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I brewed the Innkeeper (using the extract kit) four weeks ago. This is the third time I’ve made that kit, and I did everything I normally do, with one exception: I added Clarity Ferm (the homebrew equivalent of Brewer’s Clarex – apparently, it breaks down gluten, and I have a friend with celiac disease) to the wort right before I pitched the yeast.

Two weeks ago, when I opened the bucket to rack in to a carboy, I found this:
[img=“http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3208084/IMG_20120109_203133.jpg”]
It was a thick, gloopy layer, with the consistency of a sponge. At the time, I remember thinking that it reminded me of a blob of semi-dried latex paint.

I tasted a sample, and it seemed fine, so I chalked it up to the Clarity Ferm causing the krausen not to fall back into the beer like normal, and scooped it out with a strainer, and racked the beer. It sat in the carboy for another 2 weeks, in my 50-degree wine cellar (really just an insulated closet with an exterior wall).

Yesterday, I kegged the beer. It looked, smelled, and tasted fine. It was exactly how I remember the Innkeeper, except that it was very clear – I’m used to the Innkeeper being fairly cloudy. Again, I assumed (and still do) that the clarity was the result of the Clarity Ferm doing its thing.

But, I noticed while siphoning the beer into the keg that there was a very light, thin skin (definitely a skin, not oil) on top of the beer in the keg. No bubbles or webs or nodules or anything like that (but it went through the auto-siphon, so…) – almost entirely transparent, possibly some tiny milky yellow/white globs. I tried to take a picture of the skin, but you couldn’t really see it in the photos. I cleaned the keg (using BLC, vigorous shaking, and a few rinses, and used it to clean my beer lines) right before I put the beer in it, so I know that anything in the keg came from the carboy. I didn’t see it in the carboy, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

As I said, the beer tastes and smells fine, so my plan is to drink it. I hooked up the CO2 and purged the O2 from the keg and cranked up the pressure to carbonate.

I have four questions:
(1) What is the skin (e.g., acetobacter, etc.)?
(2) Do I have to nuke my stuff with bleach or anything, or can I clean it up with Iodophor like usual?
(3) What was that super-krausen in the photo?
(4) Do I have to drink the beer in a hurry (and if so, approximately how soon?), or will the CO2 kill off whatever’s in there?

Oops, looks like I screwed up the picture. Either I can’t edit my last post, or I’m too stupid to figure out how to do it, so here’s the picture.

I’m not expert, but that looks like yeast sitting on top, to me.

That sponge was all one solid mass, though – it had the tensile strength of a pancake. I picked it up with my hand like a jellyfish. It didn’t tear, or anything.

Well then, that’s just creepy.

That’s what I thought.

That milky brown goo looks like yeast, and my best guess about the island is that the krausen didn’t fall back in (although, I brewed a batch of another beer at the same time, and used Clarity Ferm, and didn’t get the jellyfish).

I’m not too worried about it – the beer is good, which is all I really care about – but I’m worried about the fact that as I was kegging, there was a thin transparent skin on the beer in the keg. I’m hoping the CO2 suffocates it.

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