Uh oh… Infection? Wax???

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

BryanEBIAB

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2021
Messages
24
Reaction score
10
Location
Blue Point, NY
Hi folks,

I brewed a stout last Friday and filled the fermenter pretty high. I set up a blow over jar anticipating heavy fermentation activity because I racked right on top of a recently used yeast cake. I checked on it this weekend to find some sort of waxy substance on my blow over tube/jar. Pretty sure that wasn’t there when I left it. I see signs of a leak around the seals but not seeing *any* activity now. Definitely worried that I’ve got an infection. My first after ten years of brewing! What the hell could this waxy stuff be? How could it have even gotten there?
 

Attachments

D.B.Moody

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
969
Reaction score
1,521
Location
Kirkwood
If you racked into a fermenter where the yeast cake had sat, then the fermenter couldn't have been cleaned too much, and the stuff on the outside of the fermenter may not be a big deal. I have to admit that the picture of the interior looks odd. Is it fuzzy? Does it smell off? Have you tasted it? How was the "recently used" yeast cake stored before reuse? Maybe the unusual waxy stuff is from the old yeast cake.
 
Last edited:

hotbeer

Opinionated Newb
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
500
Reaction score
308
The "waxey" stuff is probably yeast and other fine trub proteins that were churned up when it krausened.

You said you had little headspace. And though you had some forethought about that by putting on a blow off tube, I have to say that your blow off tube is still quite small for a five or six gallon bucket IMO.

My blow off tube for the 1 gallon batches I make is 7/8" ID. Way overkill I know, but I don't want to risk having a mess to clean up. And I haven't so far.
 
OP
BryanEBIAB

BryanEBIAB

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2021
Messages
24
Reaction score
10
Location
Blue Point, NY
Update: I just took a hydrometer reading and I’m only 4 points away from my expected FG. I must have really over-pitched using that whole yeast cake and missed most of the fermentation. I also just finished cleaning up the seals and now I’m seeing some decent fermentation activity. I must have had a bad seal somewhere. And finally, it tastes good so there you go. I was definitely panicking a little there.

My best guess about the waxy stuff is that it’s StarSan residue. It must have been pretty frothy during that crazy fermentation. New to me but I guess not to others. Weird but harmless.

My usual method is to transfer one beer to a secondary vessel (a keg in this case) right before I brew up some fresh wort to put in the *nearly* untouched primary. It’s a bit risky, I know, but it saves me a lot of time which means more brewing! Haven’t had a problem yet (knock on wood) and it’s been 16 batches done this way so far.

Wow, 7/8”—that’s safe alright! Mine is sized to the hole that normally has an airlock in it. I don’t really want to add an extra big hole in my lid just for blow over tubes. Then again, I could use a blow over tube all the time… that’s an idea if it becomes an ongoing problem. Thanks!
 

hotbeer

Opinionated Newb
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
500
Reaction score
308
The absence of any trashy looking stuff in the lines and in the bottom of the blow off jar that we can't see probably will shoot down the hypothesis I made in my other reply anyhow.

How safe from curious others is the fermenter kept? When I had young inquisitive kids, finding odd unexplainable things was part of the norm. And of course they never felt they had any part in these unexplainable things.
 
OP
BryanEBIAB

BryanEBIAB

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2021
Messages
24
Reaction score
10
Location
Blue Point, NY
Yeah, jar is otherwise clean. Very good thought to consider though as my kiddo is rapidly approaching that curiosity age. But these buckets are well out of reach in a difficult to access fermentation chamber in a difficult to access basement.
 

D.B.Moody

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
969
Reaction score
1,521
Location
Kirkwood
My best guess about the waxy stuff is that it’s StarSan residue. . . New to me but I guess not to others. Weird but harmless.
I've never used StarSan, but I can't imagine it would be so popular if it left stuff like that behind.
But what matters is that your beer's apparently okay. Another case of RDWHAHB.;)
 
OP
BryanEBIAB

BryanEBIAB

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2021
Messages
24
Reaction score
10
Location
Blue Point, NY
Yeah, apparently the detergent can come out of solution and builds up on plastic parts. Maybe it was my cheap hardware store tube I used? Maybe I should try to see if it dissolves in water like star San would or if it’s really some sort of waxy grease.


https://www.reddit.com/r/Homebrewing/comments/33o2dy
 

Kickass

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2009
Messages
802
Reaction score
427
Location
Tehachapi
Yep, I was going to suggest starsan residue which it sounds like you’ve already determined that. Whenever I use a blowoff the hose goes into a growler filled with starsan and everything in contact with it gets a little slippery. I’ve never noticed any negative consequences
 

D.B.Moody

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
969
Reaction score
1,521
Location
Kirkwood
Are you guys saying that the StarSan people leave coating the insides of their kegs and bottles has that gunk in it. The gunk is detergent? YIKES! Well, as long as they control oxygen exposure, I suppose everything will be okay. :p
 

day_trippr

"This Space For Rent"
Joined
May 31, 2011
Messages
37,473
Reaction score
20,328
Location
Stow, MA
The "slime white" Star San paradigm is actually plastic material being altered (basically, dissolved) by Star San.
Nothing you'd find in a Star San purged SS keg...

Cheers!
 
OP
BryanEBIAB

BryanEBIAB

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2021
Messages
24
Reaction score
10
Location
Blue Point, NY
I normally use another set of tubes originally bought at my LHBS and never saw this issue. This time however, I just happened to grab the cheap tubing I recently picked up at the local hardware store and this alien slime (okay fine, ‘detergent’) appeared. I guess not all PVC is created equal!
 
Top