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Headscratching clarity issue...


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#1 ER Pemberton

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 11:47 AM

The spunding step of the low-oxygen process makes it tricky to get really clear beer, at least for me.  I made some good strides and got clearer beer but not crystal clear.  So I decided to cheat on some batches and just gel them and those batches came out very clear.  With that, I chose to just carefully inject gel solution (with a plastic syringe) into the kegs once they were cold.  Those batches were very good and very clear.  Eventually I put a keg of MLPA on tap and it was very cloudy.  I may have gotten a quarter of the way through the keg and it was crazy cloudy.  I thought maybe I forgot to gel it so I gelled it and left it alone for a few days.  No change.  The last glasses of that keg were slightly better but still unusually cloudy.  Last night I put a keg of blonde ale on the tap where the MLPA was.  Same thing and I know I gelled that keg.  My son and I had a few glasses each and we commented on how cloudy it was.  The only connection is that I used a blob of 1056 for these ales and I used it six times.  I have other kegs of pale ale and a dark wheat where I also used this yeast and those kegs are in my on-deck fridge so I don't know if they're clear or not.  What could cause this?  Even a stubborn-to-drop yeast typically clears for me when I use gel solution.  



#2 Bklmt2000

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 12:04 PM

Some points to ponder:

 

- The blob of 1056; did earlier batches drop clear after gelling and only later/more recent batches stay cloudy post-gelling?  Did the primary fermentations look/smell/act normal? Ferment too warm/too cold?

 

- Besides being cloudy, do the beers taste as they should, or are off-flavors present?

 

- Were the lines/faucet recently cleaned?

 

- Any deviations from your normal pre-brew water treatment regimen?  Any changes in mineral levels/pH in your source water?


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#3 ER Pemberton

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 12:19 PM

The beers taste good.  I think the MLPA was batch 2.  Batch 1 was a Citra-Amarillo pale ale that is on tap and clear.  The blonde may be batch 3 or 4.  All of the fermentations were normal and the temp was controlled in a fridge (about 62°).  The timeline on all of the batches was normal (4-5 days and then sent to the keg).  Nothing else is unusual and no changes in the lines.  Everything seems to be perfectly normal except this.  The only real constant is the 1056.  Did it get "dusty" or something where only low-floccing cells were left?  That sounds preposterous.  Forget I even asked that.  What's also weird is that the yeast was stored for a few days in a flask between uses and every time I pitched it the flask had clear beer in it and a layer of yeast at the bottom so even the flask content was clear.  



#4 Bklmt2000

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 12:25 PM

The beers taste good.  I think the MLPA was batch 2.  Batch 1 was a Citra-Amarillo pale ale that is on tap and clear.  The blonde may be batch 3 or 4.  All of the fermentations were normal and the temp was controlled in a fridge (about 62°).  The timeline on all of the batches was normal (4-5 days and then sent to the keg).  Nothing else is unusual and no changes in the lines.  Everything seems to be perfectly normal except this.  The only real constant is the 1056.  Did it get "dusty" or something where only low-floccing cells were left?  That sounds preposterous.  Forget I even asked that.  What's also weird is that the yeast was stored for a few days in a flask between uses and every time I pitched it the flask had clear beer in it and a layer of yeast at the bottom so even the flask content was clear.  

 

My thinking is something went sideways with the yeast between batches that were clear and the later batches that stayed cloudy. 

 

Not saying it was an infection/contamination, since you say the batches taste good, but it is a bit wierd that a yeast that's behaving normally suddenly starts acting so strangely and not floccing like it should.

 

Has that blob of 1056 hit the sink drain yet?


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#5 ER Pemberton

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 12:35 PM

Okay, hold the phone.  I just looked and the Amarillo-Citra beer was actually fermented with 2112 which explains its excellent clarity.  I had another keg go down last night (my son, Sudsy McBeerington is home from college and kegs start dropping whenever that happens) so I grabbed a keg of pale ale made with the 1056 and my sticky note says that this pale ale was the first brewed with this blob of 1056.  The MLPA may have been #2 with the blonde #3 (a dark wheat #4, a pale wheat #5 and a Cascade pale ale #6).  So that means I have not seen a clear batch of beer made with this 1056 yet.  What does that suggest?  Still, even with something like 2565 or other notoriously low-floccing yeasts, gel solution has ALWAYS worked.  How could there be a blob of 1056 that refuses to drop clear?  Other recent beers made with 2112 and 2782 are all clear.  2124 has been smacked and will have a starter made for it shortly.  



#6 Bklmt2000

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 12:59 PM

Okay, hold the phone.  I just looked and the Amarillo-Citra beer was actually fermented with 2112 which explains its excellent clarity.  I had another keg go down last night (my son, Sudsy McBeerington is home from college and kegs start dropping whenever that happens) so I grabbed a keg of pale ale made with the 1056 and my sticky note says that this pale ale was the first brewed with this blob of 1056.  The MLPA may have been #2 with the blonde #3 (a dark wheat #4, a pale wheat #5 and a Cascade pale ale #6).  So that means I have not seen a clear batch of beer made with this 1056 yet.  What does that suggest?  Still, even with something like 2565 or other notoriously low-floccing yeasts, gel solution has ALWAYS worked.  How could there be a blob of 1056 that refuses to drop clear?  Other recent beers made with 2112 and 2782 are all clear.  2124 has been smacked and will have a starter made for it shortly.  

 

Was the 1056 in question made in a starter from a (I'm assuming fresh) smackpack, or was it from a slurry harvested from a prior batch?


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#7 Zsasz

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 01:04 PM

Perhaps picking up stuff other than yeast that you normally allow to settle out first?

The beer clarity gods are pissed at you Ken.
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#8 ER Pemberton

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 01:14 PM

Was the 1056 in question made in a starter from a (I'm assuming fresh) smackpack, or was it from a slurry harvested from a prior batch?

When I start a run of ales I typically smack the pack, wait for it to swell and just pitch from the pack and I have done this for many, many years.  Dropping active yeast from a pack into a 5% ale wort has worked beautifully for me on many batches.  I wouldn't try that with liquid lager yeast but ale yeast is fine when used like that.  Then I just save the slurry and repitch until I retire it.  Oh, and to answer your question... this yeast was retired one day last week.  



#9 Bklmt2000

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 01:42 PM

When I start a run of ales I typically smack the pack, wait for it to swell and just pitch from the pack and I have done this for many, many years.  Dropping active yeast from a pack into a 5% ale wort has worked beautifully for me on many batches.  I wouldn't try that with liquid lager yeast but ale yeast is fine when used like that.  Then I just save the slurry and repitch until I retire it.  Oh, and to answer your question... this yeast was retired one day last week.  

 

Your approach sounds reasonable; I don't see anything questionable about it. 

 

In my unprofessional opinion, the yeast in question was likely hosed from the get-go.  Hopefully it was a one-off, bad luck of the draw type of issue, and not a sign of bigger issues at Wyeast.

 

In my case (since no one asked), I've had that happen a couple of times with US-05 and 34/70, where the beer fermented fine, tasted ok, but for some unexplainable reason, the damn batches wouldn't clear for anything. 

 

Working backwards to nail down the problem indicated the yeast was the culprit, but the aggravation it caused was a bit much.


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#10 ER Pemberton

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 02:11 PM

Your approach sounds reasonable; I don't see anything questionable about it. 

 

In my unprofessional opinion, the yeast in question was likely hosed from the get-go.  Hopefully it was a one-off, bad luck of the draw type of issue, and not a sign of bigger issues at Wyeast.

 

In my case (since no one asked), I've had that happen a couple of times with US-05 and 34/70, where the beer fermented fine, tasted ok, but for some unexplainable reason, the damn batches wouldn't clear for anything. 

 

Working backwards to nail down the problem indicated the yeast was the culprit, but the aggravation it caused was a bit much.

Unless something else presents itself, I'm going with your take on it.  I also looked at the grains (golden promise, barke pils, briess pilsen, various brands of wheat, munich, vienna, etc) and there is no connection.  Grains that were used in the cloudy beers were also used in beers that came out clear.  I can't imagine how a strain of yeast that has produced good-tasting beers could be this stubborn to clear.  This would mean six batches of cloudy beer.  Six.  30 gallons.  :covreyes:  Thanks for knocking it around with me.  



#11 Bklmt2000

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 02:33 PM

Unless something else presents itself, I'm going with your take on it.  I also looked at the grains (golden promise, barke pils, briess pilsen, various brands of wheat, munich, vienna, etc) and there is no connection.  Grains that were used in the cloudy beers were also used in beers that came out clear.  I can't imagine how a strain of yeast that has produced good-tasting beers could be this stubborn to clear.  This would mean six batches of cloudy beer.  Six.  30 gallons.  :covreyes:  Thanks for knocking it around with me.  

 

Welcome. 

 

And I feel your pain, mang; if there's any good news here, it's that the beers in question do taste good.  Granted, it bites that the 1056 decided to misbehave, and you Old-Yeller'd it down the drain accordingly, but at least the beers taste good.

 

I'd wager you'd be a lot more upset if the beers in question were both cloudy (when they should be clear) and also tasted off/bad.  That would suck a lot more.


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#12 ER Pemberton

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 02:43 PM

Welcome. 

 

And I feel your pain, mang; if there's any good news here, it's that the beers in question do taste good.  Granted, it bites that the 1056 decided to misbehave, and you Old-Yeller'd it down the drain accordingly, but at least the beers taste good.

 

I'd wager you'd be a lot more upset if the beers in question were both cloudy (when they should be clear) and also tasted off/bad.  That would suck a lot more.

Would it be reasonable to shoot an email to Wyeast asking for some kind of verification that this could happen?  I'm not sure I would expect an honest answer but this is really strange and it would be good to know if the yeast was truly the culprit.  



#13 ER Pemberton

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 07:40 PM

I did send an email to Wyeast and I heard back from someone who asked me specific questions.  Should be interesting.



#14 Zsasz

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 03:29 AM

when you say cloudy do you mean cloudy or hazy?

 

is there any sediment in the bottom of your glass if you let it sit around?  how about if you put some beer in the bottle and put it in the fridge and check to see if anything settles out.

 

does allowing the beer to warm up change your perception of clarity?


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#15 ER Pemberton

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 06:15 AM

palealecloudy.jpg



#16 HVB

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 06:20 AM

Something was off on that propagation.  I have a S-05 beer on tap now that uses a LOT more hops than I am sure you used in yours and it was never that cloudy.  Actually, now that I think of it, I remember some discussion about Brewtwan B causing beers to be hazy.


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#17 ER Pemberton

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 06:26 AM

Something was off on that propagation.  I have a S-05 beer on tap now that uses a LOT more hops than I am sure you used in yours and it was never that cloudy.  Actually, now that I think of it, I remember some discussion about Brewtwan B causing beers to be hazy.

I have been using brewtan b in all of my beers.  I remember neddles mentioning cloudy brewtan b beers but I never experienced it.  The interesting thing is that the Wyeast email I got back was from a QC lab tech and professional brewer.  He asked about the gel and how it was introduced, the grains, the fermentation length and temperature, size of the batch and the possibility that I accidentally added anything unusual to the beer.  Here's another beer where I used brewtan b:

 

czech-Pils-2019.jpg



#18 HVB

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 06:30 AM

Many of mine have been clear but I did have one or two that were "off"  and I attributed it to the yeast but I will never know the truth of what caused it.


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#19 ER Pemberton

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 06:35 AM

Many of mine have been clear but I did have one or two that were "off"  and I attributed it to the yeast but I will never know the truth of what caused it.

When I hear back from this guy I will absolutely share what he says.  If there were many packs of stubborn-to-clear 1056 out there, maybe other brewers brought it to their attention and they will explain what happened.  I can handle a slightly cloudy beer but these are really ruddy.  When I take the last sip of the beer you can see solid material running down the bottom of the glass.  I do have this WilliamsWarn silicon dioxide clarifier... maybe this is the time to add it and shake the bejesus out of each remaining keg.  How could it hurt?  



#20 ER Pemberton

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 07:14 AM

In the on-deck fridge there are 4 kegs.  One is a Vienna made with 2782 which I expect to be clear.  The others are a Cascade Pale Ale, a Dark, Hoppy wheat beer and a pale wheat.  I just hit those three with the clarifier and swirled them.  I will hit them again tomorrow morning.  The pale ale I posted a picture of was just put on tap yesterday so I hit that beer too.  I will hit them all again tomorrow morning and then leave them all for another 24 hours and see if it makes a difference.

 

Also, this Wyeast tech asked me if I accidentally added Tanal A to the beers.  I had to look that up.  It's a tannic acid that intentionally brings on a permanent haze.  Clearly that ingredient is NOT in my brewery.  :lol:




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