Mold ? little white floaters ?

What went wrong? Was this supposed to happen? Should I throw it out? What do I do now?

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Mold ? little white floaters ?

Postby firstbrew » Mon Dec 03, 2001 7:24 am

Well, After a long wait I look into my fermentor and see a couple of small
floating clouds (little circles) on top. Could this be mold ? Looking for any
resources I could to explain my issue, I found a part in "The new complete homebrewer" book by
C. Papazian where he notes that if it is mold it wont hurt you. Has anyone
ever brewed a batch and noticed mold on the top of the beer ? Did you have to toss it ?
could you taste it >? was it bad. What should I do ? Please help ! Thanks F.B.
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Floaters ?

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Tue Dec 04, 2001 10:34 am

To help, I need a little more info:

1) When you say "after a long wait", how long did you wait and how did the fermentation go up to that point ?

2) Are these "floaters" clumps or does it look like thin discs floating on the surface?

3) When you first lift the lid, smell the headspace air. Does it smell of mold ?

4) Are the "circles" furry ?

There are many types of things that can look like what you are describing... from non-flocculant yeast or wild yeast to bacterium to molds.

Post back with the answers to the above and I'll try to assess what is up.
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Me too

Postby l48shark » Sat Dec 08, 2001 12:04 pm

Mesa,
I have some of these “floaters” too. Maybe you can explain. I have made several batches of American Pale Ale with no incident and brewed another batch recently for a Christmas party. The only thing I did different than normal is that I brewed this batch immediately after racking a previous batch (same style) to secondary, so I left the residue in the primary and reused the yeast. Later, after this latest batch had been in the secondary for several weeks, these little white floating discs suddenly appeared. They are thin and smaller than a dime. There is about a dozen or so of them. The headspace in the fermenter smells like beer and the gravity and taste are both OK, so I am not worried about it. I will keg and enjoy it regardless. However I am still curious about what they are. The secondary fermenter it is sitting in previously had a steam lager in it that experienced stuck fermentation and spoiled. Do you think perhaps I did not kill all of the bacteria and this is what I am seeing? Fortunately it looks like it did not do much damage if that is what caused the discs. Let me know what you think.
Cheers,
Ford
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Scope' Time !

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Sun Dec 09, 2001 8:55 am

Well... you definitely have something that shouldn't be there. The question is... beer spoiler or wort spoiler? So far it sounds like whatever meanie you have swimmin' is a wort spoiler, not a beer spoiler, otherwise you'd taste it by now. That is assuming you aren't making this a 60+ IBU pale ! If so, you may be unable to detect it due to alpha overload.

Think about this... if you were going to pick up a wort spoiler, how would the source be traced backwards? Other than the mash tun, it would be the primary fermenter. If this in fact is your problem... the most likely source would be one of the following: 1) If you use a counterflow wort chiller, this is the most likely place. 2)The mash tun itself, or 3)Maybe the wort wasn't chilled fast enough & added to yeast slurry @ bottom of fermenter at too high of a temperature. This can cause reduced yeast count & viability, potentially causing a substantial lag which can allow bacteria to proliferate.

At this point, the only way to know what youv'e got doing the backstroke through your brew is to grow it on some media in a petri dish that either grows or suppresses the growth of organisms to narrow it down. Then you perform some simple tests on them to identify them specifically. Most of the last steps involve using a microscope.

In other words... unless you have access to a lab or can do this stuff yourself, you probably will never know what happened. The next time you brew, pay attention to any steps that you may view as suspect and modify your procedures accordingly.
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Yeah, right!

Postby l48shark » Thu Dec 13, 2001 5:24 pm

Mesa,
You crack me up! My wife supports my homebrewing hobby, but if she sees me in a white lab coat checking beer under a microscope, I think she'll have me committed. Seriously, thanks for the help. This beer is a 20-something IBU American Pale Ale and it tastes fine despite the unwelcome guests. I am an extract brewer, so there is no mash tun. I don't think the yeast was stalled because it started and stopped fermenting faster than any batch ever. Must have caught something in a fermenter, I suppose. I guess I got lucky this time, but even if off-flavors do develop, I can conveniently forget that I brought a keg to the party until after everyone has had a few glasses of eggnog, right? Maybe you can suggest a good service to come and irradiate my brewhouse. Thanks again for the help.
Cheers,
-Ford
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