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How easy is it to infect a batch?

I remember when i started brewing i was always very worried about infecting a batch of beer…many times i thought i have infected a batch but i dont think i have ever truly had an infected batch…anyway how easy is it to infect a batch? Im guessing you would have to really F up to catch a bug…anyone ever have a contamination issue?

I have a coworker who had a batch go bad, he reported that under the ring of crusty crap from the krausen subsiding there was a second ring of green, fuzzy crap. (sounded like bread mold, but I’m not sure.)

Anyway, I gather there’s not a lot of bugs that really like living where there are hops (which has antiseptic properties) and where there is yeast, which protects itself with a CO2 blanket, and suffocates most airborne baddies. so with proper sanitization infections should be pretty rare, even if not unheard of. Probably if you brew enough it become inevitable.

I remember handling my first batch like radioactive material haha. I think I picked up a bug in a starter. I brewed the first batch harvested the yeast and used it for another batch before I started drinking the first batch. The first batch was a little weird and had clove tastes it shouldn’t have had but the second from the harvested yeast all gushed and had stronger off tastes than the first so I had to dump it. But after 20 batches that’s it

I’ve wondered the same thing. I have around 30 successful brews so far since I’ve started brewing with no infections but I’m also a clean /starsan freak. I recently went to a friends who also happens to be a pro brewer to sample some small Batch lagers. He used an auto siphon to pull our samples with and never once sanitized it just pulled it off the shelf and rinsed with hot water. That made me think maybe I tend to go overboard with my cleaning / sanitizing but it helps me sleep better at night. :smiley:

As homebrewers, we probably overstate the need for sanitation. But here’s why. It is something we can control. And if you start getting lazy with sanitation, i.e. not sanitizing your autosiphon, you’ll cut corners in other places. Sanitation is very importation after the boil and before fermentation. After that, hops, alcohol, and co2 really help in keeping the environment clean. Don’t skip sanitation steps but don’t go overboard like the youtube guy who recommends you do all transfering sans clothing to keep particles out of your beer.

Infecting a batch is usually traced back to user error. So be careful and sanitize!

Bottling bucket spigot is a great place to harbor an infection.

Not to say i over sanitize, but if the dog comes within a 10 foot radius of my cooling brew before it gets into the fermentor and sealed he gets a blast of san star from my squirter bottle…

j/k… don’t call animal control.

but I will say I might err on the side of over spraying. I am like John Wayne at high noon with that thing, spraying everything around me in that cool down period and at bottling time… I figure can’t hurt and is better than the alternative.

Simple rule-anything that comes in contact with the wort or beer below a temperature of 160F should be clean and sanitized. Over 100 batches and I’ve never had one go bad from poor sanitation.

Very true.
We usually make the starsan in the bottling bucket, then dump it in the sink THROUGH the spigot, while simultaneously siphoning. Both get plenty of contact time that way.

I’m probably a lot more relaxed than most people when it comes to sanitation. I ferment exclusively in plastic carboys, all of which are several years old. About 50% of the time I don’t use an airlock during active fermentation, just foil over the opening. When I add fruit, spices, etc., I don’t do anything to it other than a light water rinse. I have a lot of sour beers going, so my basement is probably pretty full of bugs. I use my glass growlers for both regular and sour starters. I use my airlocks and kegs for both regular and wild beers. I clean and sanitize everything, but I haven’t measured out sanitizer in years. Instead, I just eyeball it.

That being said, I did the math and only 1.83% of my batches became infected to the point that they were unpleasant or undrinkable. And that number includes a couple of occasions where I was trying to culture funky dregs, and it got out of hand and spoiled the entire batch.

Very true.
We usually make the starsan in the bottling bucket, then dump it in the sink THROUGH the spigot, while simultaneously siphoning. Both get plenty of contact time that way.[/quote]
Why are you wasting Star-San? Save it. You can use it over and over as long as the pH stays at 2 or lower.

[quote=“JMcK”]We usually make the starsan in the bottling bucket, then dump it in the sink THROUGH the spigot, while simultaneously siphoning. Both get plenty of contact time that way.[/quote]You ought to also disassemble the valve completely and check it out - I’d bet $10 there’s dried beer and mold inside.

having an infection/contamination to where it is a dumper vs having off flavors is a huge difference.
never had contamination and that is brewing right next to lots of sours.
Off flavors were much more early in brewing, get some everyonce in a while but not as much as I sued to

just stick your arm in the keg to retrieve your spoon. not hard at all. :lol:

Yep those cheap plastic spigots hold lots of shit. I don’t use them anymore but they were replaced very often after seeing inside some of those things

hops stop gram positive bacteria from taking in nutrients and thus killing them.

to an extent…you can still contaminate a hoppy beer

to an extent…you can still contaminate a hoppy beer[/quote]

Thank goodness. I like my tart beers!

I did all my fermentations in plastic buckets for 13 years before realizing that it was often ruining my beer. Don’t get me wrong… Buckets are very easy and work wonderfully… for a couple of years. But then for whatever reason I always caught a Lacto bug or some other wild critter that would sour and astringemate 50% of my beers, so I’d have to replace all my buckets every so often because I’d never know exactly which buckets were causing it (I rotate between about 4 of them). Finally after dumping a half dozen bad batches, I gave up this year and bought glass carboys. I expect to never ever have these problems ever again.

I know with 100% certainty that it is possible to get a Lacto infection in an IPA. It’s horrible! Don’t let it happen to you!

:cheers:

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]I did all my fermentations in plastic buckets for 13 years before realizing that it was often ruining my beer. Don’t get me wrong… Buckets are very easy and work wonderfully… for a couple of years. But then for whatever reason I always caught a Lacto bug or some other wild critter that would sour and astringemate 50% of my beers, so I’d have to replace all my buckets every so often because I’d never know exactly which buckets were causing it (I rotate between about 4 of them). Finally after dumping a half dozen bad batches, I gave up this year and bought glass carboys. I expect to never ever have these problems ever again.

I know with 100% certainty that it is possible to get a Lacto infection in an IPA. It’s horrible! Don’t let it happen to you!

:cheers: [/quote]

WOuldnt you just throw a bucket out if you got a bad beer from it?
using a plastic bucket for 2+ years is not a good idea. Thats the type of equipment that needs to be replaced dependent on brew scale. Even brewing minimal I would replace atleast once in two years.

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