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Old 03-12-2010, 05:39 PM   #1
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Default Brewing While Sick.....

Ok, at the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, would there be any problems associated with brewing beer while you have a cold? Not as far as ruining the beer, but could the germs survive in the beer and be passed on? I know most cold germs can only survive in open air for a few days at most, but wasn't sure if the conditions in a fermenter or bottle might be able to harbor the germs and then pass them on. I'm pretty well over my cold, but the misses has caught it now. I wanted to bottle what I've got in the secondary and brew a new batch this weekend. I can wash my hands all I want to keep them clean, but inevitably I'll at least breathe on the beer. Thanks for humoring me.

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Old 03-12-2010, 05:49 PM   #2
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Ok, at the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, would there be any problems associated with brewing beer while you have a cold? Not as far as ruining the beer, but could the germs survive in the beer and be passed on? I know most cold germs can only survive in open air for a few days at most, but wasn't sure if the conditions in a fermenter or bottle might be able to harbor the germs and then pass them on. I'm pretty well over my cold, but the misses has caught it now. I wanted to bottle what I've got in the secondary and brew a new batch this weekend. I can wash my hands all I want to keep them clean, but inevitably I'll at least breathe on the beer. Thanks for humoring me.
No such thing as an idiotic question. Brewing is an investment, asking questions is a good thing.

Cold viruses are exceedingly weak. They require host cells to propagate, and therefore will not multiply in beer. Especially fermented beer. So long as everything you are touching (brew paddle, spoons, thermometer, hydrometer, etc) has been sanitized and you keep it sanitized throughout the process you'll be fine.
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Old 03-12-2010, 05:50 PM   #3
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In my professional medical opinion(I'm not a doctor), I think you'll be fine. Wash your hands well, maybe wear a mask if you feel that breathing on the bottles may contaminate them. The beer will be fine, but maybe the bottles could hold the germs for awhile(not in the bottle where the beer is, but on the lip). Or,......I'm just talking out of my butt and really have no idea.

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Old 03-12-2010, 05:54 PM   #4
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Even if you have a bacterial infection the odds of it being transmitted to the beer is pretty low. You'd probably have to hock a very large green snot ball into the wort at pitch time.

In the event that this did somehow happen, your final product would be instantly recognizable as not-beer (the vomit inducing aroma would be your first clue.) Bacteria that eat meat tend not to smell very good at all.

Back in the old days small beer (OG of 1.025 or so) was used as a way to clean up any potential pathogens hanging out in the local water. Converting water that would cause Montezuma's Revenge into a sanitary beverage.

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Old 03-12-2010, 06:08 PM   #5
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Turn the question around to find your answer...would you drink my beer if you knew I brewed it when I was sick?

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Old 03-12-2010, 06:20 PM   #6
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You'd probably have to hock a very large green snot ball into the wort at pitch time.
"Green" mucus is actually an important distnction for what we're discussing. If your mucus is green in color this denotes an upper respiratory infection of the bacterial kind. Yellow is a viral infection as the yellow color comes from antibodies and white blood cells fighting off the virus.

Again, as I said earlier your beer has nothing to fear from a virus since it requires a living host to survive. Most viruses will not live beyond 30 seconds outside a host body. And depending on the bacteria, most that cause illness in humans also cannot live long outside a human body, but have a slightly longer "shelf life" than viruses. Wort is not their preferred medium, I guarantee you. The primary bacteria you'd be concerned about while brewing do not make humans sick.

You'll be fine to brew while sick. Just sanitize as you normally would and you'll be fine. Brew on!
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Old 03-12-2010, 06:33 PM   #7
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That's a great question as I was in the same situation last weekend. I figured I wasn't coughing and was really careful not to rub my nose, etc., so I went ahead and brewed. If you're coughing/sneezing I wouldn't do it. Not that there's any risk of "passing on the virus," but we're dealing with live yeast, etc. and any bacteria/virus getting in there is not a good thing. A final thought...Perhaps if you drink a whole bunch of vodka while you're brewing this will kill any virus/germs in your mouth... Brew away!

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Old 03-12-2010, 07:34 PM   #8
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Nothing that can live in a human being can live in beer. There is no problem brewing sick, unless you think you might sneeze when carrying a full glass carboy down the steps.

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Old 03-12-2010, 07:38 PM   #9
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You'd probably have to hock a very large green snot ball into the wort at pitch time.
I'm sitting here at work eating my split pea soup as i read this...Suddenly I'm not that hungry.
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Old 03-13-2010, 12:05 AM   #10
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That's a great question as I was in the same situation last weekend. I figured I wasn't coughing and was really careful not to rub my nose, etc., so I went ahead and brewed. If you're coughing/sneezing I wouldn't do it. Not that there's any risk of "passing on the virus," but we're dealing with live yeast, etc. and any bacteria/virus getting in there is not a good thing. A final thought...Perhaps if you drink a whole bunch of vodka while you're brewing this will kill any virus/germs in your mouth... Brew away!
You could pitch a batch of Ebola virus in with your yeast and you'd be ok. The virus would be dead in seconds and your yeast would probably eat the leftover nucleic acids
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