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Non-diluted StarSan in fermenter bucket

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haaugerud

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Hi,

Just bottled my first batch of a Juicy IPA recipe. For sanitizing my fermenter I used non-diluted StarSan (30-60 ml I reckon) and used rubber gloves to distribute it in the bottom and sides of the bucket. I have later realized that this was a mistake and that the StarSan should be diluted with water. Bought my equipment used and the StarSan bottle did not have a label, but should definately have checked this.
After filling the Starsan and distributing it around the bucket, I put the lid on the let it stand upside down to drain most of it out. However, since I did not flush it, there was definately some residue left in it when I poured the wort in the fermenter.

My question is if I have to be concerned about having some residue of undiluted starsan in my fermenter with the wort? I have also asked Five Star about this, and waiting for their reply.
I have read that some claim that the StarSan breaks down to something that the yeast can feed on, and this gives me some comfort. Anyway, I have to ask - should I be concerned?

Br,
Haakon
 

wsmith1625

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I think your beer will be fine. The reason brewers use StarSan is because it's not only a good sanitizer, but does not effect the flavor or quality of beer like other sanitizers such as bleach.

When diluted properly it does tend to create foam which doesn't always drain from equipment well. People ask all the time and the answer is always "don't fear the foam". Some want to rinse it out, but doing so could introduce contaminants.
 
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haaugerud

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I actually just got a reply from Five Star where I explained what had happened.

They write that the beer needs to be disposed and that it is not safe to consume :confused: See attachment.

I have read various opinions on this matter. There was a similar thread on homebrewtalk, but not really a conclusion. Of course, the need to dispose it or not will depend on the amount of StarSan used. Takes a lot to throw all of this away..
 

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IslandLizard

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You're saying there's the equivalent of 30-60 ml of Starsan concentrate in your beer?
That's like using a working solution of Starsan for brewing a 5 gallon batch, instead of plain water. Or even twice that strength...

That's a very different quantity from "some" Starsan working solution that's left on the bottom of your fermenter after sanitizing it and pouring it all out. Or some foam clinging to the sides. Or a pint or a quart that inadvertently got sucked back from the blow-off jug.

I hate waste too, not just with beer. But in this case, sadly, I agree with Starsan, that beer should be dumped.
Definitely NOT to be consumed by anyone!
 
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haaugerud

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Thanks for quick replies!

30-60 ml in fermenter, yes, before putting it upside down and letting the drain. Very hard to say just how much there was left before the wort got in. Coating on the walls and some residue in the bottom. In the end, anything from 10 ml to 30 ml. That is, 10 ml to 30 ml in 30 L of beer. That is around a normal mixing ratio for StarSan in water(?)

Anyway, I hink we are reaching a conclusion here. Hate to throw it away, but I can't run the risks of this. Learning the hard way here, I guess.


By interest - from what I read StarSan is mainly Phosphoric acid. I guess this is what the danger is all about? Are there other substances in it that pose a health risk? Could for instance measuring the pH to see if that is within an acceptable level justify anything?

Br,
Haakon
 

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By interest - from what I read StarSan is mainly Phosphoric acid. I guess this is what the danger is all about? Are there other substances in it that pose a health risk? Could for instance measuring the pH to see if that is within an acceptable level justify anything?
Well, there's also 15% dodecylbenzenesulphonic acid in it.

I would even doubt it would ferment well, given the pH of a working solution is around 2.5-2.7. That's way out of range for most yeasts.
 
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haaugerud

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Just curious, if it was unlabeled, how did you know it was Starsan?
Bought the equipment used from an experienced person in home brewing. I asked him and took his word that it is StarSan.
Of course, it is not good to only take his word for it..
 
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haaugerud

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Well, there's also 15% dodecylbenzenesulphonic acid in it.

I would even doubt it would ferment well, given the pH of a working solution is around 2.5-2.7. That's way out of range for most yeasts.
From my understanding of it, the fermentation actually went well. I had missed around -6pts in OG, but with the Final Gravity I reached ABV=6.3% which was indicated in the recipe.
 

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30-60 ml in fermenter, yes, before putting it upside down and letting the drain. Very hard to say just how much there was left before the wort got in. Coating on the walls and some residue in the bottom. In the end, anything from 10 ml to 30 ml. That is, 10 ml to 30 ml in 30 L of beer. That is around a normal mixing ratio for StarSan in water(?)
That concentrate is thick and syrupy, it drains very slowly. That alone should have tipped you off, no?
 
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haaugerud

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I definately
If the "Starsan" wasn't in the original container, I wouldn't trust what the person said. There's zero reason for it to NOT be in the original container.
There is a label on the bottle, but it has been "whitened out", probably from wear. I have good reason to believe it is the original bottle.
However yes, many probably and maybes here. The right thing is to get rid of this stuff and prepare a new batch.

Thanks.
 

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From my understanding of it, the fermentation actually went well. I had missed around -6pts in OG, but with the Final Gravity I reached ABV=6.3% which was indicated in the recipe.
I guess the wort buffered some of the acidity away.

Since the beer is done, I'd give it a taste, for the record. That should be OK.
Chances are it tastes very acidic, like a sour, astringent IPA.

Most sodas also contain some phosphoric acid, and people drink that all the time. But it's still a much smaller amount per volume, I'd say.
 

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There is a label on the bottle, but it has been "whitened out", probably from wear.
Is it still legible?
Starsan is sold in small 4oz regular, cylindrical bottles, with a purplish print. The caps are known to crack/split over time, spilling the content in one's brew tote.
 
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haaugerud

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Is it still legible?
Starsan is sold in small 4oz regular, cylindrical bottles, with a purplish print. The caps are known to crack/split over time, spilling the content in one's brew tote.
Actually looks more like this. This is the bottle type I have. Norwegian producer as an alternative to StarSan. Contains both dodecylbenzenesulphonic acid and phosphoric acid. This might well be what I got. 15-40 ml per 10 L water. I could check with the guy I bought it from if this is the one, and that it indeed is not Starsan.


1605195980733.png
 

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@haaugerud Having your location listed under your avatar (when posting) would help us all. Without knowing where you are in the country/world means we are missing important info (at times like this).

I'm glad we have Starsan here in the US. I bought the 8oz bottle at the start of the year and have almost gone through it. I picked up the 16oz bottle about a month ago for when the first is emptied.

These products DO have a shelf-life. So, if the label has faded to the point where you cannot really read it anymore, toss it and get new.
 
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haaugerud

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I guess the wort buffered some of the acidity away.

Since the beer is done, I'd give it a taste, for the record. That should be OK.
Chances are it tastes very acidic, like a sour, astringent IPA.

Most sodas also contain some phosphoric acid, and people drink that all the time. But it's still a much smaller amount per volume, I'd say.
According to this the percentage of phosphoric acid is around 0.26-0.3 % in a coke.

Data sheet of StarSan gives 50 % concentration of Ph.acid in further an aqeous solution of 75%.
Lets say I put 50 ml of StarSan in the bucket with 30 L of wort. Assuming density of StarSan = density of wort (conservative?). Then the concentration should be around C_ph.acid = Vol_PhAcid / Vol_beer = 0.019 L / 30 L = 0.07 % Ph.acid (ca).

But then we have the dodecylbenzenesulphonic acid too. Even though it takes a lower part of StarSan it is listed as "Acute Tox. 4 (oral), H302" given the data sheet of Five Star...
Is the dodecylbenzenesulphonic acid the most hazardous one here?

Extremely likely I will dump the batch anyway, but now I'm curious on the sanitizers..

Wondering if measuring the pH of the beer will justify anything. Have asked Five Star about this. But seems not to be of help if it is the concentration of dodecylbenzenesulphonic acid that is the problem.

Haakon
 
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haaugerud

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@haaugerud Having your location listed under your avatar (when posting) would help us all. Without knowing where you are in the country/world means we are missing important info (at times like this).

I'm glad we have Starsan here in the US. I bought the 8oz bottle at the start of the year and have almost gone through it. I picked up the 16oz bottle about a month ago for when the first is emptied.

These products DO have a shelf-life. So, if the label has faded to the point where you cannot really read it anymore, toss it and get new.
Yes, thanks. Will fix my location. Will also get rid of that sanitizer that I have and get a new one.
 
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haaugerud

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According to this the percentage of phosphoric acid is around 0.26-0.3 % in a coke.

Data sheet of StarSan gives 50 % concentration of Ph.acid in further an aqeous solution of 75%.
Lets say I put 50 ml of StarSan in the bucket with 30 L of wort. Assuming density of StarSan = density of wort (conservative?). Then the concentration should be around C_ph.acid = Vol_PhAcid / Vol_beer = 0.019 L / 30 L = 0.07 % Ph.acid (ca).

But then we have the dodecylbenzenesulphonic acid too. Even though it takes a lower part of StarSan it is listed as "Acute Tox. 4 (oral), H302" given the data sheet of Five Star...
Is the dodecylbenzenesulphonic acid the most hazardous one here?

Extremely likely I will dump the batch anyway, but now I'm curious on the sanitizers..

Wondering if measuring the pH of the beer will justify anything. Have asked Five Star about this. But seems not to be of help if it is the concentration of dodecylbenzenesulphonic acid that is the problem.

Haakon
Sorry, link: Polyprotic Acids and Bases in Cola Drinks.
 

wsmith1625

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I think you should carefully re-read the OP!
I'm willing to bet you'd draw a very different conclusion... ;)
He said he drained the StarSan out leaving just residue, which I would imagine would total around 5ml. Since the dilution ratio is 6ml to a gallon of water, I would say 5 gallons of beer would safely diluted the residue IMO.

The answer he got from Five Star was the answer they had to give for liability concerns, again IMO.

I did think about the effect on the PH of his wort, but I would let it ride and try it. Definitely don't think it's a health concern.
 
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haaugerud

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He said he drained the StarSan out leaving just residue, which I would imagine would total around 5ml. Since the dilution ratio is 6ml to a gallon of water, I would say 5 gallons of beer would safely diluted the residue IMO.

The answer he got from Five Star was the answer they had to give for liability concerns, again IMO.

I did think about the effect on the PH of his wort, but I would let it ride and try it. Definitely don't think it's a health concern.
Thanks. Appreciate both sides to this. If I was Five Star I would also make sure to be on the safe side. If employed in Five Star and a random guy came to me and said he had used it in concentrated form and I would have no chance to control or check that he actually did not use more of it than he told me, I would definately give him the same reply I got.

So now I am trying to map how bad these concentrations actually are. Definately not to recommend, but how bad really..? Do we have chemist/doctor in here? :p

Anyways, I think the joy of drinking the beer or serving it (which I will not) is definately ruined because of this. Better be safe on this one.

Haakon
 

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This might well be what I got. 15-40 ml per 10 L water
Is the lower dilution meant to be used as a no-rinse sanitizer? And higher concentrated working solutions meant to be rinsed off after application? That's often the case with sanitizers.

The lower dilution of your "SureSan" is similar to StarSan's, which is 1 oz/5 gallons (~28 ml/19 liters).

I wonder if it's the same product, just rebranded. AFAIK, Starsan is patented.

He said he drained the StarSan out leaving just residue, which I would imagine would total around 5ml.
Yeah, that's the big question, how much was recovered after inverting the fermenter, how much stuck to the bottom and walls.

Years ago, as a gimmick, one of the top guys at Five Star drank a pint or quart (?) of a Starsan working solution, to "prove" leftover, clinging residue and foam was safe to ingest. That was working solution strength.

Now drinking 5 gallons of (some unknown) dilution over 2-4 weeks, would that be fine?
Of course Five Star is not going to endorse that... but would it be harmful?
 

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These products DO have a shelf-life. So, if the label has faded to the point where you cannot really read it anymore, toss it and get new.
I'm not so sure about Starsan's indicated vs. actual shelf life. It took me 7 years to use up a 32 oz container. I'm a frugal user, I reclaim, store, and reuse it for several weeks, months even, without any problems. I test the pH before use, and never had it rise above 3.0.

Although the concentrate may have darkened slightly over those 7 years, from my observations, it worked just as well as from a fresh jug.
 
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haaugerud

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Is the lower dilution meant to be used as a no-rinse sanitizer? And higher concentrated working solutions meant to be rinsed off after application? That's often the case with sanitizers.

The lower dilution of your "SureSan" is similar to StarSan's, which is 1 oz/5 gallons (~28 ml/19 liters).

I wonder if it's the same product, just rebranded. AFAIK, Starsan is patented.


Yeah, that's the big question, how much was recovered after inverting the fermenter, how much stuck to the bottom and walls.

Years ago, as a gimmick, one of the top guys at Five Star drank a pint or quart (?) of a Starsan working solution, to "prove" leftover, clinging residue and foam was safe to ingest. That was working solution strength.

Now drinking 5 gallons of (some unknown) dilution over 2-4 weeks, would that be fine?
Of course Five Star is not going to endorse that... but would it be harmful?
Yes, I agree. That is the question I would like to find an answer to. Also read somewhere in the forum about the person drinking some of the diluted StarSan to prove a point.

The fact that the fermentation actually went better than expected, given ABV=6.3% (as in recipe) with too small OG (-6pts), does that give some indication? Clearly, the yeast did not take damage of too much StarSan/Sure San...

Five Star stated on email to me that used correctly, StarSan breaks down to a yeast nutrient. However, this was not correct use...
 

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I'm not so sure about Starsan's indicated vs. actual shelf life. It took me 7 years to use up a 32 oz container. I'm a frugal user, I reclaim, store, and reuse it for several weeks, months even, without any problems. I test the pH before use, and never had it rise above 3.0.

Although the concentrate may have darkened slightly over those 7 years, from my observations, it worked just as well as from a fresh jug.
Mine tends to get dumped on brew day since I run my O2 want/stone in it after oxygenating the wort. Plus other things that are not clean get placed into that bucket during brew day. It's good for that day, but I won't let it hang around after that. It's cheap enough that I have zero issues dumping it at that point. I'll mix more up before brew day to use.
 

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The fact that the fermentation actually went better than expected, given ABV=6.3% (as in recipe) with too small OG (-6pts), does that give some indication?
Most of us brewers rarely use %ABV as a measure of anything.
Gravity is our measure, especially FG (gravity of the finished beer) and usually in relation to OG (gravity of the wort before fermentation).

Are you're saying you were 6 points short on the predicted (recipe's) OG?
Have you measured your FG? If so what was is it?

Did you dry hop this?
Have you tasted it?
 
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haaugerud

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Most of us brewers rarely use %ABV as a measure of anything.
Gravity is our measure, especially FG (gravity of the finished beer) and usually in relation to OG (gravity of the wort before fermentation).

Are you're saying you were 6 points short on the predicted (recipe's) OG?
Have you measured your FG? If so what was is it?

Did you dry hop this?
Have you tasted it?
Recipe OG = 1.059
OG = 1.053

Recipe FG = 1.011
FG = 1.005

So in the end, no change in ABV.
Used hops in pellets.

Tasted a small cup on Tuesday. Opened a bottle now and tasted some more. To me, it doesn't taste bad. Perhaps somewhat more sour than what I am used to for an IPA. My first thought now is to measure the pH.
 

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To me it doesn't taste bad. Perhaps somewhat more sour than what I am used to for an IPA. My first thought now is to measure the pH.
That sour taste is probably from the PH being too high. Just read a post where someone was adding baking soda to his beer to lower the PH and reduce the sour taste. His issue was the water source.
 

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Yeah, that's the big question, how much was recovered after inverting the fermenter, how much stuck to the bottom and walls.
Quoting myself, because it just made me think of a test the OP, @haaugerud, could do.

[Edits]
Take your (now) clean fermenter and bring it back to exact same state as you had it before, whether it being dry, damp, wet, whatever, the same state. Then add a similar amount of Starsan (or Sure San) concentrate to it as you did before, but measure it well this time, though! Spread it around, just as you did before, then invert it, capturing all the run-off concentrate, and measure that well too.
Subtract the recovered amount from the original amount and now you may have an indication of how much Sure San concentrate remained clinging to the walls the first time. Maybe we can then all feel better and raise one to celebrate. ;)

Don't throw out your (expensive) test Starsan, though. Make a batch of sanitizer from it, for next time. It stores well in a covered bucket.
 
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haaugerud

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Quoting myself, because it just made me think of a test the OP, @haaugerud, could do.

Take your (now) clean fermenter and bring it back to exact same state as you had it before, whether it being dry, damp, wet, whatever, the same state. Then add a similar amount of Starsan (or Sure San) to it, but measure it well, though! Spread it around as you did before, invert it, capturing all the run of, and measure that. Subtract from the original amount and now you may have an indication of how much remained clinging to the walls.

Don't throw out your (expensive) test Starsan, though. Make a batch of sanitizer from it, for next time. It stores well in a covered bucket.
I like the idea, but up till now many of us have considered that any amount of concentrated StarSan should be regarded as "unsafe" if mixed with the wort. Independent of what I would get as an answer, would it help me in any way to know if it is safe or not? What would be considered as safe?

I can test this, but will also buy paper to measure the pH. It may be too low.
 

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up till now many of us have considered that any amount of concentrated StarSan should be regarded as "unsafe" if mixed with the wort.
No, not any amount, it's the amount that's key to it being acceptable for consumption, or not.
As @wsmith1625 said here:

He said he drained the StarSan out leaving just residue, which I would imagine would total around 5ml. Since the dilution ratio is 6ml to a gallon of water, I would say 5 gallons of beer would safely diluted the residue IMO.
I would agree, if it's only 5 ml that remained clinging to the walls, it's probably acceptable. But with that (smaller) amount it wouldn't, or shouldn't taste perceptibly sour, though.

I can test this, but will also buy paper to measure the pH. It may be too low.
pH papers are not all that accurate, even narrow range ones. And it wouldn't change what the beer tastes like. If it's perceptibly too sour, you know why that is, you don't need a paper strip telling you that.
Do you have a friend or so who works in a lab or at a University, or school that has one? They can probably test the pH quickly and accurately.
For their effort you may want to give him/her a few bottles of your new brew.

Finished beer is typically around a pH of 4.0-4.4 depending on style, yeast, and many other factors, but may go as low as 3.8 (for non-sours) or as high as 4.8.
 

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If the "Starsan" wasn't in the original container, I wouldn't trust what the person said. There's zero reason for it to NOT be in the original container.
I bought a gallon of StarSan and after several years, the plastic bottle got dropped and it cracked. I transferred the remaining amount to a glass growler. So, zero reason is not correct.
 
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No, not any amount, it's the amount that's key to it being acceptable for consumption, or not.
As @wsmith1625 said here:


I would agree, if it's only 5 ml that remained clinging to the walls, it's probably acceptable. But with that (smaller) amount it wouldn't, or shouldn't taste perceptibly sour, though.


pH papers are not all that accurate, even narrow range ones. And it wouldn't change what the beer tastes like. If it's perceptibly too sour, you know why that is, you don't need a paper strip telling you that.
Do you have a friend or so who works in a lab or at a University, or school that has one? They can probably test the pH quickly and accurately.
For their effort you may want to give him/her a few bottles of your new brew.

Finished beer is typically around a pH of 4.0-4.4 depending on style, yeast, and many other factors, but may go as low as 3.8 (for non-sours) or as high as 4.8.
@IslandLizard - got some results for you.
I remember I had two small dashes of StarSan/Sure San in the fermenter. When I poured did it in a laboratory flask now, they measured 20 ml each, summing to 40 ml.
Smeared it around in the fermenter as last time and left it on the side to gather up. Poured the remaining residue in the lab. flask again, measuring around 15 ml.
So, result here was 25 ml.

My guess is that we are looking at an amount between 20 ml and 30 ml in the fermenter before fermentation.

pH-measurement:
I have now ordered an electronic one. Will measure on monday.

Btw;
I really appreciate you all replying this fast, @IslandLizard, @Spartan1979, @wsmith1625 and @Golddiggie! Next time I will hopefully ask something that doesn't regard whether my beer is drinkable or not :D
 

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@IslandLizard - got some results for you.
My guess is that we are looking at an amount between 20 ml and 30 ml in the fermenter before fermentation.
Thank you for the numbers.
So, yeah, you basically brewed this beer in a Starsan working solution, instead of using water.

The majority of Phosphoric Acid does not get metabolized by the yeast, only a minute amount of the Phosphate ion may be used as nutrient.
Many people drink soda (cola), so with some restraint that won't be the worst to ingest.

Not sure what happens to the dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid.
It's a surfactant, like a liquid soap. It breaks the bacteria's (and yeast's) cell walls, allowing the phosphoric acid to penetrate, killing them from the inside.

One can only wonder what would happen to your intestinal tract, its flora, and other organs when consumed in larger quantities over time.
I would not drink a pint of Starsan each day for a month, which is basically the composition of your brewing water, and thus your beer.
 

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Not sure what happens to the dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid.
It's a surfactant, like a liquid soap. It breaks the bacteria's (and yeast's) cell walls, allowing the phosphoric acid to penetrate, killing them from the inside.
Let me add, this sanitation mechanism only works efficiently above a minimum concentration (such as when diluted to a working solution, or stronger), and below a certain pH, most likely under pH 3.0, as that's what's recommended by the manufacturer.

When other components are present, such as in your case, beer (sugars, dextrins, alcohol, CO2, hop oils, etc.) and the pH is quite a bit higher (est. above 3.5) Starsan's sanitation capabilities of killing microorganisms are expected to be largely diminished. When that Starsan "enriched" beer is ingested as such, things will get even more complicated.

The main question remains: Could it cause damage to your body somehow?
The ultimate (maybe more ethical) question is are you looking for justification to drink this batch, instead of dumping it? IOW, is it really your call to consume this tainted batch, as is, slowly, a pint every 2-5 days, or simply dumping it?

My advice is still the same as Five Star's:
Dump it !!!
 
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haaugerud

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Thank you, @IslandLizard.

I agree that the picture will be more complicated when there are various other components than water in the fermenter. A lot of uncertainties..

I have planned for preparing a new brewing batch upcoming monday/tuesday. Will let the current batch rest in bottles for some days more and check the pH (just of interest). Since it's my first time brewing, it will also be interesting for me to see how much gas builds up after some days (used carbonation drops).

I think we managed to settle some pieces here and certainly; I know more about sanitation than I did before. Hope this thread can be of use if someone find themselves in a similar case and wonder - "can I still drink this?".

Edit: I can update you guys on the pH, once I got it measured.

Conclusion: The batch will be tossed.
 

Gozie Boy

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Well, there's also 15% dodecylbenzenesulphonic acid in it.

I would even doubt it would ferment well, given the pH of a working solution is around 2.5-2.7. That's way out of range for most yeasts.
FYI, that is the abbreviated name. The proper name is: dodecylbenzenesulphonicexpialidocious.
 

dwhite60

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I don't dump beer. Drinking bad beer is paying penance to the beer gods for the errors I made in my process.

The batch you have I would dump without question.
 
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