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Old 02-07-2013, 12:19 AM   #1
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Default I made vinegar, not beer!!

Been in the glass fermenter 2 weeks and I looked and no yeast cake. What? Tasted it, it's vinegar!! Did the yeast eat itself, what happened? Early on this batch did blow it's airlock. I thought I noticed soon enough and just put it back on(after sterilizing) instead of a blow off tube. Because fermentation by then had died down. Now after looking at how much malt vinegar costs, kicking myself for dumping it. Luckily was only a 2.5 gallon batch in a 3 gallon fermenter.

So where did the yeast cake go? Can someone help me understand what happened?

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Old 02-07-2013, 12:22 AM   #2
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Need a little more info. Recipe, process, etc.

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Old 02-07-2013, 12:31 AM   #3
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It sounds like you made beer, but the beer got contaminated with aceterobacter (the bacteria that causes vinegar). Since it eats alcohol, and needs oxygen, having a 2.5 gallon batch in a three gallon carboy gave it plenty of headspace after fermentation slowed.

When I (purposely!) make vinegar, the same thing happens. Actero bacteria need to have alcohol to make vinegar, and they need oxygen.

I wonder if when the blow off happened that some actero bacter got in, and took hold once the beer stopped fermenting and had all that headspace.

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Old 02-07-2013, 12:34 AM   #4
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It was a dark ale extract kit that I bought on sale from my local shop. I just followed the instructions and didn't save the packaging. Came with specialty grains to steep, some hops, dry yeast, and a plastic can of extract. I don't remember all the details. I'll call the shop when they are open tomorrow and see if I can find out from them what happened. They have my customer # and can look up my purchase.

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Old 02-07-2013, 12:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
It sounds like you made beer, but the beer got contaminated with aceterobacter (the bacteria that causes vinegar). Since it eats alcohol, and needs oxygen, having a 2.5 gallon batch in a three gallon carboy gave it plenty of headspace after fermentation slowed.

When I (purposely!) make vinegar, the same thing happens. Actero bacteria need to have alcohol to make vinegar, and they need oxygen.

I wonder if when the blow off happened that some actero bacter got in, and took hold once the beer stopped fermenting and had all that headspace.
Thanks! When you purposely make vinegar, there is no yeast cake left?
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Old 02-07-2013, 12:38 AM   #6
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Wonder if it was the low PH that dissolved the yeast and trub? Was it cloudy or clear? Sucks that you had to dump it, but pretty cool that the yeast could disappear like that...

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Old 02-07-2013, 12:41 AM   #7
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Wonder if it was the low PH that dissolved the yeast and trub? Was it cloudy or clear? Sucks that you had to dump it, but pretty cool that the yeast could disappear like that...
It was surprisingly clear and yes, I want to know what happened to the yeast cake/trub!
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Old 02-07-2013, 12:57 AM   #8
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One thing's for sure, I'd be certain to replace any tubing that may have come into contact with the vinegar and sanitize the heck out of your fermenter.

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Old 02-07-2013, 11:03 AM   #9
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Wonder if it was the low PH that dissolved the yeast and trub?
Is this what happened? I am just curious why the yeast cake disappeared. Acid can dissolve stuff so this sounds reasonable to me.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:15 AM   #10
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It could also be lactobacillus, which is a bacteria that loves sugars in all forms and requires no alcohol. Since there was no buttery component to the flavor, i'd rule out Pediococcus. It could also be dozens of varieties of other bacteria that will sour your beer. These are just the most common.

This is why the three most important things in brewing are: Sanitation, sanitation and sanitation. To really be a successful brewer, you kind of have to become obsessive over sanitation or things like this will eventually happen. The best part is, it's completely fix-able for future batches. You just need some good sanitation procedures. Invest a little time and money in a blow off tube or buy some fermcap-s to prevent blow offs of your airlock.

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