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Worst Lacto Infection ever, help!

So, made a Rye IPA, done it several times. About half of them end up with a sour vomit smell (and literally nauseating to clean the conical) at the end of primary fermentation. I can make a batch, have it infected, clean the conical, make another batch, put it in the same conical, and have it turn out fine.

Made a lot of other batches of lots of other beers using the same process and never had an issue with anything else. Ever, so let’s throw sanitation out the window, they are fine. This is a process and pH issue from what I can tell.

Our water pH is 7.5, and we did mill in the same room.

So, is the water pH, mixed with a 20% Rye Malt grain bill enough to cause a lacto infection? Or is it milling the grain/rye malt in the same room the problem? Or is it something else? Is a 60 minute boil at 202 (I live at 6,000 feet) enough to kill lacto bacteria?

Remember, sanitation is not the issue, and no other I’ve made have ever beer has been infected, including doing forced wort tests on a stir plate for multiple days after having batches get infected.

To help, here is the recipe (20G)

28 lb 2-Row
8.5 lb Rye Malt
2.5 C-120L
1.75 Carapils
1.75 White Wheat Malt
2 oz. Columbus First Wort/60 min
2 oz. Columbus 60 min.
3.75 oz. Mt. Hood 30 Min.
3.75 oz. Mt. Hood 15 min.
3.25 oz. Columbus 3 min.
9 viles WLP001 California Ale
4 oz. Mt. Hood Dry Hop

Nutrients:
1g servomyces
6 tbs. Irish Moss
1/4 viles Wyeast Beer Nutrient
O2, 2lmp/2min.

Is your conical made of plastic? If so, it might be time to throw it away. Sorry. Lacto lives in plastic forever and ever and ever, no matter how hard you try to sanitize it, it will always be there. If your conical is made of metal, check all fittings and connections on it, and replace anything of plastic or rubber.

It is a Stainless Steel conical, already replaced fittings, and washed everything in a commercial sterilizing dishwasher.

This process, pH, grain dust… Interaction of Rye malt on pH of bacteria in rye dust…

As a biochemist, I’d have to say that you are systematically infecting your wort/beer with something plastic that is harboring the lactobacillus that’s infecting your beer. Pasteurization occurs when you heat a liquid to at least 145F for at least 30 min, so your boil is killing anything that’s already in your wort. Therefore, the infection is occurring somewhere between the boil kettle and your fermenter. I’d suggest getting all new plastic for anything that’s touching the wort once the boil is over. You’d be surprised how hard it is to kill those little buggers. Or you could throw your entire setup in an autoclave…

Good luck.

[quote=“Guskoff”]As a biochemist, I’d have to say that you are systematically infecting your wort/beer with something plastic that is harboring the lactobacillus that’s infecting your beer. Pasteurization occurs when you heat a liquid to at least 145F for at least 30 min, so your boil is killing anything that’s already in your wort. Therefore, the infection is occurring somewhere between the boil kettle and your fermenter. I’d suggest getting all new plastic for anything that’s touching the wort once the boil is over. You’d be surprised how hard it is to kill those little buggers. Or you could throw your entire setup in an autoclave…

Good luck.[/quote]

So why is this only happening to one beer? And everything, hoses counterflow chiller and pump, that the finished wort touches has been boiled at 202 for at least 10 minutes and is used on all batches.

If you’re milling in the same room, you’re risking a lacto infection from the grain dust. I’d bet that the rye has just a coincidental association with the infection - maybe you opened the fermenter while there was some grain dust in the air.

Ok, that is a possibility. Never thought about the grain dust landing in the conical after cleaning before I put the lid on it!

So, here is what we are doing now to limit this, let me know if you would add anything… Still early on, so not sure if this will be best yet.

  1. Mill anything with rye (and measure rye) outside due to how much grain dust there is with rye malt
  2. add 2 oz. milled roasted barley to batch
  3. add 2 oz. 5/2 stabilizer from FiveStar to the mash tun before mashing in grain
  4. Use a vent fan when mashing in to suck out any grain dust from mashing in

Thoughts?

  1. All grain that isn’t exposed to high heat during processing has lacto on it and since the grain is kept close to other grain in packaging and storage, I would treat everything you mill as a potential contaminant.

  2. Roasted barley isn’t going to do anything to combat lacto.

  3. 5.2 is a waste of money and it won’t fight lacto.

  4. Anything you can do to minimize the dust in the fermentation area would be worthwhile. You could also condition the grain with a little water to cut dust. Really, the best solution is to move the mill - every time you open the fermenter when there’s beer in it (or between sanitizing and filling) you’re running the risk of dust getting in there.

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