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My "house" bug is taking over! Sanitation help needed

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nateo:
Hey folks,
I've been cultivating a "house" sour bug mix for just about two years now. It's cultured from grain, so it's probably a mix of lacto and other stuff. Anyway, I've maintained separate plastic goods (tubing, racking, bottling, etc.) but my last couple clean beers got infected. I guess the house culture is airborne? I'm not really sure how they got infected.

My main concern is how do I get rid of the bug in my brew buckets? I'd rather not buy new buckets. In the past I've used a vinegar/bleach mixed that seemed to work OK. I've thought about doing a concentrated PBW soak too. Starsan is worthless against these creatures.

Any ideas?

BrewArk:

--- Quote from: nateo on April 08, 2013, 10:06:47 AM ---Hey folks,
I've been cultivating a "house" sour bug mix for just about two years now. It's cultured from grain, so it's probably a mix of lacto and other stuff. Anyway, I've maintained separate plastic goods (tubing, racking, bottling, etc.) but my last couple clean beers got infected. I guess the house culture is airborne? I'm not really sure how they got infected.

My main concern is how do I get rid of the bug in my brew buckets? I'd rather not buy new buckets. In the past I've used a vinegar/bleach mixed that seemed to work OK. I've thought about doing a concentrated PBW soak too. Starsan is worthless against these creatures.

Any ideas?

--- End quote ---

Don't mix vinegar & bleach.  While each has its merits, they deactivate each other.  You'd be better off using them sequentially w/a water rinse between.  You definitely need a two step, clean then sanitize.  Hot PBW for the clean.  Followed by a bleach sanitize (no bleach for stainless though).  You can use another sanitizer but follow the instructions.

kylekohlmorgen:
For plastic (and buckets especially), once infected, always infected IMO. You can try to get by with a long sanitizer soak, but don't plan on those beers staying clean.

Speaking of - if a prior batch was infected, and you took samples or transferred it with your "clean" gear, that may be where the infection is coming from. When did you notice the infection?

My guess is that, unless you're doing a lot of open fermentation, its not airborne and you're using an infected piece of equipment on the cold side.

Easily mixed-up soft parts: Bucket lids (and gaskets), airlocks/blowoff tubes, thief, plastic covers for racking cane, kettle valve/pump, plastic stir spoon, oxygen stone (plastic connection tubing and/or worm clamps that may harbor bugs).

nateo:

--- Quote from: kylekohlmorgen on April 08, 2013, 10:18:44 AM ---Speaking of - if a prior batch was infected, and you took samples or transferred it with your "clean" gear, that may be where the infection is coming from. When did you notice the infection?

Easily mixed-up soft parts: Bucket lids (and gaskets), airlocks/blowoff tubes, thief, plastic covers for racking cane, kettle valve/pump, plastic stir spoon, oxygen stone (plastic connection tubing and/or worm clamps that may harbor bugs).

--- End quote ---

It takes a while for the infection to show up in a clean beer. Like, a few weeks after primary is done. I probably mixed up a lid or something. The other plastic gear is marked, so I wouldn't mix them up. But, if my "clean" gear is infected now, I'm not sure. I guess I'll just stick to sour beers for a while.

In a fully-fermented beer, it doesn't make it noticeably sour or drop the pH. It does cause really slow gushers after about 6 months or so in the bottle. Other than that, it's not a huge deal.

bbkf:

--- Quote from: BrewArk on April 08, 2013, 10:13:37 AM ---

Don't mix vinegar & bleach.  While each has its merits, they deactivate each other.  You'd be better off using them sequentially w/a water rinse between.

--- End quote ---


not true. 

Bleach is sold at a pH that "stabilizes" it.  If you reduce the pH (via vinegar) it becomes one of the most effective surface sanitizers you can buy (or make in this case).  However, the life of acidified bleach is reduced.

just make sure you never confuse vinegar with ammonia. 

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