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View Full Version : what the heck is *that*?!?!



Meriadoc
08-02-2005, 01:53 AM
well, before turning in for the night, i decided to check in on my meads and my beer...

looking at the mead i just racked over the weekend, i saw a speck on the inside of the carboy, about half the way up:

Mold Pic 1 (http://home.comcast.net/~lawrence.adams/web-speck.jpg)

(and, without the flash...)

Mold Pic 2 (http://home.comcast.net/~lawrence.adams/webSpeck-010.jpg)

Well, my imagination's running wild here, but I've got a bad feeling on this one...

whatever this thing is, it looks like it's trailing something up and to the right...

this thing is about an 1/8" in diameter.

weird, too... this was a brand new carboy, that i washed out and used no-rinse sanitizer on before racking... thought i did a good job on it, too...

any ideas?

(Modified on 8/4 to take the images out of the post, and instead make them URL links...)

Oskaar
08-02-2005, 03:51 AM
Looks like a small colony of Aspergillus niger forming to me.

Oskaar

Meriadoc
08-02-2005, 07:03 AM
dang. ok, then, what are my options? should i rack into a new carboy (trying harder this time to sanitize well), hoping that this doesn't come along for the ride? are there any additives (sorbate, etc) that will knock it out?

Merry

byathread
08-02-2005, 02:13 PM
UFOs (unidentified floating objects) :-\

Meriadoc
08-02-2005, 02:22 PM
Well, actually, it's not a floater; it looks attached to the side of the carboy, halfway up, (on the inside, of course). guess that's the spot i missed with the soap and/or sanitizer? :-[

so, at this point, i just need to know whether i've blown this batch, or if it's salvagable. if i can save it, i just don't know whether i should attempt to simply rack again, or if there's anything out there that can safely knock the little bugger out, or what... :-\

guess i'm just pretty unhappy at this point, and hoping i haven't pooched this batch...

byathread
08-02-2005, 02:37 PM
I've not yet any infection problems and therefore haven't taken the time to brush up, so I will defer to Oskaar and the more experienced.
Though a quick googling of Aspergillus niger reveals that it is a common fungus, which is less harmful if consumed than inhaled :-[ It is used commercially in the production of citric acid, gluconic acid and certain enzymes.

Don't lose faith! If it can be salvaged, the folks here do their best to make sure you do salvage it!

Jmattioli
08-02-2005, 02:42 PM
Sulfite!

Cheers, Joe

Meriadoc
08-02-2005, 02:52 PM
Sulfite!

Cheers, Joe


Joe,

Thanks!

Now... do I sulfite into the current carboy, or do i crush some campden tablets into a new carboy and rack into it?

what's an acceptable amount?

what should i expect to see? will this guy detach himself and fall gracefully to the bottom? will he dissolve out?

(man... just when you think you're starting to get the hang of a new hobby, you find out just how noob-ish ya are... :-\)

Dan McFeeley
08-02-2005, 03:20 PM
Now... do I sulfite into the current carboy, or do i crush some campden tablets into a new carboy and rack into it?

what's an acceptable amount?

Best to rack into a new carboy and sulfite. Get that colony, whatever it is, out of there!

I don't know how much to add, since I don't use sulfites. If you have a pH meter, check it. This will have an effect on how much active sulfite you'll have in the mead.

Oskaar
08-02-2005, 03:28 PM
I'm with Joe and Dan, rack, sulfite, check pH. Get it out of that carboy ASAP.

If you have K-metabisulfite powder, then go 1/4 tsp/gallon, otherwise one campden tablet per gallon will give you a concentration of 75 ppm of sulfite in your mead.

Make sure you are RABID about sanitization on your next carboy.

Best of luck,

Oskaar

HomeBrew
08-02-2005, 05:02 PM
Sure looks like a mold. As for ID'ing the genus and species, that is pretty difficult to do by looking at the photo. Especially considering that this was a new carboy coming from a brew store chock full of good stuff for molds to feast on.

As others have suggested, adding sulphite/ transferring should check the growth of the mold, but you have probably already done this. Molds require oxygen for growth and since you are into your secondary fermentation there should be none available...Provided that you did not aerate when you transferred and that you have a good CO2 cap.

The biggest concern now would be that the mold that is present will impart off flavors. A 1/8" colony will probably not have an affect but there may have been even more growth that has washed from the sides of the carboy and this is now incorporated itself into your mead. The trail you see coming off from the colony in the photo indicates that this one is already dissolving into the liquid. The worse-case scenario would be that the species growing is a producer of nasty mycotoxins, but that is pretty unlikely. A taste after your sulphite addition/ transfer should answer this question.

It is a good idea to clean new glassware thoroughly in addition to sanitizing. This will reduce the number of contaminants and remove any trace amounts of nutrients that can support their growth. Unless you plan to dry them quickly, be sure to cover your glassware after sanitizing. The "no rinse" sanitizers lose their punch after awhile leaving behind a nice water source for bogeys to use.

Sorry for the windy response.

Peace.

HomeBrew
08-03-2005, 01:47 PM
Meriadoc,

FYI, I got your email and wrote another long winded respone but I don't know where to send it.

Peace.

Meriadoc
08-03-2005, 01:56 PM
FYI, I got your email and wrote another long winded respone but I don't know where to send it.

I'm assuming you meant the PM ... did you hit the "reply" button after reading it? that will generate a response PM...

(always fun getting used to new BBS software, eh?)

Merry

Oskaar
08-03-2005, 06:29 PM
Hey Homebrew!

I see you're a fermentation microbiologist by trade. Can you fill us on on what kinds of fermentation you monitor? It's great to have a microbiologist aboard!

Cheers,

Oskaar

HomeBrew
08-04-2005, 11:20 AM
Man, this sounds like an interview or an opening statement at a group therapy session…

My degree is in Microbiology and I have spent the past 13 years developing and optimizing fermentation/ antigen recovery processes for a veterinary pharmaceutical/ biological company. The organisms I work with include aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, fungi and protozoa. Culture volumes range from bench-top flasks and 4L controlled vessels to 4,000L production vessels. Downstream processing of these organisms involves small and large-scale continuous-flow centrifugation and filtration (hollowfiber and plate-and-frame). I did spend several years working on mammalian cell culture as well, but I prefer to work on classic suspension fermentations (much quicker results!). Another part of my job is to troubleshoot existing fermentations in our production facilities (domestic and overseas). This work involves the evaluation of all steps in the process from raw material sourcing/ testing to blending/ packaging.

To be honest, I avoid wearing my scientist hat when I homebrew. I have always considered it more of a craft/ art than a science and this is how I choose to approach it. Besides, my job has shown me that even with careful strain selection, tight controlling of raw materials, million dollar vessels, precise controlling of DO2, temperature, pH and mass spec monitoring of off gasses tied to advanced nutrient refeed strategies - no two fermentations are completely alike. Even with all the nice toys, I would rather be in my basement crafting tasting beverages than working in a shiny laboratory for The Man. I mainly brew ales and lagers, but I do make quite a few meads in order to add a bit of variety. Equipment-wise, I would rather scrounge and build than buy new (unless it affects quality). This makes the hobby more entertaining and rewarding, imo.

I do have to say that the crowd that hangs out at this site is pretty enjoyable. I am cursed with way too many hobbies so I frequent a several forums for tips and advice. Most boards are tainted with pompous attitudes or they digress to hostile arguments about unrelated topics…Usually politics. Everyone that I have seen post here so far is genuinely interested in the topic of Mead and the open sharing of related ideas. Kudos to all.

Peace.

Oskaar
08-04-2005, 12:16 PM
Cool beans dude.

I was in the Clinical end Microbiology/Medical Technology many years ago before making the move into the IT sector. Family has made wine for several generations and I was introduced to it at a very early age so I was fortunate to grow up with winemaking. Always followed the traditional winemaking methods when I started making meads, and in the last few years the old micro-bug itch has re-surfaced so I've been spending time getting more analytical in my approach. I've been rewarded with some of the best hooch I've made so the payoff has been excellent.

Like I said, welcome to the boards.

Looks like Jerry's jammin!

Cheers,

Oskaar

Drone1973
10-30-2005, 09:55 PM
I once had a major molding problem in a carboy I rinsed after use and let set neck up in the carboy box. Luckily I caught it before I put anything in it. But I have altered my storage practices for all of my carboys. Hope this helps.


Always bleach used and new carboys then rinse with a no rinse oxygenator or Iodifor solution. Then, let it dry neck down and keep it that way. This will allow all of the water to drain and deny any mold the crucial moisture it needs. Finally sanitize one more time before the next use.


As for what do do now? I am not sure that sulfites will help but it can't hurt. Most Mycocides are either harmful to ingest or have harmful side effects So chemically I would not use anything other than that.

If the colony was growing in a non fermented must I would suggest boiling the crap out of it to kill all spores. But I would be concerned that pastuerizng an already fermented batch would denature the alcohol and make the mead unfit for consumption.

Now the bad news, Mycotoxins are nothing to mess with. They have been linked to headaches long term illness and in extreme cases brain damage. Once you "salvage" the mead, if you so choose to, be careful drinking it. If you begin to get side effects other than the usually buzz I would uncork the lot and dump the batch any way.


My suggestion is to dump the batch and chalk it up as a learning experience.