Author Topic: Town water contaminated just before bottling day  (Read 1425 times)

Offline seana

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Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« on: May 01, 2010, 07:53:24 PM »
Ok, so I'm a newbie homebrewer and I'm in the middle of my first batch, an IPA. I started fermenting on Tuesday and I think I'm getting close to bottling day. Then this afternoon here in Eastern Massachusetts, we've had a major water main break, and the state has ordered that we can't drink the water without boiling it. It could be a week or more before it's fixed. Ugh.

I still have all my bottles and equipment to clean before I bottle. On the advise of my local brew supply store, I wasn't planning on sanitizing because all my equipment is brand new. Is ok to clean my stuff with the contaminated water, or will I need to sanitize everything too because of the water hazard? And even if I sanitize, is it ok to do it with using contaminated water? Or will I need to go the next step and sterilize everything (and, how do I do that?) I'm already a bit paranoid that I don't know what I'm doing, so this water situation has me wondering if I need to just ditch the batch and start over after the water is safe. I suppose I could boil the water before I use it, but I've got 50+ bottle to clean, so that's a lot of water to boil. Thoughts anyone? (BTW, I just activated my AHA membership...)

Offline BrewArk

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2010, 09:01:34 PM »
First thing - "relax, don't worry, have a homebrew" (if one is handy).  If the glass is new, it has never had anything in it that bugs would be growing on and the only bad actors there would have been blown in on the wind (same as if you sanitized).  It will probably be fine. 

If you're not comfortable with that, use some no rinse sanitizer (follow the directions).

I work for a bleach company, and typically use that, but in your case, I don't think I'd recommend it because boiling water to rinse would be too much hassle.
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Offline babalu87

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2010, 09:43:12 PM »
On the advise of my local brew supply store, I wasn't planning on sanitizing because all my equipment is brand new.

Who the hell gave you that advice?
Jeff

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Offline tygo

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2010, 10:56:11 PM »
On the advise of my local brew supply store, I wasn't planning on sanitizing because all my equipment is brand new.

Who the hell gave you that advice?


+1  Sanitize that stuff no matter what.  Hopefully you have a no rinse sanitizer you can use.  Whatever you do, don't ditch the batch just because you're having an issue with bottling.  Worst cast scenario you have to wait until you have what you need and the beer sits in the fermenter for a little extra time.
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Offline monk

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2010, 12:47:16 AM »
Give that batch an extra week in the carboy/bucket, dude!  It won't hurt it a bit, and will more than likely improve the beer anyway.  I've have pale ales in the primary for over a month with no probs at all.  RDWHA(Commercial Brew)

Offline tat2pompadore

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2010, 06:36:21 AM »
You can always use bottled water from the grocery store to sanatize with. 

Offline gail

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2010, 07:16:52 AM »
If you only started fermenting on Tuesday, you're only about 6 days into fermentation; I wouldn't bottle that early.  You'll find no problems waiting the week or so until you can use your water again and your beer will likely be better for it (yeast will have a chance to more fully break down byproducts of fermentation such as diacetyl--buttery aroma and flavor--and acetaldehyde--green apple--making a cleaner finished beer).  Everything I buy from my LHBS gets a good washing and then a good sanitizing on its first use since everything is coated with a fine layer of dust from the grain mill.  My new purchases are dirtier than equipment that is well used, including bottles.
Good luck on your first batch.  The wait will be worth it.

Offline seana

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2010, 08:20:55 AM »
On the advise of my local brew supply store, I wasn't planning on sanitizing because all my equipment is brand new.

Who the hell gave you that advice?


+1  Sanitize that stuff no matter what.  Hopefully you have a no rinse sanitizer you can use.  Whatever you do, don't ditch the batch just because you're having an issue with bottling.  Worst cast scenario you have to wait until you have what you need and the beer sits in the fermenter for a little extra time.

Actually two different brew stores in my area told me I didn't need sanitizer with new equipment at first! So I only bought the no-rise cleaner and decided to forgo the San Star sanitizer for now...but that sounds like it was bad advice x2. They both said not to bother with sanitizer until after about 3-4 brews made. I don't want to call out the stores, but if you live in my area you can probably figure it out.

OK, sounds like I can afford to wait a bit then. I was concerned because the Brewer's Best instructions said to bottle after no bubble in the air lock for 48 hours, and it appears the bubbles are stopped. I've read somewhere else that the spent yeast could hurt the beer if left in there too long. But if another week's wait will not hurt the beer in your experienced opinions, then I'll hold off and hope for the water to be fixed by next weekend

I guess i could also transfer it to my secondary carboy, right?. My only fear there is that I only have 4 1/2 gallons of beer and so apparently I'd leave too much room for air to effect the beer in the secondary carboy, so that's what my LHBS advised me of and said to just keep it in the primary (but not sure if that person is credible anymore...)
 
Anyway, thanks for the advice all!

« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 08:24:01 AM by seana »

Offline babalu87

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2010, 09:21:40 AM »
Dont worry about calling out the store when they give you HORRIBLE advice
Jeff

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Offline santoch

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2010, 09:43:21 AM »
Dont worry about calling out the store when they give you HORRIBLE advice

+1000

"Wait 3 or 4 batches before sanitizing" is probably amongst the worst advice I have ever heard.

Sanitize everything, every time, without question.   And remember, if it is not CLEAN, it can't be sanitized.

IMO, the top things to work on for new brewers is:

1) Sanitation
2) Temperature control
3) Consistency
4) Sanitation
5) Temperature control
6) Repeatability
7) Sanitation
8) Temperature control
9) Decent recipe
10)Sanitation

(Can you tell I'm a big fan of sanitation and temperature control)

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Offline tygo

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2010, 10:41:19 AM »
But if another week's wait will not hurt the beer in your experienced opinions, then I'll hold off and hope for the water to be fixed by next weekend

Yeah, just leave it in the primary.  Another week or two in there on the yeast isn't going to hurt anything.
Clint
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On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline Kaiser

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2010, 10:41:21 AM »
Most of us use no rinse sanitizers anyway and with those you don't have to worry about contaminated water.

But I do agree with the other points made, especially about the importance of sanitation. 

Kai

Offline denny

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2010, 10:51:03 AM »
I guess i could also transfer it to my secondary carboy, right?. My only fear there is that I only have 4 1/2 gallons of beer and so apparently I'd leave too much room for air to effect the beer in the secondary carboy, so that's what my LHBS advised me of and said to just keep it in the primary (but not sure if that person is credible anymore...)
 
Anyway, thanks for the advice all!



Good advice from everybody on the sanitizing and waiting.  If you just brewed it on Tues., I'd have to say that you're nowhere near ready to bottle.  Leaving beer on the yeast too long can be bad, but that time frame is months, not days.  I also wouldn't xfer to secondary now, if ever.  Secondary is often (usually?) unnecessary.  And of you do xfer eventually, there's nothing wrong with 4 1/2 gal. in a 5 gal. fermenter for a little while.
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Offline marty

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2010, 12:58:41 PM »
Ok, so I'm a newbie homebrewer and I'm in the middle of my first batch, an IPA. I started fermenting on Tuesday and I think I'm getting close to bottling day. Then this afternoon here in Eastern Massachusetts, we've had a major water main break, and the state has ordered that we can't drink the water without boiling it. It could be a week or more before it's fixed. Ugh.

I still have all my bottles and equipment to clean before I bottle. On the advise of my local brew supply store, I wasn't planning on sanitizing because all my equipment is brand new. Is ok to clean my stuff with the contaminated water, or will I need to sanitize everything too because of the water hazard? And even if I sanitize, is it ok to do it with using contaminated water? Or will I need to go the next step and sterilize everything (and, how do I do that?) I'm already a bit paranoid that I don't know what I'm doing, so this water situation has me wondering if I need to just ditch the batch and start over after the water is safe. I suppose I could boil the water before I use it, but I've got 50+ bottle to clean, so that's a lot of water to boil. Thoughts anyone? (BTW, I just activated my AHA membership...)

the sanitizer should kill the beasties, but I'd boil or buy bottled, StarSan will work better in distilled water by the way

btw- even before the ban, drinking water isn't sanitized, it's potable, meaning it won't hurt you,  but it does have low levels of bacteria, amobae etc... which is why you never add tap water to beer or use tap water to rinse off sanitzed equipment

I'm in Medway, not part of the MWRA and not affected by this ban, you're more than welcome to come over and fill up a bucket with water not being pulled out of a pond ... ok it's being pulled out of a town well and dosed with chloramines which blow for entirely different reasons


missed the whole 6 day thing, yeah unless it's a mild or a low gravity hefe, it's not done yet
after sanitiation the number one thing new brewers need to learn in patience, beer is done when it's done, and the good literature has dropped the whole 'after 1 week transfer to secondary' nonsense
« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 01:10:27 PM by marty »

Offline seana

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Re: Town water contaminated just before bottling day
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2010, 03:58:26 PM »
This is all great advice, thanks all, appreciate it.

That's interesting about the secondary being unnecessary, I had the impression from what I've read here and there that that was something the more experience brewers always did, but I guess that's out of favor now. Hey, one less step I need to worry about,  works for me.

And glad to know it's ok in the primary for an extended period. The directions in the brew kit made it seem like I needed to get it right out of there when the bubbles stopped.

And..unfortunately I did use tap water, but next time I'll go with distilled. Thanks Marty for the offer, Medway's a bit far from Melrose, but hopefully it'll all get fixed shortly.

This is great stuff, glad I joined, thanks all!