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Old 02-08-2013, 04:55 AM   #1
Aloha_Brew
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Default Devil bacteria in Corny kegs

It has been over five months now since my kegging world turned upside down. I had moved and mistakenly left some residual beer in two of my Corny kegs, while a third one was empty. The ones with beer in them were kept for a few days at temperatures above 80 degrees inadvertently and led to the beer spoiling, turning into a vinegary mess that was undrinkable, even though they were sealed the whole time. I thoroughly cleaned them with some elbow grease (using dishwashing soap and a scrubbing sponge) and replaced all gaskets before StarSan was applied to both.

Two months later I brewed up a Scotch at about 8% and an Irish Red at about 4.5%. I tasted them before putting them in the keg and they tasted great. After two or three days in the kegs I started to drink the Irish Red and noticed a distinct difference, that had a similar vinegary taste mentioned before. The fridge it they were in was kept at 40 degrees. This didn't halt the infection from further destroying my beer until it again became undrinkable, to include little white flecks of something that were easily seen as I dispensed it and a slight opaque film on the top of the liquid when I opened the keg to sample from the top. I tasted the scotch and it had a fainter taste of the vinegar flavor, but remained somewhat drinkable.

Round 2. I purchased some PBW and brushes to fit into the keg's smaller tubes and cleaned the ever-living daylights out of it. I soaked all the parts in PBW over 24 hours in hot water, including the rubber poppet-valves and the dispensing hoses, and soaked everything in StarSan (even turning the kegs over halfway and draining a bit off to ensure everything was whetted). I brewed an Imperial IPA at 101 IBU and an Oktoberfest lager. I put the Oktoberfest in the keg I had used for the Irish Red and the IPA in the one that had the Scotch. I had left the IPA in the keg for about a week at room temperature to dry hop it and had the Oktoberfest lager in the other keg for about 4 weeks at 40 degrees.

I went to taste the Oktoberfest recently and noticed again that same vinegary taste. It is undrinkable. I had put some in a separate growler, so I know it's not the beer itself. The IPA also developed a slight vinegar taste but has remained somewhat drinkable so far. So, I'm just wanting some feedback to see if anyone has experienced similar things before and has beat these beasties into submission somehow. The only thing I haven't done so far is to attempt to sterilize with boiling water, bleach and water solution, or steam/ autoclave (to which I have no idea how to accomplish it even if I wasn't afraid it would render the attached rubber/ plastic completely useless).

I believe this is an acetobacter infection. This is due to the symptoms (vinegar flavor that develops into an undrinkable solution and white flakes) and the fact that I have seen a few dead fruit flies, that are known carriers, magically appear in the same freezer after a few days of not opening it. However, I cannot believe it is remaining and active through an airborne path, as that same logic would indicate that anything in that freezer should also be affected. The beer from the fermenters I have placed in there and my third keg remain unaffected by this though. So, the only conclusion I can come up with is that my cleaning methods are not good enough, even though all other resources state that it should be. I just want to stop creating vinegar and go back to making beer and am almost at the point of throwing these two kegs out.

I do plan on making a Flander's Red and a lambic here soon, but with these past ones turning into almost pure vinegar I sincerely doubt that these would anything but ruinous to my prolonged efforts. I know enough to recognize that sour might be good but vinegar is very bad. Yet this bastard infection continues to survive with higher alcohol levels and high IBUs and low temperatures. Early on even, after I had initially applied StarSan both times and let the kegs sit, I also detected a slight vinegary scent even with the sanitizing agent still obviously present. That second round I sanitized it again with StarSan and didn't smell the vinegar scent after another couple days of waiting, so I thought I'd beaten it. I realize this is pretty drawn out and apologize for the rant! I'll go back to drinking my vinegar beer now...

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Old 02-08-2013, 12:36 PM   #2
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Soak in either PBW (as before) or my favorite, B-brite, also hot for 24 to 48 hours filled up to over flowing out of the post holes(drop dip tubes in too). Remove posts and discard ALL rubber gaskets, including poppetsvalves. After soaking and flushing star-san COMPLETELY, repace new gaskets(orings) and poppets, Leave the bubbles, do no rinse star san of surfaces put posts, and gaskets on wet, and gas up. Store under gas.....can't imagine anything surviving that.


Oh...and Aloha....sorry just had to say that. Living here in the northeast US with a Blizzard bearing down on us, and 30 degree temps, has me really wishing I live where you live.

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Old 02-08-2013, 12:46 PM   #3
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This has me worried about a 'taste' I've seen from a few of my kegs (haven't seen if its the same one). Few of my beers had a similar taste to it no matter the style, but I think that could be something else.

But this is pretty scary. I wonder if you could do an acid rinse of some sort on a corny to get EVERYTHING out.

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Old 02-08-2013, 01:19 PM   #4
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I don't think you can safely bleach stainless steel.
Try 1 cup vinegar to 5 gallons -- in addition to what the guy above me said re replacing all plastic.
Soak overnight, rinse with super hot (boiling even) water. I would then try a second round of a different cleaner like oxiclean.

I would also replace, not clean, all keg lines.

Sucks to hear about this!

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Old 02-08-2013, 02:06 PM   #5
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This is due to the symptoms (vinegar flavor that develops into an undrinkable solution and white flakes) and the fact that I have seen a few dead fruit flies, that are known carriers, magically appear in the same freezer after a few days of not opening it. However, I cannot believe it is remaining and active through an airborne path, as that same logic would indicate that anything in that freezer should also be affected. The beer from the fermenters I have placed in there and my third keg remain unaffected by this though.
I have a hunch that your keezer itself is infected. You're brewing the beer, and it's fine, as you're not fermenting inside the keezer (at least that's what I presume). You then put the fermenter in the keezer to cold-age/lager, and the exterior of the fermenter is picking up acetobacter while it's in there. As you rack from the now-tainted fermenter (on the exterior), your hands or other instruments are touching that tainted fermenter, and infecting the beer as it goes in the keg.

I would recommend the following:

Get a spray bottle of Lysol cleaner with bleach (or the walmart brand with bleach). Clean the inside of your keezer completely, and let it dry out and aerate for a few days. Don't forget to clean the inside of the lid, too.

Also, when it comes time to rack, spray down the outside of the fermenter with the same lysol cleaner, prior to transferring the beer. This should prevent any bugs from tagging along from the outside of the fermenter to the keg. Don't forget to clean the underside of the fermenter too. You may consider using a shallow pan with a bleach water mixture, that way you don't have to put the fermenter on its side to clean the underside.

Also, as others have said, take apart all kegs/hoses/taps and clean with PBW or oxy-clean, and sanitize with Starsan.

MC
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
left some residual beer in two of my Corny kegs, while a third one was empty. The ones with beer in them were kept for a few days at temperatures above 80 degrees inadvertently and led to the beer spoiling, turning into a vinegary mess that was undrinkable, even though they were sealed the whole time.
It sounds like you had your infection before you took the beer out of the fridge temps, the fridge temps were just keeping the infection in check.

Simply leaving a sealed, purged keg of beer at temps above 80 for a few days will NOT spoil the beer. I routinely rack beers from primary to a corny keg and let them sit for several weeks, like a month or two at room temps around 74-76. As long as they are properly sealed and purged, that's the same idea as a secondary fermentation, and would not lead to spoilage for several months without other factors at play.

You had the infection before that point.

Definitely soak in bleach for 24-48 hours, then soak in hotwater baking soda solution for 24 hours to get rid of the bleach smell, then soak in hotwater PBW/OxyClean solution for another 24 hours, then soak in hotwater StarSan solution for another 24 hours. Do all of this with the keg posts, tubes, and lid at the bottom of the keg to soak. Replace all of the O-rings in the keg posts and lid, as well as all of your kegorator lines.

That'll do the trick! That's how I clean and sanatize the kegs I use bacteria and wild yeast in.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:29 PM   #7
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I've had similar issues with a diacetyl off flavor and my kegs. I've swapped out almost everything plastic and not I am trying new kegs, tubing, faucets. Fortunately the off flavor isn't terrible and the beer is drinkable.

Check you bev tubing, shank and faucet. Really disassemble and scrub them clean. Use form BLC on your tubing.

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Old 02-08-2013, 04:03 PM   #8
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Maybe you have already done this, but don't overlook your beer lines, quick connects, and all the other dispensing system hardware.

The infection could have migrated outside of the kegs.

You could be getting a reinfection through these parts even though it sounds like you have done a good job of cleaning/sanitizing the kegs themselves.

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Old 02-08-2013, 04:39 PM   #9
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I would try a bleach solution for the kegs. While it will oxidize stainless, it's not a problem if left for only a few hours. Just don't leave bleach in stainless for days. After you rinse the bleack out well , re passivate and sanitize with a star San solution. I would throw away all rubber, and replace the lines. Them take apart your disconnects as well as shanks and faucets and clean then boil all parts.

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Old 02-08-2013, 05:12 PM   #10
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Soak in either PBW (as before) or my favorite, B-brite, also hot for 24 to 48 hours filled up to over flowing out of the post holes(drop dip tubes in too). Remove posts and discard ALL rubber gaskets, including poppetsvalves. After soaking and flushing star-san COMPLETELY, repace new gaskets(orings) and poppets, Leave the bubbles, do no rinse star san of surfaces put posts, and gaskets on wet, and gas up. Store under gas.....can't imagine anything surviving that.


Oh...and Aloha....sorry just had to say that. Living here in the northeast US with a Blizzard bearing down on us, and 30 degree temps, has me really wishing I live where you live.
I did the PBW with hot water from the faucet for 24 hours and heard that any more than that is not really any more beneficial compared to the possibility of developing beer stones. I did everything else you've said except to fill it with CO2 after StarSan or replace the poppets, and I don't rinse the StarSan, but I've pressurized the keg with beer in it and it still gets noticably worse over time...so I don't think that would make much of a difference.

Stay warm inside and drink beer man! Best way to weather out a storm.
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