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Old 11-16-2013, 04:24 AM   #1
TarVolon
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Default What on earth is this, and is it ruined? (with pics)

I've been brewing for about two years, and this is the first time this has ever happened. My beer has been fermenting in the closet, like usual. The fermentation seemed to be relatively normal, although I wasn't checking in every day. I had a busy couple of weeks, so it's been about a month since brew day. I go to pull it out to get ready for bottling tomorrow, and it's separated into two layers, a milky layer on the top and what looks like beer on the bottom. Does anyone know what the hell this is, and whether it's ruined?



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Old 11-16-2013, 04:49 AM   #2
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I've been brewing for nearly nine years, and I've never seen anything like that. My first guess is that you've had some sort of infection, although I don't know what sort of organism would cause what happened in your carboy. Was there anything different or unusual about your brew day? Did you use a different yeast than usual?

Also, this may seem like a crazy question, but have you smelled the beer? When in doubt, trust your senses. If it smells rancid, dump it. If it smells like beer...well, maybe bottle it. =]

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Old 11-16-2013, 04:53 AM   #3
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Everything was unusual about the brew day. So unusual that I made a thread complaining about it: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/thos...-wrong-436745/

Cliff's Notes version: my mash kettle for BIAB split down the side, causing me to mash in my brew kettle and have almost no sparge (I tried, but I didn't really have any pots left). I forgot to take into account the difference in head space in the pots, so my mash temperatures fell drastically, and my conversion stunk. I also forgot to prepare an ice bath, so I just the wort sit overnight (in a pot with a lid on) before pitching.

But I can't think of anything unusual that would cause this. Mostly because I have no freaking clue what on earth this is, which makes it hard to figure what would cause it.

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Old 11-16-2013, 04:56 AM   #4
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Oh, and smell is relatively normal, although it's hard to smell anything over my blowoff tube, which has smelled like citrus for months. I can clean and sanitize to my heart's content, but it still smells like blowoff from my kumquat wheat.

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Old 11-16-2013, 06:39 AM   #5
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Did the temp change maybe after fermentation was done? Looks like you had suck back through the blowoff tube back into the fermenter. Might be a layer of yeasty starsan sitting on that beer.

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Old 11-16-2013, 02:49 PM   #6
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Ooooohhhhh that would explain why it doesn't smell like an infection. The temperature really didn't change any more than it normally does (I don't have temperature control, so I just adjust my thermostat), but it did go down rather than up (since it got cold the last few weeks). Probably oscillated between high 60s and low 60s. Does that explain this?

Also, if that's what's up, what do I do? Just rack from underneath it and stop when I get to the Star-San layer? Or do I need to do anything special?

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Old 11-16-2013, 03:14 PM   #7
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I'd think I'd want to rack it as you said. Primarily so you can gauge the smell, should tell you a lot. What a strange problem.

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Old 11-16-2013, 03:43 PM   #8
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Yeah,I too have never seen one like that. I see a lil krausen under the milky layer. that top layer must be a bad suck back. that's the only explaination I can come up with. I agree to rack from under it. And take a hydrometer sample to see where it's at.

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Old 11-16-2013, 09:47 PM   #9
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Racked from underneath it. Hydrometer sample tasted like beer (and was 1.011, last two incarnations of this beer were 1.009 and 1.010), no odd smell. Ended up with a really small batch because the top later started mixing a little when I started the siphon, and I stopped it relatively early to try to avoid watering things down too much.

It's probably star-san suckback, but there's one thing I'm still not sure about. You can see from the pictures what looks like two layers of krausen stuck to the side of the carboy. They're different colors. The regular brown krausen is at the beer line, and then there's what looks like white krausen above it. Did the star-san cause a secondary fermentation or something, if that is indeed what it is?

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Old 11-16-2013, 10:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TarVolon View Post
Racked from underneath it. Hydrometer sample tasted like beer (and was 1.011, last two incarnations of this beer were 1.009 and 1.010), no odd smell. Ended up with a really small batch because the top later started mixing a little when I started the siphon, and I stopped it relatively early to try to avoid watering things down too much.

It's probably star-san suckback, but there's one thing I'm still not sure about. You can see from the pictures what looks like two layers of krausen stuck to the side of the carboy. They're different colors. The regular brown krausen is at the beer line, and then there's what looks like white krausen above it. Did the star-san cause a secondary fermentation or something, if that is indeed what it is?
The lower ring is just thicker and has more 'stuff' in it and the upper is just yeast. That's normal.

I almost replied last night about suckback but it looked like so much! It looks like you have a large bucket of sanitizer which could explain it. Is the level of sanitizer noticeably lower? If that's definitely what it is, I'd second the idea that you had a large temperature swing. I'd use a water bath/swamp cooler to keep temps stable and a much smaller blow off container in the future. Glad it seems ok!
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