Pellicle Photo Collection

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sweetcell

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I've been growing this mother for a few months. It has changed into this in the last month. I was worried it has morthed into something bad but after seeing the pictures on this thread I'm not as concerned. Does this look like a problem to the experienced sour brewer?
that does not look good. i'd bet on mold. personally, i'd dump :(
 

BrewMan13

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I am not a scientist, but have brewed sours since 2014. I manage 2 sour barrels, solera since then and have never developed anything that resembles the round balls on top of my pellicus.
It's a captured wild culture of unknown composition. This is the 5th iteration, so I'm sure it's fine. It seems to go through phases: first 2 weeks are like a regular sacc ferment, then it seems to be doing nothing, then a pellicle starts and stays relatively stable, sometimes with bubbles like that. This one was brewed in April.
 

Stas StoLat

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Hmm. I have never seen bubbles that didn't dissipate. I assumed they were more rigid, firm even
 

BrewMan13

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They'll "pop" eventually I suspect.
Just by coincidence, the gueuze-ish blend I have going had a firm, white pellicle with no bubbles for months, then a couple weeks ago it started blowing bubbles, they popped, now the pellicle is almost gone. This is my longest sour project, so assuming age is a factor.
 

dawn_kiebawls

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Here's my pellicle growing on a Golden Sour. It's a mix of ECY Bugfarm2 (primary pitch) and dregs from Boulevard Lovechild, Jester King Wytchmaker and a Bottle of something from Black Project.

When I racked it was down to 1.002 but there are still small bubbles rising to the top so I'm not sure if it's degassing, if the Brett is still working away and it will finish at or below 1.000, or I really hope it's not turning to vinegar but I'm not sure if there would be any visible signs of an acetobactar infection. Cheers!

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Dinadan

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Wow, fellows. I just looked at the first three pages and last three pages of this thread. Before today I never knew what a pellicle was: now I am afraid I will never get these images out of my memory! I feel like Alice when she went down the rabbit hole: wow: there is a whole other world down here!

The really weird thing is that I am torn between fear that I might see something like this stuff on my wort, and a crazy desire to try to get something like this on my wort ...

Thanks (I think) to everyone who posted these photos ...
 

sweetcell

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The really weird thing is that I am torn between fear that I might see something like this stuff on my wort, and a crazy desire to try to get something like this on my wort ...
that's how it starts... right up there with "first one is free" o_O

if you like funky and/or sour beer, then you should try your hand at making one. given how much they cost to buy, and the relative ease with which they are made, there is little reason not to try. and as cool and gnarly as pellicles are, they're just a temporary distraction for you to enjoy until you can get to the real prize - what lies beneath...
 

JLeather

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Apparently I've got a contender for this thread. This is (was) a pale ale I brewed just under two weeks ago. Went to dry hop it tonight and found this:

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I never got any airlock activity (in spite of fermenting in a corney keg) so I suspect I have an air leak somewhere that started this. It is only ~6.2% (1.058 down to 1.011) and as I said it's only 2 weeks in. Everything went wrong with this batch. Spilled my grain, mildly scorched my wort, accidentally dumped 4 gallons of boiling water on the floor, etc, and then this to top it off! I was thinking of moving it into a serving keg to dryhop since I can siphon from under the pellicle, or should I just let it go? Assuming I do have an air leak in the fermenter is there any harm in it continuing to more or less "open ferment" from here?
 

sweetcell

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Apparently I've got a contender for this thread.
she's a beaut!

I was thinking of moving it into a serving keg to dryhop since I can siphon from under the pellicle, or should I just let it go? Assuming I do have an air leak in the fermenter is there any harm in it continuing to more or less "open ferment" from here?
air leaks and open fermentation are bad ideas, unless you want vinegar and/or nail polish remover. i would move that beer to another keg and then purge the headspace to flush out any O2.

i would then the old supposedly leaky keg: put some pressure in it then hose it down with star san or soapy water. you'll want to fully sanitize it and replace the gaskets and o-rings (or pasteurize them) before putting another clean beer in there.

you can let whatever you've got in there run its course and hope it's tasty, or you can hedge your bets and throw in some known bugs.
 

JLeather

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I think what I'll do is kick it over into a purged serving keg that I know seals, since I'm concerned about the lack of airlock activity. I'll dry hop it for the intended 7 days with a suspended bag, and then pull it and leave the whole thing for a while and see what happens. I'm not a fan of the extremely sour beers. I dip my toe in occasionally a-la Dogfish Head "Sea Quench" or Victory "Sour Monkey" but what the hell. When life gives you lemons and all. I have plenty of extra serving kegs anyway, and an empty tap on the kegerator...

I showed and explained it to my wife who is a big fan of my beer, and she is *extremely* skeptical about this one :) Although she loves pickles and sauerkraut.
 

JLeather

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Side note, should I save some of this in case I like it and actually want to re-use it in a future brew? How best to collect it? I would assume that the yeast in the trub is the US-05 I pitched. Do you skim off the pelicle and store that some how?
 

sweetcell

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Side note, should I save some of this in case I like it and actually want to re-use it in a future brew? How best to collect it? I would assume that the yeast in the trub is the US-05 I pitched. Do you skim off the pelicle and store that some how?
whatever bug(s) created that pellicle are throughout the beer, not just the surface (but the bugs that are on the surface are the ones that created the pellicle, because they were the only ones in contact with air). so no need to worry about harvesting the pellicle (specifically).

some options:
1) if you're a lab jockey, you could streak/plate it out. this would allow you to separate the pellicle-forming bug(s) from the Chico.
2) when transferring the beer to the second keg, leave a half-inch behind. swirl up the left-behind beer to kick up the trub. pour the sludge into a sanitized mason jar, store in fridge, use within a month. "burp" the mason jar every now and then by unscrewing the lid just enough to let any pressure escape.
3) same as #2, but instead of a mason jar use a bomber or a small jug and add some of the sludge to starter wort. slap an air lock on it and let it ferment. re-feed every 1 or 2 months. keep it alive until needed.

for #2 and 3, one might complain "but i'm getting both the novel bug(s) and the Chico" - yeah, but that's what you've currently got. so if the current beer tastes good, you'll have the same mix ready to go :D
 

dawn_kiebawls

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This is what happens when you transfer cider to secondary and forget about your open primary fermentor for a week in a house with fruit flies...I just hope this is cleanable considering this was my ONLY 'clean' FV :mad:
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sweetcell

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This is what happens when you transfer cider to secondary and forget about your open primary fermentor for a week in a house with fruit flies...I just hope this is cleanable considering this was my ONLY 'clean' FV :mad:
eek... fruit flies = aceto = hard to get out of a porous FV like the plastic one in the pic above... commercial brewers dump & burn any non-stainless FVs with aceto. depending what kind of a bucket that is, you might not be able to heat it above 140*F so you can't pasteurize it. maybe try a long soak in star san, like days if not weeks, make a quick test beer (could use extract) and see if it comes out clean?
 

dawn_kiebawls

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eek... fruit flies = aceto = hard to get out of a porous FV like the plastic one in the pic above... commercial brewers dump & burn any non-stainless FVs with aceto. depending what kind of a bucket that is, you might not be able to heat it above 140*F so you can't pasteurize it. maybe try a long soak in star san, like days if not weeks, make a quick test beer (could use extract) and see if it comes out clean?
I think this one is destined for the dump. It has a pretty strong smell of nail-polish remover/cider vinegar :(

I suppose I could try and soak it with some 180-190F water to try and pasteurize figuring if it melts it isn't really a loss since it's ruined anyway. Live and learn, but this really pisses me off. Not the mention the cider is filled with H2S so it's getting dumped as well..I need a drink lol
 

OldDogBrewing

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I think this one is destined for the dump. It has a pretty strong smell of nail-polish remover/cider vinegar :(

I suppose I could try and soak it with some 180-190F water to try and pasteurize figuring if it melts it isn't really a loss since it's ruined anyway. Live and learn, but this really pisses me off. Not the mention the cider is filled with H2S so it's getting dumped as well..I need a drink lol
Probably you'll have to dump it so hit it with anything that can kill yeast and bacteria that you have around, with care and using it in a safe way, obvs, but you are not going to loss anything, I would hit it with some bleach, they market some brands that are allegedly anti bacterial and sterilisers, I don't know if there is something else in there, where I live they are marketed as better bleach substitute, the rinse it a hundred times to ensure there's nothing harmful in there left, and if it works and it doesn't damage the fermentor, you'll know how to rescue any bucket
 

Beer666

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I have had buckets stink of nail polish and have reused them successfully after a day long soak in oxy and bleach. If the smell persists i leave them outside in the sun.
 

sweetcell

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I suppose I could try and soak it with some 180-190F water to try and pasteurize figuring if it melts it isn't really a loss since it's ruined anyway.
i would be worried that plastic heated that high could release some nasties of the cancer-causing kind.

bleach is worth a shot. there was an old Brewing Network podcast that featured the inventor of Star San, and in his words "bleach is a stone-cold killer." he gave a recipe for water & bleach - 1 tablespoon per gallon? per 5 gallons? plus a little vinegar because you need to drop the pH a bit to make the bleach really effective. worth looking up, would be a cheap solution, and like you said if it doesn't work then you've written off this bucket anyway... anyhoo, would be worth looking up.
 

OldDogBrewing

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i would be worried that plastic heated that high could release some nasties of the cancer-causing kind.

bleach is worth a shot. there was an old Brewing Network podcast that featured the inventor of Star San, and in his words "bleach is a stone-cold killer." he gave a recipe for water & bleach - 1 tablespoon per gallon? per 5 gallons? plus a little vinegar because you need to drop the pH a bit to make the bleach really effective. worth looking up, would be a cheap solution, and like you said if it doesn't work then you've written off this bucket anyway... anyhoo, would be worth looking up.
I use 1 part bleach to 9 of water, never had an issues damaging the plastic and it seems to work, I think I'm overdoing it a bit tbh but it works
 

ncbrewer

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bleach is worth a shot. there was an old Brewing Network podcast that featured the inventor of Star San, and in his words "bleach is a stone-cold killer." he gave a recipe for water & bleach - 1 tablespoon per gallon? per 5 gallons? plus a little vinegar because you need to drop the pH a bit to make the bleach really effective. worth looking up, would be a cheap solution, and like you said if it doesn't work then you've written off this bucket anyway... anyhoo, would be worth looking up.
Jon Herskovits, the CEO of Five Star Chemicals, was on a Beersmith podcast: Beer Cleaning and Sanitation with Jon Herskovits - BeerSmith Podcast #62 | Home Brewing Beer Blog by BeerSmith™ . He cautioned against adding vinegar to bleach because if you acidify too much, it makes chlorine gas. He also advised not to use it on plastic because it breaks plastic down. Since both of these guys (Talley and Herskovits) are experts, I don't know who to believe. Just offering information. I've seen a lot of conflicting information from Five Star in recent years.
 

OldDogBrewing

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Jon Herskovits, the CEO of Five Star Chemicals, was on a Beersmith podcast: Beer Cleaning and Sanitation with Jon Herskovits - BeerSmith Podcast #62 | Home Brewing Beer Blog by BeerSmith™ . He cautioned against adding vinegar to bleach because if you acidify too much, it makes chlorine gas. He also advised not to use it on plastic because it breaks plastic down. Since both of these guys (Talley and Herskovits) are experts, I don't know who to believe. Just offering information. I've seen a lot of conflicting information from Five Star in recent years.
Not every plastic is the same, the bleach comes in a plastic bottle an it will not melt it eventually, it's important to know which kind of plastic are we dealing with, usually they come with a kind of mark that you can check on a list and see the exact name of the material, then you can research which temperatures and products are safe to use
 

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[sigh] Another accident. 6 weeks in on my Imperial Stout (3 weeks primary, just started 3rd week of secondary) and I found this last night:

IMG_20201022_174259710_MP.jpg


In the plus side my last accident turned out ok so I'll let this one keep going. I was going to bottle condition this with champagne yeast, do I have to wait until the FG stops dropping again (if it does) or will the infection not make bottle-bombs like an unfinished primary would?
 

OldDogBrewing

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[sigh] Another accident. 6 weeks in on my Imperial Stout (3 weeks primary, just started 3rd week of secondary) and I found this last night:

View attachment 703626

In the plus side my last accident turned out ok so I'll let this one keep going. I was going to bottle condition this with champagne yeast, do I have to wait until the FG stops dropping again (if it does) or will the infection not make bottle-bombs like an unfinished primary would?
The bacteria (or bacterias) in there will keep eating all it/they can, depending on what it is, it will eat more complex sugars, so yes, if you're bottling, you'll have to wait until the SG is stable again

Make a check list of which equipment do you used for this beer and other infected ones and think what might be infected and start solving it point by point, that's how I tackled the only infection I had which was on the bottling cane, a plastic one, pretty difficult to clean the small spaces, so I changed it for a stainless one that I can dismantle completely and can be sanitized by temperature if needed, you shoud do the same and look for what is giving you issues and how you can improves sanitization on that specific piece of equipment
 

JLeather

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Thanks. I'm not sure about taking a lot of readings on this one and disturbing the pellicle too much. Might just wait a month and keg it. I wasn't going to keg it because I wasn't sure how long it'd take me to finish 5 gallons of 10.2% Stout :)
 

Beer666

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Its actually pretty good. I think there may be a tiny bit of vinegar but not very much. I will have to go and drink the rest of the sample to see. Its not super sour but very drinkable. It does look like cheese now you say it. Had to search geodes, very cool.
 
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Pellicle or aerial image of a colony on Mars. You decide. Lol. I love this thread and I decided it was time to contribute. This is a “starter??” of dregs from 31 commercial bottles of traditional (some spontaneous) sour beer all from different breweries.
 

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Pellicle on a golden ale with brett and passionfruit, carboy view.
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