Contaminated homebrew – it had to happen some time

Home brewing paraphernalia (or is it a space station?)
Home brewing paraphernalia (or is it a space station?)

We’ve often wondered with some of our less-than-perfect brews whether the off-flavours are due to contamination.

Now we know for sure that there can be no doubt when your beer is contaminated — it smells like sh*t and tastes… well, you need to spit it out pretty quickly or you’ll be sick.

In a couple of years of brewing, this is the first time we’ve had contamination.

In this case we think the probable cause was clumsiness while adding some pre-harvested stuff from a previous batch. The yeast itself smelled fine, but during the pitching, the outside of the jar came into contact with the beer. And we hadn’t sterilised that, and it had been sitting next to all sorts of interesting raw stuff in the fridge.

Urgh.

If nothing else, it serves as a useful reminder not to get complacent, especially when messing around with liquid yeast.

Apologies for all the talk of faeces and vomit. We’ll get back to more savoury topics from tomorrow.