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Old 11-28-2010, 07:58 PM   #1
Jill
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Default Infected batch?

This coffee stout was brewed around 10/15... seemed okay when transferred to secondary around 10/31, but obviously something has gone wrong! I transferred it from secondary (carboy) to a bucket last week in order to add a grain bag of coffee, and whatever was growing in the carboy has totally taken off now in the bucket.

We have been brewing for years with NO "bad" (contaminated) batches and in the last year we have had 2 or 3 contaminated batches -- but none in the last few months.

Any idea on what this might be, and how I can prevent it from happening again? (I'm assuming I need to chuck it, my septic tank will be thrilled with the boost!)

I always thought if we made it past the initial fermentation, that the chance of contamination was greatly diminished by the alcohol content. The first picture was taken the day I transferred from carboy to bucket, and the second is a current picture.

TIA for any advice.

Jill


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Old 11-29-2010, 05:32 PM   #2
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Wow, this is the first time I might actually have to say. . . yes, I think that's an infection. Is your coffee stout growing actual fur? Shocking.

As for the source of your infection. . . you write:

Quote:
I transferred it from secondary (carboy) to a bucket last week in order to add a grain bag of coffee.
Did you sanitize the coffee and the bag? If so, how? Remember that liquid sanitizers like star-san aren't terribly effective on cloth (like grain bags) or items with lots of nooks and crannies (like coffee beans.) I always boil my coffee, in the grain bag, before adding it to secondary.

Aside from that, my only suggestion is to really redouble your sanitation efforts. Throw out all your plastic containers and tubing, and replace them. (That should be cheap, MUCH less expensive than a batch of wasted beer.) Rinse everything in water to get rid of large particulates, and then immerse everything in Oxyclean and scalding hot water for 20 minutes before you sanitize it. Then immerse everything in star-san for 20 minutes.

Some people save time and money by using a spray bottle to sanitize; if it works for them, great. I feel better immersing everything, and maybe you should too for the next couple of batches?
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:39 PM   #3
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It may be infection, or it may not. I've seen this and had it happen once when dry hopping. Hop oils on the surface of the beer like an oil slick trapping rising co2 bubbles in it. Biermuncher saved me from noobish panic with a picture very similar.

Maybe the oils from the coffee have done the same thing. I would pull a sample and smell and taste it. It might really not be infected. You may just be able to rack underneath.

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Old 11-29-2010, 05:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
I would pull a sample and smell and taste it.
Absolutely.
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:51 PM   #5
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That looks infected. But I wouldn't jump the gun and toss it. It might taste good still (funky and sour good). If that grain bag still had remnants of grains on it and wasn't cleaned and sanitized really well, that may be the source of the infection– most likely lacto. Grains are crawling with lactobacilli, that's one of the reasons we boil the wort.

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Old 11-29-2010, 09:58 PM   #6
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I hope I am wrong but that sure looks infected to me.

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Old 12-07-2010, 05:05 PM   #7
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Looks infected to me, too. But I thought I had my first infection about a month ago. Bottled it anyway & it is fine. Remember:

if
homebrew taste ≠ satan's anus
then
bottle & enjoy
end if

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Old 12-12-2010, 04:07 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the feedback. I hadn't thought of boiling the grain bag (and coffee?) prior to adding. I do think something was going on before adding the coffee, but the "crud" took off after that step. Racked this to a keg last week (left the saponified crud in the bucket, LOL) and it actually tastes "okay"?? I have a hard time drinking warm, non-carbonated beer, so will have to see what this tastes like in a few days. Thanks for all the feedback -- glad I didn't toss it, we'll have to see how drinkable it is!

As a side note -- we had houseguests while this was in the primary, and they turned the heat on to that part of the house, so there was a bit of temperature fluctuation in addition to it just generally being warmer than we keep it. Could this have contributed to an infection -- maybe conditions were better for something that competed with the yeast?

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Old 12-12-2010, 05:40 PM   #9
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I had a batch that kind of looked like that (not quite as bad). When I checked the gravity, it tasted ok and I bottled it anyway. It turned out to be be perfectly fine.

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