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Old 04-29-2011, 03:44 AM   #1
Dec 2009
N. Idaho/NW Washington
Posts: 103

After tonight's browsing of threads, I realized something: People talk an awful lot about getting beer infected. It's not just newbies doing it, but people who I perceive as being experienced. It's not that it's just subtly mentioned every now and then, but it's brought up all the time.

So, I got to ask -- how many times has a fermenter of yours actually been infected with bacteria? The reason I ask is because in the 250+ batches of beer I've made, I've never gotten a bacterial infection before. I don't go overboard with sterilizing either. Fermenters get a quick splash of iodophor and a rinse. Airlocks get a quick boil. Hoses get a rinse and every now and then I give them an iodophor bath.

Is it unfounded paranoia for many people, or is it actually based on experience? Am I just lucky? I will admit that last winter a bottle of mine got some sort of a bug. It developed a haze while carbonating and smelled a little off.

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Old 04-29-2011, 04:42 AM   #2
Apr 2009
Richmond, VA
Posts: 691
Liked 7 Times on 6 Posts

Infections are like train wrecks, they tend to attract a lot of attention, but they don't happen all that often. I guess since it's every brewer's worst nightmare people tend to check on infection threads, and newbs tend to think everything that materializes in the carboy is an infection.

I've brewed approximately 40 batches with no infections either. I'm not saying it couldn't happen and that it doesn't happen, but with proper precautions it should be rare

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Old 04-29-2011, 04:45 AM   #3
Feb 2010
Tulsa, OK
Posts: 169
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I've only had one true infection in something like 20 batches. I got a phenolic infection when bottling an imperial stout. Likely something on the sugar or in the bucket.
Impudent Brewing

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Old 04-29-2011, 04:56 AM   #4
blizzard's Avatar
Mar 2009
Denver, CO
Posts: 3,345
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I just got an infection... lots of smoky phenolic flavors in a batch. I used a brand new BB, but I was in a hurry to transfer after cooling the wort and I didn't give it a proper wash because it was new.
Primary/Secondary/Bottles/Kegged: Delicious, delicious beer

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Old 04-29-2011, 10:46 AM   #5
Nightbiker's Avatar
Jul 2008
Dover, FL
Posts: 557
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I haven't had one yet, not in roughly 30-40 batches. But as was said up there -its the 'train-wreck' syndrome, and as was said -its every brewers' worst nightmare (even the 'big boys' sweat this sort of thing -after all, in OUR case its bad enough -it represents a bit of lost time and twenty or thirty (give or take) bucks worth of ingredients -they stand to lose a whole lot more.
Its only natural that we concern ourselves with fear of infections.
I confess that I should be more diligent with sanitizing, but I haven't had any issues and my sanitizing sounds a lot like yours (though I rinse and sanitize all the hoses and draw tubes immediately after use, and sanitize before use as well).
I have a brother who bottles and he has had a batch of a red ale that got infected. When we opened up some of the bottles, they fountained until literally half the beer had blown out of the bottles. The rest had a thin taste with some very interesting (but certainly not desireable) flavor profile. He sanitized the heck out of his equipment and hasn't had the problem since.
Lesson learned.
Kegged: Big Bad Brown Ale (Brown Ale and Porter blend).

Plans: Oak-Smoked Porter, Honey Brown Ale.
Originally Posted by Jaybird View Post
we do it for the love of beer! Not for the love of money! We can all make great BEER! Not so much when it comes to money!

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Old 04-29-2011, 11:22 AM   #6
May 2010
Posts: 311
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Can you have a slight infection though? I've drank beers while a runner at a beer comp that tasted good, but were said to be infected. One of the experienced judges was telling me that many beers are infected, more than most people think. I guess you can get some slight smells and faint tastes from it.

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Old 04-29-2011, 01:08 PM   #7
Feb 2010
Lincoln, United Kingdom
Posts: 949
Liked 33 Times on 23 Posts

I've had one real infection in my 15 batch brewing history, the one before the last one. Undrinkable plastic flavor, with sick looking yeast (barely any cake at the bottom of the carboy) and no it wasn't chlorine etc. One time I even "sanitized" with water, thinking it was starsan, and the beer was just fine. It seems to be totally random.

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Old 04-29-2011, 01:16 PM   #8
two_hearted's Avatar
Apr 2010
Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 2,248
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Not a one.

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Old 04-29-2011, 01:17 PM   #9
Bradinator's Avatar
Oct 2008
Calgary, AB
Posts: 655
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Originally Posted by sudndeth View Post
Can you have a slight infection though? I've drank beers while a runner at a beer comp that tasted good, but were said to be infected. One of the experienced judges was telling me that many beers are infected, more than most people think. I guess you can get some slight smells and faint tastes from it.
For some styles of beers (and I just learned this the other day) specific styles of infections are desirable. I mean isn't yeast just a cultivated mold to begin with? Or is it a bacteria... I am not sure. It just comes in little backs and stinks when wet. Maybe its dehydrated dog?

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Old 04-29-2011, 01:21 PM   #10
Ale's What Cures You!
Yooper's Avatar
Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
Posts: 70,013
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I had one, about batch #260 or so. I had lactobacillus. The beer tasted fine after a week in the fermenter, but when I went to rack it to the keg a week after that it was getting "thin" and there was a hint of sourness. I covered it back up to see if it would get better (and I didn't want to contaminate a keg if it WAS infected), and a week later it was terrible. It was obviously lacto- sour, thin, slimy.

I ditched my plastic and bleachbombed the glass. Everything else has been fine.
Broken Leg Brewery
Giving beer a leg to stand on since 2006

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