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Old 09-13-2006, 10:18 AM   #1
TREMBLE
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Default Air locks?

I have just started brewing, using kits only at the minute. The equipment I bought to get me started is a large plastic bucket, 5 Imp gallons with a lid. The instructions with it say no air lock is required as the gas will escape around the rim of the lid (not quite true as it has blown the lid off a few times!) and I have ended up leaving a small section of the lid not completely clipped down to allow extra venting.

However since getting on this forum many people seem really worried about outside air getting at their brews, Is this a big problem? None of the kits I have made mention using airlocks or needing to keep air away from the brew. Is this more for when you are using real ingrediants rather than kits?

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Old 09-13-2006, 01:24 PM   #2
Walker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TREMBLE
I have just started brewing, using kits only at the minute. The equipment I bought to get me started is a large plastic bucket, 5 Imp gallons with a lid. The instructions with it say no air lock is required as the gas will escape around the rim of the lid (not quite true as it has blown the lid off a few times!) and I have ended up leaving a small section of the lid not completely clipped down to allow extra venting.

However since getting on this forum many people seem really worried about outside air getting at their brews, Is this a big problem? None of the kits I have made mention using airlocks or needing to keep air away from the brew. Is this more for when you are using real ingrediants rather than kits?
Air carries all kinds of bacteria and other nasties that can spoil your beer. It is best to keep outside air away from your beer as much as possible, and it doesn't matter if you use extract or all grain.... the problem is the same.

Since you are relatively new to brewing, you might want to check out John Palmer's great (and free) online brewing book: www.howtobrew.com
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Old 09-13-2006, 01:42 PM   #3
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Your method will probably be effective - check out the aluminum foil covers many people use for their yeast starters. The theory is that bacteria, like dust, are carried by air currents/breezes/winds and settle with gravity. Bacteria can't "crawl" into your fermenter, so if the top is covered, you are mostly protected.

Playing devil's advocate to my own advice - yeast starters typically ferment quickly and vigorously, off-gassing a lot, and never sitting for more than a few days with a loose cover. Depending on your setup, your fermenting beer may experience some temperature and environmental changes that allow air to pass out of and into the fermenter without a proper airlock installed. Specifically, if the air temperature in the head space cools down, it may create a slight negative pressure and begin "sucking" bacteria laden air into the fermenter. So there is some risk to using the lid as you describe.

Finally, airlocks or blow-off tube setups are recommended for all fermentation, kits and original recipes alike. It's not about the ingredients, it's about controlling the fermentation environment.

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Old 09-13-2006, 10:27 PM   #4
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DON'T seal the cover or you will have a fermentation bomb...sounds like you have come close a number of times...YIKES!!!

Spend your pennies and get a few three-piece air locks with stoppers and fill them with cheap vodka or water/sanitizer mix when in use...well worth the change and effort...and THEN you can seal the cover.

Some don't like glass, but I primary in a 7G carboy with air lock because I can't stand the hassle of "blow off" and then secondary in a 5G caraboy with air lock...easier to see what is going on, easier to clean, not so safe if they break, but that is another thread.

Good luck.

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