Infection taking over and I'm at my wits end

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Funny story kind of long I'll try and keep it short. When I first opened the brew store maybe 6 or 8 months in I had a customer come in with a infection in his brewhouse. He'd been brewing for quite a while I talked to him about his process he uses plastic for ferment bucket plastic lid plastic airlock you know the whole gamut. I said it's probably time to retire those old buckets and lids and maybe throw away all your plastic hoses and he was using bleach as his means of sanitation. Now I'm not against bleach I'm not against plastic by any means but when you're having multiple infections in your brewhouse you have to go after it very aggressive. So I said you might want to buy new hoses new air lock and I would suggest some starsan and soak all of your stainless equipment throw away all your plastic equipment. Anyway he was adamant that I was just trying to sell him all new equipment. So I left it to that. He would come in every week and buy another brew kit tell me his last one was infected. He did this I believe 10 times. I started feeling bad selling him kits!! So I told him next time he's going to brew let me know I'll come over to his house and I'll Brew with him and see about his process. I took with me a new fermenting bucket a new bottling bucket lids air locks plastic hoses and some star san. I gifted him all of his plastic equipment. I figured it was the least I could do. So after watching his process this guy did EVERYTHING very questionable with sanitation. Stir paddle sitting on the ground going straight into the Brew kettle after flame out, serious heavy bleach no rinse, dog and cat running around in a very small Brew environment after flame out. Dirty old scissors used to cut open yeast packet. Ice to cool straight from freezer. Everything was questionable. And this guy has been brewing for 20 plus years, was working on opening a small Brew Pub... I think the point I'm trying to make here is he'd been doing very very questionable sanitation practices for 20 years without issue. Well he says without issue I never tasted his beer. But once an infection sets in you really really have to find it because it can plague you for a long time. You have to go at it with every means possible take everything apart really really look at your process. Moving on we cleaned up his brewhouse we sanitized everything we took apart everything soaked it all in Star San new plastic buckets fermenting washed and sanitized his scissors and you know what he never once again came into the store telling me that he had an infection. He changed his process he changed his sanitation practices. And he was successful.

Pitch 2 pack of yeast :)

You can find it.


Cheers
Jay
 

TheMadKing

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I suggest not soaking your fementor for an hour in starsan, starsan is an acid based sanitizer intended for a contact time of minutes.
I use to store my starsan premix in a 5 gallon plastic bucket and over time it would develop cracks in the bottom (eat away at the plastic). I have since switched to 5 gallon plastic paint buckets which have a coating that my starsan premix has not attacked.

I don't believe that you stated what you are using for a fermentor, but I would toss your airlock and rubber bung (if used).

Consider getting a hose brush to clean the inside of your hoses and do not use your dishwasher for bottle sanitizing.
I have been storing star san in the same plastic bucket for 9 years straight now. It's an old food grade fermenter and has had zero issue.

Some plastics, especially vinyl beverage tubing will degrade in star san so it's very dependant on the type of plastic
 

Dancy

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I live in a small place like the OP — one bdrm condo and brew 5-6G in the kitchen. Once my bottles are surface clean, I bake them in the oven then bottle the next day or the day after. I sit on a stool next to the open oven door and pull them out one at a time and bottle from the bottling bucket sitting on a cart in front of me. I prefer the dry heat of the oven to a dishwasher anytime.
 

Newsman

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You sucked on siphon tubes... :eek:

You can fill the tube with star san and then plug both ends. Place one end in the beer, and while keeping it plugged, place the other end in an empty container and release the star san and it will start the siphon

Or use an autosiphon
And no, StarSan at that solution won't kill your yeast. But an autosiphon is much better and easier. And I just ordered one off Amazon for under $5
 

IslandLizard

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Moving on we cleaned up his brewhouse [...]
You do go far beyond your call of duty, truly admirable!

Yes, it's indeed a funny story and makes one wonder to how many homebrewers it applies. Proper sanitation and common sense are not native concepts, they need to be acquired. I think I learned about proper sanitation in homebrewing from Palmer's How to Brew, 3rd Ed, but the foundation was laid by my family when I grew up, and later in Biology class.
 
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mcleanmj

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Thanks for all of your ideas and input. I actually did brew a 1 gallon extract batch recently. That one so far seems fine. Gonna bottle it today and we'll see what happens. I'm gonna try doing a simple 5 gallon extract batch next week with the Brewzilla and see if I can work out the issues.
 

jcfontario

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I've seen a recipe for chicha on some homebrewing website. Regarding the chewing part, they cautioned the reader it might require considerable time and effort to chew through all the maize.
Silly bloggers. Brewing authentic chicha is a communal affair. You just need to ask for help you neighbours.
Off Topic - You haven't lived until you have had Chica da hora (Chica of the hour - so it is fresh!). I had some at a roadside stop in the back roads of the Peruvian Andes a couple of years ago. It was, how you say...interesting). I could have also had some of the roasted rodents that they had for sale, but I declined.

Now back to your originally scheduled thread.
 

BigDave1303

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That's a good point. Interestingly, I listened to the Brewstrong podcast where they interviewed the guy from 5 star and he says star san degrades over time from contact with heavy metals, but that if you make your star san with distilled/pure water, it can last a really long time. I think I will start using boiled or distilled water for it.

Boiled & cooled water is not the same as distilled water and will still contain many of the original minerals after boiling. I use RO water in my Starsan as the RO system takes out almost everything & the Starsan mix remains clear. If I use tap water the Starsan goes cloudy almost immediately.
 

CDS

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I know people keep Star San for weeks. I’ve been doing it too. Their site says its supposed to be used right away and it shouldn’t be used if its been mixed for more than an hour. I found that not long ago. I’ve also had issues with a few batches and I’m going through the same stuff. I plan to make my star san fresh this next time after cleaning, etc. to see if that makes a difference. Who knows if they changed the formula, etc?


How long is Star San good for once it’s mixed into a solution?
Star San is an EPAs registered sanitizer and must be used immediately. We do not recommend using it if has been in solution longer than an hour.
Whoa! Had not realized that. I always fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and 1oz Star San and use it for the duration of my brew day! I guess I’ve been very lucky never to have an infection. So you guys are refilling spray bottles etc. If it’s older than an hour? I’m going to go broke buying Star San!
 

Bilsch

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If you are hunting persistent infections, peroxyacetic acid is the weapon of choice.
 

IslandLizard

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Whoa! Had not realized that. I always fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and 1oz Star San and use it for the duration of my brew day!
That's what most of us do, and AFAIK there's absolutely no issue with doing that.

I guess I’ve been very lucky never to have an infection. So you guys are refilling spray bottles etc. If it’s older than an hour? I’m going to go broke buying Star San!
No, not lucky, the product is designed for that. For 13 years now, I've been using Starsan working solutions for weeks. It gets tossed when it gets gray or grimey, dropping below my (low) standards. Or when I start tinkering with yeast (starters).

I dunno where that misconception/misinformation comes from. Anyone?
 

IslandLizard

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Someone earlier in this thread said the makers put out a statement not to use it of it had been made more than an hour or so previously.
Thanks, I missed that post (#13).

I'm actually perplexed reading those Starsan (and other product) FAQs on Five Stars' web page. They're laced with "typos" and incongruent statements, as if they were compiled and written by a near-illiterate or a moron.

If "pot life" of Starsan is indeed only an hour, why the heck were we using it, as we did for the past 20 years or so? Even Iodophor has a pot life of 12-24 hours, Starsan was supposed to change that. 1 hour...?
 

TheMadKing

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Whoa! Had not realized that. I always fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and 1oz Star San and use it for the duration of my brew day! I guess I’ve been very lucky never to have an infection. So you guys are refilling spray bottles etc. If it’s older than an hour? I’m going to go broke buying Star San!
No.. I use the same bucket of star san for weeks as long as the pH is low and it's not cloudy.
 

TheMadKing

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Thanks, I missed that post (#13).

I'm actually perplexed reading those Starsan (and other product) FAQs on Five Stars' web page. They're laced with "typos" and incongruent statements, as if they were compiled and written by a near-illiterate or a moron.

If "pot life" of Starsan is indeed only an hour, why the heck were we using it, as we did for the past 20 years or so? Even Iodophor has a pot life of 12-24 hours, Starsan was supposed to change that. 1 hour...?
Yeah reading that and the wording of "we recommend" really makes me think that's just working around an EPA rule
 

IslandLizard

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Yeah reading that and the wording of "we recommend" really makes me think that's just working around an EPA rule
You're probably right, something is up.

I didn't expect the EPA to be involved in beer sanitation "strategies." :tank:
But dealing with effluents, yes!

Now dumping more Starsan down the drain would not be exactly helping the environment, would it? 1 hour of pot life surpasses the duration of many brewing activities, and we would need to make fresh solutions whenever we'd be using it.
 

dbsmith

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I would start narrowing down what part of the process the infection is coming from. I would start by figuring out if it is pre or post fermentor stage. What I would do is split the batch after the boil into two, with one side going into a different (new) fermentation vessel with new airlock, etc. You could just use a Carlo Rossi jug. Let it sit in your fermentor longer than normal.. maybe a month. Then, bottle the beer up in your normal bottles, except for the new fermentor use a couple of new bottles as well with a new bottling wand.
Code:
Wort -- (split) -------> Old fermentor -------------> old bottles


               \-------> New fermentor -- (split) --> old bottles


                                                 \--> new bottles

You have a few outcomes:

1) Both beers are looking infected in both fermentors -> this tells you it is something to do with transferring the wort to the fermentor from your kettle. There could also be downstream sources as well.

2) The old fermentor is infected looking inside while the new one is not -> This tells you that old fermentor is harboring something nasty

3) After bottling, both beers are infected, but only in the old bottles -> This tells you that the old bottles are a problem (or the old bottling wand).

4) All beer is infected in old and new bottles -> This tells you the same as #1 (both beers must have been infected in their fermentors which would indicate an issue pre fermentor stage).
 
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IslandLizard

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I would start narrowing down what part of the process the infection is coming from.
Yes, that's very important!

For example, one of our avid club brewers suddenly started getting infections in his beer. It turned out his (2 piece) kettle valve contained a black, tarry substance, harboring Pediococcus, with her telltale diacetyl signature. Even being close to the bottom and heat from the propane burner, enough survived.
 

IslandLizard

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@IslandLizard this is from their Instagram page.
[...]
Thanks!

It still doesn't clarify much, or which product they're referring to, Starsan or Sani Clean.
One year for what, the concentrate? I have evidence it stays fine for many years (10+).

Is "it" 12 hours now for the working solution, not the 1 hour they were claiming on their FAQ page?
They really need to get their act together, don't we all benefit from that?

Most homebrewers don't have a pH meter or one that's trustworthy enough. And why would that pH be important after an hour or even 12 hours, just sitting there.
I've checked the pH after weeks, months, it never went above 2.9. It's 2.7 when mixed fresh using soft or RO water.
 

Ridenour64

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yeah I just wanted to show that they are putting this information out there. I assume just to ensure success with newer or inexperienced users? Idk. I do however mix up a fresh batch every brew day though. Just feels right to me. I have 2 dogs and keeping dog hair at bay for a brew day is a nightmare. Even if I didn’t, would still probably mix a fresh batch. I will however keep a batch longish term if it’s mixed with distilled or RO water and in a water bottle.

As far as the bottle of Star San itself, yeah that has been on my shelf for years and I don’t think twice about it.
 

bwible

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From recent reading of other posts, the valve of the kettle could be the culprit.
I just took mine off and yeah. It was nasty. Looked mostly like a layer of old hop pellet residue. Scrubbed it out with my airlock brush, perfect size. Soaking all the parts now in pbw.
You’d think this would be the last place to check, with the kettle being flamed and boiled.

Thank you. Hopefully this solves that.
 

Dr_Jeff

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Glad to be of help.

I know it sucks to have a bad batch, even worse, several.

A number of years back, I had a large inventory of kegs on deck and discovered a bunch that had gotten infected, I think I dumped 6-10 kegs that day, it hurt to have to do that. Lots of work and a bit of money.
 

Dr_Jeff

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I haven't had an infection in a long time, but when I get home from Alaska, I WILL be taking my valves apart and checking them.
I fully expect them to be nasty and gross.
 
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mcleanmj

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So, I did rip apart my Brewzilla and found a decent amount of crud in the pump tubing. I soaked everything in PBW and cleaned it very well. I put it all back together and pumped star san through. Right now I'm thinking that was the source or contamination for the best bitter. I think the porter got infected by a bad piece of siphon tube.

I brewed a batch two days ago. Well see what happens. I'm gonna bottle this one directly from the fermenter.
 

marc1

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You're probably right, something is up.

I didn't expect the EPA to be involved in beer sanitation "strategies." :tank:
But dealing with effluents, yes!

Now dumping more Starsan down the drain would not be exactly helping the environment, would it? 1 hour of pot life surpasses the duration of many brewing activities, and we would need to make fresh solutions whenever we'd be using it.
Oddly, the EPA is in charge of sanitizers and disinfectants, not the FDA.

Specific cases, like sterilizing devices to be used in health care facilities are FDA.
 
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