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Old 07-19-2010, 03:20 PM   #1
melortz
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Default Consistently Contaminated Beer

Hi all:

Was wondering if anyone could lend some advice....I have been brewing successfully for a few years and recently moved to a new house where the water is very hard and has a pH of 7.8. Every beer I have brewed here in the new house becomes contaminated after primary fermentation. I use distilled water for my extract kits and everything is fine until I move to secondary fermentation and then there is a strange taste or smell-from a mild off taste to something that tastes like feet or cheese I have replaced my tubing and use Star San for sanitation.

Has anyone experienced anything like this or have any advice? Thanks

mark

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Old 07-19-2010, 03:23 PM   #2
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what are you using for your secondary? assuming it is an infection replace all plastic parts. you may have a scratch somewhere that the infection is hiding in.

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Old 07-19-2010, 03:34 PM   #3
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Hi:

I am using a plastic buckets for primary and glass carboys for secondary. The issues is that it happens with every bucket (I have 3 different buckets). Thanks

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Old 07-19-2010, 03:51 PM   #4
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I'd start by replacing all the buckets. "Feet" could be a strain of Brettanomyces or Pediococus.

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Old 07-19-2010, 04:00 PM   #5
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Thanks for the $.02 - there is a slight caveat to this puzzle. I had a local brewery brew 2 batches of a Dunkelweizen that I used my primary and secondary containers and it turned out fine. So, does that rule out the buckets being bad and if the buckets are scratched, wouldn't a sanitizer clean it? Thanks!

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Old 07-19-2010, 04:08 PM   #6
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Bacteria can "hide" in scratch and hard to reach places. I would change your plastic materials to get new ones.

Or stop doing secondary, if the infection happen there. A lot of people here stopped doing secondary (unless they are doing fruit beers, dry hoping, etc.). But, this is just avoiding the problem.

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Old 07-19-2010, 04:20 PM   #7
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Can infection get into the glass carboy in secondary. I notice the problem after primary. Thanks.

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Old 07-19-2010, 04:41 PM   #8
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Infection can happen anywhere where there is bacteria. It won't "get into" plastic or glass if it's not already in there when you seal it up.

I think Erythro makes a good point: try fermenting without a secondary vessel and see how it turns out. That could give you a clue as to whether the infection is happening in primary and just taking a little while to show itself or during the racking/secondary.

If you get good results from your primary, and you are convinced your secondary is thoroughly clean and sanitized, I would suspect something in your racking process (maybe a scratched plastic cane?) as a source.

Also, are you sure its an infection as opposed to some sort of serious off flavors? Did you use distilled water before you moved to the new house? Fermentation temps? Try to think of everything about your process that has changed since the move and start playing with the one by one to figure out the source of the problem.

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Old 07-19-2010, 04:49 PM   #9
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Hi Red Glass - thanks for the words of wisdom!

It seems to be a primary fermentation issue b/c I notice it in primary only. How would I know the difference between "off" flavors as opposed to an infection?

I did use distilled water prior to the new house and my fermentation temperatures are usually around 70-75 degrees. Unfortunately, the only thing that has changed is the move to the house and the water. I did speak to the makers of Star San who said that Iodine sanitizers do not work with water that has a pH over 7.5 (my initial batch I used Iodine), so I quickly changed to the chemical based Star San. Thanks

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Old 07-19-2010, 05:12 PM   #10
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you know i just thought of something we may be missing. what if the infection is hiding in the racking cane? you said that you used different buckets and got the same infection. do you use the same racking cane for each batch? unless you have somehow scratched the inside of the carboy or don't clean with something like PBW or Oxyclean BEFORE you sanitize i don't think its the glass carboy. like others have said it could be your bucket thats infected and it just doesn't show till it has set in your carboy for a few weeks.

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