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Old 12-11-2009, 09:46 PM   #1
khanti
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Default Frustration! Back-to-back infected batches

A batch I brewed a few weeks ago became infected in the primary and turned into this foul-smelling, foul-tasting, cloudy mess. I let it sit for another week thinking maybe I could salvage it somehow, but eventually dumped it. 8 days ago I brewed a batch of the same recipe and now that same smell is coming from the airlock and the same little 'balls' of bright white stuff are appearing on top of the little kreusen that is left.

Here are some details.

First batch. Extract ale. Simple recipe. 1lb Crystal-10 steeped for 30 min at 155. 5.25lb EL DME. 1/2lb of DME was added at beginning of boil, remainder was added with 15 minutes left in boil. 2oz Amarillo leaf hops added 1/2oz at 20 min intervals over the hour boil. Full Boil. Cooled with immersion chiller to 70 deg then poured through funnel/strainer into plastic bucket fermenter. Sloshed around a bit and then pitched 1 pkg rehydrated dry nottingham yeast. Fermentation got off to a really slow start (4-5 days before any activity), suspect the yeast was old. My guess was that the slow start allowed the infection to take hold.

Second batch. Same recipe as first with two exceptions. I used a liquid 1056 yeast starter that's been washed through two prior batches. The other difference is the fermenter was a 6.5g glass carboy. Much quicker start to fermentation (less than a day), but within a week it had the same funk going on.

The only things that touched both batches on the cold side were the immersion chiller (which should be sanitary as it was put in the boil kettle at flame out) and the strainer/funnel. The yeast was totally different and the fermenters were different. I'm left racking my brain trying to figure out how the second batch got infected. I think I practice pretty good sanitation technique. I use Star-san at recommended concentration on everything prior brewing, leaving it sit for at least 30 min and re-wetting periodically from a spray-bottle. The funnel is plastic and I have it soaking in star-san overnight. It was practically brand new, the first infected batch was only the second time I'd used it. The strainer is stainless steel, but is pretty old and not dedicated to brewing (maybe this is it?)

Any ideas? This is getting frustrating!!!

Edit: Forgot to take OG reading on second batch so the turkey baster did not touch both batches...

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Last edited by khanti; 12-11-2009 at 09:52 PM. Reason: forgot something...
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:52 PM   #2
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What is your airlock situation like? Are you fermenting in an area where you have crushed grain around?

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Old 12-11-2009, 09:56 PM   #3
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I use three-piece airlocks. I've been using tap-water in them, but after listening to the BrewStrong episode on sanitation am going to begin using Star-san in them.

Crushed grains are kept in ziplock bags in a cupboard in the same room I fermented batch #1 in (kitchen counter). Second batch was on dining room table in the next room over. I crush at the LHBS as I don't have a mill. The crushed crystal-10 was from the same batch and was poured into the steeping sock in the kitchen where the cooling, etc take place. Could that be it?

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Old 12-11-2009, 09:57 PM   #4
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I'd bet on the strainer.

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Old 12-11-2009, 10:02 PM   #5
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That was my first guess as well. I'll be buying a new one before brewing tomorrow.

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Old 12-11-2009, 10:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khanti View Post
The only things that touched both batches on the cold side were the immersion chiller (which should be sanitary as it was put in the boil kettle at flame out) and the strainer/funnel.
Was the immersion chiller cleaned after use? I know you say it should be sanitary as it was put in at flame out, but wouldn't you want to put it in the boil to sanitize? Just my thought as this is how I do it along with a good cleaning and soak in vinegar/water before hand.
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:07 PM   #7
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Did you use the same fermenter as the first infected batch? The one time I had an infection, I retired the bucket. Now it's in the barn full of grass seed.

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Old 12-11-2009, 11:30 PM   #8
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I agree with 'random guy'. I'm worried it is your immersion chiller. Those things should be dropped in 15 minutes before end of boil to sanatize it. The only way I would feel safe about that is if you sanatized with star-san before. However, could be the strainer too....I would address those two issues.

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Old 12-12-2009, 05:05 PM   #9
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@RandomGuy : Hmmmmm hadn't though about the chiller. I figured it would be sanitized even putting it in at flameout. I'll put it in shortly after adding the rest of the DME today.

@Kayabrew : It was a different fermenter

Thanks for the ideas, folks! Wish me luck on this next batch!

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Old 12-12-2009, 06:21 PM   #10
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I'm guessing you don't even have an infection. Forget about how it smells, how it looks.

It's beer. Go through the process - rack out from underneath that foul smelling white bubbly stuff - and let it sit in the bottles at 70 degrees for a month. Then tell us how it tastes.

The chances of a massive infection spoiling your first and second ever brews is about 1 in 200,000. Give or take. But real slim...

Go read the thread of all the thousands of things people have done wrong, where the beer still turned out fine. Let your beer finish what it needs to do. Don't get all paranoid.

Really. I'm serious.

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