It seems like my home brewing aspirations have come to a screeching halt. Or is it that I just learned a really tough lesson? Let me explain, my last three brews have all been infected. Meaning, in home brew talk, that a wild yeast or bacteria has made it's way into the wort (beer before its beer) which produces off/sour flavours, making it undrinkable. This can and does happen fairly easily because micro-organisms grow everywhere and can easily contaminate. This is why having proper sanitation methods is very important when home brewing. I thought I was really good at... turns out I suck.
The feelings of disappointment after tasting each new brew and finding that it has gone to the crapper is hard to describe. For those who brew know what I'm talking about. Nothing is worse than knowing that you've wasted hours brewing, cleaning and sanitizing your equipment (over and over again), and patiently waited as it fermented and bottle conditioned only to find out that a batch of beer (in my case 3) is not be drinkable! Gah! SOOOO Frustrating! Let me tell you, home brewing is not for the faint of heart!
The first beer that didn't turn out was a Cream Ale. It only had a mild infection and for the most part it was sort of drinkable but it finished on the tongue a little sour. The other two, An English Brown and half of my Black IPA, were completely undrinkable. I've been trying to cook with them ever since... I've had mild success. -__-
It's important when you run into this problem that you try to locate the source of the infection otherwise it's just going to keep happening. Once you have, you'll be grateful you did because then you won't feel the need to go out and replace all of your equipment. I've resorted to soaking all my equipment in sanitation solution for the last month to make sure I kill all micro-organisms that might be wrecking my beer. I admit this was a little extreme but desperate times calls for desperate measures, right? I was pretty sure the infection was getting in during the bottling process, turns out I was right! The source was the spigot on the bottling bucket which I will have to replace. I can now FINALLY get back to brewing delicious beer.
Infection after infection after infection can be discouraging whether you're a new or veteran home-brewer which is why sanitation needs to be your number one priority, always. It's been a tough lesson for me but believe me I've learnt it!