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Old 01-26-2010, 11:30 AM   #1
bogan
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Default Airlock blew off!

Hey all - I'm a rookie homebrewer looking for some input. My buddy and I made a batch of porter and started fermenting in a Better Bottle. We popped the airlock on and left it in a closet. When I checked the brew a day later, the airlock had blown off and the krausen (however those crazy German words are spelled) was pouring out the top of the fermenter. I found specks of wort on the top of the closet - apparently this batch had been fermenting like mad.

So I suppose my question is this - what happened, and can I prevent it in the future? I have two ideas about what may have been the problem:

1. I put the cap on the top of the airlock, which may have inhibited air flow.
2. I started the yeast b/c it was in a packet, and think it super-charged the little guys.

What do you think? Is it likely that I have an infected batch?

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Old 01-26-2010, 11:43 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bogan View Post
Hey all - I'm a rookie homebrewer looking for some input. My buddy and I made a batch of porter and started fermenting in a Better Bottle. We popped the airlock on and left it in a closet. When I checked the brew a day later, the airlock had blown off and the krausen (however those crazy German words are spelled) was pouring out the top of the fermenter. I found specks of wort on the top of the closet - apparently this batch had been fermenting like mad.

So I suppose my question is this - what happened, and can I prevent it in the future? I have two ideas about what may have been the problem:

1. I put the cap on the top of the airlock, which may have inhibited air flow.
2. I started the yeast b/c it was in a packet, and think it super-charged the little guys.

What do you think? Is it likely that I have an infected batch?
: So I suppose my question is this - what happened, and can I prevent it in the future?

You had blow-off and you can prevent it with a blow-off tube. I need them on 25% of my brews.

: What do you think? Is it likely that I have an infected batch?

Not knowing all the factors it's unlikely your beer is infected. Search for blow-off tubes here, you'll find plenty of references.

Congrats on your first beer.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:53 AM   #3
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pictures??

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Old 01-26-2010, 11:57 AM   #4
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MikeG has it right. It's always a good idea to use a blowoff tube for at least the first few days of fermentation. It's the condom principle in action: it's so much better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. But hey, we've all done it. There have been some pretty amazing pictures of spectacular blowoffs around here.

Same with the infection. Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely? Far from it. Beer is far more robust than we often give it credit for, and can withstand a bit of abuse from time to time. Just a little bit of a blowoff is not likely to be a big enough deal to worry about.

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Old 01-26-2010, 01:38 PM   #5
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And I'd like to see my 1.080 beers ready from grain to glass in a week, and served to me by red-headed twin penthouse pets wearing garter belts and fishnet stockings, with Irish accents, calling me "master luv gun," but we can't always get what we want can we? :)
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:00 PM   #6
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Shoot man, I just had the same problem this morning. It's the 3rd time this has happened to me. I'm such a dumba$$. You'd think I would learn after 1, but 3?!?!?! Come on. Seriously.

1.068 stout, just under 5 gallons in a big 6.5 gallon (but really closer to 7 gallon) carboy. S-04 dry yeast held at 65*F by taping and insulating the ranco probe to the outside of the carboy. Temp confirmed with the stick-on strip. Holding rock solid.

I get home yesterday and the krausen is 3" thick. Before bed it's 5" thick. I wake up to the explosion that blew the airlock out with enough force to knock the fridge temp adjustment knob right off of its anchor.







Oh well, it was still 'exhaling' when I found the mess so I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm going to start using the blow-off setup on every brew.

Funny thing is, I split a 10 gallon batch with my friend who took home another 5 or 5.5 gallons. I got an email from him this morning say the same thing happened in his ale pale.

Maybe this phenomenon should be incorporated into the name of the brew. Dangerous Projectile Stout? With a picture of a flying airlock on the label?

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Old 01-26-2010, 02:06 PM   #7
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When I started brewing I always did my primary ferment in a poly bucket.

If you can get a round bucket that holds maybe 10 or so gallons with a lid that would be ideal. Run poly wrap around the lid and bucket joint, tape it, and use a conventional airlock. The CO2 that develops will make for a superb seal against the ATM that might leak in.

I've heard of people doing their primary in a garbage bag. Sounds messy. hard to manage.


Lots of people do a primary in the glass carboy and just don't fill the thing up, letting their boil reduce down so the carboy has plenty of head room. Then they add boiled water for the secondary ferment.

I have done the addition of boiled water to the secondary. It's not a bad way to go. Adding water like that messes with your gravity reading, but so what?
Once I got stung. The yeast had got a cold and went on strike for better working conditions (damn unions). Then the combination of the warmer carboy and the boiled and still a tad warm water, woke them up. I had dry hopped the brew to boot so I had a serious krausen management issue. I learned that the sudsy foam is not terribly sturdy. Giving the carboy a back-and-forth tilting shake every so often knocked it down.
But I had to stay on top of it.


As for your current batch.
I believe you said that your beer still had foam.
That is good. But, even if the foam has subsided the CO2 from the ferment is heavier than air , so it won't drift away to quickly and serves as a pretty good air excluding device all by itself.

Rack your beer off to the secondary - don't splash it about - you don't want Oxygen in the beer at this stage. Clean your air lock up, install it, and let 'er rip.

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Old 01-26-2010, 02:30 PM   #8
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Congratulations! You have active fermentation. Nothing to worry about. Just clean and sanitize your airlock, then reinstall it, or go with a blowoff tube. (Search for info) The CO2 being produced from the fermentation will create positive pressure, keeping out any airborne nasties. Let it sit in the fermentor for a couple - 3 weeks, then check gravity and bottle when it doesn't change for 3 days.

And welcome to HBT! It's a great place to learn.

What part of Maryland are you in?

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Old 01-26-2010, 03:18 PM   #9
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Now this thread is interesting! Nice pics!!! In my experience S-04 coupled with a higher gravity brew always requires a blow off tube. I ferment my 5gal batches in a 30L (7.9gal) sanke keg and even with all that headspace I get blow off.

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And I'd like to see my 1.080 beers ready from grain to glass in a week, and served to me by red-headed twin penthouse pets wearing garter belts and fishnet stockings, with Irish accents, calling me "master luv gun," but we can't always get what we want can we? :)
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Old 01-26-2010, 03:23 PM   #10
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I got a belgian wit that has been building a serious Krauzen. I put a blow off on it after I saw a little residue from it creeping in my vapor lock. I can happen fast or slow in my case it was slow. I have a blow off top set up.

When I did a russian imperial I completely expected blow off and set it up right off in an ale pail with a tube that fit real tight in the vapor lock hole and ran that into a empty gallon jug. After 8 hours the jug looked like amber ale. After over three weeks of fermentation and racking to a secondary it still is holding a krauzen but it has been stable.

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