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Old 07-18-2010, 06:42 PM   #1
Newton
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Default Now I know why people quit brewing.....

I've done 10 batches now and the first 7 were good to very tasty. Batches 8 and 9 turned into fizzy sour vinegar and the jury is still out on batch 10. Batches 1 through 7 I used smack packs, some with starters. The last 3 have been dried yeast with no starter. I think that the source of my contamination has been the scissors that I used to cut open the dry yeast pack with...or the yeast package itself. I didn't sanitize either of them.

Its extremely frustrating. These have all been all grain batches and a considerable time investment considering I have small kids. The success of my first batches has encouraged me to plod forward and learn from mistakes, but I can understand why people give up.

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Old 07-18-2010, 06:48 PM   #2
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Sounds like it's time to nuke all your equipment. Any cheap plastic stuff (tubing, etc.) should be replaced and anything not cheap to replace should be thoroughly sterilized. Use a bleach solution to clean all your equipment that comes into contact with beer post-boil. Then rinse it well to get any bleach residue off. Also consider changing your sanitizer for a couple batches. If you usually use starsan, use iodophor for a couple batches. Any bugs that have developed resistance to one should be taken out by the other. It's better to just bite the bullet and kick the problems ass now, than try one or two things (sanitizing scissors and yeast pack) and not fix the problem and have to deal with another infected batch and more wasted time and money.

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Old 07-18-2010, 07:00 PM   #3
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Get some PBW and give all of your fermenters/bottling buckets a good HOT soak. Fermenting beer can leave behind some bio matter that you can't see. Since scrubbing plastic is a no-no, PBW will remove any residue or "beer stone" from the plastic better than any other cleaner. Also, if you don't already do it, take off the plastic spigot from the bottling bucket, then take the spigot apart. Soak that in PBW also. Those spigots get really nasty, really fast. Replace any cheap plastic hose you have.

Follow the cleaning soak with a good sanitizer like Starsan or Iodophor. Remember, you have to clean AND sanitize.

If the infection is consistent throughout the batch, its probably not the bottles, but its good to revisit that too. Im really happy with the jet bottle washer that attaches to my sink. Obviously I rinse them when I pour a beer. I also hit them with the jet washer on bottling day just to blast out any remaining residue. I'm also a huge fan of the Vinator, which will squirt sanitizer up into the bottle.

There is an off chance it could be the scissors, but if its happening on several different occasions I'm pretty sure its something else. Hope you figure it out!

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Old 07-18-2010, 07:31 PM   #4
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If you bottle, check the spigot on your bottling bucket first. Take it off, take it apart and soak in a bleach solution then rinse thoroughly. Chances are, that is where your nasties are.

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Old 07-18-2010, 07:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tips guys. One thing is that I could taste the sour/vinegar nastiness while it was in the primary fermenter, so the contamination is not occurring at bottling (I only bottled the first batch anyway). Another thing is that the fermentation bucket is brand spanking new 'ale pale'--these two were the only batches to go in it.

I don't believe that the wort chiller is the source as I put that in the boil at t=15. So its definitely happening from a bug in the yeast pitching or the fermenter and its components. Given that all of the fermentation equipment is soaked in starsan at its proper ratio--the only bug I can see is in the yeast pitching.

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Old 07-18-2010, 07:50 PM   #6
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A lot of people always want to point out the bottling bucket spigot as the possible culprit.

I have to tell you the REAL culprit is the person NOT cleaning their equipment properly.

In most cases, the beer is only in contact with the spigot for about 1/2 hour. It's like the shortest time that anything else is in contact with it.

If you rinse the bottling bucket (as well as everything else) several times right after using you shouldn't have any problems with it.

I haven't disassembled my spigot since the 1990s and it doesn't have any contamination on it...I guarantee.

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Old 07-18-2010, 08:21 PM   #7
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Maybe I missed it but is the primary plastic too? I actually had a couple infections about the same time (10th batch or so) and after changing to a glass primary haven't had any since. I had an immediate suspicion of the primary bucket though, it had a lovely green ring with lots of scuffs around it, great place for bugs to hide.

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Old 07-18-2010, 09:01 PM   #8
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I will be doing extracts. Do I really need to sanitize the scissors and the yeast pack before I open it?

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Old 07-18-2010, 09:29 PM   #9
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Yep primary is plastic and brand new. And once again, I could tell the beer was infected before the bottling bucket.

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Old 07-18-2010, 09:39 PM   #10
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You don't need to do much more than clean the scissors or knife if you make a tiny slit in the edge of the foil packet that isn't deep enough to open the pouch. All you need to do then is tear open the packet and you're infection free.

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