Author Topic: Is my beer infected?  (Read 11371 times)

Offline Nickw

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Is my beer infected?
« on: December 03, 2015, 10:42:44 AM »
Hello!

I am new to this forum and would really appreciate it if someone could help.

Lets start from the beginning;
I am a new brewer and have not got so much experience in it but have made quite a few batches and learning all the time.

I made a blonde and added some lemon zest the last few minutes of the boil as it is getting to summer here by me, as I have made this beer before, it would be a nice summers day drink.

With this batch I wanted to try something a bit different and wanted a bit more fruity flavors, so I used the saflager s23 and wanted to ferment it at room temperature.(I know I should have never used a lager yeast)
The reason I did this was because I heard this yeast gives off fruity flavors at ale temp.

So my beer came out with 1.044 OG which was spot on.
However I only added 1 packet of saflager and after a day and a bit of fermentation it stopped on 1.020FG I left it like that for a week and no change, so I added another pack of saflager as I wasn't sure 1 was enough with that OG.

It's been 4 days and the FG hasn't dropped but there are like white bubbles on top of my fermenter, I cant see any stringy things under the bubble hanging in the beer or anything, I smelt the beer and it didn't smell foul and I also tasted it and it didn't taste too anything out the ordinary, just a little bit lemony.

I am thinking of cold crashing the beer and hoping its just CO2 bubbles.

Please look at the attached pictures and comment.









KellerBrauer

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2015, 11:49:51 AM »
Hello Nickw,

If I didn't know better, it looks to me like you have a Pellicle forming in your brew.  A Pellicle is a form of "wild yeast" caused by improper sanitary measures.  I experienced it myself as a result of incorrectly cleaning and sanitizing my "food grade" plastic bottling bucket.

See this article:
http://phdinbeer.com/2015/01/30/beer-microbiology-what-is-a-pellicle/

Perhaps I'm wrong, but your photos indicate a problem.

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2015, 11:58:18 AM »
It looks to me like a pellicle.  It could be lactobacillus.  It might be pediococcus.  It is infected, from what I can see.

The biggest issue isn't that the beer might be ruined, but that it is now in your system and you might start getting it on all of your beers.  You might have trouble getting it out of your systems.

It might end up being a nice sour beer that tastes wonderful.  It might end up tasting like crap too.  You won't know, unless you let it run it's course and bottle it.

The problem is, that if you decide to find out what it is and let it run it's course to see if it turns into something nice, that will take a long time.  I make sours and I get pellicles all the time, but I get them on purpose.

If you want to wait it out and see what comes of it, plan on leaving it for at least a year.  It will take that long for the microbes to work through the complex sugars.  If you don't wait, you will probably end up with bottle bombs.
Kegs:
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 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
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Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2015, 03:26:52 PM »
Yeah. You've got an infection. The question now is how it got in there, and how to prevent the next batch from becoming infected. First thing I would do is pitch all my siphoning equipment, and every bit of plastic that comes into contact with the beer after the boil. I've been through this and I almost quit the hobby, it was that frustrating. Just to be on the safe side I now replace all my plastic hose once a year.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline antiphile

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2015, 11:08:55 PM »
It's a bit hard from here to say it's infected -- especially if it smells and tastes fine. I've used S-23 before at lager temps, but never at ale temps so I don't know what it's meant to look like at 70+F. The only thing I'd suggest is keep it unless the aroma or taste is obviously wrong.

If it does happen to turn out it's an infection, you've got quite a few hours of work ahead of you. I mentioned in another thread I was unlucky enough to get acetobacter in a few beers, and it wasn't solved until every single piece of brewing equipment was well and truly disinfected. Everything was cleaned to remove the slightest trace of visible dirt and discolouration. For those items that would withstand boiling, they were boiled for about 30 mins. Those that could be soaked in Sodium Percarbonate were all soaked for at least 24 hours. The ones that could tolerate StarSan (or equivalent) got 24 hours in that too. Most things could cope with all three, and they got all three. Geez, I even bleached all work benches, wall and ceilings, hoses, ball valves etc etc. It took me 3 days to finish, but it turned out it was worth the effort.

Good luck and I really do appreciate your pain.

Offline Nickw

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2015, 01:07:13 AM »
Well that's a bummer, this beer came straight out the boiler and into this fermenter and hasn't come into contact with anything else. I took a batch of IPA out this fermenter into a 2nd fermenter about a week before and that came out perfectly. I am guessing I got the infection when I added the 2nd pack of lager yeast. Was really looking forward to this beer in a few weeks time on summer holiday! Guess I will leave it and it will be ready next summer!

How will I know once its safe to bottle? If it completely clears up in a few weeks could I bottle it?

Thanks for all the help, really appreciate it.

Offline antiphile

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2015, 02:33:46 AM »
Hi Nick

I'm sure there are many approaches to your dilemma. Personally, I'd be tempted to leave it until day 10 or 12, and then take a sample to measure SG. If it's close to your expected FG, then take another sample 2 days later until the SG is stable. Keep doing it if necessary a few times every second day. Then bottle or keg as usual.

If it doesn't get to anywhere your expected FG, I'd seriously expect you've got a problem.

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2015, 04:13:08 AM »
Your not safe bottling for at least a year or so, as it sits right now.  The infection will keep working in the bottle.  They will blow up, if you're too early.

You could try to save it, before it gets very sour.  If you're planning on dumping it anyhow, then try saving it as soon as your gravity is down to your expected finishing gravity.  If the flavor is still ok at that time, you can put the beer into your boil kettle with your immersion chiller.  Bring it up to 160F, adding your bottling sugar at about 140F.  As soon as the beer hits 160F, turn the heat off and turn the chiller on and cool it as quickly as possible.  Resist the urge to stir it until it drops to 100F, and then stir it very, very gently to keep the hotter part of the beer moving and blending with the cooler part of the beer.  Have a packet of a neutral dry yeast already rehydrated and ready.  When the beer gets down to 80F, pitch the rehydrated yeast into the beer and continue gently stirring until it is down to 75F.

At this point, siphon the beer into your bottling bucket and bottle immediately.  This pasteurization process will kill off the infection and the original yeast.

The new yeast will allow the beer to condition in the bottle.  This might allow you to save that beer, but it won't remove the infection from your systems.

Realize that if you use your auto-siphon to get the beer from your fermenter and into your boil kettle, you will have contaminated your auto-siphon and hose.  You can do what I have done, which is to wash the auto-siphon really well, then give it a bleach water soak (I use two tablespoons of bleach per 5 gallons of water).  Then rinse the auto-siphon and hose out really well to remove any bleach solution.  Then use star san to sanitize it, before using it on your now chilled beer.

I had an accidental sour (My annual Christmas beer).  I had 5.5 gallons of beer, and I racked it to secondary.  After filling my carboy to the top, I still had a half gallon of beer left.  The 5 gallons filled to the top did not get a pellicle (due to the really small head space in the carboy, meaning that there was no oxygen for the microbes).  The half gallon in the gallon carboy developed a pellicle, because it had that extra half gallon of head space and lots of oxygen for the microbes to utilize, resulting in the microbes getting a foothold.  I was a afraid to bottle the 5 gallon part, as is, so I used the pasteurization procedure above.  The beer turned out absolutely fantastic.  But, as I stated, it did not get a pellicle.

I'm just trying to offer options.  Good luck!!

Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline Nickw

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2015, 08:45:46 AM »
Great, thanks for the replies.

I think I must take your advise Scott and try save it as it doesn't taste or bad at all.
My only concern is that the SG is reading at 1.02 and has been like that for over a week. The FG is suppose to be 1.013. I don't know if it will drop any more to get my FG.
Would I be able to bottle it if the Gravity is still way above what the FG should be? Also the beer is very Cloudy still will the neutral yeast settle it in the bottle?
What is neutral yeast? Sorry still very new to all this.

Side note, the infection looks a lot worse today as the bubbles have gotten quite a bit bigger. ha :o

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2015, 09:49:39 AM »
I would not pasteurize it, until you have a steady gravity reading over three consecutive days.  Pasteurizing it, won't stop any remaining sugars from being available to the new yeast.

As far as what yeast to use, I used E-1118 champagne yeast, and I carbed to the low end of the range, just to be safe.

You would think that a high alcohol tolerant yeast like champagne yeast is a poor choice, but it actually isn't.  Champagne yeast has trouble with the more complex sugars in a barley derived wort, so it usually only will ferment out the simple corn sugar added for bottling. 

Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

KellerBrauer

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2015, 03:56:20 PM »
I have had two brews that got infected while in the secondary. The first batch got dumped because I was afraid of possible sickening effects. However I treated the second batch, an Irish red, differently.

First, I collected as much of the Pellicle as I could using paper towel. The Pellicle naturally stuck to the paper. Than I bottled the brew. I saw the Pellicle was still present in the bottles after only a few days. So, I let it sit. Two months later I cold crashed the bottles. I put them in my kegerator set at about 35° F for another month. After which the Pellicle was no longer present.

The beer has a slightly sour background, but otherwise outstanding. If you have the time, let it fully reach its FG, as the others suggested, them remove as much as you can, prime it and bottle it. You have nothing to loose.

Good luck!!

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2015, 06:06:51 PM »
Now that I think about it, the brews I bottled with that stuff growing in the fermenter didn't taste bad. The bottles were gushers, but it didn't taste spoiled. I drank some anyway and I didn't get sick.  So maybe these guys have a point. See if you can salvage it.  What is there to lose?
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline happy hillbilly

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2015, 05:31:08 AM »
ole happy here. not tryin to steal this thread but when i brew i brew a LOT. recently i brewed up about 32 gallons. i haddent brewed for awhile so before i started i recleaned every piece of my tools. also i sanitized it all. i had 6 fermenters goin in the same area. for some reason one batch turned to vinegar. all my ingredients were new the yeast was too. now ya'll got me thinkin that i need to reclean it all and go thru a real intense sanitizing session. i been readin everything i can find about this bug and come to the conclusion that it was in the yeast. i used us-05 for all these brews. all of the fermenters had some head room for the krausen but they took off fast and seemed normal. ? ? ?

Offline Nickw

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2015, 08:29:15 AM »
So I have decided I am going to take your guys advice and try save this beer, would be such a sin to waste it and don't want to wait a year to drink it.

Just a quick 1, the gravity has not dropped at all in about 10 days, is it safe to say it has reached its FG even though its it is a bit higher then it should be?
Also, the beer is very cloudy. guessing this could be caused by lager yeast at high temps or the infection? Should I cold crash it to try clear the beer before I pasteurize it?

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: Is my beer infected?
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2015, 10:02:33 AM »
So I have decided I am going to take your guys advice and try save this beer, would be such a sin to waste it and don't want to wait a year to drink it.

Just a quick 1, the gravity has not dropped at all in about 10 days, is it safe to say it has reached its FG even though its it is a bit higher then it should be?
Also, the beer is very cloudy. guessing this could be caused by lager yeast at high temps or the infection? Should I cold crash it to try clear the beer before I pasteurize it?

Cold crashing it can't hurt.  I'm concerned about the high gravity reading though.

A suggestion:
Don't cold crash it, as you can always do that later, after the following suggestion.  Just put it in your boil kettle and bring it up to pasteurization temperature and chill down, then pitch fresh yeast into it.  I would make a starter, so that your fresh yeast is as healthy as possible going in.  Then see if it finishes out.

This will accomplish two things for sure and possibly three things. 

1.  It will kill the infection for sure.
2.  It will give you viable yeast for bottle conditioning.
3.  It might get your fermentation to start again and get your gravity down where you want it.
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

 

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