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I brewed my very first batch almost 4 weeks ago. I currently have my beer in a secondary fermenter (glass carboy) and plan on bottling in a couple days. I dry hopped it late last week. Today I got home from work and noticed that my hop bag had floated to the top (initially it sank and this is the first I've seen it since I dry hopped it). I had a large bucket of star san with my aeration wand about 75% submerged. i.e., 25% of the wand was above the water line and thus not sanitized. The star san is only about a week old. I took off the carboy stopper and used the wand in an effort to push it down to see if I could get it to stay at the bottom (I know, really dumb idea). After realizing quickly that this wasn't going to work, I pulled the wand out and dropped it back in the bucket. Once I did this I saw that there was liquid on the wand above the water line. Meaning, I realized that I dipped the wand just a little bit too far into my beer. Roughly 1/2 an inch of the non-sanitized part of the wand must have been in the beer for maybe 10 seconds.

Did I just turn my first brew into vinegar?

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What type of beer was it? I've found IPA's and Pale Ales (beers with lots of hops) to be difficult to infect due to the hops' antibacterial qualities, with how many hops are added. –  Scott Feb 4 at 6:09
    
@Scott: An Imperial IPA! More hops! –  Chris Dargis Feb 4 at 14:31
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5 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Beer is quite a harsh environment for bacterial contaminants. It's quite acidic pH <= 4.5, and of course alcoholic. So you have to dump a lot of bacteria in there to make a difference at this stage. A clean bottling wand with smooth sides harbours little bacteria.

For peace of mind next time, you can sanitize the whole wand - just turn the wand around to sanitize the top part. The already sanitized part will stay sanitary for several minutes. In fact starsan is effective just with brief contact and then a 30-60s wait - no need for continued submersion.

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Most likely not. Don't worry about it. Sanitized marbles or stainless steel weights can be used to weigh down a dry-hop bag. Or, don't worry about it too much.

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Did you contaminate the beer? By definition- absolutely. Starsans is a sanitizer not a sterilizer. So its likely something got transferred in theory.

Is it likely to be significant and cause an issue- absolutely not.

The beer will not turn to vinegar. Or anything else for that matter.

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I agree with the other posters. For future reference, the star san data sheet recommends two minutes, but any contact is beneficial. Also, you can take the wand apart and clean it first to avoid any buildup in the spring mechanism. A line cleaning brush will also help take any clinging debris out of the wand (and tubing).

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2 minutes is what they've got to say by law. Testing has shown that StarSan is 99.5% effective at 30 seconds. At 2 0min, it's 99.8% effective. –  Denny Conn Feb 5 at 16:04
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I'm a new brewer, but long time wine maker so, I am comfortable with sanitizing equipment. I have always use Potassium Metabisulfate (K-Meta), for this task. Prior to any bottling, etc., I take an extra brew bucket and pour about a quart or so of K-Meta in the bottom adding all the utensils, measuring cups and what not to the bucket, rinsing them with the K-Meta first. The bucket is lightly sealed and allowed to sit for 1/2 hour prior to using any utensil. BTW, the solution is mixed 1 TSP of powdered K-Meta to 1 gallon of water. The sulfite gas is what sanitizes the utensils, if something is going to be reused in that session, it gets rinsed and back into the bucket. I have never seen any issue using K-Meta with brewing for santizing. HTH.

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