Author Topic: Airborne Infection  (Read 3196 times)

Offline crosswind

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Airborne Infection
« on: August 13, 2012, 08:49:41 AM »
I've been brewing for almost 6 years now and feel pretty confident in my sanitization process. However, a few of my beers recently have developed a white pellicle with hardened bubbles. Those beers have a lactic funk when I taste them that isn't very pleasant. I've retired all of the equipment that came in contact with those infected beers thinking I had done something wrong in cleaning/sanitation. I bleached down the floors and surfaces in the room I ferment in as well.

Fast forward a few weeks where I had split a 10 gallon batch of APA between a glass and a (brand new) bucket fermentors. They stayed in their fermentors for about a month. The glass half turned out fine. I peeked inside the bucket on Thursday for about 30 seconds and everything looked fine. On Saturday I went to keg it and it had that same thick white pellicle the infected beers had. Since nothing came in contact with this beer I would say this infection is airborne.

Has anyone else experienced a problem like this? What can I do to get rid of it?

Offline nateo

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2012, 01:19:06 PM »
Something similar happened to me maybe 6 months ago. I just went with it and now I use that infected bucket for all my sour beers. It made a sticky biofilm that starsan wouldn't touch. A bleach/water/vinegar solution seemed to kill it in my glass equipment that also got infected, though.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2012, 08:28:27 AM »
Its good to switch up your sanitizing routine to keep the bugs guessing (and to keep you thinking about the procedure).

If you're using Star San, switch to Iodophor for a few brews, or vice versa.

Make sure you're using enough sanitizer concentrate when you make batches of solution. Make sure its well-mixed, and check the pH before you use it. If you're using it over and over or making it with hard water, the life expectancy (i.e. acceptable pH) drops off quite a bit.

I also heard on the Basic Brewing podcast that Iodophor was only "good" for about 24 hours. That was a new fact to me!
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Offline crosswind

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 09:28:57 AM »
Thanks for the advice. I've only ever used Star San so I'll give a Iodophor a try and see if that helps.

Offline SecondRow_Sean

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2012, 09:34:32 AM »
Its good to switch up your sanitizing routine to keep the bugs guessing (and to keep you thinking about the procedure).

I understand the procedure part, but the "keep the bugs guessing" portion has got me confused. What does this mean?

Offline garc_mall

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2012, 10:04:45 AM »
Its good to switch up your sanitizing routine to keep the bugs guessing (and to keep you thinking about the procedure).

I understand the procedure part, but the "keep the bugs guessing" portion has got me confused. What does this mean?

I think what he means is that some bugs can become resistant to one or the other, and switching them up allows you to keep the bugs in control.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 10:35:30 AM »
I also heard on the Basic Brewing podcast that Iodophor was only "good" for about 24 hours. That was a new fact to me!

That's true if it's left open. In a sealed container, it will be effective basically forever.

One nice thing about iodophors is that you can tell how much iodine is left based on the color. If it's pale yellow/gold, it's still effective.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2012, 04:21:50 PM »
I know it's generally frowned on by homebrewers, but I'm a big fan rinse-free bleach solutions. It's super cheap and super effective. Charley Talley, the chemist who runs FiveStar of StarSan fame started out making bleach and bleach cleaners. In an interview about StarSan he gave a recipe for a no-rinse bleach sanitizer.

10ml unscented bleach + 5L cold water + 10ml plain white vinegar. It's safe as long as you don't add the bleach directly to the vinegar. Once the bleach is dissolved in the water you can safely add the vinegar.

This works out to be ~1.35oz/2.7tbsp per 5 gallons. It's only good for about 8 hours so you need to make a fresh batch after that. Don't use it on stainless steel. I use this to clean my plastic goods every 2-3 sanitation events to kill any bugs that may become resistant to StarSan (like the gnarly Lacto the OP is talking about).
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Offline 1vertical

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2012, 10:00:25 PM »
FWIW I keep a spritzer bottle of everclear around. I spritz, and then spritz
again, then wait for the killing effect of that strong reagent to work.....
before i open lids, remove airlocks,remove corks in casks...well you get the idea...
even spritz my hands...
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Offline nateo

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2012, 03:39:53 PM »
I discovered today that one of my clean beers got infected with my house bug. I tried hitting it with some sulfite, so I'll report back if it works.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2012, 07:32:37 AM »
I also heard on the Basic Brewing podcast that Iodophor was only "good" for about 24 hours. That was a new fact to me!

That's true if it's left open. In a sealed container, it will be effective basically forever.

One nice thing about iodophors is that you can tell how much iodine is left based on the color. If it's pale yellow/gold, it's still effective.

Great advice - thanks!
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Offline denny

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2012, 08:53:22 AM »
I discovered today that one of my clean beers got infected with my house bug. I tried hitting it with some sulfite, so I'll report back if it works.

I'll be interested to hear if it works.
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Offline Pi

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2012, 09:57:57 AM »
All very good Ideas. I guess I should consider myself lucky considering my environment (a basement that can get rather dank in the summer). This thread should serve as a reminder to all that one should not get complacent with sanitation in the brewery. A little like fighting terrorism, the minute you let your guard down those who wish to do harm will find that weak spot.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2012, 09:58:21 AM »
I added 1.4 grams. I have no idea if that's an appropriate amount to add or not. I'll measure the pH later today. I also have no idea how much sulfite will bind with the beer, and I can't measure free SO2, so this all kind of a WAG.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Airborne Infection
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2012, 06:14:17 PM »
The pellice looked a little bit thinner today. PH was 4.2, so still in the "normal" beer range. Gravity has dropped 0.001 since I added the K meta, so something is still kicking in there. I added another 1.4 grams, and I'll check it tomorrow.
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