Scum on top of beer before bottling

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CarolP43532

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So, I have been making beer for a while (started with a Mr Beer). The first beers I made were dark and I really didn't like them (my son's did). I notice the last few patches had a white flakey scum on the top, that stayed on the sides when I siphoned it out. I use the powdered no rinse sanitizer on everything. I wondered if I needed to sanitize my carboy better since I see that scum every time. I looked at the pictures posted and I think it's called pellicle. I really don't want to use anything that we leave an aftertaste like bleach. The bottled beer does have a rather sour twang but not bad to drink. I understand when you make dark beers some of that sourness is covered up. :rockin:
 

Sailingeric

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Starsans is your friend. I starsans before wort goes in and after and again before I use my bucket again.
 

unionrdr

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Yeah! Starsan, being a no-rinse sanitizer is the best & easiest to use, imo. That'll likely take care of your problem. Also make sure your equipment is cleaned & rinsed before sanitizing. Otherwise, you're just sanitizing dirt, in effect.
 

Thanks_Yeasties

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Sounds like you are having a sanitizing issue. Are you cleaning the carboy thoroughly of debris before putting the sanitizer in?
 

Beaudoin

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It would also help if we knew what the contamination looked like. Do you have a pic to link to or that you can post here?

I wonder if the contamination isn't coming from something else. I think that a good cleaning of all your equipment (even to the point of taking it appart) is a good idea.
 

Qhrumphf

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Given that you're describing a pellicle pretty accurately, and the beer is sour, you've definitely got a cleaning and sanitation problem, and more than likely all your equipment, including bottling equipment.

Some spoilage organisms can be very pervasive, and have probably taken up residence inside all your gear.

I would recommend the following (and you may just find it's easier to replace it all, because this still isn't guaranteed to work): Take ALL of your cold side equipment (and I mean everything, lids/grommets/bungs/stoppers, airlocks, any tubing, racking cane, autosiphon, etc), that could have touched this beer, dissembling anything that can be disassembled (bottling bucket spigot, autosiphon, etc), and give it all a hot overnight soak in a fairly concentrate PBW or Oxiclean Free solution (the unscented stuff). Rinse it all really well. Then, a nice concentrated bleach soak overnight. Then rinse really, super, super well, let it air dry, and then clean it again with PBW or Oxiclean Free, rinse again, and then you might be able to eradicate it. And then sanitize with StarSan or Iodophor when brewing with it again.

Glass you should be able to skip the "bleach bomb" part, and just give it a super-good cleaning followed by a super-good sanitizing, because glass doesn't provide as much of a safe harbor for bacteria the way that plastic does.

If that doesn't work, or if it's too much work, you could just clean the equipment well with PBW/Oxiclean, and relegate all the plastic to brewing sour beers, and then buy new plastic gear for the rest of your beers. Or if you don't like, or have no desire to brew sours, just pitch it and replace it.


Going forward, need to make sure that you're first cleaning your gear, and then sanitizing it. The two are not the same thing. You cannot sanitize a dirty surface. Most one-step cleaner-sanitizers (the stuff that often comes with equipment/recipe kits) are total rubbish. As I've already beaten into the ground, get PBW or Oxiclean Free (I much prefer PBW, which you can buy at your LHBS, as it is more effective, but also more expensive) for all cleaning. Everything needs to be cleaned, period. And then all cold-side equipment (from fermenter to bottling gear, anything that will or even might touch the beer) needs sanitation. And then get either Star-San or Iodophor for sanitizing. Both are highly effective no-rinse sanitizers. My preference (and the preference of most homebrewers I know) is for Star-San.
 
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