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Old 04-21-2009, 05:30 AM   #1
Bonneville
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Default Carboy primary problems

My buckets were full, so I decided to use a carboy as a primary fermenter for the first time. I didn't really think about it much beforehand, but I ran into a few problems. I'm wondering if these are common and what the solutions are.

1) FUNNEL - After cooling the wort (via ice bath), I had a huge funnel to pour the wort into the carboy. However, there was a filter to catch hops and various other trub. The filter constantly clogged. When using a bucket, I always pour through a strainer with no problem, but the filter was only about 4" in diameter. After clogging 3 or 4 times, I just pulled it out and poured everything into the carboy. We will use the settle & secondary approach for clarity.

2) AERATION - Aeration with the bucket involved vigorous rocking. Tried the same thing with the carboy, but the rounded top allowed much less splashing. I didn't feel the wort + water was nearly as aerated as bucket brews.

3) AIR LOCK - So, after pitching the yeast and leaving it alone for 20 hours, I find that I now have an airlock full of beer. This is a fairly low gravity beer and a 5 gallon batch in a 6.5 gallon carboy. The top of the carboy seems to have less overall headspace than a brew-bucket and funnel the bubbles up and into the airlock. I used vodka in the airlock, so I now have beer in my vodka and worry that some vodka may have gotten into the beer somehow. (This is a dark beer, and the airlock is now a deep brown). When things calm down, should I replace the airlock contents or just wait until its safe to move to the secondary.


This is about my 20th batch and this one is cursed. Had 2 boilovers and all of the above fun.

One the plus side, it is kind of fun to be able to see a fermentation for the first time.

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Old 04-21-2009, 05:46 AM   #2
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1: Pull the tiny strainer out of your funnel, and stick a larger strainer (like a kitchen colander) in there. Or just whirlpool and siphon from your boil kettle. Or both. Or neither, it'll all settle out in time. If you really want clarity, combine Irish Moss with a good cold crash.

2: Glass carboy or better bottle? If it's a better bottle, you can stick a tennis ball underneath it and just spin it madly for a while. Alternatively, look into the olive oil method. I haven't tried that one yet, but it certainly seems that everyone who tries it once is sold for life. I'll do it on my next batch, and I might just be another convert.

3: Yeah, you're going to want a blow off tube. I always recommend a blow off tube for the first 3 days of active fermentation. Always. Always, always, always. Don't fear suck back from the airlock into the fermenter, but you're going to want to pop that sucker out, clean, sanitize, then replace it ASAP. Also, if you haven't already cut the X part off of the bottom of the airlock (assuming this is a 3 piece airlock) you might want to do that. Hop sediment and/or trub loves to clog that thing and cause quite a mess.

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I would never use a dead mouse in my beer. It's much better to use live ones. You could probably just steep a dead one, but live ones must be mashed. Actually, smashed and mashed would be best.
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Old 04-21-2009, 05:07 PM   #3
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Thx llama. I am using a 3-piece airlock with the 'X'. It's a 6.5 gallon glass carboy (used what I had laying around).

I was surprised the filter was so quick to clog (since this appears to be what it was designed for).

I'll check out the olive oil method. Anything could be better at aeration... although the uber-fermentation may indicate that aeration wasn't as big a problem as I thought.

Airlock usually seemed to work OK for a bucket, but seems that I need 'the tube' for a carboy primary. I have extra airlocks, so I will just sanitize and swap when things calm down.

Thanks again.

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Old 04-21-2009, 05:09 PM   #4
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No worries. I pretty much always use a blowoff tube for about three days or so, unless it's a brew that I've done before several times with a yeast strain that I'm familiar with. Even still, those carboys don't have the kind of headspace that buckets do, so you just have to get used to the differences.

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I would never use a dead mouse in my beer. It's much better to use live ones. You could probably just steep a dead one, but live ones must be mashed. Actually, smashed and mashed would be best.
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Old 04-21-2009, 05:14 PM   #5
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The llama is on point. That freaking funnel filter clogs up instantly for me too, I just use a stainless strainer if the siphon clogs, $10 at the grocery store.

+1,000,000 on the blow-off. Don't take the chance of an airlock clog and subsequent glass carboy explosion. Not fun.

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