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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2008 * Archive through April 27, 2008 * Cobra (or any) tap maintenance < Previous Next >

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Nephalist
Junior Member
Username: Nephi

Post Number: 74
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 4.232.3.162
Posted on Sunday, April 20, 2008 - 04:35 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

First I give props to my wife. On my 35th birthday she calls me from the homebrew shop asking what kind of 'barley' I need. A rare event. She bought me my Mr. Beer kit and regretted it ever since.

I also asked her to buy a cobra tap, which brings me to my question. I was reading the current Zymurgy article on kegerator making and the author suggests spraying cheap vodka into the tap every day or two to prevent contamination. It makes sense to me, but I've never done it in years of use of my cobra tap.

Only recently I discovered some funk in my cobra tap. I dissasembled it and cleaned out what looked like a mold layer or something where the beer exits the unit. A few batches later the beer went sour on me. I dissasembled the tap and again found a nice layer of mold or something.

Has anyone else ever encountered an infection problem like mine, working backwards from the tap to the beer? Is it a cobra tap or are all taps succeptible to this? I've asked before so I'll ask again, does oxyclean followed by iodophor knock this out or does starsan do a better job (assuming my beverage line and keg are hosting the bug also?)
 

Chumley
Senior Member
Username: Chumley

Post Number: 5396
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 71.217.153.195
Posted on Sunday, April 20, 2008 - 04:54 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have had cobra taps infect kegs, so I have learned to be cautious using them. As far as your question, I can't answer (starsan vs. iodohor), but I have made when point of cleaning all my kegs, to run all the solutions through all the cobra taps, just to get rid of that slime. To date (knock on wood), it seems to have worked- every cobra tap I disassmble has not had any slime growing in it (that was not the case 4 years ago).
 

Bob Wall
Senior Member
Username: Brewdudebob

Post Number: 1498
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 71.204.51.87
Posted on Sunday, April 20, 2008 - 03:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cobra Taps are easy to disassemble. Just take them apart after each use, clean, sanitize, and they should last.

I too suspect my cobra taps had caused infections in the past. Since that happened, I do as I said above, and have never had issues since. Iodophor and StarSan are both excellent sanitizers. I have moved away from using Iodophor as it can stain plastics, but the downside of StarSan is that it can degrade plastic tubing making it tacky and it can ruin anything that is chrome-plated brass. So I have both.
 

Dave Coppes
Member
Username: Pale_dave

Post Number: 179
Registered: 07-2006
Posted From: 24.62.103.102
Posted on Sunday, April 20, 2008 - 05:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Make sure you clean all the gook out. There are some nice crevices around the rubber seating surface. You need to soak it to loosen the stuff and then scrub it off. I soaked mine in a bleach solution and then scrubbed what I could.

Just soaking with iodaphor won't get rid of it all. Voice of experience.
 

Bob Wall
Senior Member
Username: Brewdudebob

Post Number: 1500
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 71.204.51.87
Posted on Sunday, April 20, 2008 - 09:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Exactly Dave. I used to just open the cobra tap and flush hot water through it and store. Then, when I was ready to use it, I'd either spray or soak it with sanitizer, rinse, and hook it up.

Then one day I took it apart....
 

Hallertauer
Advanced Member
Username: Hallertauer

Post Number: 527
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 204.104.55.243
Posted on Monday, April 21, 2008 - 08:00 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I admit that they should be cleaned.

That said, how could the cobra tap infect the keg? I mean the beer is pushed OUT through that poppet and then it goes through your beer tubing and then through a nasty cobra tap and into your glass. What I am saying is everything is being pushed OUT. So how is the nastyness from the cobra tap suppose to go back IN to your keg and infect it?
 

Dave Coppes
Member
Username: Pale_dave

Post Number: 180
Registered: 07-2006
Posted From: 24.62.103.102
Posted on Monday, April 21, 2008 - 11:47 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

How would you know it was the keg that was contaminated anyway? You pour a pint through your Cobra tap and the beer has a funny taste? It could be the keg isn't contaminated, but the tap head wasn't cleaned well. My story...

About six months back I had a nasty infection in primary because I didn't clean out the ball valve on the brew pot I borrowed from a friend. I immersion cooled and then ran the wort through the gunk in the ball valve. Big mistake. I got a white film inside the carboy toward the end of primary and what I'm guessing is what is described as the horse sweat smell. It was pretty foul. I tasted it and dumped every drop and then cleaned everything I could lay my hands on with bleach.

On a recent batch I threw a cobra tap on a keg of freshly carbed ale (one that I had hung out to dry in the open position, like Bob indicated. I soaked it in iodophor and put it on the keg). With great anticipation, I poured the first pint and put it to my lips, only to get the same horse sweat smell and taste, though not as strong. It was drinkable, but had a lingering smell and off taste. After all that hard work...Yuk .

I thought the whole keg was shot. But just to make sure, I took the tap apart. Soaked it in some bleach solution and scrubbed the gook (that I found inside) off the rubber piece. I rinsed well so I wouldn't get chlorine tastes and put it back on the keg.

With my fingers crossed, I poured a fantastic clean APA with no off flavors or aromas .

So it wasn't the keg. It was the tap.
 

Rob Farrell
Intermediate Member
Username: Robf

Post Number: 490
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 68.50.104.138
Posted on Sunday, April 27, 2008 - 07:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've been avoiding bleach for fear of lingering taste/odor in the rubber, but I haven't found anything else to remove a stubborn black ring around the "brim" of the rubber "top hat." I've used Oxiclean, dish detergent, an 409 with no success.

Does anyone have an alternative to bleach, or is bleach okay?
 

Steve Anderson
Intermediate Member
Username: Steveinmemphis

Post Number: 281
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 216.37.68.121
Posted on Sunday, April 27, 2008 - 09:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I took my taps apart after reading this thread and found gunk in 4 of 5 of them. In one, there appears to be little hoes in the rubber gasket that a soaking in oxiclean did not remove. I tossed it. I thought about trying bleach, but I worried that the bleach might stay in the little holes and taint the beer.