Testing Sanitary Technique

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brundage

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Hia folks,

Have any of you tested your sanitary technique? I've been getting pretty consistent infections in my fermenter and rather than wasting 10 gallons of beer just to find out that I cultured some lacto.

My thought is to boil 10 gallons of water with enough DME to make a 1.050 wort and let it sit in my fermenter each time I increase my cleaning & sanitizing regimen.

Is there a cheaper, or better way?

Thanks,
--Dean
 

Catt22

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I'm not following your line of thinking here. Could just be me though.
 

Stuntman

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When I first started brewing, I would let the sanitizer solution sit in the Carboy to the top for 20 minutes. I had a friend start brewing and we were talking he stated that he just swishes it around in the carboy. I have been doing it that way for several brews, no problem.

B-T-F is what I use, I even rinse the B-T-F out of the carboy and syphon with tap water before using it. I have noticed that the B-T-F leaves a nasty taste. I do make sure everything that touches my beer is sanitized, even the fermenter lock.

Good luck on nailing down that problem.
 

Catt22

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When I first started brewing, I would let the sanitizer solution sit in the Carboy to the top for 20 minutes. I had a friend start brewing and we were talking he stated that he just swishes it around in the carboy. I have been doing it that way for several brews, no problem.

B-T-F is what I use, I even rinse the B-T-F out of the carboy and syphon with tap water before using it. I have noticed that the B-T-F leaves a nasty taste. I do make sure everything that touches my beer is sanitized, even the fermenter lock.

Good luck on nailing down that problem.
You should not be able to taste the B-T-F Iodophor solution when used at the correct strength. There is no need to rinse after using the B-T-F or Star San. Actually, rinsing with tap water can be a source of infection itself. Not a good idea nor necessary to rinse.

There is also no need to fill a container full of sanitizer. Just enough to swish around and coat all surfaces is sufficient. I only mix up one gallon of sanitizer at a time. I use it liberally and do not re-use it. I also keep a spray bottle of sanitizer handy and spray everything that might even remotely come in contact with the beer. Sanitizers are dirt cheap, so I don't skimp when using them.

You might want to give Star San a try instead of teh B-T-F if you find you can still detect the Iodophor at no rinse levels.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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I don't see the point in this test. What are you trying to accomplish? To see if it gets infected? Given enough time it almost certainly will. You've almost made beer...might as well go all the way.

I think it would be better to identify the source of contamination. Maybe post your process and equipment and people will probably be able to spot the biggest potential sources of contamination.

Beer infections should be extremely rare...and that's even if you don't use Starsan/Iodofor. With either one they should be all but non-existant (even if you rinse imo).
 
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brundage

brundage

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Guess I didn't 'splain myself enough in the OP. I'm getting a consistent infection in my fermenter. See this post for details on that. I got some pointers on changing my sanitary technique - IE what I do to sanitize my fermenter. I'm going to put them into practice, but don't want to dump another 10 glalons of beer if I haven't found the source.

So is there a cheaper way to do it than making some sweet wort and tossing it into the fermenter?

Thanks,
--Dean
 

kornkob

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Another thing to consider: making sure your yeast are up, running and fully engaged before you pitch. Few infections can survive a ravaging ferment.
 
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brundage

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Thanks for all the tips on improving my sanitation, but that's not what I'm looking for here. Please read the OP and this one before chiming in.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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Ah, I did not see your other thread until you pointed it out. A couple quick comments from it: Vinegary infection after fermentation has pretty much completed implies acetobacter. It consumes the alcohol and makes vinegar.

An extra measure of sanitation might include boiling that paint stirrer and anything else you can. That will help kill anything hiding in a scratch/nook/cranny/etc. I boil my strainer in the wort...then rinse it...then sanitize it with Starsan.

Have you considered brewing a regular batch (or maybe just the DME batch) and then pulling a portion of it and fermenting that in another, smaller container (preferably glass)? That might at least tell you if it's the fermenter or something to do with it.

I think doing some experiments that help you isolate 'when/where' the contamination occurs will help more than just 'go/no-go' test.
 

JesseRC

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Well how much is it gonna cost you to make a 1.050 starter with DME. Seems silly to waste money on a test, when you could spend it on a second fermenter. Maybe not a conical, but just a pale ale. Not to be a jerk, but most posts dont ask readers to go read another post then come back and post. I understand you reasoning for wanting to do a scaled down test, but 1.050, that already a beer without the hops. What are you saving.
 

rsmith179

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Looks like you've already received a ton of feeback and suggestions regarding how to increase your sanitization with batches. That last post has over 13 different suggestions as to how to make your sanitization routine better.

This post seems a little strange though. Not quite sure why you would want to "test" your technique with a "dummy batch" of beer. If you're just doing DME and water, you're going to lose the aseptic qualities of the hops in your regular batches. If you add hops, you might as well just do another batch.

The only way to "test" your sanitary technique is to try things. Unfortunately, I know of no cheap way to test this besides brewing a batch of beer. I highly doubt anyone will be able to give you a cheap way to test this. As others have said too, if you don't pitch yeast and just let this test batch sit in the primary, it's only a matter of time before you get infected.

By the way... how do you know that your beer is really even infected? Got any pics for us?
 

SpanishCastleAle

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Also, go to Brewing Techniques online and search 'infection'...there is a decent 'troubleshooting' segment that specifically addresses CFC wort chillers and how/why they are susceptible to contamination.
 

Edcculus

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One thing that stuck out immediately to me was the fact that its a PLASTIC conical. Nothing really wrong with plastic. I use Ale Pails all the time. You just have to be careful. How do you clean (not sanitize) your fermenter? If you are not properly cleaning, bugs can sit under the residue and infect later batches.

Since its plastic, scrubbing is a bad idea. After every batch, you should give your fermenter a good soak in a hot PBW solution. That will help get rid of the beer stone and other biological mess clinging to the walls. You should then rinse very well, then sanitize. Let it drip dry upside down, and store with the lid on. On brew day, hit it again with at least a hot water rinse followed by your sanitizer.

If your plastic is harboring nasties, you might want to give it a soak in a very strong bleach solution, followed by very thorough rinsing.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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One thing that stuck out immediately to me was the fact that its a PLASTIC conical. Nothing really wrong with plastic. I use Ale Pails all the time. You just have to be careful. How do you clean (not sanitize) your fermenter? If you are not properly cleaning, bugs can sit under the residue and infect later batches.

Since its plastic, scrubbing is a bad idea. After every batch, you should give your fermenter a good soak in a hot PBW solution. That will help get rid of the beer stone and other biological mess clinging to the walls. You should then rinse very well, then sanitize. Let it drip dry upside down, and store with the lid on. On brew day, hit it again with at least a hot water rinse followed by your sanitizer.

If your plastic is harboring nasties, you might want to give it a soak in a very strong bleach solution, followed by very thorough rinsing.
+1...I really think the alkaline PBW soak...thorough rinse...and then acidic Starsan sanitizing does a great job. Must be a thorough rinse though because any alkaline PBW residue will neutralize the acidic Starsan and render it ineffective. But I still use only glass and stainless where I can (except the mash paddle...which must be wooden :D).
 

Joe Camel

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If you're trying to pinpoint exactly where your infection is coming from, that experiment can be done inline with a brew day, in my opinion wasting 10 gallons of 1.050 wort is the same as wasting 10 gallons of 1.050 beer.

If you have a pressure cooker, autoclave a dozen or so lidded empty mason jars. 15psi for 15 minutes. The lids will seal down after autoclaving and keep the insides sterile. During your brew day, sanitize the outside of a jar and use it to pull a sample of wort at different points.

Sample during Boil, Chilled in pot, from fermenter pre pitch, from fermenter post pitch, from fermenter thru spigot pre pitch, thru spigot post pitch, after primary ferment etc

Re-cover samples with lids, but don't tighten, if fermentation happens, you'll have exploding glass. Most, if not all of the samples will have some amount of contamination, it's how long it takes to show up that is the measure of your technique. Where it shows up the quickest is likely the source of contamination.

Very good aseptic technique should keep signs of infection from showing up for about 72hrs, the faster it hits, the dirtier the sample.

Hope this helps
 

kaiser423

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If you're trying to pinpoint exactly where your infection is coming from, that experiment can be done inline with a brew day, in my opinion wasting 10 gallons of 1.050 wort is the same as wasting 10 gallons of 1.050 beer.

If you have a pressure cooker, autoclave a dozen or so lidded empty mason jars. 15psi for 15 minutes. The lids will seal down after autoclaving and keep the insides sterile. During your brew day, sanitize the outside of a jar and use it to pull a sample of wort at different points.

Sample during Boil, Chilled in pot, from fermenter pre pitch, from fermenter post pitch, from fermenter thru spigot pre pitch, thru spigot post pitch, after primary ferment etc

Re-cover samples with lids, but don't tighten, if fermentation happens, you'll have exploding glass. Most, if not all of the samples will have some amount of contamination, it's how long it takes to show up that is the measure of your technique. Where it shows up the quickest is likely the source of contamination.

Very good aseptic technique should keep signs of infection from showing up for about 72hrs, the faster it hits, the dirtier the sample.

Hope this helps
This man is a thinker :rockin: While it seems a lot of work, I think that this is essentially what the OP was asking for.
 
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brundage

brundage

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If you're trying to pinpoint exactly where your infection is coming from, that experiment can be done inline with a brew day, in my opinion wasting 10 gallons of 1.050 wort is the same as wasting 10 gallons of 1.050 beer.
<snip>
Hope this helps
Ah, I did not see your other thread until you pointed it out. A couple quick comments from it: Vinegary infection after fermentation has pretty much completed implies acetobacter. It consumes the alcohol and makes vinegar.
<snip>
Have you considered brewing a regular batch (or maybe just the DME batch) and then pulling a portion of it and fermenting that in another, smaller container (preferably glass)? That might at least tell you if it's the fermenter or something to do with it.

I think doing some experiments that help you isolate 'when/where' the contamination occurs will help more than just 'go/no-go' test.
Two great suggestions, thank you.
--Dean
 

jgers

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what kind of fermenter are you using? maybe you should get a different one?! i've got a plastic bucket that still smells like mildew after one funky batch and I think it belongs in the recycling bin.
 
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