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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > How good is your sanitation? The George Fix test
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Old 05-25-2006, 11:49 PM   #1
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Default How good is your sanitation? The George Fix test

I blatantly stole this from another forum--but it looks like an awesome test to see how your procedures are.

Discuss.


Quote:
Basically you take a wort sample in a sanitary container and seal it. Take the sample after cooling the wort, while you are filling your fermenter and before pitching the yeast. Store it in a warm place. Aim for 86 degrees. You wait for the lid to bulge or foam to form on the surface, bubbles rising, or other proof of active fermentation. You need to check the sample often so you can accurately note the length of time it took your "sanitary" wort sample to start fermentation. If it starts to ferment in under 24 hrs. the beer is a dumper. From 24-48 hours to ferment, expect off flavors in the beer. 48-72 hours to ferment would indicate no off flavors but better sanitation is needed. If it lasts 72 hrs. or more before fermentation starts you have adequate sanitation.

This is an easy test to perform and it has humbled a great deal of home brewers, myself included. I have had a home brewer tell me that many of the comercial brewers could not pass it. Whether this test is tougher than it needs to be or not I do not know, but it is my goal to pass the test on a regular basis.
I tested a Vienna that I brewed 4/04/06. I took great care concerning sanitation knowing I was going to test it. The test sample went 60 hours until fermentation began. I used a sanitized beer bottle/airlock. It was a slow ferment which lasted several weeks. I read somewhere that yeast cells can multiply 6-8 times with no oxygen depending on how healthy the cells were to start with. (I took the sample before aerating with O2) When the ferment was completed it left an obvious layer of yeast in the bottom of the bottle. The fermented test sample of beer didn't taste or smell like a bacterial infection. (no sour athletes foot or dirty diaper type stuff) I use Star San, I love it and will continue to use it regularly. I beleive it really works on bacteria but I am having trouble beleiving in its effectiveness in killing yeasts. The acid washing techniques given by Wyeast and White labs lead me to the same conclusion.


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Old 05-26-2006, 01:35 AM   #2
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Let me get this straight before I start cussing and saying this person is a real idiot, etc. Is this article stating that if your wort starts fermenting within 72 hours your sanitation sucks and your brew is shot?

How's a fresh, sanitary, wort going to start fermenting in the first place? Airborne yeasts? Is that what this is all about?

I'm cornfuzed!


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Old 05-26-2006, 01:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99
Let me get this straight before I start cussing and saying this person is a real idiot, etc. Is this article stating that if your wort starts fermenting within 72 hours your sanitation sucks and your brew is shot?

How's a fresh sanitary wort going to start fermenting in the first place? Airborne yeasts? Is that what this is all about?

I'm cornfuzed!
I personally wouldn't call George Fix an idiot when it comes to home brewing.

EDIT: If it starts fermenting within 72 hours it wasn't sanitary wort.
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Old 05-26-2006, 01:43 AM   #4
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I'm going to try this on my next brew Dude. I've always wondered if my procedures are effective. Great idea. Thanks for the article.
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Old 05-26-2006, 01:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichBrewer
I'm going to try this on my next brew Dude. I've always wondered if my procedures are effective. Great idea. Thanks for the article.
Yeah sounds like a good test doesn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99
Airborne yeasts? Is that what this is all about?
That is about what I got out of it. Not a stupid thing at all, IMHO.
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dude
Yeah sounds like a good test doesn't it? That is about what I got out of it. Not a stupid thing at all, IMHO.
I'm not calling George an idiot, but it sure sounds like 3 wasted days to me. If you are truly dedicated to your brew and your sanitation practices then you should have nothing to worry about.

As far as airborne yeast goes you can't stop them. They're natural. Some breweries have used an open fermentation process for hundreds of years. IMO that does not mean they, or we, have a sanitation problem.

I'm not a stupid person, but I can't figure out the point of the experiment.

Color me drunk...
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Old 05-26-2006, 10:32 AM   #7
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I guess homebrewers who have consistently made great beer should feel reasonably comfortable with their procedures. OF course, I agree that proper sanitation is critical. But if it ain't broke......
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Old 05-26-2006, 01:27 PM   #8
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I think this could be a good barometer of how clean your system is, to an extent. I think that if you get growth after 24-48 hrs this is bad. But if it takes more then a week before anything grows then you win. I would just throw it out after 3-4 days because eventually something will grow in there. Its not as if you sterilized anything, all you do by sanitizing is keep the microbe count down to a reasonable level. Down enough to give the yeast a chance to out number anything else. Now does this mean that if after 3 weeks that 1 foreign yeast bud has had enough time to multiply by the billions and show growth in your test sample that your a bad brewer? no. But if youve got a bubbling airlock in your sample within 24 hrs, you might want to locate the problem (i gaurentee if you get fast growth you will taste it in the beer)

p.s. it will take more then a few microbes to humble me!
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Old 05-26-2006, 02:16 PM   #9
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Sounds like one more cause for unnecessary worryment. The taste of the finished product is enough of a barometer, it's fairly easy to tell if theres anything in there that shouldn't be.
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:19 PM   #10
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Awsome idea.

I don't think there are wasted days here since you don't delay pitching. And if you use a test tube or small jar for that, you don't even waste much wort either. Make sure you take the sample out of the primary after aeration and before pitching. This way you will check the sanitation for the boil, chilling, transfer to primary and of the primary inself. If you fail the test, I wouldn't dump it right away, but you know that you have to improve your sanitation. If you pass the test and do have an infection in the beer, you know that it was not contaminated when you pitched the yeast. So either the yeast or your later handling of the beer brought the germs in.

Now I may have a fast ferment test and a sanitation test going for my beers.

Sierra Nevada QC for example sreaks their final beer on agar plates to check its bacteria level.


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