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02/19/08 08:03 PM  
Cross Contamination
Hi to all, this is my first post here as a long term BBB lurker. I've previously been pretty active on ratebeer (kook), though dropped off the radar a bit since moving back to the most isolated city in the world a bit over a year ago :-)

I've been playing around with bugs & critters for almost a year now, with just under 100L of Flanders Red and pLambic of various ages on the go. Also played with adding brett (from Orval) at bottling time in an amber ale with reasonable success. All my gear for this so far (hoses, buckets, plastic fermenters, airlocks, stoppers, etc) has been kept separate from my normal brewing equipment.

I'm about to venture into an all-Brett L. beer in the next few weeks, once I have the culture up to an adequate pitching size. My real question though, is do you guys keep separate starter equipment for funky beers?

I plan to use my existing stir bars and flasks, soaking them in hot caustic for an hour or two once I'm finished with them. I use phos acid (starsan) for sanitisation, and boil my starters in the flask on a stove top for further sanitation.

Is Brett L. (or other bugs) likely to survive a treatment of caustic, phos acid and heat?

Al B
02/19/08 09:47 PM  
Re: Cross Contamination
Your approach is fine for sanitization - the key to any sanitization is limiting "crevices" and scratches in equipment parts since sanitizers must have contact in order to work (and clean surfaces obviously). I do segregate airlocks and buy new ones routinely.
02/20/08 09:03 AM  
Re: Cross Contamination
I agree with Al. Things like plastic buckets that might have a scratch or 2, might wanna keep for wilds only, but for the most part, everything is fine. Sometimes homebrewers get germ phobic and want to live in a bubble :)

Ive actually heard of people who keep their buggy stuff in their garage only and separate from their house for fear of the super creatures. Thats a bit overkill. brett and his friends are not the flesh eating virus. Ample cleaning and sanitizing are all that's needed.

02/20/08 10:01 AM  
Re: Cross Contamination
Anthony, your methods meet my brewing practices which have not had any cross contamination. Only plastic items need to be seperated.
08/14/08 04:00 PM  
Re: Cross Contamination

I am just getting my equipment and procedures down for brewing with bugs. I have done a fifteen gallon Oud Bruin seperaated into three cornys that I innoculated away from my normal pitching area. I am planning to use pin locks for bugs and ball locks for non-bug beers, as reccomended by a friend. Prior to these three kegs, I pitched Orval dregs into a carboy that is sitting in a chest freezer where I normally do most of my cold side stuff. I thiefed a sample from the carboy splashing some beer around the freezer and floor. I'm still nervous about the whole operation and need to know if I am safe to store kegs and such in that freezer now. Is there a way to sterilize the freezer at this point?

08/14/08 04:18 PM  
Re: Cross Contamination
There are nasties all around, all the time, on the floor, in the air, in your sink, and probably in the fridge even before you spilled the brett beer in it. Just clean the freezer (with soap and warm water, and then if you're paranoid maybe a weak bleach solution).


Anything called a "sanitizer" (Star San, Iodophor, etc) has been shown via rigorous tests to effectively sanitize clean, smooth surfaces when used as directed. So if the surfaces of your equipment are clean and smooth, and you use a sanitizer as directed, then you do not have to worry, not even about brett. (Pro brewers sometimes have trouble with brett in bottling lines... but bottling lines are not necessarily clean and smooth.)

Brett that was probably in your house before, and the brett that's definitely there now, can't survive these surface treatments. Therefore the only way it can get to your beer is through the air. Indeed, people in certain parts of Vermont (mold), or SteveG's basement (lambic bugs), need to be careful about air exposure. But if you didn't have problems before, and you only spilled brett on hard/cleanable surfaces, you're not going to have air problems now.

08/14/08 04:30 PM  
Re: Cross Contamination
Just clean the freezer inside well and also spray it down with some star san or a weak bleach solution like Baums suggested. You"ll be fine.

If you can brew with hefe-weizen strains and don't get cross contamination (clove & banana) then your sanitation procedures are fine. It's OK to be a little more anal with beasties.

08/14/08 05:08 PM  
Re: Cross Contamination
Ok cool. I feel better. Do you think it's ok to keep the Brett carboy in the freezer with ohter ferments. It has a ferm-rite rubber stopper? My Pedio kegs are in another area of the garage.
08/14/08 06:08 PM  
Re: Cross Contamination
Your other ferments are presumably in carboys with rubber stoppers and airlocks? If so, the brett cannot get in.

What it CAN do is get "on" your fermenters. I always assume the uncovered "lip" of my carboys* (i.e. the area uncovered by the rubber stopper) is contaminated. (And it almost certainly is--I've left an agar plate open in my fermenting closet and after a few days it's a pretty vile little zoo.) So, I'm careful not to, say, rub my racking cane around on the neck of the carboy before inserting it, or something like that. And if I'm an idiot and spill wort on the lip of the carboy, I clean it off with water and then sanitize with Star San, rather than let it fester.

*no more carboys for me--back to a bucket and loving it.

08/14/08 06:10 PM  
Re: Cross Contamination
I use my two conical fermenters in the same room with brett and a normal sacc strain. But having the carboys so close in a small confined space might require a little more sanitary diligence on your part. When pulling out a carboy I would spray it down with star san before I opened it up just to kill off any airborn beasties.
08/14/08 09:01 PM  
Re: Cross Contamination
Baums, I'm interested in the Vermont(mold) comment. I'm apparently in the danger area (Champlain Valley) and haven't had seen mold and beer together, outside of month+ old bottles that never got rinsed. Care to elaborate?
08/15/08 10:41 AM  
Re: Cross Contamination
Oh, I just read an article once by a guy in Vermont who had some pretty serious mold problems, as did his local microbrewery--it was apparently a problem in their specific area. He had to use somewhat unconventional techniques to get around it (fully anaerobic cold side of the process, basically).
08/15/08 10:08 PM  
Re: Cross Contamination
Ah OK, same article I've read. I live about 5 miles (If his shop was the one I'm thinking of) and about 25 miles from the brewpub he referenced. I can understand Noonan doing it (great beer at his brewpub) but way overkill for homebrew.
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