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Old 06-24-2011, 01:35 PM   #1
Dec 2010
Olympia, WA
Posts: 465
Liked 23 Times on 21 Posts

I've been brewing for a year and a half now, doing all grain for most of that (with maybe a bit of DME in case I missed my numbers.

Lately, though, I've had a problem in my last two batches getting an infection. Both of the beers (an American Pale Ale and an English Bitter) started off really well. I use a tap-a-draft for most of the brew, and b/c of that end up drinking it a bit green, force carb'd in there. I bottle the remainder.

After about a month or so, a slightly sour taste starts to develop across the entire batch. The bottles turn into gushers, and the sour taste overwhelms the beer and it becomes undrinkable. I've been reading up on this and it sounds like there's some type of infection lurking in my equipment. I also make wine (well, the wife does), and haven't had an infection develop in the wine at all, which makes me think whatever/wherever it is, it's in a beer-only component in my brewing equipment.

Both of the two suspect beers were fermented in the same fermenting bucket, which is a food-grade plastic thing, about 6.5 gallons or so. Both were placed in a glass carboy afterwards, let sit for a few weeks, then cold crashed, and bottled using the same plastic tube/bottling cane. Both were racked from primary to secondary to bottling bucket using the same siphon (which we also use for wine, though). Both were made from yeast starters, which were stirred in using the same gigantic plastic spoon (also used in wine).

The difference was that after the first batch, i was pretty careful with the sanitation, and soaked everything (both buckets, racking cane, siphon, carboy, spoon, airlocks, etc) in StarSan. I had cleaned everything just with a vigorous scrubbing and some dish detergent (unscented, and thoroughly rinsed before sanitizing). I do have a curious toddler in the home that likes to 'help' with everything, including playing with the airlocks.

So, to prevent this in my next brew, I've taken a couple of measures. First off, I bought new buckets (fermenting and bottling, with a new spigot). Second, I bought a new bottling cane with new tubing. I also purchased some PBW, and plan on using one of the suspect buckets to hold a 3-5 gallon mix for soaking things in any time baby 'assists' with my brews. I'll use the other bucket to keep some StarSan mixed up for the same purpose. I'm thinking the glass carboy doesnt need to be replaced, just meticulously PBW'd then sanitized.

Other than that, is there any other things I can/should do to prevent another infection in my next brew? Anything I'm missing or not thinking of? Thanks in advance for the help!

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Old 06-24-2011, 01:41 PM   #2
Aug 2009
Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 2,509
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Don't scrub your buckets. It can cause scratches where infections can live. Sponge/PBW only. Other than that, you did what my big suggestion would be: replace all the plastic. You're right, glass should be fine.
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:02 PM   #3
Aug 2008
Portland OR
Posts: 5,387
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Keep in mind that wine has a higher alcohol content and is less prone to infection so you might have had an issue that was avoided because of it. I'd consider nuking everything with a Chlorine sanitizing routine one time and proper rinse, then use the regular cleaning with a starsan spray.

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