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Old 04-09-2012, 07:03 PM   #1
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Default Can homebrew be toxic?

Can any of these "baddies" I've heard so much about cause homebrew to be toxic to humans? My understanding is that they just make it taste terrible, but I'm wondering if there is a chance of toxins making it into my homebrew.

I know that improperly made moonshine can cause blindness or worse. I believe this has something to do with the distillation?


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Old 04-09-2012, 07:06 PM   #2
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This is a beat to death dead horse. NOTHING, UNDER ANY CONDITIONS where a fermentation happens over 2% ABV, can harm a human in any way.

It may taste worse than anything you have ever put in your mouth but it is safe to drink.


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Old 04-09-2012, 07:14 PM   #3
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I don't know the exact chemical reason why, but with hard liquor is has to do with toxic compounds in the "heads" and "tails" during the distillation process. That never happens with beer.

The only thing I could think of would be botulism (as it's not the actual bacteria that's harmful but the toxin that bacteria produces), but unless you're using a bulging can of extract, or improperly canning your own, I don't think it's an issue. And then it's no different than any other canned food- never use a bulging can of anything.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:18 PM   #4
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Fermentation is safe, distillation has the potential to be dangerous.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qhrumphf View Post
The only thing I could think of would be botulism (as it's not the actual bacteria that's harmful but the toxin that bacteria produces), but unless you're using a bulging can of extract, or improperly canning your own, I don't think it's an issue.
It can't survive in fermented beer. This is from many of the citations I have posted in the threads linked to below.

Quote:
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.
NOTHING PATHOGENIC CAN GROW IN BEER!!!

You can't get sick from beer PERIOD, old, new, or ancient...It doesn't matter. Nothing that can live in fermented beverages can harm you period....No food poisoning or anything.

The whole history of beer, wine, mead and cider/Fermentation is general is that nothing pathogenic can exist in them They were consumed in places where the water could kill you, or make you sick.

Even slightly fermented beverages were consumed, even by children. Hard ciders were drunk like we drink bottled water.

Why do you think the Catholic Church chose wine as the basis of their sacrament? Because wine was more important to the culture of the desert where Christianity came from than water. Water safe, drinkable water was rare. So wine was the safer, common beverage of the day.

We've covered everything even with some citations in this thread. Dangers of Homebrewing

And some more info here as well.

It covers all the bugaboos that new brewers wanna fear, mycotoxins, e-coli, zombies....
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:20 PM   #6
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During the first part of the distillation process, methanol is created. Once that small amount is captured and thrown out, the rest is safe to drink.

There is no distillation in beermaking. As is already noted, beer is safe to drink.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qhrumphf View Post

The only thing I could think of would be botulism...

NOPE. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in beer can harm you. If this was not true we would all not be here because our ancestors would have died. Remember that at one time on Earth EVERYONE drank fermented beverage because water would kill you.

This may help...



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Old 04-09-2012, 07:24 PM   #8
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The only toxins in beer would be the ones you deliberately put in there - none are produced or supported through the brewing procedure.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:29 PM   #9
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So... just to clarify...

If I can a Real Wort Starter improperly (say I just boil it, I don't pressure-heat it to 250 for 15 minutes), and then some months later I use it to create a yeast starter which I pitch directly into unfermented wort, you guys are saying there is absolutely no risk of botulism?
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bernerbrau View Post
So... just to clarify... If I can a Real Wort Starter improperly (say I just boil it, I don't pressure-heat it to 250 for 15 minutes), and then some months later I use it to create a yeast starter which I pitch directly into unfermented wort, you guys are saying there is absolutely no risk of botulism?
Quote:
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 90 9:24:12 EDT
From: hplabs!holos0!lbr (Len Reed)
Subject: Re: Botulism from malt syrup

In #462 michelma at division.cs.columbia.edu (Paul Michelman)
writes of Botulism and notes that the toxin in inactivated by
boiling.

As Paul notes, Clostridium botulinum is an anarobe commonly found
in soil. This is why it is especially worrisome in home-canned
vegetables. The organism grows in the cans, giving off the deadly
toxin. Boiling will disable the toxin, but boling the cans (i.e.,
simple canning without pressure) won't kill C. botulinum. This is
because the organism forms spores that can't be killed except by
the higher temperatures of pressure canning.

But you don't need to kill the microbe. It is sufficient to prevent
it from growing (and hence making toxin). Traditionally, some
things such as tomatoes have been canned without pressure. The low
pH of canned tomatoes prevents the organism from growing in the cans.
Some authorities now recommend pressure canning even tomatoes to be sure,
especially since some new strains of tomatoes are less acidic. An
alternative is to add acid, perhaps citric acid, when canning.

Well, wort is very acidic. I simple-can wort for use in making starters.
If the pH of wort is low, shouldn't the pH of concentrated wort be
lower? (Here I betray my woeful ignorance of chemistry.) I don't know
what the pH of malt extract is, but I suspect C. Botulinum
wouldn't grow in it. Many microbes won't grow if the sugar content is
too high--this is the principle behind making jelly. I don't have
the faintest idea of how sugar concentration affects C. Botulinum, though.

There's another way to look at this. If C. botulinum could grow
in wort, it could probably grow in bottled beer. (The hops do
have some inhbiting effect on microbes.) If that were true,
home bottling of beer would be dangerous indeed. It isn't.
A great truth of home brewing is that things that grow in beer ruin
beer, but not people.
Kaiser and others weigh in on that topic here.


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