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Something crazy happened.

Out of my last 8 batches of mead and beer 6 came out infected. I am cleaning my equipment with PBW and sanitizing with Starsan.

I make my batches in the kitchen (both beer and meads). Using clean tools, always keep at most 3-4 days old bucket with starsan solution, and yet, get every 3 out of 4 batches infected.

Does it mean that I got some nasty air bacteria in the air that lands into a carboy? Or can any bacteria survive in Starsan solution? If that is in fact an equipment issue, would bleaching it help? If that is an air bacteria in the kitchen, what's the best solution for that? If that is a fermentation chamber issue (issues happen even if I ferment outside of it) what's the best and most effective way to sanitise it?

Update: This is a new problem. Brewed for 3.5 years. Pretty successfully. Won multiple awards at the State level. Meads I don't boil and usually use different equipment/carboys for them. I changed all hoses and got a brand new 1.5 gallon carboy and few 1 gallon jugs. Got new stoppers and airlocks. Every once in a while I open the lid and ad staggered nutrients.

Any help would be appreciated. I'm loosing really good batches, and money...

  • Is this a new problem? Have you been brewing for a while successfully for a while or are you new to the hobby? That failure rate is exceptionally high, especially since mead is usually made without boiling. You might need to post every single thing you do to find the problem. I commend your dedication, BTW. – Pepi Jun 20 '17 at 6:59
  • I agree the problem described is too broad and the description of what is done is too vague to give any detailed comment. What equipment is used and how is it used to make a brew. This sort of failure rate is quite impressive and is either down to a simple error or divine interference! PBW will clean as well as starSan. After cleaning in PBW/VPW any container should be rinsed and allowed to drain fully. StarSan should be applied to all inner surfaces shortly before using any container – barking.pete Jun 20 '17 at 7:02
  • If the nutrients is the common denominator (same product package) it may be infected its self. Or the utensils used to dose it. It can be added to small amount of hot water to pasteurize instead of added dry to the fermentor. – Evil Zymurgist Jun 21 '17 at 13:23
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Time for a good sterilizing.

Break all your equipment down that comes in contact with cooled wort, and use a sterilizing cleaner or boil the parts if they can handle the temperature.

Dismantle all valves. (even on hot kettles)

Remove fittings from lines.

Use line brushes on all lines.

Dismantle bottling wand.

If you use a plate or counter flow chiller, rubber seals can be removed and you can bake the chiller in the oven to sterilize.

Some basic brewday tips.

Make sure hot wort runs through plate/counter flow for a few minutes before turning on chill water on every use. Place emersion chillers in the wort while on boil for a few minutes before too.

Cover all openings of cool side equipment with foil until ready for use. Lines, carboy, etc.

Make sure all fermenter airlock equipment is sanitized and use a sanitizer like starsan for the airlock fluid.

  • 2
    Good advice, specifically for all grain brewers, but not all is applicable to extract or honey based brew processes. IMHO it is best to boil rubber seals rather than bake them in an oven. It would be more efficient to buy new tubing rather than attempt to brush out old tubing. However we probably need more detail from the OP. – barking.pete Jun 20 '17 at 13:50
  • @barking.pete true more info on brew system would help. Usually funk like this hides in the chillers and valves. – Evil Zymurgist Jun 20 '17 at 19:15

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