Thin white film floating in secondary?

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TWilson

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What are your thoughts? The best way to describe it is that it kind of looks like soap scum/residue that would float on the surface of bath water. It doesn't appear to be fuzzy/hairy looking. It is pretty thin and patchy, and doesn't cover the entire surface, maybe about 65-75%. I can't detect any off odors. The batch is a BB Pale Ale, done according to the directions. I use Oxy-Clean Free and Star San. It spent 2 weeks in primary, and has been in secondary for about 4 weeks. I won't get a chance to bottle it until this weekend at the earliest. I can try to post a pic later this evening. Thanks in advance.
 

BierMuncher

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Most likely nothing to worry about. Even in the secondary, there will be residual CO2 production and that is most likely the thin film you're seeing.

Keep going and your beer will be fine.
 

BarryNL

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Have you ever seen a similar film floating on a glass of beer? If so it's probably just very fine CO2 bubbles.
 

avidhomebrewer

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The only time that I've seen it is on some Belgian brews, such as Lambic, where it is supposed to have the bacterial infection. As suggested, the CO2 will more than likely kill anything, except anaerobic organisms.
 
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TWilson

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Thanks for the replies. I can't get my card reader to work right now, but I will try again later. The pics aren't that great anyway. As for having seen it before, I have never noticed anything like it before. Again, it is not hairy/fuzzy. It doesn't look like belgian lace floating in a glass of beer, however there are some CO2 bubble clusters still on the surface. The best way that I can describe it is that it kind of looks like soap scum. Imagine what the water in your sink looks like after shaving with shaving soap. There is a thin layer of residue floating on top. I will try to get some better pics tomorrow and get them uploaded so you can see. My head is starting to get a little fuzzy from the various IPAs that I am enjoying tonight. I should get a clearer pic tomorrow. Oh, Hoppy New Year to you guys.
 

DrunkTrucker

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I have the same thing going on with my vcca. I was a little concerned but I will see how it turns out. Ive had it sitting in secondary for about a month now.
 

Fingers

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I've gotten that film several times. It looks pretty nasty, especially if some bubbles get caught underneath it. It will break up like ice on a lake if you stick a racking can through it. Nothing to worry about. All the batches I've had have turned out fine.
 

craven_morhead

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I just bottled a stout that had the ice-on-a-lake looking stuff on it. I tasted the beer and a chunk of the ice; beer tasted fine and the ice didn't taste like anything. I went ahead with bottling; we'll see what it's like in a few weeks.
 

TampaTim

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I haven't a clue.

I do know it didn't affect the taste, smell, or appearance of the beer..so I just wrote it off as a by product of fermentation. To be fair, the last two batches I did with Wyeast Smack Packs had it. The last batch I did was a pack of Nottingham, and didn't have it. I have a batch fermenting right now that I used SA-05. We'll see this weekend or so if it has it.
 

brrman

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I've had it several times - in fact I am drinking beer on tap now that had this.
However, it is not harmless if you leave it too long. It is basically either wild yeast or a bacterial infection that is able to process the sugars that your brewers yeast cannot. So it dries out the beer, and sometimes leaves off flavors.

This destroyed my Spiced Winter Warmrer last year - all down the drain. So now if I ever see it I immediately keg and drink it.
I have only ever seen it in a secondary, so I blame my racking can and hose for not being sanitized/clean enough.

Does it look like this?
 

craven_morhead

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brrman, maybe, but mine was whiter and broke up easily once I put my auto siphon through it. This beer was done with a smack pack, a London Ale yeast. First time I've used that yeast, so I can't say what it usually looks like.
 

brrman

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If it breaks up like ice then its the same infection. The longer it sits the whiter/thicker the film will become. Thats not to say the beer is ruined - but it may not taste the way you expect it to. Then again - it may be just fine - never can tell .
 

Ravenhead

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Might be a slime mold. I had a couple of these beers to. So did a local Micro. You gotta kill it and kill it good.
 

craven_morhead

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Yeah, not gonna be dry hopping my stout. I tried a bottle today, tastes like stout, nothing real strange about it. We'll see how it matures.
 

emacgee

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I will say that I've had film before and it turned out to be an infection that survived in the container and infected a subsequent batch.
 

craven_morhead

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emacgee, what did you clean/sanitize the container with in between batches? I gave everything a long hot soak in oxyclean, which I figured should kill off the baddies. We'll see what happens.
 

shadowmage36

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This happened in my bottles with the batch I just bottled last week. Thin film over the surface. I'm hoping it doesn't give me bottle bombs... Funny thing is, this didn't appear in the secondary at all like it did in a prior batch (which gave me nothing but gushers, mind you), but only after bottling. I sanitized the bottles with 25ppm iodophor solution for a few minutes after rinsing them out (they were new-in-box 22oz bottles), and boiled the caps. I also used a fresh pack of carb tabs, just opened for that bottling. Should I be worried, or is this batch going to be foamy too? Has anyone else ever had this happen to them?
 

BargainFittings

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I've had infections that looked like that multiple times in the past and narrowed it down to the plastic spigot and/or racking cane and hoses.

I no longer rack my beer through a spigot. I use a stainless steel raking cane so I can boil it. I clean my transfer hoses and raking cane with a line brush before each session. I have not had any problems since.
 

shadowmage36

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Ravenhead: How did you end up killing this stuff? Does it require more than a standard hot rinse/bleach/cold rinse/iodophor on the carboy? This is the second time it's happened to me, and I'm damned sure I don't want it to happen again.
 

shadowmage36

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I've had infections that looked like that multiple times in the past and narrowed it down to the plastic spigot and/or racking cane and hoses.

I no longer rack my beer through a spigot. I use a stainless steel raking cane so I can boil it. I clean my transfer hoses and raking cane with a line brush before each session. I have not had any problems since.
I had all my equipment sitting in the iodophor solution for a good ten or fifteen minutes while I was boiling the caps. I had run solution through the racking cane and line, as well as the bottling wand, and let them soak in it as well. All my lines had hot, soapy water and a rinse run through them before being sanitized. Will that not kill this stuff?
 

ErikN

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I have recently run into the same situation. A month ago I brewed 20 gallons, 10 IPA, 10 Stout. I used plastic ale pails for 10 and glass for 10. Split each batch and used two different yeasts. (SF-04,05).

I kegged five gallons of stout directly from primary.(glass) put the other in a secondary(from plastic to glass). Put both IPA's in secondary.

The two that fermented in plastic both have this white film, the one fermented in glass doesn't and the stout that was kegged is fine. I used the same autosiphon for all four transfers.

I plan on kegging the remaining three tonight and will be disposing of my ale pails. Time to go to better bottles or no chill/ferment like Pol.
 

craven_morhead

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Follow up: the milk stout that had the slight film turned out great. Maybe a touch of sourness on the back of the tongue, but tasty. Oxy-cleaned the bucket, and fermented a pale ale in the same bucket. Just tried to bottle it last night, and popped the lid to a huge, bubbly Brett infection. A sample tasted pretty ugly and cider-ey. Dumped the batch, and will be replacing the bucket.
 

Ravenhead

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I am currently "nuking" all of my equipment. Cleaning with Oxy, soaking with bleach and then sanitizing with starsan. I am also trying to starsan carboys right after cleaning, allowing to dry all the way, and capping with aluminum foil. We'll see how this works.

I think major cleaning/disinfection are necessary to rid your system of this infection.
 

craven_morhead

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Yeah, since the infection occurred in the bucket, I think that's the main culprit. I'm nuking my autosiphon and bottling equipment, but I would be surprised if it re-emerges there. I tossed the bucket.
 

shadowmage36

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Well, I apparently got wicked lucky. It seems the film in the bottles I saw was just residue from the carb tabs fermenting. Cracked one open on Saturday and it was delicious! Lightly carbonated, slightly roasty, and nice and malty. However, I have taken to a thorough washing of each carboy followed by starsan prior to use. Everything's coming up roses thus far. And starsan-ing my racking equipment was probably a good idea, too.
 

keuma2

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I have had this thin film that can almost be like a super thin wax coating at least 4-5 times. It has never been a problem. Usually, it sticks to the side as the bucket or carboy empties or I stop the siphon just before the end.
 

Beezy

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This is exactly what I have going. Was in the bucket when I went to bottle. So I bottled anyway and then it started to form in the bottles on top. Not to the detriment of the beer tho. It tastes fine.
 

beaksnbeer

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That's why a vast majority of us no longer use secondaries because of the risk of infections and the fact that setting on the yeast cake helps condition the beer..........my.02
 

eburstiner

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I have the same thing on my American Barleywine right now. I wonder if the alcohol present is coagulating some stray proteins and it is making a film on top much like when you heat up milk or cream.
 

mmcshmi11

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I have also had this issue on previous batches of beer that sat in secondary for a few months. The beers initially had an oxidized flavor which cleared up after a few months of bottle conditioning.

But now, I have a related problem perhaps. I put some bourbon soaked oak cubes in my secondary and a few of them have started getting white patches on them. I'm assuming this is bacteria starting to grow in the wood?? Tasted the beer, it has more off-flavors than when I racked to secondary. Has anybody seen this before?

20121109_114451.jpg
 

r_vear

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John Palmer in 'how to brew', claims that it may be mold or mildew but will not impart any flavors to the beer. Provided that you have tasted it, and it seems fine than don't worry about it. If it's grossing you out and you have a bucket fermenter then just scoop it off and carry on. It just happened to my stout. I transferred it back to a bucket fermenter so I can easily scoop the scum off if I so choose.
 

wozzer

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I have this too on a stout. Reminds me of that white powdery stuff you see on French cheeses like Brie or Camembert, so I suspect it is a mold of some sort. It's odorless, a bit slimy to the the touch, and gathers only at the top so it probably needs oxygen.

Can't say I'm too bothered by it. The stout tastes wonderful. If this white stuff was bad, I wouldn't be doubtful. The bad stuff tends to announce itself pretty convincingly.
 

r_vear

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My stout ended up being the best one I ever made to this date, so I look at the white business as a good luck charm from now on.
 

hlmbrwng

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I have also had this issue on previous batches of beer that sat in secondary for a few months. The beers initially had an oxidized flavor which cleared up after a few months of bottle conditioning.

But now, I have a related problem perhaps. I put some bourbon soaked oak cubes in my secondary and a few of them have started getting white patches on them. I'm assuming this is bacteria starting to grow in the wood?? Tasted the beer, it has more off-flavors than when I racked to secondary. Has anybody seen this before?

What type of oak did you use? I am trying to narrow down why I have this thin film. I split my imperial stout into three batches. For two of them I used French Oak...no white film. For the third I used American Oak...very thin film in all bottles.

BUT another difference is that I had the third batch sitting in secondary on cranberries and raisins. I did heat them to about 180 to try to remove bacteria...no higher as I was afraid of gelatinizing the fruit.

I'll try to get a photo and upload.
 
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