Author Topic: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions  (Read 2103 times)

Offline sdevries42

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Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« on: March 24, 2015, 08:54:06 AM »
I currently have a vanilla porter in my primary fermenter. I plan on adding sliced up vanilla beans at secondary fermentation. The question I have is how do I sanitize the beans prior to adding them to the fermenter? Can I just spray them its star san first? I've read some soak the beans in vodka for a while but I'm not yet convinced I want to go that route.

How do you sanitize other things like fruits you want to add in the fermentation? My next brew I plan on is a tripel that calls for grapefruit in the secondary fermenter.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2015, 09:15:52 AM »
Ive done three fruited beers, so not a huge data base. But I have 100% no problems. I get frozen fruit, in my case cherries or peaches, thaw them to about room temp, and dump them in. Very technical.

Ive used vanilla beans once but it was before I knew anything and that beer sucked anyway.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2015, 09:22:57 AM »
Don't spray them with star san.

With vanilla and cacao nibs and that sort of thing I usually nsoak them in vodka for about a week and then add entire contents to beer (I usually add to primary as I do not use a seconday even with most fruit beers). For fruits I just freeze it and hope for the best. For oak I toast it at 380-400 in my oven.

Beer is fairly stable once fermentation is finished. To be honest I use the vodka to help extract flavors, not so much to sanitize. I would have no qualms just adding the beans directly to the fermentor.

I've been experimenting with some coffee beers and the beans get ground and added directly to the fermentor for 12-12 hours, no sanitizing. That's after they are run through the local coffee shop grinder.

Offline sdevries42

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2015, 09:27:58 AM »
Don't spray them with star san.

With vanilla and cacao nibs and that sort of thing I usually nsoak them in vodka for about a week and then add entire contents to beer (I usually add to primary as I do not use a seconday even with most fruit beers). For fruits I just freeze it and hope for the best. For oak I toast it at 380-400 in my oven.

Beer is fairly stable once fermentation is finished. To be honest I use the vodka to help extract flavors, not so much to sanitize. I would have no qualms just adding the beans directly to the fermentor.

I've been experimenting with some coffee beers and the beans get ground and added directly to the fermentor for 12-12 hours, no sanitizing. That's after they are run through the local coffee shop grinder.
Is there a certain type of vodka that would work better depending on the beer its being added to or does it not really matter?

Offline toby

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2015, 02:16:16 PM »
I currently have a vanilla porter in my primary fermenter. I plan on adding sliced up vanilla beans at secondary fermentation. The question I have is how do I sanitize the beans prior to adding them to the fermenter? Can I just spray them its star san first? I've read some soak the beans in vodka for a while but I'm not yet convinced I want to go that route.

How do you sanitize other things like fruits you want to add in the fermentation? My next brew I plan on is a tripel that calls for grapefruit in the secondary fermenter.

For vanilla beans, I would personally use 100 proof rum.  From what I have read, you need to use at least 100 proof alcohol to truly sanitize.

For fruit pulp, I would do what wine makers do.  Crush up a campden tablet add it to the fruit pulp in a gallon ziploc bag, mix it up, and let it sit at least 24 hours.  You're not truly sanitizing it, but you're creating an inhospitable environment for any bacterial growth.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2015, 02:24:57 PM »
I add fruit puree to secondary and vanilla, cacao nibs and coffee beans to the keg unsanitized, and trust the low pH and alcohol to protect the beer.  I've never had an infection doing this. Denny adds fresh mushrooms to secondary with no ill effects.
Jon H.

Offline Pinski

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2015, 02:37:24 PM »
I add fruit puree to secondary and vanilla, cacao nibs and coffee beans to the keg unsanitized, and trust the low pH and alcohol to protect the beer.  I've never had an infection doing this. Denny adds fresh mushrooms to secondary with no ill effects.

Well, except that his Wee Heavy then tastes like mushrooms.  :)
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2015, 02:38:27 PM »
I add fruit puree to secondary and vanilla, cacao nibs and coffee beans to the keg unsanitized, and trust the low pH and alcohol to protect the beer.  I've never had an infection doing this. Denny adds fresh mushrooms to secondary with no ill effects.

Well, except that his Wee Heavy then tastes like mushrooms.  :)


I was thinking the same.  Not my cup of tea.    ;D
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Offline Philbrew

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2015, 04:06:10 PM »
I add fruit puree to secondary and vanilla, cacao nibs and coffee beans to the keg unsanitized, and trust the low pH and alcohol to protect the beer.  I've never had an infection doing this. Denny adds fresh mushrooms to secondary with no ill effects.
Uhmm, maybe.  What kind of shrooms are we talking about here? ;D
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Offline denny

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2015, 04:17:09 PM »
I add fruit puree to secondary and vanilla, cacao nibs and coffee beans to the keg unsanitized, and trust the low pH and alcohol to protect the beer.  I've never had an infection doing this. Denny adds fresh mushrooms to secondary with no ill effects.

Well, except that his Wee Heavy then tastes like mushrooms.  :)

Actually, it tastes fruity with a bit of earth to it.  I doubt anyone would ever know there are mushrooms in there if I didn't tell them.  Same with the Matsutake Golden strong.

I have found no need to sanitize or alcohol soak vanilla, fruit, or mushrooms..yes, mushrooms, picked right out of the forest behind my house.  By the time you add stuff in secondary, not only is alcohol there, but the pH is very low which makes the beer very resistant to infection.  And I hate the extra heat that alcohol soaking adds to the beer.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2015, 11:45:38 PM »
I don't disagree that the vodka isn't necessary (as I said I feel like it speeds up extraction times) but I do disagree that you will get any "hot" flavors unless you use too much vodka. We are talking just enough to cover the spices. An decent neutral vodka should have minimal heat. I would not get the cheapest, rot gut crap you can find because it will have heads/tails from the distillation process. But even then, at such a low concentration I find it hard that you could pick those flavors up.

Regardless, as Denny says, sanitizing isn't really necessary.

Offline denny

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2015, 03:50:34 PM »
I don't disagree that the vodka isn't necessary (as I said I feel like it speeds up extraction times) but I do disagree that you will get any "hot" flavors unless you use too much vodka. We are talking just enough to cover the spices. An decent neutral vodka should have minimal heat. I would not get the cheapest, rot gut crap you can find because it will have heads/tails from the distillation process. But even then, at such a low concentration I find it hard that you could pick those flavors up.

Regardless, as Denny says, sanitizing isn't really necessary.

Drew says the same thing about heat, and I believe you guys.  Maybe I did use too much, but I had a lot of mushrooms so it took a lot of vodka.  But for me the bottom line is if it isn't necessary, why do it?  YMMV
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Online coolman26

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2015, 03:57:47 PM »
I add fruit puree to secondary and vanilla, cacao nibs and coffee beans to the keg unsanitized, and trust the low pH and alcohol to protect the beer.  I've never had an infection doing this. Denny adds fresh mushrooms to secondary with no ill effects.

I've never had an issue with adding directly.
Jeff B

Offline erockrph

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Re: Sterilizing secondary fermentation additions
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2015, 06:12:24 PM »
I have had an infection that I blame on cinnamon sticks added directly to the secondary, but everything else I have used without sterilization/sanitization has been fine with no issues.

For whole fruit, I freeze them in a ziploc or foodsaver bag, then thaw and mash with my hands to help break down the cell membranes. They then go right into the fermenter with no further processing. Vanilla gets split and scraped.
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