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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Question about Infections & Bottling
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Old 06-28-2010, 01:20 AM   #1
WollenBrew
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Default Question about Infections & Bottling

This may seem like a dumb question, but I've been thinking about this and I'm curious: What types of infections are possible at bottling time?

Consider this: If we're dealing with beer at the time we're bottling, that means we have some type of alcohol that's probably higher than 3%. With this in mind, what types of bugs can survive and cause an infection when you bottle?

Thanks in advance.

-Wollenbrew

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Old 06-28-2010, 01:36 AM   #2
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Wild yeast is probably the biggest culprit at bottling time. I've had a few bottle infections. It usually happened to just a few random bottles out of a batch and created a gusher or just something quite foul tasting.

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Old 06-28-2010, 01:55 AM   #3
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Do you think you've done something or are you just paranoid?

If you are jus paranoid, or even if you THINK you did something wrong, I'm going to give you some advice.


It is really really hard to screw this up. Your beer is hardier than most brewers think.

Best advice I have for new brewers, If you brew from fear, you won't make great beer!

You might make drinkable beer, or you might make crap...but until your realize that your beer is much hardier than you think it is, you will find that this is much more enjoyable of a hobby.

But infection worry, It is NOT something we have to freak out about, like new brewers do...It's just something to be AWARE of and keep an eye out.

It may appear that there's a ton of infection threads, BUT if you actually read the content of the threads, and not just the title, you will realize that there's not a lot of actual infections, just a bunch of scared new brewers who don't realize how ugly fermentation can actually be.

Just like you, I bet, they think that their beer is a lot weaker than it truly is. Just the opposite, it is really really hard to get an infection.

And infections RARELY happen to the new brewers who are so paranoid that they think the mere looking at their fermenters will induce an infection.

Most of the time on here the beer in question is not infected. It's just a nervous new brewer, who THINKS something is wrong when in reality they are just unused to the ugliness that beer making often is.

It creates sort of like the hypochodria that med students often get when they start learning about illness, they start to "feel" it in themselves.

There is a lot of info here on "infections" http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/has-...p-batch-96644/

This is one of the best posts on the subject....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saccharomyces View Post
If you pitch enough viable, healthy yeast to do their job, it's hard to contaminate your brew to the point it isn't drinkable. Trust me, I've had an infection in my brewery, and I had to work really hard to get it! In my case, it was on the fourth generation of re-using yeast which I had not washed properly (I was still a n00b back then). Every time you reuse yeast you are growing the level of contamination by 100-1000x, so I learned the hard way you have to be very careful going beyond 1 or 2 re-uses of yeast.

BUT A new brewer following sanitary procedures using new equipment is very unlikely to have ruined beer. The worst thing that may happen is your beer will go sour after 4-6 months of room temperature storage. I doubt your beer will last that long.
You'll find that since beer has been made for millenia even before anyone understood germ theory, that even just the basic fact that we have indoor water, clean our living spaces and ourselves regularly and have closed waste systems, and a roof over our heads, that we are lightyears ahead of our ancestor brewers.

And despite the doomsayers who say that ancient beer was consumed young because it would go bad, they forget the fact that most of those beers were usually HOPLESS, and that the biggest reason hops were placed in beers was for it's antisceptic/preservative function.

So even if the beer had to be consumed young, it still must have tasted good enough to those folks most of the time to survive culturally for 4,000 years, and not go the way of pepsi clear or new coke. I'm sure even a few hundred or thousands of years ago, people were discerning enough to know if something tasted good or nasty...

Go take a look at my photo walkthrough of Labatt's first "pioneer" brewery from the 1840's http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f85/laba...rewery-128740/

Wood fermenters, open cooling pans, open doors, cracks in the logs and beams letting air in, and not one bottle of starsan in sight.

The way I figure even just having some soap and water, basic 21st century hygiene, and a basic understanding of germ theory trumps how it was done from Gilgamesh's time through Louis Pasteure's....

In most places we don't have to even worry about boiling our water before drinking it.

But it's kinda like when you have a brand new car, you park at the far end of the lot away from everyone else, you are paranoid about getting every little scratch on it...Then you are backing out of the garage and take off a mirror, or get a ding on the bumper, then you no-longer stress out about it, because you've popped the cars cherry...If you do pick up a bug, you just treat it and move on.

And the reason I have collected THESE stories is to counter the fear and fear mongering that often happens.

So rather than looking for infections under every bed or in every brew closet, focussing from fear on the negative, I think it's better to look at examples of just how hard it is to screw up our beer, how no matter what we can do to screw up, it still manages to turn out fine.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/what...t-great-96780/

And there is a cushion of co2 protecting your beer, so unless you or a bird take a crap in your fermenter, opening it up to take hydrometer readings will not lead you to automatically have infections...

Just relax about infections, and enjoy brewing. It's a hobby, not something to stress out on and worry that your beer will die if you look at it wrong.

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Old 06-28-2010, 04:44 AM   #4
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@Revvy -

I really appreciate your post and I understand completely what you're saying. That was kind of my point with this thread. At bottling time... we're dealing with alcohol at a minimum of 3% by volume (in most cases and in many case much higher 5 to 9% if you're doing bigger beers). So, my question really has to do with what true infections could survive that? This is an ongoing debate between myself and a fellow brewer.

As for infections. I've suffered through 3 lactobacillus and my firm belief is that it was introduced by something that either wasn't sanitized at the time I poured my wort into my carboy or by God knows what flying around... when the wort was cooling. So I have had some issues... but it was at the time that I was cooling my wort several weeks prior to bottling.

I actually have a theory that at bottling time we may be overdoing things when it comes to sanitizing. Which is why I've come here. I want the opinions of seasoned brewers who have dealt with the muckety muck and can say, "Yeah, make sure you sanitize yer daggum bottles ya punk." vs. those who say.. "Ummm. it's alcohol, it'll kill dang near everything, okay?"

Thanks for the thoughtful and lengthy reply.

Wollenbrew

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Old 06-28-2010, 03:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WollenBrew View Post

I actually have a theory that at bottling time we may be overdoing things when it comes to sanitizing.
Is dunking a bottle in a bucket of Starsan before filling it overdoing it? It doesn't get any simpler or easier than that.
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Old 06-28-2010, 03:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marubozo View Post
Is dunking a bottle in a bucket of Starsan before filling it overdoing it? It doesn't get any simpler or easier than that.
Or using a vinator.

I'm not saying skimping on santization in brewing, I'm saying in my above comments, that if you follow basic sanitization procedures, THEN there's no need for a new brewer, or any brewer for that matter to WORRY needlessly about infections. That's far from saying don't sanitize.

Basic sanitization is as simple as 'bozo says, soaking the bottles in a no-rinse santizer, (or like I do using a vinator) and swirling a gallon or two of no rinse through your bottling bucker, autosiphon or racking cane, the bottling wand (and hoses if you use them) and flushing sanitizer through the spigot on the bottling bucket, and soaking the bottle caps. Also boiling the priming solution.

Using the process that I came up with for myself, as outlined in my bottling sticky http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/bott...ebrewer-94812/ it takes me around 45 minutes to bottle a 5 gallon batch of beer, not including cleanup at the end. But it included sanitizing everything while the priming solution is boiling.
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Old 06-28-2010, 03:25 PM   #7
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Wild yeast and other bugs can survive very high percentages of alcohol. A lot of brewers doing wild beers will add their cultures after primary fermentation with normal saccro.

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