Friday, December 05, 2008

Holiday Ale postmortem (or How I accidentally started a lambic)

The holiday ale was just thrown down the drain.

Cause: bacterial growth

Symptoms: persistent "fermentation" (aka bubbling in the airlock), even far past the window it should happen, a weird sour apple smell out of the airlock.

  • Percent sugar recorded at ~3% by hydrometer after almost two weeks with consistent bubbling implies a "gusher infection" per How to Brew
  • That sour lambic smell that shouldn't happen in a holiday ale.
  • Wort tasted and confirmed un-sugary and un-alcoholy. And just plain wrong. Yes, I drank bacterially-contaminated wort.
Things to do better next time:
  • Sanitize equipment better (we used unsanitized equipment to squeeze the hops bags outside the acceptable temperature range to do such a thing, and I can think of a couple other things we could sanitize better)
  • Sanitize hands (hand sanitizer purchased)
  • Take a specific gravity reading so I can earlier test when something seems wrong and pull the plug earlier, with more confidence.
Ok, that's all I got, folks. Scotch ale being brewed next week on an evening.

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