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Questions about infection

I’ve lost more gallons of beer to infection this year than I care to name. I finally went back to square one and started over with the most basic of equipment. I kept my brew kettle (converted keg) but cleaned the heck out of it with B-Brite and then One Step. I only used a new spoon, cleaned and sanitized wort chiller, and new tubing to touch the wort before it went into a new glass carboy. One week later and the wort tastes fine (thank gods).

Since the current wort shows no signs of infection (off taste, phenolic), I assume my water supply is fine (it’s filtered) and the infection source is in my old equipment. Here are my suspects:

SWMBO made me store everything outside the house in plastic bins. It is very possible that mold or wild yeast has embedded itself in the plastic (buckets, carboys, hoses, etc.).

My fermentation chamber is also outside, and it is also possible that it is full of cooties. Note that I did not use it with this new, successful batch.

Finally, I’ve brewed a fair amount of Belgians, including a sour brown. Although the sour brown didn’t touch everything, and my recent run of infected batches do not taste like Brett, I do wonder if the consistent use of Belgian yeasts (and that one-time use of Brett/bacteria) has put a permanent taint in the plastics.

Which finally brings me to my questions:

  1. If the infection source is yeast/bacteria, is there any hope of saving the plastics I have? I won’t risk more bad beer, but that’s a lot of money to throw away. :frowning:

  2. The sour brown aside, is it a good practice to completely separate Belgian beers with funky yeasts (not necessarily with included bacteria) from other types of beer? I tend to switch between Belgian (pale ale, goldens, saison, etc.) and English pale ales so the flavor characteristics are completely different.

Thanks for any insight you can provide!

i think the the common wisdom is to use separate plastics for anything funky…i wouldn’t hesitate to replace or dedicate buckets if you suspected them or used them for your sour beers.

your brew kettle is sanitized or “pasteurized” every time that you brew; i can’t imagine that your problem would be there.

Thanks for the reply! I also remembered that I’d done a kriek in some of the plastic equipment so I think it’s safe to say that stuff is officially banished.

[quote=“darthmorgoth”]… use separate plastics for anything funky…replace or dedicate buckets if you suspected them or used them for your sour beers.[/quote]I totally agree. Once bacteria gets into plastic, intentionally or not, it’s there forever. Which is why I switched to glass a long time ago. Don’t forget dedicated bungs, spigots etc.

Otherwise,as far as English and Belgian yeasts (and brett, which is yeast) there shouldn’t be any issues with using the same equipment for both, IMO… unless your stuff smells Belgiany/bretty.

Thanks, maltdog. I made the plunge this weekend and got a new bottling bucket, tubing, filler, etc. I also started the process of inspecting and segregating the older stuff. Bottom line that anywhere I can use glass or metal, I will do so. For the plastics, I will keep them separate.

If you’re still using One Step, I think that switching to a dedicated no-rinse sanitizer would be a good idea too.

IMHO, it isn’t hard to keep plastics sanitary as long as you keep them from getting scratched. I do the occasional sour in my buckets and haven’t had any cross-contamination. When I clean them, I don’t use anything abrasive, just a kitchen sponge.

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