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Pellicle / Infection question

So after doing a little reading on sour beers this morning, I now realize that I may have thrown out my first unintentional sour beer a few weeks back as I thought it was completely infected.

After racking a Caribou Slober batch to a glass secondary it started to form a thick layer of what I considered ‘mold’ and being disappointed in my sanitation procedures I dumped the entire batch. However, after seeing pictures of a Pellicle (which is exactly what I had) and learning about introducing wild yeast, I think my infection came from the top of the carboy that had a remnant of wine crust/yeast/grape. It was only a small spec and I knew it was there but thought I had sanitized it clean.

Anyway, my first question is: How do you know if the beer is still safe to drink and you’re not introducing something deadly into your brew?

Secondly: Since a lot of sour recipes introduce cherries etc. could I save the grape skins from a batch of Merlot or Cab and use that to taint a sour recipe? If so, how would I keep them good for so long? I’d think they would look like a science experiment by the time I needed them.

Thanks in advance.

With regards to your first question, it is my understanding that nothing which is truly dangerous to human health can grow in beer or wine. That is why for hundreds of years people in Europe drank beer or wine instead of water - it was safer. And I don’t think that the sanitation then was anywhere near what is practiced by homebrewers these days.

Of course, safe doesn’t always mean palatable. There are plenty of infection microbes that will turn your beer disgusting, even if they won’t make you sick. Let the fruit flies get to your beer while it’s fermenting and you’ll discover that.

As for saving the pressed skins from a batch of wine, you’ll have to try it to see. I would think that the cultured yeast would be the only significant microbes to be present, unless there are some malolactic bacteria as well. But the bugs that most sour beer enthusiasts add are very unlikely to be present. They’ll have been knocked down by the initial sulfite treatment, and then outcompeted by the pitched yeast so they would be in pretty poor shape if there at all.

This section on troubleshooting from John Palmer’s How to Brew should answer any questions. As I understand it, it’s pretty much impossible for anything that can harm you to grow in beer.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-1.html

Remember you can’t sanitize dirt. If you have visible debris you need to get it clean before sanitizing.

[quote=“sampothepancake”]This section on troubleshooting from John Palmer’s How to Brew should answer any questions. As I understand it, it’s pretty much impossible for anything that can harm you to grow in beer.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-1.html[/quote]

This is true but just to clarify, it needs to be properly fermented. It’s the combination of alcohol and low ph that creates an environment where pathogens cannot live. If fermentation fails for any reason, (forgot to pitch yeast, pitched dead yeast, pitched too warm and killed the yeast, etc.) you could have harmful things living in there.

Not trying to create fear and the odds of it happening are very low, but something to keep in mind.

All pellicles are not created equal… Doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a nice ‘sour’ beer. The only pellicle I’ve had came along with acetobacter so the beer tasted and was highly fragrant of vinegar. After I dumped it out I thought I shoulda saved some for me fish n’ chips… :cheers:

[quote=“Belpaire”][quote=“sampothepancake”]This section on troubleshooting from John Palmer’s How to Brew should answer any questions. As I understand it, it’s pretty much impossible for anything that can harm you to grow in beer.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-1.html[/quote]

This is true but just to clarify, it needs to be properly fermented. It’s the combination of alcohol and low ph that creates an environment where pathogens cannot live. If fermentation fails for any reason, (forgot to pitch yeast, pitched dead yeast, pitched too warm and killed the yeast, etc.) you could have harmful things living in there.

Not trying to create fear and the odds of it happening are very low, but something to keep in mind.[/quote]
Yes, should have clarified. Since this happened in secondary this batch shouldn’t have been dangerous.

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