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Mistake on First Brew Day

Hello, my first brew day went great, or so I thought. A few days later I realized I was not sanitizing the thermometer as I was cooling the wort. I took the temerature, set the thermometer on the counter top, and repeated that cycle until I had the temperature that I needed.

My question is this: at what point will I know if the batch is going bad? Is there an off odor or anything that will tip me off? Or do I just cross my fingers, wait two months, crack open a bottle, and do the taste test?

Thanks! BTW, this forum is awesome.

I think your chance for infection is minimal. I assume you sanitized the thermometer before use, so unless your counter is covered in bacteria or wild yeast…you should be fine.


Welcome to the hobby… use this forum as it will provide great tips and support.

You’re probably fine unless you licked the thermometer or something :slight_smile: Anyway, as long as the yeast is healthy it will out-compete the bacteria and the beer will be fine, and when they’re done the alcohol will keep anything else from growing.

And for the second part of your question, you’d see a bacterial infection in the fermenter after a couple weeks. Do a Google image search for “beer infection” and you’ll see what they look like, it’s a lot different than anything you’d see during normal fermentation. Also, an infected fermentation wouldn’t follow the same “no bubbles + fast bubbles + gradual bubble decline” that a regular fermentation will show in the airlock, since the bacteria ferment for longer and go more slowly than yeast.

How did you use the thermometer? If you first put it in when the water was boiling, then it was sanitized right then by the boiling wort. Afterwards, as mentioned above, if the surface you put it down on in between was very dirty, then there’s a chance of infection.

I agree though that it is probably a minimal chance. For future reference, lay out some sheets of foil and spray a little sanitizer on them and you can put your stuff on it when not using. I usually do that. If it’s going to be a while before I use (like an airlock or funnel), I just leave it in the bucket with sanitizing solution.

I usually keep a two cup measuring cup filled with Starsan next to the stove on brew day and put the thermometer in there in between uses as well as a pair of scissors. I also rinse the stirring spoon and put that in the cup in between uses.

Thanks for for the tips. I did use the thermometer during the boil, so yes, it was sanitized at that point. It was during the ice bath faze that I placed it on the counter. I am 1.5 weeks in now. It looks like a “healthy” fermentation as far as I can tell, so I think I am going to be okay.

Thanks again!

my wife does joke with me about why is it I can’t take 10 seconds and pick my socks or shoes up anywhere in the house but I can take plenty of time to spray down about anything that isn’t moving withing a 2 room radius with star san like I am in an OR about to preform brain surgery or something.

I do the same as a few others - one strip of foil then I try to spray and set everything on that.

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