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Old 06-29-2010, 03:53 AM   #1
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Default Did an infected beer make me sick?

I know, I've read it everywhere on here that an infected beer won't make you sick, and I believe the science behind it, but I had an experience that makes me wonder.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a party and drank a couple of sips on an infected beer. I also drank a moderate amount and was ever so slightly hungover the next day (slight headache, a little slow, etc.). About 24 hours after I drank the infected beer, I suddenly felt much worse than I did the rest of the day. I had the chills, was nauseous, had a fever, and the runs. That lasted for about a day, then I was all better.

I don't think my sickness was caused by the hangover, due to the amount of time that I felt OK, and the sudden sickness 24 hours later. That leaves either the infected beer or something else.


Edit: Due to the butterscotch aroma and acidic taste, I suspect the infection was Pediococcus.

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Old 06-29-2010, 03:58 AM   #2
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My question would be what did you eat that day? Sometimes I eat something and I feel okay, then I'll have some milk or iced tea or even beer and that will send my system out of whack and I'll end up feeling like garbage. I guess it would depend on what was in the beer?

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Old 06-29-2010, 04:12 AM   #3
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My vote is for something else.
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Old 06-29-2010, 04:13 AM   #4
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food poisoning (if that is what you are suspecting) kicks in within just a couple of hours and gets very bad very fast.

The length of time between you drinking the bad beer and becoming very ill is pretty long. I doubt it was those few sips of an infected beer that did it to you.
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Old 06-29-2010, 05:06 AM   #5
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Statisitically it is most likely viral...the number one cause of gastroenteritis is Norwalk Virus. E. coli, staph aureus, camplylobacter and salmonella top the list of bacterial causes but I dont really know the order, there. If I were to take a stab at it, I would say campy is the most common in the US.

So at least the odds are that you didnt get it from an infected beer, but who knows.
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Old 06-29-2010, 02:43 PM   #6
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An infected beer would very nearly only taste bad. Or possibly give you the squirts at worst. Then again, some say that a good portion of green beer yeast can give some people gas and the runs too...

I don't think I've ever heard of getting a fever from lactobacillius or any of the other common beer infections...
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Old 06-29-2010, 03:05 PM   #7
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I've read (in Wild Brews) that in the early stages of a sour beer it can have enterobacter within it. I imagine sampling a beer before the enterobacter is dead could lead to some rot-gut.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:45 PM   #8
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If the beer was a wild beer and was fermented it is unlikely the enterobacters were still functional. If the beer was infected, it was probably with something like lacto or pedio which are probiotic and often given to people to counteract various illnesses.

It's far more likely that you came in contact with somebody who was sick (or at least contageous) or ate something that made you ill. You could have come in contact with a virus or bacteria days prior and the drinking suppressed your immune system and led to a noticeable infection.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:59 PM   #9
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You said you had a sip of an infected beer. Did anyone else take a sip from the same bottle/glass before you did? Being that you were at a party, and you say you have chills and nausea and what not, I think it's more likely you caught a virus from someone at the party.
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Old 06-29-2010, 10:07 PM   #10
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I came across this from a pretty well known and award winning homebrewer railing against a fellow brewer (it was on one of those "color coded" brewboards where they are a little less friendly than we are.) I just cut and pasted it and stuck it in a file...here it is.

Can you get a PATHOGEN from beer. No. NO *NO* Did I make that clear? You have a ZERO chance of pathogens in beer, wine, distilled beverages. PERIOD!

Pathogens are described as organisms that are harmful and potentially life threatening to humans. These are some 1400+ known species overall encompasing viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and helminths. Of that group, we are only interested in those that can be foodborne. Quite simply, if it can't survive in food, it isn't in beer. That knocks out all but bacteria and fungi. Viruses need very specific circumstances to be passed around... like on the lip of a glass or bottle, not the beer in it. **Ahhh...CHOOO!**

Pathogens as a rule are very fastidious beasts. Meaning that they want very specific temperatures, acidity, nutrients and other conditions to thrive.

Bacteria that *could* live in wort, cannot survive even a little bit of fermentation. There are several reasons for this. One is in the 'magic' of hops. It is the isomerized alpha acids that provide a preservative effect to the beer, which happens to inhibit pathogens! Good deal for fresh wort!

Another reason is the drop in pH from fermentation. Next, yeast emit their own enzymes and byproducts, all in an effort to make the environment hostile to other creatures. The major one is alcohol, of course, but their enzymes will break down less vigorous organisms and they become sources of trace nutrition. Now the latter is very minor compared to the effect of alcohol, but it exists! Most of the time these enzymes work on the wort, not organisms until late in the process. Good deal for beer! ...uh, wine too.

Oh, Botulism specifically... did you know that this is an anaerobic pathogen? It's toxin is one of the few that is broken down by boiling. Did you know tht it is strongly inhibited by isomerized alpha acids, even in water? Since fresh wort has a healthy amount of oxygen in it, the beastie cannot even get started, then once the O2 is used up, it doesn't have a chance against the hops or the yeast.

All that is left are a handful of acid producing bacteria that'll ruin a batch of beer. Overall, there are less than 200 organisms that can survive in beer and lend flavor effects. None of these for very long, or very often. Lambic being the sole exception, and if pathogens *could* survive, that'd be the style where you find 'em.

I vote for something else besides the beer.

Remember beer, wine, mead and ciders were all drank by people of all ages, in ancient times, because the water where people lived could often kill them or at least make them ill, and beer, etc, couldn't.

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