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Is this cider salvageable? Spiderweb-like white growth on top...

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Anaximenes

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Hi all, I have a cider that I racked to secondary (with what I realize now is way too much headspace :S) about 2 weeks ago. About a week into the secondary, one carbuoy started to develop a white film on top that has since grown quite a bit. From some digging in these forums I think it might be lactobacillus or Brettanomyces... Could someone help me out with determining what it actually is and what to do about it? I have attached a photo.

For some additional information, this was unpasteurized cider from a farm and I dissolved campden tablets into it. Then I waited 48 hours, pitched Nottingham Ale Yeast with yeast nutrient, and also added a clarifying agent (whitelabs WLN4000 clarity ferm). There was very little to no bubbling action during the primary (but specific gravity dropped from 1.050 to about 1.000 before racking) and smelled (and tasted) fairly strongly of sulfur when I was moving it to secondary.

Thanks for the help!

IMG_20191116_144216.jpg
 

TwistedGray

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Likely a bacteria, pull a sample below the line. It won't clear that on its own, but it should be okay to consume (don't pull any of the infection though).

It might have a buttery oak-like finish (I like it).
 

RPh_Guy

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The film is caused by the wild microbes (yeast and/or bacteria) naturally present in unpasteurized juice. A pellicle (film) is normal.

It's impossible for us to identify which microbes are present based on appearance. A number of microbes can make a pellicle.

Is it salvageable? If it tastes fine, yes. You need to reduce the oxygen exposure. That means low headspace. Do you have smaller carboys?

The Clarity Ferm was a complete waste. It has no effect on cider.

In my opinion the best way to remove "sulfur" (hydrogen sulfide) in a cider with wild microbes is to use copper. Kupzit or Reduless are good products for this.

Are you planning to naturally carbonate this?
(don't pull any of the infection though).
In my experience it's really easy to avoid the pellicle when racking because it sticks to things. However the wild microbes are all throughout the cider, so leaving the pellicle behind doesn't do much in that regard.
 

TwistedGray

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In my experience it's really easy to avoid the pellicle when racking because it sticks to things. However the wild microbes are all throughout the cider, so leaving the pellicle behind doesn't do much in that regard.
True; that's specifically what I was referencing.
 
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Anaximenes

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Thanks for the responses.

You need to reduce the oxygen exposure. That means low headspace. Do you have smaller carboys?

Are you planning to naturally carbonate this?
I don't have smaller carbuoys, but maybe I could just bottle it now and let it sit in there for a couple months?

I am planning to naturally carbonate.
 
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Anaximenes

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Okay, so I haven't had the time to bottle until now, which I am regretting because now it looks even worse! Just want to post another picture to see if it changes anybody's opinion on what to do moving forward before I taste it and bottle, trying to avoid the growth on top.

There are some round formations of white stuff now that look fairly solid (I haven't touched them though, so hard to tell)....

IMG_20191123_215412.jpg
IMG_20191123_220431.jpg
 

Sequoiacider

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I suggest you take a look through the Kombucha section of the Forum. That looks a lot like what the Kombucha makers are trying to get on top of their creations. You may have accidentally brewed up an Alcoholic Kombucha-type beverage.

Either way, I would say it does NOT look like mold. Mold is typically Hairy or Darkly colored. It should be safe to drink (though I would siphon from underneath the surface and avoid sucking it up as other have mentioned). Taste will almost certainly be affected. Weather that effect is positive or negative is up to the taste test.
 

bmd2k1

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Looks like what I get when I lacto ferment pickles! Perfectly normal in that situation. I've not had same thing with any of my ciders.

Cheers & Good luck [emoji111]
 

RPh_Guy

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I suggest you take a look through the Kombucha section of the Forum. That looks a lot like what the Kombucha makers are trying to get on top of their creations. You may have accidentally brewed up an Alcoholic Kombucha-type beverage.
Having a pellicle doesn't make it like kombucha.
 

Sequoiacider

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Having a pellicle doesn't make it like kombucha.
I wasn't saying it definitely does. I was saying that that the appearance of the pellicle that OP posted, especially in the second photo set, is very similar to the desirable pellicle that kombucha makers want, and therefore might be kombucha-like.
 

dwhite60

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Could dose it with some vinegar mother.

You'll at least have a bunch of really nice "artisan" vinegar. Might make nice gifts!

All the Best,
D. White
 
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