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First Infection Suspected

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wbosher

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Well, it's finally happened, happens to everyone at some stage I guess. To be honest I'm not surprised, this was a less than perfect brew from start to finish.

I went into the garage on Saturday and noticed that the top of the box with half my bottles in it was open (I think my son may have been exploring), and the sun was streaming down onto my bottles. Hoping that the brown PET bottles may offer some protection, I put them all in the fridge. They've been in the bottles for two weeks and fully carbed.

Cracked one open yesterday, and there was an unusual amount of fizz (not a gusher though), and I detected an unpleasant odour. I've mentioned on this forum a few times that I have a very poor sense of smell, the odour has to be really strong for me to even notice it.

I decanted the beer into another PET bottle and there was more foam than beer, which also struck me as unusual. I usually get a little foam, maybe 5 - 10mm or so, but this was ridiculous.

I got my wife to have a smell and she screwed her face up and promptly backed away...NOT a good sign! I summoned up the courage to have a taste and my reaction was very similar. It was most foul tasting shit I have ever tasted.

On top of the possibility (or probability) that it was skunked, there also most likely an infection. On brew day for reasons I can't remember, I put it into the fermenter while still warm, about 40 degrees, and had to wait a couple of hours for it to cool down. Ended up pitching at about 30 but brought it down to 24 in about 30 minutes in an ice bath. To do this I had to give it a stir and I can't remember if I sanitised the spoon, but I'm sure I would have as Im pretty anal when it comes to sanitising things...always got a spray bottle of starsan on hand.

Anyway, infection and/or skunked I think this lot is destined for the sink. :(

Ill give it another week in the fridge and try another one in the hope that its just this bottle, or at least just the 15 or so bottles exposed to the sunbut I doubt it.
 

bum

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You're gonna need to describe the problem a bit more clearly than it making your wife screw her face up (mine still does this for every brew) if you're after some help/info. Sounds very much like hot ferment is going to be an issue over infection.

And pouring a from one bottle to another is always going to get a carbed beer to foam up - this indicates pretty much nothing. What were you hoping to acchieve here?
 

wbosher

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What were you hoping to achieve here?
Not really sure bum, just venting a little I guess.

As you said there is always a little foam but this was extremely excessive. Normally I'll get a few mm but this was almost a whole bottle! I can absolutely guarantee that this is not normal.

I dropped the temp pretty quick (about 30 mins) once the yeast was pitched and stayed at a steady 18-22 from then on, so doubt that that was the issue. I've heard people doing much worse that that and still getting an ok beer out of it. This was truly disgusting. I suspect it was probably the couple of hours prior to pitching the yeast, and stirring it up with a possibly unsanitised spoon, or sun strike.

I tried to ask my wife what she was smelling, to get a little more detail to give you guys, but she wasn't keen to stick her nose anywhere near it again. :lol: I can't identify what I'm smelling/tasting other to say that it wasn't pleasant.

Not sure if the issue is due to skunking, or infection. I've never experience either before.

Could skunking cause the excessive foam? If so, this may be all that is wrong and no infection at all. Half of the bottles we're in the sun for probably two or three days. I'll test one of the ones that weren't soon.
 

mikec

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I'd be trying a few more bottles before jumping to any conclusions.
Could be that bottle is infected only.
 

wbosher

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I'd be trying a few more bottles before jumping to any conclusions.
Could be that bottle is infected only.
That's true, but I think half of them will probably be stuffed anyway even if no infection is present. Three days in the sun can't be good for beer...whether they're in brown bottles or not.
 

bum

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What I was getting at with the last question was "what were you trying to achieve by pouring from one bottle into another?" I just don't see either the motivation for doing it in the first place nor the reason that assuming the foam that this inevitably creates indicates infection.

Brown bottles might skunk with three full days in the sun. The heat of that alone would certainly damage the beer but not so you'd think it was infected. It would mostly be noticed with the beer staling faster. Either way, get even sealed boxes out of direct sunlight - would you buy beer right off a pallet sitting in the carpark at the shops?

Even with the temp being dropped so quickly after pitching, 24C is high enough temp to push some rough alcohols - especially if you're measuring temp with a stick-on thermometer. Odds are you could pretty easily be punching a degree or two higher than this.

Possibly skunked, possibly poorly managed fermentation, possibly both. You're not really giving much reason to think infection. Have a crack at one of the ones that wasn't possibly lightstruck.
 

wbosher

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What I was getting at with the last question was "what were you trying to achieve by pouring from one bottle into another?" I just don't see either the motivation for doing it in the first place nor the reason that assuming the foam that this inevitably creates indicates infection.

Brown bottles might skunk with three full days in the sun. The heat of that alone would certainly damage the beer but not so you'd think it was infected. It would mostly be noticed with the beer staling faster. Either way, get even sealed boxes out of direct sunlight - would you buy beer right off a pallet sitting in the carpark at the shops?

Even with the temp being dropped so quickly after pitching, 24C is high enough temp to push some rough alcohols - especially if you're measuring temp with a stick-on thermometer. Odds are you could pretty easily be punching a degree or two higher than this.

Possibly skunked, possibly poorly managed fermentation, possibly both. You're not really giving much reason to think infection. Have a crack at one of the ones that wasn't possibly lightstruck.
When I want to have a beer, I decant into another PET bottle to leave the crap behind, and pop in the fridge. Some decant into a jug, I do it into a clean PET bottle, so that I can reseal it again. It never stays in the fridge longer than an hour. ;) As I said, I do normally get a little foam when poured but not half a bottle.

I would expect some rough alcohols, and have experienced this from some of my earlier brews. This tastes nothing like that...not just unpleasant but truley disgusting.

Yep, I'll try one tonight that wasn't in the sun.
 

Mike L'Itorus

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to see what skunking actually tastes like, get some beer from a different batch (ie not skunked/infected/etc), if available, or some commercial beer, and pour into a clear pet bottle eg water bottle. Leave out in full sun for an hour, chill, sample and enjoy. :icon_vomit:

Reason? If it tastes the same, and if it smells the same....well, there's your problem. If not, you can move on to other consederations.
 

Blitzer

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Do you think an hour in the sun will do it? Give it a couple of days :)

After living in Canada for 10 years, I hope it doesn't smell like actually skunk cause that shit is nasty.
 

wbosher

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Luckily we don't have skunks here in NZ. :D
 

squirt in the turns

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[quote name='Mike L'Itorus' post='987046' date='Jan 7 2013, 09:25 AM']to see what skunking actually tastes like, get some beer from a different batch (ie not skunked/infected/etc), if available, or some commercial beer, and pour into a clear pet bottle eg water bottle. Leave out in full sun for an hour, chill, sample and enjoy. :icon_vomit:[/quote]

Or Heineken. Comes pre-skunked for your convenience.
 

wbosher

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Or Heineken. Comes pre-skunked for your convenience.

If Heineken is an example of skunking, then that is probably not the issue. Although not my drink of choice, it's drinkable...just. The foul liquid that I produced is not.
 

Mike L'Itorus

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Do you think an hour in the sun will do it? Give it a couple of days :)

After living in Canada for 10 years, I hope it doesn't smell like actually skunk cause that shit is nasty.
In a clear bottle, an hour in summer sun will be more than enough....

One of the first things I did when starting to brew was to deliberately skunk. 1 clear, 1 green, 1 brown. 20 min in sunlight (fairly mild day, iirc.). Brown, no change. Green, obvious, but not feral. Clear, almost made me puke from the smell alone.

my 2c fwiw, it probably is an infection. Why not degass a bad one, and check the grav, see if it's dropped significantly from your FG in the fermenter....just a thought.
 

Nick JD

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If it doesn't taste good, throw it out!
 

Mike L'Itorus

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If it doesn't taste good, throw it out!
Agree. However, it would be worthwhile hanging on to it (or at least some of it) for the time being, to try and isolate what the problem actually is, if, for no other reason, than to try and prevent a recurrence of the problem.
 

carniebrew

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I'm curious though, if having your box opened exposed your beer to the sun, doesn't that mean the sun would have been shining directly on your box of beer even if it was closed? Not sure what temps you're getting over there this time of year, but it sounds like a less than optimal place to be storing your brew, even with the box closed and in brown bottles. Can't you find somewhere to store them that's out of the sun, and preferably in the low 20's at worst? Like in a cupboard inside the house perhaps? Especially being plastic bottles, their exposure to summer heat can't be helping, surely.
 

wbosher

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[quote name='Mike L'Itorus' post='987076' date='Jan 7 2013, 01:48 PM']Agree. However, it would be worthwhile hanging on to it (or at least some of it) for the time being, to try and isolate what the problem actually is, if, for no other reason, than to try and prevent a recurrence of the problem.[/quote]

I'm planning on holding on to the ones that weren't in direct sunlight to see if they turn out ok. They've only been in the bottles for two weeks so probably not that great yet anyway. The ones that taste like my last sample will definitely be going down the drain...will probably create some super mutant beast in the sewers though...
 

wbosher

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I'm curious though, if having your box opened exposed your beer to the sun, doesn't that mean the sun would have been shining directly on your box of beer even if it was closed? Not sure what temps you're getting over there this time of year, but it sounds like a less than optimal place to be storing your brew, even with the box closed and in brown bottles. Can't you find somewhere to store them that's out of the sun, and preferably in the low 20's at worst? Like in a cupboard inside the house perhaps? Especially being plastic bottles, their exposure to summer heat can't be helping, surely.
I had them in a corner of the garage that never used to get sunlight, until recently when I chopped down a tree on the border of our property. This was obviously providing shade to this part of the garage, now sun streams through the window in the afternoon, but I never realised this until this weekend.

Will have to find a new spot.
 

stux

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Are you sure that the ferment had reached FG before bottling?

Overcarbonation because of premature bottling could explain the foaminess, and the bottle getting too hot and a too hot ferment could explain "screwed up faceiness"

Of course, it could be infected... was it hazy? was there a ring around the top of the beer in the bottles? anything on the surface? floaters? chunks?

PS: if it is infected, and you wait long enough, it might turn into a nice lambic base to blend with other beers (circa 1 year)
 

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