WTF is growing in my swamp cooler?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by BedetheVenerable, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. So last week (or two weeks ago, I don't remember) I asked people in here if having carboys of fermenting beers in the same small room as a carboy of 'wild' beer was a problem. Everyone said no biggie, which is kind of what I was thinking. Two-three weeks into my 'wild' brew (a Berlinerweisse with Wyeast's Berlinerweiss blend), that brew still doesn't have any kind of pellicle, but the swamp cooler (big rubbermaid with water/ice packs) has something DISGUSTING growing in it. The top of the water (and now attached to the outside of the Better Bottle) is a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick almost-translucent clear/slightly milky white gooey substance that's sort of like a really thin jelly. It's fairly uniform, but has a few 'bare tree branch'/spiderewebby' things extending out from the carboy sides to the edge of the rubbermaid. WTF is this? I don't see how any kind of infection could have spread, but doesn't this sound like of like an infection/pellicle? I've never had one, so I don't know. Here's the thing: the beer in the swamp cooler (to reiterate: NOT the Berliner) is fitted with a stopper/blowoff tube. I'm really nervous moving it out of the cooler to clean/sanitize the outside, afraid that in moving stuff around, air will get in and contaminate an otherwise delicious Festbier. Suggestions on what to do or what this might be? It's kinda crazy, not smoething I was expecting!
  2. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    I don't know what's growing in your swamp cooler. (A pic might help.) But I'm not too surprised. It's basically a stagnant pond, open to the air. I would probably remove the carboy, wipe it down (from top down), then sanitize the outside surface of it. But really, the risk of whatever it is getting inside your carboy is pretty low.
  3. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (920) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member Verified Subscriber

    It's stagnant water... Open to whatever is in the air. I wouldn't be surprised that it gets a bit o' slime to time to time.
  4. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (740) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    Spider webby branches sound like fungal hyphae. You probably have yourself some molds or related organisms in there. That suggests to me that it wasn't very clean, that there must have been some sort of carbon substrate in that liquid for a mold to grow on. If you fear that it is going to grow up the neck and through your stopper and into the carboy, well, I think it is possible but not likely. Maybe wipe clean the neck of your carboy and spray with starsan.
  5. yinzer

    yinzer Savant (395) Pennsylvania Nov 24, 2006

    How about putting some low foaming acid based solution in the swamp cooler? Once that it's cleaned.
  6. jivex5k

    jivex5k Advocate (660) Florida Apr 13, 2011

    I've heard a couple drops of bleach in your swamp cooler water can prevent algae/fungus from growing.
  7. Naugled

    Naugled Advocate (550) New York Sep 25, 2007 Verified

    Sounds like mold to me. I usually add a little bleach or iodophor when I know I'll have stagnant water around.
  8. This is what I do, otherwise the water bath gets really nasty really fast. It doesn't take much bleach either.
  9. itsjustzach

    itsjustzach Aficionado (200) Ohio Oct 23, 2006

    I mix in the iodophor solution I used to sanitize my fermenter and equipment with the swamp cooler water. It seems to eliminate too much gross crap from growing on the water and fermenter.