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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: breweite on December 09, 2012, 07:26:54 PM

Title: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: breweite on December 09, 2012, 07:26:54 PM
I had a couple guys taste my beer, and they all had a common denominator: Infection.  There is a slight sourness at the finish of all three. 1. Rye Ipa 2. Amber 3. Vienna/Saaz SMaSH.

Anyway, after a good while I've been trying to figure out what it could be.. I figured out all three beers had two things in common after the boil.  Same siphon hose AND fermentation chamber. The siphon house was exposed to brett awhile ago, however, I've made beers and haven't noticed it.  Also, my sanitation I feel is very sound. 

Secondly, and what I think may be the culprit is; mold in my chamber... and I had suck back on all three, I always do (doh!) Can mold spores exist in a starsan solution in my airlock?  And can that small suckback create an infection in my beer?  Suckback is happening when I lift airlocks off and before fermentation begins.  Also, there is a small amount of water around the carboy stopper that may drop inside if I don't lift exactly straight up!

*I can't keep up with the mold killing.  I've used baking soda to slow it down, but eventually it always arrives.  What does everyone do that may have mold spores floating around?? I feel like I cant be the only one with this issue..  Is cheap vodka the answer?  Advice please!  Thank You
-mw
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: a10t2 on December 09, 2012, 07:43:45 PM
Sourness wouldn't come from Brett or mold. Assuming it is from contamination, it would have to be an acid-producing bacterium. Most likely Acetobacter or Lactobacillus.

If that's the case, it's carried through your normal cleaning and sanitizing procedures twice, so rather than try something more extreme I'd just get rid of any plastic equipment the three beers had in common, and sterilize any metal equipment in the oven. If you're using only an acid-based sanitizer, I'd switch it up every once in a while and use something with a different mechanism of action, like an iodophor or chlorine dioxide.

Preventing backflow in the airlock is easy: just don't over-fill it. There should be a line printed or molded into the airlock that shows the optimal fill level.

To get rid of the mold, thoroughly clean and dry the chamber, then wet down the entire thing with a bleach solution in a spray bottle and let it air-dry.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: breweite on December 09, 2012, 07:52:08 PM
Thank you for reply. Acetobacter, is what the gentlemen said!  What about a plastic auto-siphon?  Little pricey and I rather not toss that.. but I guess if I need to I will. And is bleach OK? (is that chlorine dioxide  :-\?)

Also, I feel like I don't over fill that airlock and I still get issues. In fact, I feel I'm a little anal about hitting that line. Thanks again
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: morticaixavier on December 09, 2012, 09:59:48 PM
Thank you for reply. Acetobacter, is what the gentlemen said!  What about a plastic auto-siphon?  Little pricey and I rather not toss that.. but I guess if I need to I will. And is bleach OK? (is that chlorine dioxide  :-\?)

Also, I feel like I don't over fill that airlock and I still get issues. In fact, I feel I'm a little anal about hitting that line. Thanks again

Are you using the S type airlock or the three piece type? I don't know of a way to prevent some suckback on the 3 piece type.

+1 on NOT the mold. I have mold in my chamber all the time and I never get infections from it. I even skip the airlock and just put a piece of sanitized foil over the hole in the bucket sometimes with no ill effects.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: breweite on December 09, 2012, 10:36:00 PM
I'm using three piece.  It won't fit with S type unless I'm using a 3 gallon carboy.. What do you mean about the foil, u skip the airlock all together, throughout the entire fermentation??
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: erockrph on December 10, 2012, 02:52:25 AM
I'm using three piece.  It won't fit with S type unless I'm using a 3 gallon carboy.. What do you mean about the foil, u skip the airlock all together, throughout the entire fermentation??

In the short term, fermentation is putting out enough CO2 to keep oxygen out of the beer, even without an airlock. This is why open fermentation works. I wouldn't do any long-term aging without a proper airlock, but a couple of weeks in the initial primary vessel shouldn't pose any significant issues. I have more fermenters than airlocks, so I have just loosely placed an undrilled lid on a bucket fermenter when I've run out of airlocks with no ill effects.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: morticaixavier on December 10, 2012, 03:22:24 AM
I'm using three piece.  It won't fit with S type unless I'm using a 3 gallon carboy.. What do you mean about the foil, u skip the airlock all together, throughout the entire fermentation??

In the short term, fermentation is putting out enough CO2 to keep oxygen out of the beer, even without an airlock. This is why open fermentation works. I wouldn't do any long-term aging without a proper airlock, but a couple of weeks in the initial primary vessel shouldn't pose any significant issues. I have more fermenters than airlocks, so I have just loosely placed an undrilled lid on a bucket fermenter when I've run out of airlocks with no ill effects.

yup that's what I meant
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: gmac on December 10, 2012, 03:52:08 AM
+1. I only use foil on carboys now unless long term storage is in the plan. I have even used an airlock without the inside piece or top an covered that with foil with no problem. Once fermentation is done, into a keg but during active fermentation, no problem.
You have a sanitation issue, sorry.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: breweite on December 10, 2012, 03:56:10 AM
OK, I think that will be my next step, not worrying too much about the airlock.  After reading some online today, I think I've got to be honest with myself.. I don't clean my equipment as well as I should AFTER a brew day.  I'm going to give all my equipment a good bath.  Maybe really warm Oxiclean? Then Soak/Sanitize? I know it was suggested to rid my plastics.. but I just don't know if I can do that.. seems a little pricey and wasteful.  Although I do understand it may come down to that?  Does anyone have a favorite soaking or bath they like to give their plastic equipment if they think they may have an issue?  Thanks for replies
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: gmac on December 10, 2012, 04:02:07 AM
Sorry man, recycle your plastic and get new. There's no cleaner that will get deep enough into the plastic if you truly have an infection. My scratched buckets become grain storage. Auto siphons are cheap compared to multiple bad batches.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: breweite on December 10, 2012, 04:08:15 AM
Eh, so very true. Great point... Maybe I squeak out a 1 gallon AG batch because I'm such a cheapO.  For a strange reason, I think it may be my auto siphon and/or it's hose.  Any particular reason why you mentioned that? Is it common? Thanks
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: morticaixavier on December 10, 2012, 04:12:44 AM
Eh, so very true. Great point... Maybe I squeak out a 1 gallon AG batch because I'm such a cheapO.  For a strange reason, I think it may be my auto siphon and/or it's hose.  Any particular reason why you mentioned that? Is it common? Thanks

it's hard to get the tubing really clean. I like to replace my tubing every 10 or so batches just because you can never get IN there to really clean stuff up.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: breweite on December 10, 2012, 04:22:12 AM
Eh, so very true. Great point... Maybe I squeak out a 1 gallon AG batch because I'm such a cheapO.  For a strange reason, I think it may be my auto siphon and/or it's hose.  Any particular reason why you mentioned that? Is it common? Thanks

it's hard to get the tubing really clean. I like to replace my tubing every 10 or so batches just because you can never get IN there to really clean stuff up.

I'm probably 15+beers on my "newest" auto siphon tubing... I'm most likely well over due.  As for the siphon itself, the plastic (i'm no expert) is much harder and seems less vulnerable to penetrate it, but at the same time more susceptible to cracks/scratches.  Go ahead and replace it too?  Sorry for the ignorance..
Title: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: ajk on December 10, 2012, 08:55:36 AM
The siphon house was exposed to brett awhile ago, however, I've made beers and haven't noticed it.

I agree with others—replace all your tubing.  It's cheap.  Boil things that are small enough and have nooks and crannies (ball valves).  Also, consider switching sanitizers for one batch in case bacteria have become resistant to what you're currently using.

Quote
What does everyone do that may have mold spores floating around??

I try to keep the brewery below 55% relative humidity.  I use a fume hood to pump out water vapor while brewing and a dehumidifier to keep the moisture low at all other times.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: davidgzach on December 10, 2012, 12:40:25 PM
I would fill up your fermenters with hot water and 2 cups of bleach and let them soak for a day with as much of your equipment that can fit.  Submerge the hoses so they fill up as well as your siphon.  You'll be good to go.

Just make sure you rinse everything very well with hot water.  Spray the fermenter walls down as well as the equipment.  I have a short hose hooked up to my faucet to accomplish this.  You can pick one up at any hardware store.  Wear old clothes as you invariably get a drop or two on yourself.....

Dave

Edit:  Still using my original siphon tubing and blow off hoses using this method.  Zero infections....
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: anje on December 10, 2012, 03:12:27 PM
Check out your valves and spigots. I know I got some nasty-looking schmutz in the spigot that came with my bottling bucket, in a spot where I could not disassemble it for a thorough cleaning. Just attempted bottling with a new one, otherwise I just bottle with a siphon for simplicity and lack of inaccessible mostly-invisible parts.

Oh, and bleach is a sodium hypochlorite solution. Chlorine dioxide is a gas (though there are tablets that release it for hikers purifying water), and you need a specialized chamber to use it. Good for hospitals and the like using equipment that can't be autoclaved.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: breweite on December 10, 2012, 04:15:09 PM
I would fill up your fermenters with hot water and 2 cups of bleach and let them soak for a day with as much of your equipment that can fit.  Submerge the hoses so they fill up as well as your siphon.  You'll be good to go.
Edit:  Still using my original siphon tubing and blow off hoses using this method.  Zero infections....

Wow, and no rinsing issues after a day in bleach?  **Plus new note that I thought of last night, pondering this infection mystery... I've been using a really cheap funnel that isn't food grade plastic and I always use it to pour my wort into my carboys.. I think I may just buy the funnels with the screen at the LHBS, always wanted one anyway..
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: a10t2 on December 10, 2012, 04:28:13 PM
Oh, and bleach is a sodium hypochlorite solution. Chlorine dioxide is a gas (though there are tablets that release it for hikers purifying water), and you need a specialized chamber to use it. Good for hospitals and the like using equipment that can't be autoclaved.

Aqueous ClO2 is a pretty common CIP sanitizer. It's shipped as a 5% alkaline solution (pH ~9) and then acidified just prior to use. http://www.fivestarchemicals.com/wp-content/uploads/StarXeneProductSheet.pdf

No concern about evolving chlorine gas unless the pH drops below 3.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: anje on December 10, 2012, 05:08:02 PM
Oh, and bleach is a sodium hypochlorite solution. Chlorine dioxide is a gas (though there are tablets that release it for hikers purifying water), and you need a specialized chamber to use it. Good for hospitals and the like using equipment that can't be autoclaved.

Aqueous ClO2 is a pretty common CIP sanitizer. It's shipped as a 5% alkaline solution (pH ~9) and then acidified just prior to use. http://www.fivestarchemicals.com/wp-content/uploads/StarXeneProductSheet.pdf

No concern about evolving chlorine gas unless the pH drops below 3.
OK, I stand corrected. I'm more familiar with it in gaseous form, as some of my lab-mates have been looking at the mechanisms by which it kills bacteria.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: denny on December 10, 2012, 05:18:41 PM
Eh, so very true. Great point... Maybe I squeak out a 1 gallon AG batch because I'm such a cheapO.  For a strange reason, I think it may be my auto siphon and/or it's hose.  Any particular reason why you mentioned that? Is it common? Thanks

it's hard to get the tubing really clean. I like to replace my tubing every 10 or so batches just because you can never get IN there to really clean stuff up.

Guess I've been lucky, then.  I don't think I've replaced my tubing in 10 years, let alone 10 batches!
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: morticaixavier on December 10, 2012, 05:27:53 PM
Eh, so very true. Great point... Maybe I squeak out a 1 gallon AG batch because I'm such a cheapO.  For a strange reason, I think it may be my auto siphon and/or it's hose.  Any particular reason why you mentioned that? Is it common? Thanks

it's hard to get the tubing really clean. I like to replace my tubing every 10 or so batches just because you can never get IN there to really clean stuff up.

Guess I've been lucky, then.  I don't think I've replaced my tubing in 10 years, let alone 10 batches!

either that or I have been over cautious  ;D
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: jeffy on December 10, 2012, 05:40:16 PM
Eh, so very true. Great point... Maybe I squeak out a 1 gallon AG batch because I'm such a cheapO.  For a strange reason, I think it may be my auto siphon and/or it's hose.  Any particular reason why you mentioned that? Is it common? Thanks

it's hard to get the tubing really clean. I like to replace my tubing every 10 or so batches just because you can never get IN there to really clean stuff up.

Guess I've been lucky, then.  I don't think I've replaced my tubing in 10 years, let alone 10 batches!

either that or I have been over cautious  ;D

My plastic hoses are embarrassingly dirty on the outside, but I am confident the insides are clean.  I think I am living dangerously.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 10, 2012, 07:56:25 PM
All I do is run sanitizer through the hoses before and after each use.  I can't recall the last time they were replaced, but it's definitely been a couple years.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on December 14, 2012, 04:45:12 PM
Brewers are quick to believe infection is the cause of a particular off flavor and, while yes infections do cause off flavors, it is not the only reason.

If your water is minerally, particularly if it is well water, it can have a minerally aftertaste that at low levels can taste very similar to phenolic off flavors or even a sourness. The same could be true even if you're not using well water. If you're using tap water that isn't completely filtered you could have the same thing from some minerals in your municipal water supply. Chlorine-based chlorophenols can start out sort of sourish before they get really medicinal.

Before tossing your equipment I say brew a small batch on your equipment using your same process. Taste one at the usual time and let the rest sit for a few extra weeks. Taste again. If the flavor doesn't change, it's likely not an infection. If it gets overpoweringly medicinal, it's most likely chlorine in the water if you are using tap water. If it gets worse for any reason, it's definitely an infection.
Title: Re: Infection Because of Chamber Mold?
Post by: erockrph on December 14, 2012, 07:57:28 PM
Brewers are quick to believe infection is the cause of a particular off flavor and, while yes infections do cause off flavors, it is not the only reason.

Good point. I think a lot of brewers come to a snap judgement with sourness especially. There are a lot of other things that can cause sourness to varying degrees - dark malts, yeast character, pH/water adjustments, etc. I'm sure some of those issues are a lot more likely than an infection in most home breweries.