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Old 01-19-2013, 05:19 PM   #1
Mohanbrau
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Default brewing with cacao nibs...infected?

Brewing a Belgian mocha stout, fermented 2 weeks in the primary. One week ago, I racked it into the secondary onto 4 oz. of cacao nibs packaged by Northern Brewer. Sanitized my secondary fermenter and siphoning/racking equipment as usual. I assumed that the cacao nibs, packaged in the oxygen-barrier foil pouch, would be sterile and ready for use. Was I wrong?

One week after adding the cacao nibs, I have this white powdery-looking mass floating on the surface of the beer. I've only brewed once before with cacao nibs (also from NB, in a foil pouch), and I don't remember anything like this. See attached photo.

Would appreciate hearing from anyone that recognizes whatever this is. Thanks.

20130119_130002.jpg  
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:57 PM   #2
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That looks infected to me - have you tried pulling a sample from it to see if it has any off flavours?

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Old 01-19-2013, 07:12 PM   #3
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That looks like the start of a pellicle of some sort to me.

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Old 01-19-2013, 07:28 PM   #4
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Infected my chocolate stout the same way. It turned out great. Next time I will soak the nibs in vodka first though.

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Old 01-19-2013, 07:34 PM   #5
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It looks like Antarctica from outer space. Cool!

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Old 01-19-2013, 07:39 PM   #6
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Cacao nibs can be especially nasty due to the way they are processed in third world areas.

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Old 01-20-2013, 02:46 AM   #7
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So how do you prevent this using nibs?

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Old 01-20-2013, 03:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigc3031 View Post
So how do you prevent this using nibs?
It may not have had anything to do with the nibs (did you flush the humongous head space in that carboy after you racked?) but soaking them in vodka, Everclear or Rum for a few days will pretty much kill any critters lurking within, as well as dramatically increase the cocoa extract.

It's what I do and I've never had an infection...but I also flush the head space when I do a secondary...

Cheers!
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:32 PM   #9
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I had the exact same thing with a chocolate milk stout from nb using nibs. It did not seem to have any negative side effects and I even held on to some for several months to see if it would ever turn bad. Like others have said, I will soak in vodka next time.

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Old 01-20-2013, 05:55 PM   #10
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Thanks, all. It sounds like it's an infection, but one that may not negatively affect the final product. I'll taste it when I draw a gravity sample before bottling and decide then whether to dump or keep it.

The enormous headspace is due to having only this 6.5 gal carboy available when I needed a secondary for this batch; all my other carboys were tied up. It never occurred to me to flush the headspace with CO2. The beer was still fermenting and pushing CO2 out of the airlock, so I figured it was purging the air in there by itself. Plus, by this point the beer is at about 6% ABV and pretty low in pH; I'd be surprised if anything floating in the air would infect it. I'm going with the theory that I should soak the nibs in vodka next time.

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