Author Topic: Cross Contamination Question  (Read 767 times)

Offline justenpelton

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Cross Contamination Question
« on: January 21, 2014, 03:24:24 PM »
So, I have been considering getting into fermenting more wild ales.  I understand the common sense stuff to avoid cross contamination, like avoiding the use of tubing, plastic buckets, air locks and bungs.  Currently I have a Flanders Red fermenting in a spare upstairs bathroom shower, but my wife would like the real estate back.  All of my "clean" beers ferment in my basement, and I haven't had any infection problems.  Just curious what peoples thoughts are about fermenting a "wild" and "clean" beers closely together?  I alway thought yeast and bacteria could be airborne, but maybe I am over thinking it?  What about Kegging...I plan on dedicating a few kegs for just "wild" beers, but is there any risk of cross contamination from hooking up the CO2 line back and forth between beers?  Is there anything else maybe I am not thinking about?

I always use PBW for all cleaning and Star San for sanitation.

Thanks in advance!

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Cross Contamination Question
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2014, 03:30:18 PM »
I'm sure there is risk but what you describe sounds pretty safe. if you can segregate the wild from the single strain by as much distance as possible and try to keep the clean beers 'upwind' (try to figure out what way the air flows through your basement) that would be an extra protection.

people have had infections spread by co2 line, just ask beersk. so it's something to think about.
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Offline Jeff M

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Re: Cross Contamination Question
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014, 05:59:27 PM »
I would keep a second set of plastic gear just for wilds, but anything glass or S/S should be able to be crossed from 1 to another assuming your cleaning regimen is good.  As for fermenting them in the same area, yeast and bacteria can indeed become airborne, but yet again as long as your sanitation and cleanliness are good and you keep your beers closed up (airlock or blowoff) and your packaging area is far from your fermenting beer, i dont see why you couldnt keep them in the same area.  I am not experienced in this area, just from reading things:D

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« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 06:11:15 PM by Jeff M »
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Re: Cross Contamination Question
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014, 06:07:50 PM »


people have had infections spread by co2 line, just ask beersk. so it's something to think about.


Been there done that.  I had a low level infection a few years ago that drove me nuts. I replaced nearly everything plastic, with no luck, and the light bulb finally came on to sanitize the CO2 line. There was no visible sign of anything in the CO2 line, but a soak in starsan later and the problem was gone. I make a point to sanitize it at least once a year now.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Cross Contamination Question
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2014, 12:33:46 AM »
Isn't there a lot of lacto on malt? I would be as worried about keeping my sours away from my regular beer as I am about keeping my grain away

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Cross Contamination Question
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2014, 04:22:29 AM »


people have had infections spread by co2 line, just ask beersk. so it's something to think about.


Been there done that.  I had a low level infection a few years ago that drove me nuts. I replaced nearly everything plastic, with no luck, and the light bulb finally came on to sanitize the CO2 line. There was no visible sign of anything in the CO2 line, but a soak in starsan later and the problem was gone. I make a point to sanitize it at least once a year now.

Yep - I once overfilled a keg and the beer backed up into the gas line - a clear line, so I could see it.  I star sanned it right away, but worried for a while....I think I am going to push some star San through all my gas lines this spring as part of a deep cleaning of my overall system.  Why not be safe?
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Offline dbarber

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Re: Cross Contamination Question
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2014, 06:51:39 AM »
I separate all my plastic, tubing, etc. and have a dedicated sour keg, but I don't have a dedicated CO2 line.  I ferment my lambics and flanders in the same are as all my other beers and have never had any cross-contamination.  I am fanatical about my cleaning/sanitation though.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Cross Contamination Question
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014, 08:19:17 AM »
I have been fermenting clean and sour/brett beers side by side for several years now with no cross contamination from proximity. There is bacteria and wild yeast everywhere. If one is getting an infection then it is most likely coming from unclean/unsanitized equipment or somewhere in the environment. It is less likely to be caused by an army of bacteria or yeast marching out of your sour beer, crossing the airlock, flying across the room and marching through another airlock to descend into your beer. In spite of how unlikely that sounds, it does seem like a sizable minority insists this is the case. I think it is more likely just sloppy cleaning and sanitation.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Cross Contamination Question
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 11:15:30 AM »
...There is bacteria and wild yeast everywhere. If one is getting an infection then it is most likely coming from unclean/unsanitized equipment or somewhere in the environment...

EXACTLY

Use separate soft parts on the cold side and you can stash lagers and lambics in the same room/kegerator.

From past threads on this forum, there are some items brewers forget to segregate:
 - Thief
 - Lid of plastic fermenter
 - Carboy/starter flask bungs
 - AIRLOCKS
 - plastic tubing for oxygenation stone
 - ALL of the auto-siphon (don't get the inner tube or end cap mixed up)
 - muslin bag for straining/spicing/dry hops
 - keg o-rings and poppets
 - Liquid Quick Disconnect

EVERYTHING that you use on brett/sour beers should be segregated and marked. Permanent marker is okay but can wear off. Red tape is better.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Cross Contamination Question
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2014, 11:26:40 AM »


people have had infections spread by co2 line, just ask beersk. so it's something to think about.


Been there done that.  I had a low level infection a few years ago that drove me nuts. I replaced nearly everything plastic, with no luck, and the light bulb finally came on to sanitize the CO2 line. There was no visible sign of anything in the CO2 line, but a soak in starsan later and the problem was gone. I make a point to sanitize it at least once a year now.

I don't understand this one without accidentally getting beer in the line. I've had this happen (or at least a scare) when I connected the gas QD to a liquid post on a pressurized keg.

If that's not the case, the only other thing I can think of is a stretch:

Maybe you had both a sour and a clean keg hooked up to CO2, closed both the main valve and branch valve to the clean keg, depressurized the clean keg, then opened the branch valve before the main. This would equalize pressure with the sour keg and *could* carry over microbes.
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Re: Cross Contamination Question
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2014, 11:51:29 AM »


people have had infections spread by co2 line, just ask beersk. so it's something to think about.


Been there done that.  I had a low level infection a few years ago that drove me nuts. I replaced nearly everything plastic, with no luck, and the light bulb finally came on to sanitize the CO2 line. There was no visible sign of anything in the CO2 line, but a soak in starsan later and the problem was gone. I make a point to sanitize it at least once a year now.

I don't understand this one without accidentally getting beer in the line. I've had this happen (or at least a scare) when I connected the gas QD to a liquid post on a pressurized keg.

If that's not the case, the only other thing I can think of is a stretch:

Maybe you had both a sour and a clean keg hooked up to CO2, closed both the main valve and branch valve to the clean keg, depressurized the clean keg, then opened the branch valve before the main. This would equalize pressure with the sour keg and *could* carry over microbes.

I agree Kyle - But I don't know that there weren't maybe some fine droplets in there. Nothing overtly noticeable. At the time I was going back to college and only had one beer on tap at a time (time constraints). So there was no chance of one bad keg cross contaminating. All I know is I replaced everything plastic and only got clean smelling and tasting beer after snatizing that line.
Jon H.