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Old 08-13-2012, 04:44 AM   #1
joelbowen
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Default Sweet Stout Molding

Hello all - I'm new to both the forum as well as to homebrewing and am in need of some wisdom:

My friend and I just cooked my first batch (a sweet stout from NB) which is currently in a 6 gallon carboy for the initial fermentation. This was not his first brew, but it is mine. My concern is that after 5 days the batch appears to have a thin layer of mold instead of a nice foamy bubble. All equipment was properly sterilized beforehand and the wort was at boil for the appropriate time, however a few things happened during brew:

  1. After we finished cooking, it took some time (approximately 20 minutes) in the ice bath to cool the wort.
  2. My friend was concerned that his yeast MIGHT not be alive due to its age and some other factors, however the bag had inflated appropriately and seemed fine.
  3. Since it was taking so long we pitched the yeast at approximately 105 degrees.
  4. After pitching the yeast, I looked into the bag and noticed that one side of the plastic yeast mixture pack (which appears to be split into two "bladders") had not been broken, it was a translucent yellowish liquid, while what I pitched was milky in texture. We consulted and decided to cut open the "bladder" and poor the yellowish liquid in, assuming it was needed to fully activate the yeast.

Other than those items, everything else pretty much went according to the letter, however i'm now concerned that the batch (though it is bubbling) isn't fermenting correctly and is actually molding.

We're considering racking from the bottom into another carboy and avoiding the "mold" layer and adding a fresh packet of properly activated yeast - would this be a good idea? Would two packs of yeast affect the taste much?

Here's a picture for your reference, and thanks in advance for your help!



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Old 08-13-2012, 12:55 PM   #2
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Fermentation is an ugly, gross, disgusting thing.

Your beer looks just fine. Pitching at 105 wasn't a good idea, but I doubt that's mold.

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Old 08-13-2012, 03:51 PM   #3
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While waiting for the moderator to approve this post I spent a significant amount of time checking out old forum posts and the awesome wiki (homebrewtalk.com/wiki) and i've settled on the most likely cause being:

  • The yeast hadn't been fully activated and thus fermentation is struggling a bit
  • After considering a few points of the brew process it's quite possible an infection has formed - not the least of which was using a non-sanitized pyrex to measure out water to meet the 5-gallon mark after cooking and cooling the wort.
And If any of the above are true I'm still thinking it'll be best to rack into another carboy and pitch a fresh pack of yeast. Should I also consider boiling it once more just to make sure?
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Old 08-13-2012, 04:38 PM   #4
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Leave it be. If it's infected, then why bother wasting more time & money on it, since it's garbage. If it's not infected, then don't fix it if it ain't broke. Just let it go, give it a smell, and pull a sample to take a drink if you're really curious. Move on, and start devising or brewing your next batch with the lessons learned from this one:

1. Don't pitch at 105F; cool the wort first, even if it takes hours.
2. Don't use old yeast unless you make an extra-big starter to compensate.
3. Always make a starter unless you have really fresh yeast and a low-gravity ale.
4. The packet inside smack-packs is not the yeast -- you don't even need to smack a smack-pack. You probably just underpitched if your yeast were old.

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Old 08-13-2012, 05:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joelbowen View Post
  • The yeast hadn't been fully activated and thus fermentation is struggling a bit
  • After considering a few points of the brew process it's quite possible an infection has formed - not the least of which was using a non-sanitized pyrex to measure out water to meet the 5-gallon mark after cooking and cooling the wort.
Why go through the pain of sanitizing "nearly everything"?? Having just one hole in your bucket will still cause it to leak.
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Old 08-13-2012, 07:11 PM   #6
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Thanks guys - sounds like it'll be a let it ride situation for the next few weeks and then take a good smell/taste test to ensure it's ready to go before secondary. It's my first brew and I'm already learning a ton about good practice and what to expect so I really appreciate it, now off to visit my local homebrew store and get another batch going.

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Old 08-13-2012, 08:03 PM   #7
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Pick up a copy of "How to Brew" when you are there. I still use that book nearly 3 years in. Best $12 I ever spent on homebrewing.

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Old 08-13-2012, 10:01 PM   #8
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That krausen does look a little strange to me usually they are more brownish. 105 is a little high to pitch yeast not sure if they got killed. Only real test is to take a taste after a few days to see what its looking like.

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Old 08-13-2012, 10:53 PM   #9
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Taking a taste definitely seems to be the best bet whenever concerned about a brew, however I haven't come across a good description of what to look for when tasting. I assume a bitterness or sourness would be an indication, so in the first week or so a sweet taste would still be prevalent?

Update:
Five days in, and it looks like fermentation is taking over and the initial layer that was concerning is all but gone.

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Old 08-13-2012, 11:16 PM   #10
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That first picture looks a LOT like a brett fermentation. In fact, I would have bet money on it.

Brett is yeast and won't make your beer sour. In fact, it might not have a significant affect on the taste directly. But 2 things brett does that can cause you problems: 1), it will ferment the beer drier than expected; the FG will end up lower than you expected, and 2) it ferments more slowly.

The second point is significant if you bottle. I'd guess that many, many gusher / bottle bomb issues were cause by brett infections that slowly, over months, fermented in the bottle.

I don't mean to cause alarm, but that odd ball-like puffiness all over that first pic is exactly what brett looks like when it forms a krausen. Good luck.

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