Can You Still Drink Infected Beer? (Read This!)
Have you ever taken a sip of your favorite homemade beer and felt an unexpected repulsive sour and buttery taste on your palate? If so, the beer you consumed was probably infected.
However, no one wants to waste their beer since you spend a lot of time and resources making it, leaving you to wonder whether infected beer can be consumed.
You can still drink infected beer without harmful effects. However, in extreme cases of infection, the brew develops high acidity and a terrible off-flavor that may render it undrinkable. Although you can still consume the beer if you can get past the taste, why drink it if it’s off-putting.
If you have more questions about infected beer consumption, don’t worry, this article will answer most of them.
Continue reading as I take you through various topics on infected beer, including the safety of its consumption, how it becomes infected, how to identify it, how to remedy it, and how to prevent beer infection.
Is Infected Beer Harmful?
The word “infected” can send shivers down your spine, and you would generally avoid products considered as such. However, it is not that serious in the beer world.
Infected beer is not harmful. Infection in beers means the brew may be hazy, over-carbonated, or have an off-flavor but is generally safe for consumption. In some instances, the infected beer may not even taste unpleasant.
Therefore, it is up to you, the brewer, to decide whether to make the most of the infected batch or dispose of it. Unless your beer begins to mold before fermenting, it cannot cause any severe illness.
Nonetheless, if you have a sensitive stomach, the beer might cause nausea and bowel upset.
If an infected beer molds after fermentation, the mold cannot penetrate the beverage due to its alcohol concentration and will form at the top, allowing you to scrape it off easily. Therefore, if your beer is contaminated, you can still consume it without it causing any harm.
How Beer Becomes Infected
When making your brew, you want to achieve a remarkably unique taste that may be ruined by contamination. Therefore, it is essential to understand different ways your beer may get infected when brewing.
Beer becomes infected when foreign organisms make their way into your brew. The contamination usually takes place either during or after fermentation.
The possibilities are discussed below.
Beer Infection During Fermentation
Most beer infections occur during this stage of the brewing process.
Proper beer fermentation involves inducing desirable microbial activity by introducing fermentation catalysts such as brewer’s yeast, whose enzymes break down sugar molecules into ethanol.
However, in some instances, undesired organisms such as wild yeast and bacteria may contaminate the brew before the fermentation process produces ethanol.
These infections usually occur when you fail to take proper sanitary precautions with your brewing equipment or do not take adequate care when cooling your wort during fermentation.
Some of the signs of contamination during fermentation include unusual odors and a layer of mold or slime on top of the batch.
Beer Infection After Fermentation
Although beer rarely gets infected after fermentation because of the alcohol formation, bacteria can invade your brew at any moment.
After fermentation, your beer can get contaminated if exposed to dirty equipment such as the siphon hose that moves the beer into its bottles and kegs or the hydrometer. The infection is caused by unwanted bacteria and wild yeast in the equipment or bottles.
Beer infected after the contamination process is rarely thrown out. However, it may have a sour taste you may not have anticipated.
Remedying Infected Beer
When you discover that your beer is infected, your first instinct might be to throw out the whole batch, but perhaps you should reconsider.
While you cannot reverse beer infections, you could create some unique brew flavors you have never tasted before. The wild yeast and bacteria could ferment your brew into a sour beer which can be pretty good.
So, don’t be afraid to taste your beer before deciding whether to throw it out.
In some instances, you may be repulsed by contaminated beer as it forms a mold layer on the surface. However, you can easily take care of this mold by skimming it off the beer since mold cannot survive in beer.
Make sure that you ferment your brew for the prescribed period to prevent mold growth and autolysis, which can ruin your beer.
3 Ideas Preventing Future Beer Infections
Understanding infected beer and knowing how to handle it is good, but the overall goal should be to understand how to prevent its occurrence. This can help you take necessary precautions and save you from wasting valuable time and resources.
To help you prevent future beer infections when brewing, here are a few tips to ensure you make quality beer.
#1 Proper Sanitation
You cannot afford to compromise on sanitation when brewing your homemade beer. Mold, wild yeast, bacteria, and other components that cause beer infection thrive in unsanitary conditions.
Therefore, remember to always clean your brewing equipment thoroughly before and after use.
Washing the equipment after use is especially important since the brewing residue can stick to its walls, making its subsequent use difficult. Sanitize the equipment and bottles for additional protection.
#2 Prompt Fermentation
Add the yeast to start the fermentation process as soon as possible.
Once the wort is ready and cooled, it’s highly predisposed to contaminants that may cause beer infection. It’s also recommended that you add your brewer’s yeast to the wort swiftly before bacteria ruin it.
#3 Proper Storage
If you want to prevent your beer from becoming infected, you’ll need to store it properly.
Every homebrewer knows they should store fermenting beer in a cool and dark place. Exposing the batch to sunlight creates unfavorable temperatures that ruin the bottling conditions and cause infection.
Infected beer is generally safe for consumption and you can drink it comfortably without expecting any health complications. In fact, in some instances, the contaminants may add flavor to infected beer by giving it a mild sour taste.
However, beer infection can also create a disgusting unsavory brew that could waste your time and valuable resources. To prevent such a scenario, you should take necessary precautions to ensure a quality beer brewed to your liking.