Author Topic: Infected Batch?  (Read 3564 times)

Offline Fermenator

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Infected Batch?
« on: October 10, 2016, 09:01:57 PM »
I have brewed off and on for 20 years or so, and have never had an infected batch, until now, I think.

I boiled a wart of German Kolsch style beer (using extract and a Kolsch Ale yeast from Austin Homebrew Supply) 4 weeks ago.  Everything looked great from the get-go.  The fermentation started within hours and was very active for about 4 or 5 days then settled.  Everything seemed very healthy to me.  Two weeks later I racked it into the carboy.  After about 10 days in the carboy I began to see some white foam appearing on top of the batch.  About a day or two later I heard the first gurgle in my airlock.  Two days later, tonight, it is gurgling every 30 seconds, and the foam on top has blanketed my batch.  Also, white stringy looking man-of-war-like tentacles that I've read about in another thread here may be appearing.

I pulled the  airlock momentarily, and took a whiff.  It smells like really good German Kolsch beer...

I've attached photos.

Can someone tell me if this batch is a gonner, or if I can salvage it?




Offline Oddball

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Re: Infected Batch?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2016, 04:48:30 AM »
How's it taste? If it's good to you, that's the best way to tell!

KellerBrauer

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Re: Infected Batch?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2016, 05:54:29 AM »
Greetings fermentator,  assuming you hit your target final gravity before you racked to the secondary, it appears as though you have developed a pellicle. As I understand, pellicle are caused from wild yeast as a result from poor sanitation.

Regarding taste as oddball suggests, my experience with pellicle was not even close to the extent illustrated in your photos.  I went ahead and bottled my brew, waited about three weeks and saw the pellicle was now in the bottle.  So I cold crashed the bottles for about a month at 35°.  Then, with a little shake, the pellicle fell out.  The beer, however, had a slight sour taste to it.  I'm not sure I would recommend the same solution with yours.

These are a good number of articles and photos on line if you google Pellicle.

Hope this helps!

Good luck!

Offline Fermenator

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Re: Infected Batch?
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2016, 08:14:54 AM »
Thank you Oddball and KellerBrauer.  I found an article that said this:

Michael Tonsmeire notes in American Sour Beers that pellicles may provide some protection against contamination from Acetobacter, a bacterial species that most of us want to keep at bay. He notes that aging sour beer in a vibration-free location will minimize disruption to the pellicle and thus enhance the protective properties it conveys. So, use that basement if you have one, and avoid keeping your sour beer near the washing machine.

That's interesting to me, because I brewed my beer and left it for primary fermentation at a friend's house for two weeks, then racked it and moved it across town to my house (about a 40 minute drive).  I heard the airlock gurgling regularly on the drive.  I wonder if that is when the acetobacter found its way in.

Does anyone have suggestions on what to do? Should I let it keep fermenting until it runs its course, or do something different?

And if this pellicle gets really nasty, will this beer be safe to drink when its done?

Offline Oddball

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Re: Infected Batch?
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2016, 10:43:12 AM »
It should be safe as long as there is a couple percent alcohol, it just might end up not tasting very good... but it could be great! You won't die from tasting it so I would just try it out. The worst that can happen is it's a throw away batch if it seems undrinkable.

Offline Fermenator

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Re: Infected Batch?
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2016, 02:44:04 PM »
Thanks!  We'll give a try!

 

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