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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Wild yeast infection sources
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Old 04-04-2011, 05:31 PM   #1
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Default Wild yeast infection sources

I've done a lot of reading on the forum over the last few days re: wild yeast infections. I am pretty sure my last two batches got hit. The flavor is only slightly off. But both beers are gushers. Drinkable but certainly not my finest efforts.

I am fairly certain I got bit in the bottling stage. Both beers tasted and smelled fine at bottling. Now I've got gushers and some fruity esters that were not there at packaging.

I have gone over my equipment and sanitation process and nearly everything is in order. I think I have identified my two most likely culprits.

Suspect A - I found a cut in the transfer hose I attach to my auto-siphon. The hose, of course, has been replaced.

Suspect B - old priming sugar. I accidentally over-bought some corn sugar several months ago and had a 2 pound sack sitting in a ziplock bag in a closet. Shortly after that, I went through a kegging phase and the bag of sugar has been sitting (room temp and dry) in the closet for at least 6 months.

As with most problems, I think the infection here could have been a result of me taking a shortcut on bottling day.

While making my priming solution, I only just brought the solution to a boil, then removed it from the heat where it cooled while I sanitized the bottles, priming bucket, etc.

Is it possible that I got some wild yeast into this old sugar, then did not boil it long enough to kill all of the wild yeast? If so, how long is long enough to boil the priming solution. I usually only boil it 2-3 min max and have never had a problem. But this time, it seems like I just got it to a boil and left something living in the priming solution.

Either that, or it came from the cut in my tubing. Or a little of both.

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Old 04-04-2011, 06:10 PM   #2
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Is it possible that your beer did not finish fermenting? Beer that is fermented at higher temperatures and/or was poorly aerated will lead to fruity esters in the beer...so is it possible that you bottled and stored in a warmer area?
Also are you using a bottling bucket? If so, the spigot is a great source of hiding bacteria.

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Old 04-04-2011, 07:11 PM   #3
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I wouldn't worry about the priming sugar, any boiling at all will kill off anything growing there. Bottling bucket might be a place to look. The cut in the tubing is a possibility, but assuming you sanitized it there wouldn't be a lot of wild yeast in there so I would think it would take a while for a small population of wild yeast to take hold and cause gushers/esters.

Not finished fermenting is another possibility. I've had a couple of batches that definitely had esters develop over the course of carbing and cooling that weren't nearly as noticeable in the hydrometer samples. If you were a little bit estery to begin with and left a few fermentables behind, that could lead to your problem. Is the whole batch estery/gushing, or is it just a few of the bottles?

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Old 04-04-2011, 07:46 PM   #4
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Per my notes, I was actually a couple of points lower than my expected FG on both beers. Both beers also fermented a couple of degrees warmer than I wanted and the one with the biggest problem (a stout) spent a month in primary in the same room where the bottles were eventually condition. The reason that I went with infection is that the problem was a sudden onset after several good batches.

I would be surprised if the spigot was an issue. While I am soaking the bottles in starsan, I usually disassemble the spigot and toss it in with the sanitizing bottles. Then I attach the spigot to the bottling bucket and fill the bottling bucket with sanitizer. Once it's set about 10 min or so, I drain the starsan through the spigot.

Everything that touches the beer (bottles, caps, wand, spigot, bucket, tubing, autosiphon) gets a starsan bath of 10 min or longer on bottling day.

I inspected the wand, autosiphon and bucket and did not see any obvious gouges or scratches that would harbor infection. Honestly, since I have already replaced the tubing, I can get a new bucket, wand, siphon and spigot for less than the cost of my next batch of beer. I am considering just pitching it all and replacing my whole bottling setup.

I do use a bench capper. One thing I never considered, what about the removable brass and magnet piece? I have never taken that off. Could that be a source of infection? My cap is usually wet with starsan when I load it in the capper so I don't worry about it. Should I be removing the metal and magnet piece and sanitizing that on bottling day as well I wonder?

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Old 04-04-2011, 08:56 PM   #5
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I think your procedure sounds fine and I'd look at the plastic as the main culprit. You're probably fine with the old sugar, you just might want to boil it for 5-10min next time. I wouldn't worry about the capper or really anything else.

Did you remove the bottle labels? Probably a silly question, but a very important step.

Replace all the plastic and see what happens next.

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Old 04-04-2011, 09:25 PM   #6
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I have been recycling the same bottles for years and don't use labels. I am a low frills operation. After bottling I mark each cap using a sharpie with the brew date and a code identifying the beer.

I've heard of some people using the sanitizing cycle on a dishwasher to clean their plastic. I assume they mean WITHOUT the heated dry? Has anybody here done this? I am particularly interested as to whether the autosiphon, spigot and wand will stand up to it.

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Old 04-04-2011, 09:28 PM   #7
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Back when I was bottling, I used to put my bottles in the dishwasher to sanitize them... then I got some infections... so I bought StarSan. And then kegs.

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Old 04-05-2011, 12:53 AM   #8
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It sounds like you have a perfectly acceptable sanitation regime for bottling. No need to worry about the sugar, you boiled it. The cut in the hose is possibly a source of bacteria/yeast but if you are running sanitizer through it, that was likely not an issue.

What you have described does not sound specifically like contamination post-bottling. You can have a few thousand bacteria/wild yeast/mL during fermentation and not notice it, but when it comes time to bottle the contamination finally has a chance to shine. Are you re-using yeast? I would look for something earlier in the process.

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Old 04-05-2011, 03:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theredben View Post
It sounds like you have a perfectly acceptable sanitation regime for bottling. No need to worry about the sugar, you boiled it. The cut in the hose is possibly a source of bacteria/yeast but if you are running sanitizer through it, that was likely not an issue.

What you have described does not sound specifically like contamination post-bottling. You can have a few thousand bacteria/wild yeast/mL during fermentation and not notice it, but when it comes time to bottle the contamination finally has a chance to shine. Are you re-using yeast? I would look for something earlier in the process.
Not reusing. This was a fresh vial of WLP002 in a 1200ml starter. I made the starter about 48 hours before brewday. The flask was sanitized with star san as well. I boiled and cooled the starter wort, poured into the flask using a sanitized funnel. I hit it with O2 and put it on my stir plate.

I'm really scratching my head on this one. With the exception of the hose, all of my plastic looks to be in good shape.

*EDIT* The starter mentioned above was for the first of two affected beers. The second beer was the same yeast (WLP002) but also a new vial as well. The starter size for the second beer was about 1L. The flask and anything that came into the starter went through the same sanitation procedure mentioned above.

One other variable I just thought about. I use a SS wand to push O2 into my starters and my beers. I usually will give it a 20-30 min starsan soak before using. Then drop it back into the starsan afterward while I am cleaning up. Then it will just air dry until the next time I need to sanitize and use it. Is that the recommended way of working working with the O2 stone mounted on the wand? I have heard some people boil them. Should I do that next time? I figure just boiling the stone end in a saucepan of water for 5-10 min should be fine. The SS wand should be OK with a starsan soak.
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:51 PM   #10
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If you are not re-using yeast that excludes the major source of contamination left. How much priming sugar did you use? Hydro readings the same 3 days apart? What was the temp of the beer when bottling?

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