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Swingtop bottles - brews with sour/vinegary taste help!


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Hi all

It has been some time since i have posted on this forum and great to see so many people posting on all different topics.

I have been brewing and bottling for around 2 yrs using the Beerdroid and have had very good success with most of my brews however lately with my brews it has been hit and miss particularly with my most recent brews and i'm struggling to figure out why.

Initially i had a couple of brews that several of the bottles had that horrible sour/vinegary taste and then did some research on this forum and a thanks to "Barrelboy" here i had forgot to clean the tap and bung! Moving on i thought right my problems have been solved but i am still having some issues with infections and it is becoming disheartening so if anyone has any advice i would great appreciate it as i want to have confidence again with my brewing.

This is my cleaning, sterilising regime step by step so if anyone can jump in and advise on anything you can see why my beer might be getting infected please let me know. I will say this though that all the beers i brew i taste straight out of the droid before bottling and all taste like they should with no sour taste so i suspect the infection must be coming from the bottling stage?

Cleaning and prepping the Droid for a brew

  1. Remove and disassemble tap and bung, wash out - put in a bowl of premixed star san
  2. Flush out remnants of previous brew with warm water
  3. Use clean chux to clean and wipe out droid and lid, then wash out with warm water
  4. Remove rubber seal from lid, wash with warm water
  5. Push chux through both the two holes at the bottom of the droid to clean all of the last brew
  6. Thoroughly rinse droid again and check with torch to make sure it is clean
  7. Mix 1 teaspoon of Pink Neo per 1 litre of warm water fill droid with tap and bung back in and leave for 30min
  8. Drain droid and rinse thoroughly including the tap and bung, wipe out with clean chux
  9. Spray droid and lid with star san mix from spray bottle ratio 1.5ml/1 litre
  10. I also give the bung and tap a spray before reinstalling 
  11. Fill the droid with water, spray scissors with starsan put in yeast then other ingredients
  12. Replace lid, commence brewing program
  13. When ready place clean and santised beer sock with hops in droid

Bottling

  1. Taste the beer to make sure it's taste how it should and no nasties have got in
  2. Using a push down bottle rinse cleaner - litre of starsan mix, rinse all of the bottles in the mix and then drain in dish rack. Also give the swing top rubber seals a spray with starsan. Allow to sit/drain for about 15/20min
  3. By the way all of my bottles have been rinsed and put in card board boxes after i have consumed them
  4. Boil the kettle, fill a bowl with boiling water and put in the sugar measuring spoon and sugar funnel
  5. I must point out as well that i spray my hands with starsan as well before doing all of this
  6. Remove sugar measure and funnel from boiling and spray with starsan
  7. Fill the bottles with the correct amount of sugar using the spoon and funnel
  8. Give the tap on the droid a quick spray of starsan and then fill the bottles and then cap with the swing top
  9. Bottles labelled and transferred to beer cupboard

Thats it! I'm wondering if i need to replace the seals on the swing tops (these are proper brewing swing top bottles) where possibly there maybe some nasties getting past the seals, to me they seem to seal pretty well though.

If anyone can help or advise i would great appreciate it as i don't want to any further brews until i can find the source of the problem.

Cheers Mick

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I believe you are doing everything exactly right. What % of the bottles are off?? Maybe they need a decent clean and soaking with sodium bicarbonate or an equivalent cleaner. Also it would probably pay to buy some new seals off eBay and try them on your next batch to see if they make a difference. Also maybe consider using carbonation drops instead of sugar and thus taking the scoop and funnel out of the equation.

 

 

 

Edited by Eltham Brewing House
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On 3/6/2022 at 5:30 PM, Mick said:

had a couple of brews that several of the bottles had that horrible sour/vinegary taste

 

On 3/6/2022 at 5:30 PM, Mick said:

some issues with infections

Sorry for late reply Mick however as quoted above I’d suggest that as not all bottles are infected the problem is not the brew (as all would be infected) but some of your bottles.

Your cleaning, sanitising routine appears to be spot on with the droid and associated equipment. You state you rinse the bottles after consumption, how are you doing this and how soon after the bottle is consumed?

Are you storing in the cardboard box face down with swing seal away from the neck so they drain?

Besides spraying the seals with star san, do you inspect both sides for any dry/moist sediment?

Also after rinsing the bottles with star san, don’t wait 20min for draining, start to fill after 5 minutes for better results.

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Mick,

I'm sorry you're having this problem.  Your sanitizing procedure for the droid sounds thorough.  I soak my cleaned up droid in a hot Oxygen Brewery Wash for a full two hours.  Also, I soak (and scrub) the droid's lid gasket in No-Rinse cleaner from Mr. Beer.  I am in agreement with the others who have commented, that it is likely to be something about the bottles.  I immediately rinse each bottle after I pour it, then drain it on a bottle tree.  When the bottle tree is full, I sterilize them with No-Rinse cleaner solution (and then rinse them, anyway).  Then each bottle gets a small clean plastic bag over the top secured by a rubber band.  This keeps them sterile until I use them again.  This has worked for me.

I use 500 ml swing-top bottles - but now I use crown caps on them because the Grolsch gaskets often failed to hold pressure.  Although I did not have infection problems with the swing-top gaskets, I can see that they could become contaminated.  I disassembled the swing-top assembly and soaked and even scrubbed the gaskets.  They are somewhat organic.   But glass can be reliably sterilized.

If you are committed to the swing-top sealing method I suggest replacing the gaskets - and plan on only using them a few times.  Otherwise, consider crown caps.  You would need a bench-type capper due to the neck construction of the swing-top bottle.

Let us know how it works out.

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Hi all

Sorry for the late reply, have been away for the weekend with limited internet connection.

Ok i rinse the bottles with water then fill halfway with boiling water, then let drain in dish rack until dry. They are then placed in carboard box, the swing top lids are hanging loose in the box and all are covered with the lid from the box if that makes sense? Bottles are placed upright in the box. In regards to the seals i do check them and make sure i pour boiling water over them.

I was using carbonation drops but found that some of my brews had very little fizz so i started using sugar. I might also try the sodium bicarbonate cleaning for the bottles.

Think i will replace the rubber seals on the swing tops.

 

Mick

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27 minutes ago, Mick said:

Hi all

Sorry for the late reply, have been away for the weekend with limited internet connection.

Ok i rinse the bottles with water then fill halfway with boiling water, then let drain in dish rack until dry. They are then placed in carboard box, the swing top lids are hanging loose in the box and all are covered with the lid from the box if that makes sense? Bottles are placed upright in the box. In regards to the seals i do check them and make sure i pour boiling water over them.

I was using carbonation drops but found that some of my brews had very little fizz so i started using sugar. I might also try the sodium bicarbonate cleaning for the bottles.

Think i will replace the rubber seals on the swing tops.

 

Mick

Good idea to replace the seals. Now as for the possible problem, in some bottles you may have what’s called “beer stone”. 
https://www.howtohomebrewbeers.com/2018/05/beerstone-removal.html

Now don’t get over reactive per some of the cure recommendations, just clean your bottles with sodium percarbonate, this will remove it. 
Note sodium percarbonate not sodium bicarbonate as you have suggested.
 

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Also want run this past you, this is a post from a local brewstore - I'm using Pink Neo but used to use the Sodium Percarboante, rinse then hit the surface with Starsan and never really had any issues. Am i overthinking it? Or as you say soak the bottles in Sodium Percabonate and replace the seals?

TWOC.JPG

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1 hour ago, Mick said:

Also want run this past you, this is a post from a local brewstore - I'm using Pink Neo but used to use the Sodium Percarboante, rinse then hit the surface with Starsan and never really had any issues. Am i overthinking it? Or as you say soak the bottles in Sodium Percabonate and replace the seals?

TWOC.JPG

Use sodium percarbonate and soak the bottles. (You should only have to do this about every 4 uses) Rinse then use the star san just before bottling.

Use up the other products on the droid and any other brewing equipment. 

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On 06/06/2022 at 8:42 PM, Eltham Brewing House said:

I believe you are doing everything exactly right. What % of the bottles are off?? Maybe they need a decent clean and soaking with sodium bicarbonate or an equivalent cleaner. Also it would probably pay to buy some new seals off eBay and try them on your next batch to see if they make a difference. Also maybe consider using carbonation drops instead of sugar and thus taking the scoop and funnel out of the equation.

 

 

 

Should read Sodium Percarbonate, sorry.

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I have approximately 200 swing top Grolsch bottles bought from FB Market Place. When I got them I gave them a decent clean with hot water and a bottle brush followed by a soaking in Sodium Percarbonate solution. I have replaced any seals that look dodgy. When I finish with the bottle I immediately rinse it 3 times with hot water shaking the contents aggressively. After 50 batches I have not had one bottle that was off.

 

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1 hour ago, Eltham Brewing House said:

I have approximately 200 swing top Grolsch bottles bought from FB Market Place. When I got them I gave them a decent clean with hot water and a bottle brush followed by a soaking in Sodium Percarbonate solution. I have replaced any seals that look dodgy. When I finish with the bottle I immediately rinse it 3 times with hot water shaking the contents aggressively. After 50 batches I have not had one bottle that was off.

 

pretty much what I did with my bottles when I got an infection in the bottle. 

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