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Lacto infection, anything I can do?

I have a barley wine that I am pretty sure is infected with lacto and has only been in the secondary for a week. Can I rack it into another carboy but leave an inch behind or is this beer pretty much ruined?

There’s nothing you can do if it’s infected. If it was me, I’d let it run it’s fermentation, age it, an d see if it develops into something interesting.

Worth a try. I have had one or two contaminated batches that turned out to be fairly interesting. One where the yeast either mutated or was wilde ended up being a pretty solid Lambic.

Unfortunately, I don’t really go for those styles too often and would not want to drink 5 gal worth. So the few times I have a contaminated batch which was still drinkable, I ended up pitching most of it in the end regardless.

But as Denny suggests, always worth waiting it out just to see what happens.

Yeah, I’d let it ride and if it still isn’t drinkable after 6-12 months, hit it with some Brett grown up in a starter and maybe some fresh wort/boiled extract.

The standard objection to this is, “but I really don’t like sours” to which my reply is…“but you might…someday (likely by the time this beer will be ready), and if you don’t, you will have degenerate friends that do”.

Why do you think its infected? Any sexy pellicle pics?

So do I just let it finish out the 5 months in the carboy or should I bottle it now and let it condition for a year?

I was hoping the high alcohol would kill off any infection but I was wrong.

I didn’t take any pictures of the infection but lacto has always been the bane of my brews and the familiar white spots started popping up so my money is on a lacto infection. I racked to get it off the yeast so I will take a picture if anything forms again in a couple days.

I am not a fan of most sours, taste like green olive juice to me, but lambics I can handle if it comes to adding some bacteria to change it up.

Thanks for the input.

[quote=“TheNerdyGnome”]So do I just let it finish out the 5 months in the carboy or should I bottle it now and let it condition for a year?
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I would not bottle it now. If this is indeed a lacto infection you could get gushers or bottle bombs. Just leave it and let the bugs do their thing.

I’ve had white spots form, but in many cases they are just nucleations of CO2 on the surface of the beer. I have heard of people saying they have a weird airborne house lacto blowing around, but I personally haven’t tasted it. Lacto typically looks creepy and scary.

Why did you rack it to get it off the yeast? If the yeast and the lacto are competing to eat the sugars and you inoculate with billions of yeast cells, in most cases, the sacc yeast will crowd out the lacto (or other bugs) before they can multiply.

If this was a BW, it will not likely have the characteristics of a lambic, which usually have pretty simple grain bills and low-ish alcohol. You will basically have a non-nondescript, high-alcohol wild ale, which you could blend with a lower alcohol beer at some point if you want to go that way.

I racked since the primary fermentation was done. I haven’t heard or read about the yeast fighting the lacto for the sugars and I try my best to do as much research as possible. Anyway, if I have known that the yeast might keep the lacto at bay I would have thought twice about when I should rack.

The area in which I ferment and store all my stuff is not ideal but I really don’t have many options so infection as been a constant for me. Typically I don’t worry that much since by the time any infection starts to show itself it is time to bottle and it never really affects the beer. I am probably jumping the gun with infection in the barley wine but the BW was a major investment so I worried when I saw what typically looked like the white spots and slight film on the top of the beer.

I had one beer that looked like your picture. That was one awful tasting beer.

Here’s a shot in the dark from someone who has never dealt with such a situation: What would happen if you pasturized the beer? Would that ruin any chance for it to mature normally? If it’s already infected would you lose anything more than if you let it mature into a sour BW?

Is it really worth the hassle? It certainly wouldn’t be for me. I’d drink it if I enjoyed it, dump it if I didn’t and try it again.

NerdyGnome,
Sorry about the BW, but since you mention lacto infections have been “the bane of your brews,” can we talk about about your equipment and sanitization process, and what about the area for your fermenter is not ideal? Let’s see about saving your next beer.

What I’ve always heard about fermenters is, once you go sour, everything you make is sour; it’s hard to get those little buggars out, espically from plastic. (not a sour/lambic brewer myself.) It may be that there’s a scratch somewhere that the infection is hiding. I’m not saying you have to go buy new fermenter(s) and carboy(s) but I have a friend who was making unintentionally sour beers, and that was what finally fixed his issue.

JMcK is right, try to find the cause of your troubles if you want to eliminate it from your brewing.

If you are getting infections with glass equipment then give them a soak with a bleach solution, rinse, wash with PBW or Oxiclean and rinse again. Sanitize as normal next brew session.

Plastic should just be replaced. The hypochlorite ion (ClO-) will break down the plastic and make it brittle.

If you happen to have problems with both, your cleaning and sanitization regime isn’t up to snuff.

Just an update if anyone is curious.

After about a week the beer is as clear as can be so I was just over analyzing the spots. No spots growing, no film forming on the top, just clear barley wine.

Like I said, had infections before and with the investment I made to make the barley wine I got jumpy but hopefully it continues to stay clear till July!

I replaced all my plastic bits, (i.e. air locks, tubing) awhile ago and that seemed to slow down the infection rate and before I made the BW I bleached and washed all my equipment and that seems to hold strong.

All my equipment is stored in our basement and it is not a bad area, very little dust and very dry, I just don’t trust an area with my equipment and beer that I cannot control the environment. But I make due.

Thanks guys!

Just an update if anyone is curious.

After about a week the beer is as clear as can be so I was just over analyzing the spots. No spots growing, no film forming on the top, just clear barley wine.

Like I said, had infections before and with the investment I made to make the barley wine I got jumpy but hopefully it continues to stay clear till July!

I replaced all my plastic bits, (i.e. air locks, tubing) awhile ago and that seemed to slow down the infection rate and before I made the BW I bleached and washed all my equipment and that seems to hold strong.

All my equipment is stored in our basement and it is not a bad area, very little dust and very dry, I just don’t trust an area with my equipment and beer that I cannot control the environment. But I make due.

Thanks guys!

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