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Odd fermentation formations

So I peeked into my primary fermenter today to see a ton of small tangible strings dangling from the surface of the fermenting beer. Fearing the worst, I decided to go ahead and do a gravity check, and taste/smell the beer. The beer tasted/smelled fantastic. Everything seems normal. So I am assuming that these strings are the yeast cells sticking to one another or something while going dorment. The yeast strains I am using are WLP099, and US-05 to help finish out the high gravity stout because I under pitched (1.125).

My question is if you guys have ever seen anything similar? I know it is probably nothing to really worry about, but I am really curious to what the hell these string formations are. I’ll try and take some good pictures when I have time later.

What are you brewing? It could be protein. Either way, I wouldn’t worry about it.

That sounds pretty spot on mrv. I just remembered I saw string like things in my boiling wort, and I tasted them and they seemed to dissolve on my tongue. This is my first all-grain batch, so may explain why the wort and fermentation seem so different than what I am used to seeing.

Also, I am brewing Brew Pastor’s Dark Night of the Soul russian imperial stout.

When I brewed my first AG hefe, it looked like someone blew their nose in the carboy. Pretty nasty, but it settled out fine.

A stringy/ropy film on the surface is a textbook sign of Pediococcus contamination. So that might be something to watch out for.

Does it look anything like this?

So I am getting a little more concerned because these stringy things are getting bigger. There is no film on the surface of the fermenting beer, nor anything spider web-like. They seem to be primarily around the rim of the surface. I’ll take another sample in a week to see if it is starting to effect the quality. Also, pictures of it are below:

That looks alot like strings of protein to me. What do you think, Sean?

I don’t generally ferment in glass, so I don’t feel qualified to give an opinion. It isn’t anything that screams “contamination”, that’s for sure. I’d still give it a little extra time just to make sure something unpleasant doesn’t develop.

Thank you all for your input, I’ll be sure to bring an update on it’s progress in two weeks.

i had a very similar looking formation on a Belgian pale ale recently. I am pretty sure it was an infection. I think it rode in on some raw honey i used. Good thing is, the beer still taste great after 2 months in the bottle but there is a ring/pellicle try to form and I am not going to let it sit around much longer.

Just as an interesting update for those interested:

After 3 and a half weeks, it still is bubbling every 5 seconds or so in my primary. Another weird thing I noticed today is that half of the yeast cake at the bottom of the fermenter have been re-suspended into the beer (I haven’t touched the carboy to swirl). When taking a look at the surface there is zero krausen present, and the surface almost looks like a freshly opened can of coke (bunch of bubbles rising and breaking at the surface). It has been in this “coke-like” state for a while now. The “string” formations have now begun to slowly fade and disappear. Everything seems to being going well actually, considering how this has been the weirdest/longest fermentation I have ever seen.

It’s like these yeast are on steroids or something. At the rate it is going, I feel like they may be fermenting my beer until at least 3 more weeks or so…

Any harm in leaving the beer on the yeast cake for a month and a half until this thing finally finishes? Or should I go ahead and secondary rack it before autolysis rears it’s ugly head?

6 weeks has never been a problem for me as far as autolysis. You could always just skip the secondary/bright on this one if it’s going to be in the fermenter a long time.

[quote=“Male-ale”]Any harm in leaving the beer on the yeast cake for a month and a half until this thing finally finishes? Or should I go ahead and secondary rack it before autolysis rears it’s ugly head?[/quote]At only three weeks, you aren’t running a risk of autolysis and could leave it for another month or more. What’s the gravity now? How does it smell?

Thanks guys, puts my mind at ease knowing that autolysis won’t start taking affect until a month more.

@Shadetree, The gravity reading a week and a half ago was 1.070. It also tasted and smelled fantastic, although obviously sweet. I’ll be sure to take another reading tonight or tomorrow and post an update.

So I just measured the SG, and it’s at 1.052. It smells and tastes fantastic, so I think I am clear of an infection as of right now (whew…). The air lock is still bubbling away, and I can see the yeasties are still slowly swimming, so I think all I can do now is just let the beer ferment out completely for another three weeks or so in the primary. Beer is at 10 percent alcohol as of right now, and boy can you smell/taste it.

If this beer turns out to be good, it’s going to be a really good lesson for me: 1) To not freak out if I see those same weird string looking things in my fermenter again, or 2) if I don’t have krausen present.

How much yeast did you pitch? That’s an awfully slow fermentation.

I pitched a 2 liter starter of WLP009 and double stepped it with a stir plate. The mistake I made was when I decanted the beer on top of the yeast I think. Should have waited another day or so in the fridge before decanting. When I did, There was not much cake left on the bottom of the flask.

After pitching, the next two days consisted of watching a krausen reach no higher than an inch above the beer, when the krausen should be taking up as much room as the fermenting beer itself. Knowing I under pitched, I ran out and snagged 2 packets of US-05, rehydrated the yeast, and pitched while the krausen was beginning to descend (around 3/4 of an inch).

Learning my lesson, next time I am going to do a two step starter. 1st step in 1700 mL, then 2nd step in around 3 gallons of starter wort. Or… do what most people do and brew a 1.040 OG beer with US-05, then pitch the 1.125 RIS on top.

Sorry to revive an old thread, but I figured this may help ease concern for anyone who runs into my problem in the future.

As an update, the beer is coming out fantastic. Actually it is unbelievable, and hopefully with more age it gets even better.

So, I guess those scary/weird looking string formations were just proteins in the end.

Cheers!

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