Doctor, does this look infected to you? (white film, sour taste) - Home Brew Forums
Register Now For Free!

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Doctor, does this look infected to you? (white film, sour taste)

Thread Tools
Old 07-02-2007, 01:51 PM   #1
May 2007
College Station, TX
Posts: 41

Well, I think this batch is ruined. I started with an adaptation of Papazian’s Rocky Racoon Honey Lager (it became an ale – recipe below). Everything about the brewing process seemed to go normally (OG 1.052 @ 66F), and I fermented in a 7 gal. bucket, turned down my AC, and went out of town for the weekend.

I returned three days later, pulled the airlock and peeped in – the kraeusen/sediment ring around the top, and assumed that the yeasties had got on well while I was gone.

Five or six days after start of fermentation, I pulled the lid off to take a full-on look – it looked good. Eight days after the start of fermentation, I racked to a secondary (6.5 gal. glass carboy), at which time I noted a strong alcohol/sour odor. When I took the SG, it rang up at 1.010. When I tasted it, it had a slight alcohol/astringent burn and sour flavor (similar to soured iced tea).

Trying to Not Worry, I went ahead and stored it my bedroom, turned down the AC, and waited. Two days into the secondary, bubbles started to collect on the surface. Those bubbles soon became a thin, milky film. Larger bubbles (.625” - .25”) appeared on this film.

Naturally, I assumed a horrible infestation. My wife, the optimist, told me to Not Worry and wait it out. About five or six days into secondary, I pulled the bung and took a sniff – again, alcohol-y and sour. I waited it out for about eight or nine days. At that point, it didn’t smell so off.

I assumed that the batch was kaput, and even my wife said, after getting a good look at it, that she wouldn’t be drinking any of “that.” Instead of throwing it all out, though, I siphoned as carefully as I could from under the film, primed it, and bottled six liters into PET bottles.

The SG had wound down to about 1.006 (at 68F), and it tasted less alcohol-y/astringent-y, but still quite sour. I figured that I’d just let it condition for two months and see what happened. I had been surprised by some Band-Aid nut brown ale that had lagered for about three months and came out drinkable (well, two liters, at least).

I’ll get some pictures up soon, but for now…

Bee Yar Ho Nay Ale

4 lb. Extra Light DME
0.5 lb. Amber DME
2.25 lb. Orange blossom honey
1.5 oz. Saaz hops (60)
0.5 oz Saaz hops (10)
0.5 oz Cascade hops (10)
SafBew T-58 Dry Ale Yeast

What went wrong?

My theories:

1) Fermentation temperature was too high. It’s been running 90+F outside lately. I had it in our coolest, darkest room, but I don’t know for certain if it stayed below 75F.

2) It got infested with wild yeast/bacteria when I pulled the lid from the primary fermenter.

3) I had improperly sanitized the secondary

4) I used far too much honey

5) I got some bad yeast from someone on Ebay

6) I shouldn't have used a 6.5 gal. carboy for a secondary.


Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2007, 04:04 PM   #2
zoebisch01's Avatar
Nov 2006
Central PA
Posts: 5,182
Liked 10 Times on 10 Posts

Sounds as though you may have gotten an infection. You should taste some in a few weeks, maybe you'll like it? *shrug*

At any rate, the ferment temps being too high probably didn't stop your yeast from doing their thing, but they may have given optimal conditions for the unwanted organisms. Most infections are contact infections. Airborne ones do occur, but most likely they were present since day 1.

I would fill my fermentors and caboys with a mild bleach solution and let them sit. Also resanitize anything that contacts cooled wort.
Event Horizon ~ A tribute to the miracle of fermentation.

Brew what you like. Do this, and you will find your inner brewer.

Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2007, 04:35 PM   #3
razyrsharpe's Avatar
Feb 2007
Lugoff, SC
Posts: 421
Liked 26 Times on 19 Posts

i have the same thing forming in my scotch ale in the bottle...a white greasy looking film appx. a mm thick. reminds me of congealed fat. doesn't look promising.
I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotamy!

Reply With Quote
Old 07-05-2007, 02:10 PM   #4
May 2007
Buffalo, NY
Posts: 105

Yeah...It's happening to me too right now.

It's only my 3rd batch of homebrew and it had that same sour/alcohol taste when I racked to the secondary. It's sad because I spend quite a bit on really good vanilla extract (It was Cheesefood's CCA).

What are you suppose to do? Wait it out?

Reply With Quote
Old 07-05-2007, 02:16 PM   #5
May 2007
College Station, TX
Posts: 41

Well, that's what I'm going to do. This is only my second batch on this equipment, and the first (and perhaps last) time using a plastic bucket, but I do know this - time heals most wounds. Like I said, I had a batch of Nut Brown Ale that was undrinkable, but I left it in my lagering fridge for two months or so (at ~40F), and two litres out of a 2.5 gallon batch were drinkable (not delicious, though).

So if you think it's off and don't want to waste the bottles, just bottle some of it as an experiment - that's what I did. I might crack one of them after this weekend to assess the damage.

Reply With Quote
Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
white film after 4 weeks redbiers Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 4 06-23-2011 02:18 PM
white film on top stevotheoilbaron Lambic & Wild Brewing 8 05-20-2009 12:20 AM
white film after moving DoubleXL Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 5 09-10-2008 04:21 PM
Help please - [white or opaque film] nystevecf Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 4 09-05-2008 06:30 PM
White film on top and it doesn't look like yeast... Steiner Equipment/Sanitation 15 01-09-2008 11:53 PM

Forum Jump