Oh no, I have an infection!

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Remember the spruce ale that I started at the end of November?

About a week ago, I racked both carboys in preparation to bottle. However, the dry hopped version was still quite cloudy – so, it went into the fridge for a cold crash. Yesterday, I pulled it out of the fridge and compared the two. The cold had done wonders. Unfortunatly, over the same time period, the un-hopped, non-crashed version had developed a nice infection:

Here is a close up

Note the pure white color and texture.

What happened?

Well, it must have occurred when I racked. Some of the equipment was obviously not sterile enough. I have seen this happen to other brewers, but it is a first for me.

Toss the beer?

Heck no!

The infection is a wild yeast strain and/or beer loving bacteria such as Brettanomyces or Lactobacillus. None of which cause any harm to humans. In fact, they are often used to create sour beers and lambics.

However, there are two problems:

  • 1) The results can be unpredictable.
  • 2) They can take months to complete their fermentation. Bottling before this is complete can result in high pressure and bottle bombs.

Now what?

Well, I can either kill the yeast with chemicals and force carbonate (since it will kill all the yeast) – Or, sit back and wait up to six months…

4 Responses to “Oh no, I have an infection!”

  1. Trooper Says:

    LAMBIC! LAMBIC! LAMBIC! I have wanted to purposely try a Lambic for some time. Then, after tasting La Folie (http://tinyurl.com/357khfm) I wanted to brew a sour. What better way to do either than by accident? I know you have the space. I know you have the extra equipment whereby being down one carboy won’t put you out of the brewing business (and if you really think it will – I’ll bring you one of mine), and we all have the time.

    A spruce lambic – now that’s uniquie.

  2. Trooper Says:

    one more thing – all the research I’ve done on lambics say you really ought to age 2 years or so to let the harsheness of the spontaneous fermentation fall out. Like I said – I know you have the time.

  3. nagmay Says:

    I completely agree. Letting the Spruce Ale sour for 6+ months is the way to go.

    The only thing is: not all wild yeasts are created equal. The places that do lambics and open ferments have a history of the right funk. My basement? Who knows? I have been saving the dregs from one of my favorite sours Bam Noire. I might just cook up a starter with it and let all the bugs battle it out over the next few months.

    And you are correct – we have have enough carboys. Though feel free to bring one down… We will fill it up for you!

  4. nagmay Says:

    Update: It’s been almost 9 months since the beer was brewed. Yesterday, I transfered it to the carboy for forced carbonation.

    A quick taste revealed a delightfully sour beer. This one may have been worth the wait.

    A appropriate name for this brew would be Spar Bier (Dutch for Spruce Beer) since it is in the “style” of the lambics like Kriek Bier (sour cherry), or the lesser known:
    – raspberry (framboise)
    Рpeach (p̻che)
    – blackcurrant (cassis)
    – grape (druif)
    – strawberry (aardbei)
    – apple (pomme)
    – banana (banane)
    – pineapple (ananas)
    – apricot (abricotier)
    – plum (prunier)
    Рcloudberry (plaquebi̬re)
    – lemon (citron)
    – blueberry (bleuet)

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