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Author Replies
Ross
01/07/08 11:49 PM  
Sulfur after bottling?
Brothers-

It looks like my old friend Mr. Sulfur is paying my brewery an unannounced visit again.

Check this out: I brewed a Belgian Blonde a few months ago, back in early September. Fermentation seemed to go well at 71 - 74*F ambient. After fermentation, 20 days total in the primary, I tranferred to a keg and lagered the beer at about 40*F for six weeks before bottling. I wanted to do the Cisco thing and smooth the brew out a bit before bottling with fresh yeast and sugar.

The brew SEEMED fine at bottling but I really wasn't checking for problems. Anyway, at bottling time, I pitched a half pack of Wyeast 3787 that I had activated several hours earlier into the brew along with the sugar primings. Mixed gently then bottled. After a month at room temp, and another few weeks at cellar temp, I finally decided to give 'em a try. Well, a very prominent sulfur component is detected in the aroma especially during the initial opening and pouring. Checking a couple other bottles reveals the same issue.

I don't know if this is bacteria or what. I'm wondering if the 3787 got stressed when I pitched it and that's the cause. Maybe I left it in the primary too long and now the problem is rearing it's ugly head; but I detected more esters at bottling than anything else. In fact, my notes state the beer had a big fruit and banana nose at bottling. Not sulfur. I'm at a loss here. Any ideas anyone? The only thing I hate as much as sulfur is EKG hops :-)

Ross
01/07/08 11:55 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Forgot one more thing. I primed the brew to 3 vols. I can honestly say that I don't think the carb level is that high. Removing the cork does not reveal any "pop" although carbonation is present when pouring. I used the brown bottles and corks from Morebeer.
Al B
01/08/08 07:48 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Ross -

I seem to recall you having a sulfur issue before (or maybe its deja vu). As you are probably are aware, some strains give off detectable amounts of sulfur during fermentation. Usually this dissipates with CO2 or is reabsorbed by the yeast cells. I don't know if 3787 will do this at cellar temp.

How much brew was inoculated with the 1/2 pouch of 3787 at bottling time?

Ross
01/08/08 08:20 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Al-

You are correct about having the sulphur issue before. It was with the 3724 saison yeast that had fermented at 90*F for a couple of weeks. I had two batches that I fermented hot and both of them turned sulphery. I chalked it up to cooking the yeast and let it go at that. This batch was fermented with WLP550 in the mid 70's.

Anyway, I inoculated 3 gallons.

Ross
01/08/08 08:30 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Guess I should spell it "sulfury" ?
Al B
01/08/08 08:54 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
OK. My recommendation for the next bottling:

Prep a small starter wort for bottling. Decant off most of the wort from the slurry and add about 20-50ml of slurry rather than adding yeast + WY wort. I didn't ask on the gravities, but the idea is not to overdo adding to much of a good thing. I tend to think that you are adding too much nutrients at the wrong time (bottling). As long as the yeast are healthy, they will ferment the simple priming sugar easily after bottling.

The Wyeast pack is very nutritious (vitamin-based most likely). The breakdown of vitamin-based nutrients/proteins can lead to some sulfur. That is why wine-makers use DAP as a protein base. Vitamin-base media is much better for optimum growth or propagation than Diammonium phophate. Now, normally this isn't an issue for primary ferm. since the sulfur, if detectable, is blown out and/or reabsorbed by yeast cells after fermentation.

As for the bottled brew, let it age for another few weeks and see how it compares.

Baums
01/08/08 09:36 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
When you say "sulfur" do you mean DMS or a lager-like H2S smell?

And, are there any rings in the necks of your bottles?

Al B
01/08/08 09:52 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
<< I had two batches that I fermented hot and both of them turned sulphery.>>

In this case, check how long the brew sat on the yeast bed as autolyzed cells release sulfur.

Cisco
01/08/08 09:54 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
It sounds to me that you're pitching the yeast starter too soon and getting some of the yeast nutrients from the original packaging as Al suggests. I usually save some of the yeast from the primary to use for bottling, even if it's two months later - never had a problem. Yeast is hardier than what a lot of the articles claim. Relax, don't worry and stop being so anal about your brewing practices - 8^)

I would also suggest just letting the beer sit for another month or two before tasting it again.

RossTheAnalSaisonBrewer
01/08/08 01:08 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Al Bottle & Cisco - Thank you very much for your qualified suggestions. The gravity on the Blonde is ~1.060 - 1.011 btw. For the two saisons, the first one sat in the primary for a total of 4 weeks, 3 weeks at 90*F and 1 week at 72*F. The second one was in the primary for one week at 90*F and secondary for 5 weeks at 71*F.

Baums- the sulfur smells like some Hefes' do during fermentation (and sometimes even after fermentaion). I guess that's the lager like sulfur. Not rotten eggs, but Hefe-like sulfury I guess. I think DMS is supposed to smell like corn right? It doesn't smell like corn or vegetables.

Baums
01/08/08 05:53 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
To me DMS smells EXACTLY like creamed corn (or is that vice versa?). Anyway I was trying to determine whether infection might have something to do with it--sounds like there's no good reason to think so.
Al B
01/08/08 06:24 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Curious development none-the-less. I take it you'll be bottling another saison in another week or so ;~) - hopefully it'll work out.

Ross
01/08/08 11:20 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Hey Guys-

I was wondering about whether or not this was infection but it seems like a yeast derived issue by the aroma profile. I was thinking that if it was an infection then there is only two places it can come from. My brew pots' valve or the stupid orange plastic caps we use on our fermenters. I really don't like those caps or the rubber plugs for that matter 'cause they always smell like fermented beer no matter how well we soak 'em and sanitize 'em. Any who, Al-B-Damned is right, I just brewed my last saison with the 3711 yeast on Saturday and will bottle it weekend after this, right out of the primary; I'm sick of this secondary bullshit.

RossTheNeuroticSaisonFanatic
01/08/08 11:31 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Also, I'm thinking of doing a forced fermentation test on the unpitched wort when I brew the next batch. Anyone think that's worth a shot?
Baums
01/09/08 10:05 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
I love bottling right out of the primary.

I am scared of brewpot valves and don't have one even though so many people use them with success.

Not sure what you're trying to figure out with the forced ferment test, but it's still probably worth doing just to see what happens.

How are you chilling?

Another good test (Wort Stability Test) is, before you run the cooled wort into your fermenter, run a little bit into a sterile container. If it goes 3 days with no sign of infection (haze, bubbles, smell, escaping gas, etc) then it meets professional standards.

(Though my problem with my latest batch is that I can't tell if the wort is hazy or there's bugs in the beer. You're not really supposed to taste the sample, since it's *beer* not *wort* in which pathogens can't grow, but I did, and it tastes great so I'm not too worried about this batch.)

Al B
01/09/08 10:22 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Typically from a contamination point of view, organisms that are associated w/ sulfur (and other compounds)in brew are the group of Enterobactericae (enteric bacteria). They are only a problem initially in ferm. since alcohol/pH inhibits them at bottling. They are susceptible to heat.

Concerning brewpot valves, particularly ball-valves, they can be a source of contamination, however, most are located next to the pot where heat penetration over an hour will kill enteric bacteria.

Ross
01/09/08 03:05 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Baums and Al- The wort stability test is what I meant. I'd like to determine if I'm picking something up from the valve or during the transfer to the primary.

My ball valve is a stainless/teflon three piece unit that I disassemble and sanitize on brew day. However, the third body section stays bolted on the brew pot. I'm curious if maybe I'm not getting that section sanitized enough but as Al mentioned, that part of the valve is bolted right on the brew pot so it's getting some heat for sure. Still, for peace of mind, I'll probably flame it before I assemble the valve for my next brew. Also, I'll boil the other parts for 30 minutes before assembly.

I think the best way to accomplish the sanitizing of the valve would be to run some boiling water out of it and circulate it through one of those March pumps and back into the kettle for 30 minutes.

I actually have a sanitary valve at the house but it's way too large and heavy to bolt to this little 6 gallon brew kettle.

Ross
01/09/08 03:09 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Baums- I forgot to mention that I use an immersion chiller that I throw in the kettle at about 30 minutes left in the boil.
Baums
01/09/08 03:49 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
All of that sounds pretty good to me. What kind of hose do you run off with and how do you clean and sanitize it?

BTW I certainly agree with the posts higher up, that this could well be a yeast/nutrient issue and not an infection thing.

BPotts
01/09/08 04:55 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
I only use a secondary if: a) the beer is of significant starting gravity, b)I need the primary vessel before I'm ready to bottle, c) I wont have time to bottle for a bit after two weeks in the primary. Otherwise, I give it a week to ferment out, a week to settle, and it's time to bottle up!
Ross
01/09/08 05:30 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Guys-

I rarely would secondary until recently I've given it a try with these crazy Dupont yeasts. Anyway, I'm with you Ben, ten days to two weeks in the primary and into the keg or bottle.

The type of hose I run off with is NSF 51 & 3A rated silicone tubing which I've soaked in PBW then Iodophor. There is a barbed outlet fitting on my kettle valve which I cover during the boil and then spray with Starsan before attaching the hose which is oh,,about, 18" long. The hose goes into the fermenter, covered partially at the carboy neck with sanitized foil; and I just open the valve and fill 'er up.

Here's the kicker, and I know I'm gonna get some flak for this, but I usually only use hoses once then toss 'em. Jamil about fell over when I told him that so he calls me the Howard Hughs of sanitation. :-)

Anyway, this run off hose is 1/2" in I.D. so is easy to clean by soaking in PBW or boiling even. I've actually reused this hose three times. Maybe I should go back to my old habit of tossing hoses out after one use.

BPotts
01/09/08 08:17 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
I see.....I change my hoses frequently as well.... I find they are the hardest to throughly clean, short of soaking them in bleach over night, which I'd rather not do every time.
Baums
01/10/08 10:41 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
If you're just gonna toss em out, why not use cheaper hose?

BTW I'm actually trying to find a decent cheap pump right now to CIP my hoses instead of relying on siphoning hot PBW.

Ross
01/10/08 02:47 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Baums- I use a submersable pump, costs about $50 bucks to clean my hoses. I purchased it from Northern Tool. I can give you details about the pump when I get back home from trip.

I use silicone tubing because it does not impart odors or flavors.

Ross
04/19/08 07:27 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Update-

After several more months of conditioning, the sulfur aromatics have diminished to the point of barely detectable. Looks like it probably was the yeast nutrients and not contamination after all. Whew..decent beer now.

ErikH
09/29/08 01:51 PM  
WY3724 and Sulfur off-flavors
Thought I would bump this thread as I am doing a straight SD clone batch attempt with WY3724 and it is pumping out a huge amount of sulfur - steadily for the last 2 weeks of a 3 week primary fermentation and now into the secondary.

I tried the same thing last year and, while the smell was not as pronounced during fermentation, it was definitely present in the bottle. At a low level at first (1-3 months), but then seemingly growing with bottle-conditioning until it was combined with the fruitiness in a nasty rotten-melon kind of way.

This year, I pitched a single Activator pack of the yeast, thinking that maybe last year's combination of WY3724 with an SD bottle culture was the culprit. But man it is here and super-strong! Fermentation has been at a constant 82 degrees throughout.

Would appreciate hearing about any similar experiences with this yeast strain and any advice on minimizing it at this point in the process. Perhaps a month of cold-aging after my primed bottles have carbonated?

Al B
09/29/08 02:28 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
I haven't used this strain is a real long time, but the major factors involved for sulphury notes are:

- yeast strain

- poor yeast health/growth/under-oxygenation of wort

- poor kettle boil

- H2S producing bacteria

- other (yeast autolysis, too much vitamin nutient, slow fermentation)

<<and it is pumping out a huge amount of sulfur - steadily for the last 2 weeks of a 3 week primary fermentation and now into the secondary>>

Is it still actively fermenting or just smells sulphury?

ErikH
09/29/08 05:20 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
AlBrimstone -

Well, yeast strain is my favored culprit at this time. This batch got a vigorous boil in small vessels for over an hour and was oxygenated for 2 hrs with a s.s. stone. Although I'm sure I'm risking the wrath of yeast population enthusiasts here, the Activator pack was very well 'popped' at time of pitching.

While I guess I couldn't rule out bacteria definitively, no other batch of beer I've made in the interim has had this sulfur problem - since I made my last WY3724 Saison.

<<Is it still actively fermenting or just smells sulphury?>>

It is fermenting, albeit slowly, in the secondary. I racked this on Sat. and, as I have always experienced with this strain, the rate of fermentation drops dramatically at racking.

My rather non-scientific unit for this is rate of bubbling in the airlock. After blooping along once every 11 to 13 seconds for the 3rd and last week of the primary, it has dropped to bubbling once every 55 seconds.

Also, FWIW, a previous batch in which I used WLP565 instead of Wyeast did not exhibit any evidence of this unwanted "Burton snatch". . .

Al B
09/30/08 09:27 AM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Erik,

This caught my eye. <<This batch got a vigorous boil in small vessels for over an hour and was oxygenated for 2 hrs with a s.s. stone.>>

Out of curiousity, what size batch was this?

ErikH
09/30/08 03:57 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
<<Out of curiousity, what size batch was this?>>

This is a 6-gallon batch. Collected 7.25 gal of wort and boiled down to 5.75 gal. Topped up with bottled spring water to make 6 gal in carboy.

In my tiny NYC apartment, boiling of wort occurs on a typical residential gas range. I use 3-4 burners depending on the volume (with 2x3gal and 2x4 gal pots, theoretical capacity is about 12 gal allowing for headspace, but I don't think I've ever boiled more than 10 gallons total. Ah yes, the day I disconnected my smoke alarm . . .) Average total boil time for this batch (some pots boil faster than others) was about 75 min.

Sorry if I am horrifying any non-space-challenged homebrewers here with my rinky-dink setup, but that's the way it is for now!

Al B
09/30/08 09:34 PM  
Re: Sulfur after bottling?
Ahh, I see. No need to apologize, my set-up ain't much more than that.

One last question......why are you oxygenating for 2 hrs? By oxygenating, do you mean with pure O2 or air? This seems alot if its pure O2 for a 6 gal / degree plato of a saison. Could over-O2 produce sulfur from yeast I don't think so (although they say to much pure O2 is detrimental to living cells) - haven't done that. But if there was a contaminant, 2 hrs will also intice growth of bacteria. Tough to say w/out a microscope.

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