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-   -   5 months... Still fermenting? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/5-months-still-fermenting-386484/)

tdawg183 02-01-2013 03:50 PM

5 months... Still fermenting?
 
I brewed a 10 gallon batch of an Old Ale around September 10th last year (2012) and it appears to still be fermenting and I wanted to ask for opinions on what is going. If it's not fermenting then there's something occuring because there are visible signs of activity... the airlock is bubbling maybe once a minute and there's a noticeable ring of bubbles at the top of the carboy.

Issues to acknowledge:
- I only pitched 2 vials of White Labs Edinburgh Scottish Ale yeast (WLP028) for 10 gallons. I know, i know... i thought i ordered 4 but there's was only 2 in the bag when I looked on brew day.

- OG was 1.085

- In early November (per recommendation of my LBS) I added 2 packs of US-05. Activity picked up for about a day then went right back to the slow bubble.

- 5 gallons of this batch was kegged December 1st. It's not noticeably sweet.

- I know I need to check the gravity and see if it's stable but my worry is that when I bottle, if this bubbling continues, then I could possibly be making bottle bombs.

Thoughts???

NordeastBrewer77 02-01-2013 04:54 PM

Airlock activity is NOT a sign of fermentation. By bubbles, do you mean like krausen bubbles? Or little co2 bubbles because gasses can release from liquid for any number of reasons.

My best advice is to take a gravity reading. Record the number. Taste it too. Then on Monday, take another. If it's the same as the one today, you doubtfully have fermentation going on after this much time.

Revvy 02-01-2013 04:57 PM

What's your gravity? "Putting off gas" doesn't necessarily mean it's still fermenting or done, just that co2 is coming out of your airlock. An airlock is NOT a fermentation gauge, it's a vent. It could just as easily at this point be offgassing because of atmospheric conditions like a temp change or barometric pressure, as it could be because it is still fermentation.

An airlock is just a vent, a valve to release EXCESS co2, to keep the lid from the fermenter from flying off. That's IT. That's it's only purpose. Some fermentations produce a lot more EXCESS co2 that need to go out the airlock, others don't. Some seals on buckets or stoppers ALSO let co2 out..either way it's the same. You want EXCESS co2 to get out of the fermenter by some means. The amount or how much an airlock does or doesn't bubble, doesn't matter.

"x bubbles/ minute or whatever" does NOT equate to "y gravity points." It's NOT a gauge.

Airlocks are one of the most superfluous things out there, yet new brewers tend to attribute near mystical importance as to how it behaves, or if it behaves at all.

Remember gas expands and contracts due just as much from environmental reasons such as a change in temp or barometric pressure as from anything being wrong. It often stops or starts because the dog tried to hump the fermenter, or the vacuum is running OR a truck drives by and disturbs any trapped co2 in the trub at the bottom....If you look at an airlock for what it is, a vent, then you realize that all an airlock bubbling means......


Is that an airlock is bubbling. Or isn't......*shrug*

For example a couple weekends ago if you lived in most of the United Sates, you experienced an unseasonable WARM UP over the weekend which could very easily result in gas expansion in your fermenter or secondary...In other parts of the states you had storms, which meant a change in barometric pressure...It was an active weekend weather wise. We had a TON of new brewers starting panic threads because suddenly beers that they had in secondary from their Christmas presents, that were doing nothing for weeks (like they should do in secondary,) suddenly their airlocks started bubbling. So they, having equated an airlock as a fermentation gauge and NOT a vent, suddenly started assuming that fermentation was happening (and in their nervous noobishness were just SO SURE that their beer was infected).....NOT for once even thinking in terms of airlocks merely being vents, and that gas expands when it is heated, and contracts when it is cooled. And that's going to cause airlock to bubble or stop....Just as much as fermentation.

That's why I tell folks to ignore what the airlock does or doesn't do. It really means little to the yeast.

The only way to know what is REALLY going on is with a gravity reading.

Stauffbier 02-01-2013 05:10 PM

What Nordeast and Revvy said! ;)

tdawg183 02-02-2013 06:01 PM

Haha. Point taken. The airlock is not a fermentation gauge.

However, it's not fluctuations in temp/pressure that's causing the airlock to bubble. I guess I should have made it more clear that there is a visible ring of bubbles at the neck of the carboy AND bubbles visibly streaking up from the bottom of the carboy.

I'll take a reading today and Monday to see if the gravity is changing but it now has me curious to what is causing this if it's not the yeast. Can you guys point me to any readings on this?

NordeastBrewer77 02-02-2013 06:25 PM

Are you using a barometer to ensure that there are no pressure changes?;)

Stauffbier 02-02-2013 07:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tdawg183 (Post 4856875)
Haha. Point taken. The airlock is not a fermentation gauge.

However, it's not fluctuations in temp/pressure that's causing the airlock to bubble. I guess I should have made it more clear that there is a visible ring of bubbles at the neck of the carboy AND bubbles visibly streaking up from the bottom of the carboy.

I'll take a reading today and Monday to see if the gravity is changing but it now has me curious to what is causing this if it's not the yeast. Can you guys point me to any readings on this?

From your description it sounds like it's off gasing. That's what the bubbles in the fermenter are from. Like Nordeast said, it could be a change in pressure.

In my opinion you shouldn't concern yourself about it. Like everyone mentioned, check for stable gravity. If the gravity is within a few points of what you expected and it's stable, then the beer is finished fermenting.

F250 02-02-2013 09:30 PM

Sure sounds like C02 to me.

Rick

Revvy 02-02-2013 09:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by F250 (Post 4857525)
Sure sounds like C02 to me.

Rick

Of course it IS co2, it's always co2, that's never been in doubt...when we say "of gassing" co2 is what's offgassing....But WHY is so2 bubbling the airlock? Is it co2 from renewed fermentation/infection OR is it co2 being released from the trub? Or is it co2 that's already in the headspace expanding because of a change in temp/barometric pressure? Or did someone/ something jar the fermenter? That's what we're talking about. A bubbling airlock just means co2 is coming out...not the reason for it coming out.

And if the person is really concerned that it might be fermentation/infection, is like how we determine fermentation any way, with gravity readings. But more than likely simple removing the lid/stopper to take said gravity reading is going to cause the airlock to stop bubbling.

NordeastBrewer77 02-03-2013 02:34 PM

^Pretty much sums it up right there, but you forgot the part about the cat loving up on the carboy. ;) Really, what everyone's trying to tell you Tdawg, is that the only way to know if this is fermentation or just the normal release of co2 as atmospheric conditions fluctuate is to take gravity readings a few days apart to see if sugars are being converted. If the SG is dropping, you may have a problem, but I doubt it is. Infections are quite rare.


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