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Old 08-12-2008, 08:37 AM   #1
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Default Fermentation is Too Strong?

My massive Imperial Stout took about twelve hours to get rolling, but at T+30hrs or so, it's going absolutely nuts! I've got a blow off tube hooked up, but the fermentations is so strong that it's blowing lots of material through the tube into my sanitized iodine solution tank, and has turned it almost opaque black.

So much material has gone up the tube, in fact, that the level of the brew inside the carboy has dropped by about an inch or so. I'm a bit concerned that I'm going to keep losing beer, but I have no idea what I could do, if anything, or if I'd even want to attempt anything other than just letting it go.

As a side note, I already dumped the iodine solution once and made a fresh tub of it, but it's gotten so much wort/beer in it that it's pretty gross again. How often should I change that? Since the CO2 and foam is blowing so strongly, I suppose I don't have to worry about infection going back up the tube just yet. I could probably leave it for a day or two until the fermentation slows down, yes?

Ideas?

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Old 08-12-2008, 10:44 AM   #2
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What was your original volume that went into the carboy? I've had some rocking fermentations that went absolutely gangbusters and I maybe lost a pint or two in total volume.

With fermentation that vigorous, I honestly wouldn't be terribly concerned about infection at this time. Those yeasties aren't letting anything else take hold!

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Old 08-12-2008, 12:00 PM   #3
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There's not a whole lot you can do at this point, Joe, but I have been in your boat and have recently taken pro-action: on my latest shipment from AHS I tacked on a bottle of this stuff. From what everyone here says, it's a miracle...put a few drops into the boil and you prevent boilovers...put a few more into the fermenter and you prevent blowoffs. I haven't used it yet, but more than a few people here swear by it, so who am I to argue?

My one concern was that it'd have an effect on the beer (it's silicone, and i was afraid it'd affect carbonation and head retention). However, after reading up on it, those fears were assuaged: the stuff really doesn't want to stay in solution, so if you put it into a bucket of still water, it will rather quickly fall to the bottom. But put it into a boil kettle with a rolling boil, or into a fermenter with a roiling fermentation, and the circulatory action keeps it in suspension. Then as soon as the boil is over or the fermentation is done, the stuff falls out of suspension, leaving your finished beer free of the silicone. Pretty nifty.

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Old 08-12-2008, 05:49 PM   #4
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Interesting, but I'm a little wary of adding anything that warns not to eat it, even if it does settle out.

Still, this is by far the biggest beer I've made, and I've never had a situation anywhere near this ridiculous before. I've had a handful of beers that have blow-offs, but even the other two really big ones didn't lose actual mass like this. I'd say I've lost half a gallon of beer to blow off at this point.

EDIT: Since my original target gravity was supposed to be in the 1.095 range, and I somehow came out ten points over that, I'm wondering if I could add some water to dilute this back down come bottling time. I'm not sure if I've heard that recommended for or against before, but it seems like it would be okay with such a big beer.

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Old 08-12-2008, 06:36 PM   #5
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The easiest way to "add" water back in is to make your priming sugar solution extra-weak. That is to say, use the normal/correct amount of dextrose, but dissolve it into 1 pt, 1 qt, 1/2 gal, however much water you need to make up the volume. Then - since it's boiled - you know it's clean and not going to infect your brew, BUT it helps get you on track back to 5.0 gal.

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Old 08-12-2008, 07:12 PM   #6
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A hard fermentation is good, so you're gonna wanna keep that. For the future, one main way to battle the loss due to blowoff is to use a fermenter with a greater headspace. But at this point for your RIS, there's nothing you can do except keep changing the blowoff solution.

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Old 08-12-2008, 08:03 PM   #7
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Well, do they sell carboys bigger than 6 gallons? I thought that was as big as they got, except for those ridiculous 15 gallon demijohns that come in wicker baskets.

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Old 08-12-2008, 11:54 PM   #8
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I know 6.5g are all over. My buddy claims to have found a 7g. Never seen it but it might exist.

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Old 08-13-2008, 08:26 AM   #9
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I'm gonna check online for those. Could be a great score for big beers.

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Old 08-13-2008, 10:21 AM   #10
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I have three 6.5 gallon carboys, but they ain't for sale. Good luck finding more, that size seems to have disappeared for awhile until supply stabilizes again.

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