Houston, we have a problem.
There's a problem in the brewery. My beers this year have simply not been at their best and the recent brews, more so.
My Citra Pale Ale was phenolic. Samples under the microscope revealed no bacterial infection, but something clearly wasn't right. I put it down to cleaning residue in the fermenters.
The Renegade Pale Ale I brewed recently had some lovely flavour from the Simcoe hops and early samples from the bottle were pleasing. But, a fortnight later the beer in these bottles is also questionable; very dry, astringent and lacking in hop flavour and aroma. It's as if something has taken time to establish itself and is now destroying the beer.
I don't currently have a microscope at home, so am unable to test this one, although I'm pretty sure the result will be the same as the Citra beer. No bacterial infection, but something clearly wrong.
Since these two brews, I've changed my fermenters but my latest wheaty pale ale is the latest to succomb. This time it is a bacterial infection.
The picture was taken on my phone and the colouring isn't great. The yellow patches are normal bits of yeast floating on the surface, whereas the white spores are the obvious cause of concern.
All the beer has been dumped and I've spent time cleaning and sanitising the fermenters, the fermenting fridge, beer hoses on the brewery and the plate chiller.
This latest infection is very different to the problems experienced with the first two beers. I'm hoping the off-flavours attributed to those came from the cleaning residue in the scratched fermenters, which have now been replaced. The latest episode is hopefully a one-off, due to some error on my part during the brewing process.
Hopefully the time spent in cleaning, santising and rinsing, will sort out the problem. I can't deny I'm gutted. I've not had a bacterial infection for many years and there's little more heartbreaking than throwing beer away.
After the deep clean, I'll fire up the brewery again next week. I'll have another crack at the Renegade as it promised to be so good.