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Weird White Film

My Caribou Slobber. Followed the kit directions to a T but added 1 cup light brown sugar with 15 minutes left in the boil. Fermentation was vigorous for 24 hours but bubble activity about stopped after that (I know that isn’t a great indicator, just describing what happened). Fermometer stuck to the primary was 68F throughout. When I transferred to secondary 7/28 after about 16 days in primary, SG was at 1.020 and had a slight but noticeable white film on the top of the liquid. I just checked the secondary bucket and it smells a little sour/funky and has a very noticeable white film (see pic below). When I tried the sample from checking the gravity when transferring, it wasn’t too bad but not that great either. The 2ndary is a 6 gallon bucket. Should I be worried? Should I bottle it ASAP? I haven’t checked the gravity but I doubt it has changed.

Infection. Sorry but I don’t want to tell you that it MIGHT be okay. That looks very problematic to me and I would point the finger at cleaning and/or sanitizing practices. Some might try to rack that beer from under the film and package it and drink it before it got Uber-funky but personally… it doesn’t look good.

I agree with Ken. That batch is lost.

Dump it, as it’s unlikely to improve further and will very likely deteriorate further.

I might also suggest parting with the fermenter bucket/lid/airlock and replace them with fresh equipment.

One question: could you detail your cleaning/sanitizing method? This might shed some light on how the infection might’ve occurred.

Bklmt2000

Thanks Ken. I was hoping for RDWHAHB, but was afraid something was amiss. Thank you for your honest assessment.

This was only the second batch with this fermenter bucket/lid/airlock (I’m new to 5 gal brewing) so I hesitate parting with them. No abrasive was used in cleaning them after the first batch but they were thoroughly cleaned. Everything that came in contact with the wort post-boil was sanitized with star-san. I chilled the wort in a clothes basket sized container with ice water.

I also use this container as a swamp cooler (thin towel wrapped around the bucket with H2O in it and under a ceiling fan). The only time I think an infection could have been introduced is during the post boil chilling. While chilling, I swirled the cold water in one direction and the wort in the opposite direction on my kitchen floor. I have a dog (not trying to blame him, lol but you never know :/). Maybe some airborne troublemaker made it’s way into the mix.

As I’m somewhat new to this, I’m not sure I’ve given enough detail. I’d be happy to describe my methods further if I’ve not been clear. Just let me know.

I washed and reused some of the yeast from this batch for a Nut Brown and it appears to be fine so far. Any help/advice is appreciated as I don’t like to waste a $35 batch or any amount of beer :frowning:

Wow. Well done! As many “is my batch infected” photos as I’ve seen, this is the first one that made me think, “yeah, that’s weird.”

Shitty!

[quote=“Mabus”]Thanks Ken. I was hoping for RDWHAHB, but was afraid something was amiss. Thank you for your honest assessment.

This was only the second batch with this fermenter bucket/lid/airlock (I’m new to 5 gal brewing) so I hesitate parting with them. No abrasive was used in cleaning them after the first batch but they were thoroughly cleaned. Everything that came in contact with the wort post-boil was sanitized with star-san. I chilled the wort in a clothes basket sized container with ice water.

I also use this container as a swamp cooler (thin towel wrapped around the bucket with H2O in it and under a ceiling fan). The only time I think an infection could have been introduced is during the post boil chilling. While chilling, I swirled the cold water in one direction and the wort in the opposite direction on my kitchen floor. I have a dog (not trying to blame him, lol but you never know :/). Maybe some airborne troublemaker made it’s way into the mix.

As I’m somewhat new to this, I’m not sure I’ve given enough detail. I’d be happy to describe my methods further if I’ve not been clear. Just let me know.

I washed and reused some of the yeast from this batch for a Nut Brown and it appears to be fine so far. Any help/advice is appreciated as I don’t like to waste a $35 batch or any amount of beer :frowning: [/quote]
This happens to everyone no matter how long you’ve been doing it and I always scratch my head trying to figure it out. Others have mentioned to me that you should not handle grain in the same place you ferment (barley contains some amount of… what, lactic acid? I forget), so don’t crush or measure grains where beers are fermenting, don’t leave your mill where you chill because your 65° wort would be vulnerable, etc. Bottom line is that bacteria is everywhere and cleaning/sanitizing is all we can do to neutralize it. Starsan is the boss so that’s a good thing. I also like LD Carlson Easy Clean for cleaning things. The label says to wear safety goggles, a dust mask and impervious gloves when handling it! That’s some serious bidness. Sorry about the batch. Best way to forget it is to get after a new batch as quickly as possible. Cheers.

Might be the makings of an Oud Bruin… That is a damn fine pellicle.

Do you have a spigot on your kettle? How are you transferring it from kettle to fermentation bucket?

Your bucket and your yeast are toast. Once you get that stuff in contact with plastic, you can never ever kill it no matter what chemicals you use. Odds are roughly 50/50 that each future batch using that equipment will become contaminated. You might get lucky with a batch or two, but eventually, it will come back to bite you.

I agree with Ken that this is often caused by milling or playing with dry grains near your fermentation bucket. In a lot of cases, grain dust gets in there and causes this. In some cases, fruit flies or general airborne yeast and bacteria find their way in there. But usually, it has to do with grain dust.

Sorry for your loss. Replace bucket and try again. Or switch to all glass fermenters and never ever have this problem again.

I ferment in plastic exclusively and I agree that if it were me, I might retire that bucket for gardening assignment or other non-brewing task. But I’m not sure I agree that the bucket will never be useful for brewing. I’m not sure that I have ever had an infection that was so clearly offensive, but I have had infections and eventually used that same primary with great results. You don’t know that the infection came from something in the bucket or something in the air so it’s possible that a good hot soak with cleanser and another good soak with Starsan might be okay but that said… $6 for a new bucket goes a long way towards sanity and confidence in your equipment.

+1 - I ferment in buckets. That one would be banished to garden work if it were mine.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]Once you get that stuff in contact with plastic, you can never ever kill it no matter what chemicals you use.
[/quote]

Cmon. Are you speaking from experience? I don’t know what microbes CAN live when submersed in sodium percarbonate for 24 hours, then rinsed with (and/or submersed in) diluted phosphoric acid.

I am not saying its worth the risk, but I know several sour brewers who use equipment, aside from hoses/plastic tubing, for wild beers and sacc beers. Not trying to be nitpicky, but I think people have blown this thing way out of proportion. There is lacto on EVERYTHING. That’s why we cover surfaces in sanitizer. A few bucks for a new bucket is a small price to pay for peace of mind though. I do agree with Dave though, that you need to pour that yeast (and likely pedio, and likely lacto) down the drain. Then sanitize the drain :mrgreen:

To the OP, I would NOT dump this batch. That is likely a lactobacillus pellicle, my one and only ‘infected’ batch had this, and I just let it roll. After a year, it was awesome. Given the amount of dextrins in an American Brown like CS, that will likely make a awesome Oude Bruin. Don’t tell me you don’t like sours, because you will. Or you will have a friend that will want the batch. I know Jamil would disagree with me here, but you can likely get a nice sour ale from this…in about a year.

This, like all wild beers, will go through an undrinkable stage, from anywhere from the 3rd month continuing through the 9-10th month. Other intermediate bugs will take hold (such as enterobacter…which smells something like a used diaper filled with indian food and vomit). Wild brewing is about letting the bugs do their thing once they have taken hold. You may consider grabbing a few vials of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis to pitch around month 3, as the brett yeast will eat everything, including the organisms causing your ‘infection’.

Don’t dump it. Put it in the corner of the basement, write the date on a piece of tape, and forget about it until 2014 (then you will need to buy a new pail!). Absolute worst-case, you will have something you can brine poultry in.

[quote=“Pietro”][quote=“dmtaylo2”]Once you get that stuff in contact with plastic, you can never ever kill it no matter what chemicals you use.
[/quote]

Cmon. Are you speaking from experience? I don’t know what microbes CAN live when submersed in sodium percarbonate for 24 hours, then rinsed with (and/or submersed in) diluted phosphoric acid.

I am not saying its worth the risk, but I know several sour brewers who use equipment, aside from hoses/plastic tubing, for wild beers and sacc beers. Not trying to be nitpicky, but I think people have blown this thing way out of proportion. There is lacto on EVERYTHING. That’s why we cover surfaces in sanitizer. A few bucks for a new bucket is a small price to pay for peace of mind though. I do agree with Dave though, that you need to pour that yeast (and likely pedio, and likely lacto) down the drain. Then sanitize the drain :mrgreen:

To the OP, I would NOT dump this batch. That is likely a lactobacillus pellicle, my one and only ‘infected’ batch had this, and I just let it roll. After a year, it was awesome. Given the amount of dextrins in an American Brown like CS, that will likely make a awesome Oude Bruin. Don’t tell me you don’t like sours, because you will. Or you will have a friend that will want the batch. I know Jamil would disagree with me here, but you can likely get a nice sour ale from this…in about a year.

This, like all wild beers, will go through an undrinkable stage, from anywhere from the 3rd month continuing through the 9-10th month. Other intermediate bugs will take hold (such as enterobacter…which smells something like a used diaper filled with indian food and vomit). Wild brewing is about letting the bugs do their thing once they have taken hold. You may consider grabbing a few vials of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis to pitch around month 3, as the brett yeast will eat everything, including the organisms causing your ‘infection’.

Don’t dump it. Put it in the corner of the basement, write the date on a piece of tape, and forget about it until 2014 (then you will need to buy a new pail!). Absolute worst-case, you will have something you can brine poultry in.[/quote]
I just threw up a little bit. :wink:

[quote=“Ken Lenard”]
I just threw up a little bit. :wink: [/quote]

oh stop being dramatic. Don’t take it out on us that you only like flavorless lagers :lol:

[quote=“Pietro”][quote=“Ken Lenard”]
I just threw up a little bit. :wink: [/quote]

oh stop being dramatic. Don’t take it out on us that you only like flavorless lagers :lol: [/quote]
Stop talking like that! My beers might hear you! And my beers are NOT flavorless! They’re BEER-flavored! :lol:

:cheers:

Ken, Pietro, and all, I fermented in nothing but buckets for 13 whole years. And I myself was a huge proponent that buckets were the best, blah blah blah…

Until I figured out that it was the one thing causing my beers to be mediocre instead of awesome.

Sure, when you’ve got a brand new bucket with no scratches, it will typically make great beer… for a while. Then suddenly, if you have a trained palate to recognize such things, you’ll realize that all your beers start tasting kind of the same… they all have some strange off-flavor that just should not be there. Either that, or they’ll suddenly get obviously contaminated with a pellicle and all. And no… no combination of cleaners will ever sanitize it all out of there. Plastic is porous and has microscopic scratches (i.e., cannot be seen with the naked eye). Critters will live in there no matter what chemicals you put in there. I swear it from experience. I’ve tried, many many times, to sanitize buckets that looked good. To no avail.

So I replaced my buckets periodically… again and again I replaced them. And the problem just kept coming back.

So, finally, 13 years later, I have decided that buckets suck, and glass rules. It’s not because I haven’t tried. It’s from experience. I’ve switched over to glass, and I will never EVER go back. Period. And I’m convinced, my recent beers have been much better for it.

:slight_smile:

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]Ken, Pietro, and all, I fermented in nothing but buckets for 13 whole years. And I myself was a huge proponent that buckets were the best, blah blah blah…

Until I figured out that it was the one thing causing my beers to be mediocre instead of awesome.

Sure, when you’ve got a brand new bucket with no scratches, it will typically make great beer… for a while. Then suddenly, if you have a trained palate to recognize such things, you’ll realize that all your beers start tasting kind of the same… they all have some strange off-flavor that just should not be there. Either that, or they’ll suddenly get obviously contaminated with a pellicle and all. And no… no combination of cleaners will ever sanitize it all out of there. Plastic is porous and has microscopic scratches (i.e., cannot be seen with the naked eye). Critters will live in there no matter what chemicals you put in there. I swear it from experience. I’ve tried, many many times, to sanitize buckets that looked good. To no avail.

So I replaced my buckets periodically… again and again I replaced them. And the problem just kept coming back.

So, finally, 13 years later, I have decided that buckets suck, and glass rules. It’s not because I haven’t tried. It’s from experience. I’ve switched over to glass, and I will never EVER go back. Period. And I’m convinced, my recent beers have been much better for it.

:slight_smile: [/quote]
I only use plastic and have never had that issue. I have broken a couple of 6.5 gallon and 5 gallon glass carboys and don’t really feel comfortable handling wet, slick, heavy glass containers anymore. I guess I’m relatively careful with my plastic buckets but honestly, I just clean and sanitize them and they just keep doing their job without issue. But I’ll say again… if I had the OP’s bug in one of my primary fermenters, I would probably find another use for it.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]Ken, Pietro, and all, I fermented in nothing but buckets for 13 whole years. And I myself was a huge proponent that buckets were the best, blah blah blah…

Until I figured out that it was the one thing causing my beers to be mediocre instead of awesome.

Sure, when you’ve got a brand new bucket with no scratches, it will typically make great beer… for a while. Then suddenly, if you have a trained palate to recognize such things, you’ll realize that all your beers start tasting kind of the same… they all have some strange off-flavor that just should not be there. Either that, or they’ll suddenly get obviously contaminated with a pellicle and all. And no… no combination of cleaners will ever sanitize it all out of there. Plastic is porous and has microscopic scratches (i.e., cannot be seen with the naked eye). Critters will live in there no matter what chemicals you put in there. I swear it from experience. I’ve tried, many many times, to sanitize buckets that looked good. To no avail.

So I replaced my buckets periodically… again and again I replaced them. And the problem just kept coming back.

So, finally, 13 years later, I have decided that buckets suck, and glass rules. It’s not because I haven’t tried. It’s from experience. I’ve switched over to glass, and I will never EVER go back. Period. And I’m convinced, my recent beers have been much better for it.

:slight_smile: [/quote]

thats your process not plastic buckets

Epic.

[quote=“moose”][quote=“Pietro”]

…which smells something like a used diaper filled with indian food and vomit

[/quote]

Epic.[/quote]
There’s a great beer name in there somewhere.

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