From the HBD Archive
From: "Allen J. Hainer" <ajhainer@violet.waterloo.edu>
Subject: Chlorine
Date: 1989-08-21 16:45:17 GMT

Several months ago, I wrote in about a batch I had started only to wake up
the next morning and hear on the radio that Waterloo water should be boiled
before drinking because of a bacterial infection. Well, the good news is
that that batch turned out great - one of my best. The bad news is that my
next batch did not.

Everything started out great, but after a day and a half of fermentation,
everything stopped. I tried yeast energizer, and later repitching with fresh
yeast. Nothing worked and I still had a SG of 18 on a light ginger beer that
should end up somewhere around 5.

I found it too difficult to through out the whole thing, so I primed and
bottled hoping that fermentation would stop again at 18.

Sure enough, two weeks later the beer was carbonated, but almost undrinkable
because of the sweetness. The beer remained this way for about a month
and a half, and then the fermentation took off again. This time it was
some type of infection - the sediment formed in lumps along the neck of
the bottles. My little time bombs are now in a cold empty fridge to
help slow any further carbonation. They are now passing the "gusher" stage
so I guess I'll open them all and throw them out sometime this week. The
beer wasn't that good anyway.

So what does this have to do with chlorine? It turns out that there was
a rash of stuck fermentations in the K-W area. It also seems that in response
to the bacterial infection, a large amount of chlorine was put in the water
system. Some people complained of the smell, but I never noticed it (that
may have had something to do with 10 years of competitive swimming ;^)

My guess (although not very scientific since correlation does not necessarily
imply causation) is that chlorine inhibits normal fermentation so that
infections get a chance to take hold. If everything is not being rinsed
after sanitizing with chlorine bleach, very dilute solutions should be used.

According to previous discussions, it appears that ~1/2 tsp/5 gallons is
sufficient. If you (like me ;-) don't like to wait for everything to
soak for an hour or so, a much stronger solution can be used for a shorter
time, but if this is done, everything should be rinsed. If you don't trust
your tap water, a very dulute chlorine bleach solution can be used instead
for rinsing.

BTW, I have since discovered that Labatt's (a two minite walk from were I live)
has a tap supplying dionized water (no chlorine) to the public. My first
batch with this water is now in the secondary and seems okay even though
the water tastes like there is a large amount of Na. If you live near a
large brewery, you might check it out.

-al (ajhainer@violet.waterloo.edu)

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