - sit it in ice water. Or sit it in a cooler with ice packs. Lots of ways.

 

No matter what though you need a thermometer.

 

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My whole point here is that Mr. Beer simply needs to change their instructions so they no longer read "cold tap water".  That's it.  They could also change the line about putting the keg in a place with temperature between 68-76F to read "wort temperature", IMNSHO.

 

Yes, there are variables involved depending on what style you're brewing.  But my thoughts are more towards the new brewers who simply follow the directions as written.  They may be tossing the yeast with the wort in the high 80s (see my above post)...simply by following the directions.  Then they're putting their LBK in a room upwards of 76 degrees...because they're following the directions.  Then they're getting crap results and thinking that Mr. Beer sucks.  Why?  Because they did what they were supposed to do and followed the directions!  Wouldn't the simplest solution be to change the directions so that they reflect reality?

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4 hours ago, Shrike said:

My whole point here is that Mr. Beer simply needs to change their instructions so they no longer read "cold tap water".  That's it.  They could also change the line about putting the keg in a place with temperature between 68-76F to read "wort temperature", IMNSHO.

 

Yes, there are variables involved depending on what style you're brewing.  But my thoughts are more towards the new brewers who simply follow the directions as written.  They may be tossing the yeast with the wort in the high 80s (see my above post)...simply by following the directions.  Then they're putting their LBK in a room upwards of 76 degrees...because they're following the directions.  Then they're getting crap results and thinking that Mr. Beer sucks.  Why?  Because they did what they were supposed to do and followed the directions!  Wouldn't the simplest solution be to change the directions so that they reflect reality?

Yeah, That would be an easy fix.

My tap water gets pretty warm in the summer too.

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I occasionally am in a rush to get things going and pitch hot at around 75f or sometimes 80.   the yeast kick off quicker but depending on the yeast you can get esters by the time it cools to ferment temps.  

 

I think a bigger issue with mr beer kits would be using tap water. in some municipalities they use lots of chlorine.   ive started putting a gallon of spring water that I use in the freezer while I'm brewing.  I use a chiller to get the wort down to about 75f then top it off with the freezer water.  that works for me.   I USED to sanitize plastic bottles of ice and stir the wort with them... ick.  I like my immersion chiller. I run the hot exit water to fill a bucket , to use for cleaning stuff so I recycle.

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18 hours ago, Shrike said:

Wouldn't the simplest solution be to change the directions so that they reflect reality?

 

13 hours ago, Nickfixit said:

Yeah, That would be an easy fix.

 

 

Just wanted to jump in and mention that we are always looking for ways to improve, and this discussion will definitely be something to keep in mind for future instruction updates. However, an easy change does not always mean a fast one. So, please don't think we're blowing off your suggestions because it doesn't change tomorrow. We will now return to your regularly scheduled discussion of temperatures.

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31 minutes ago, MRB Tim said:

 

 

 

Just wanted to jump in and mention that we are always looking for ways to improve, and this discussion will definitely be something to keep in mind for future instruction updates. However, an easy change does not always mean a fast one. So, please don't think we're blowing off your suggestions because it doesn't change tomorrow. We will now return to your regularly scheduled discussion of temperatures.

It's just good to know you guys are responsive to feedback like this, thanks.

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