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Old 11-04-2012, 10:10 PM   #1
tlhammond
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Default Crap! Forgot Water/Vodka in Airlock

I am on day 14 of an IPA, transferred over to a glass carboy for secondary fermentation 1 week ago. Happened to glance at airlock and I realized I did not put any water or vodka in the airlock during this entire fermentation. It appears to still be fermenting. What do you think? Will beer still be ok?

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Old 11-04-2012, 10:11 PM   #2
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I am on day 14 of an IPA, transferred over to a glass carboy for secondary fermentation 1 week ago. Happened to glance at airlock and I realized I did not put any water or vodka in the airlock during this entire fermentation. It appears to still be fermenting. What do you think? Will beer still be ok?
Maybe. Add the water now, and hope for the best.
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Old 11-04-2012, 10:34 PM   #3
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Yep. Nothing to do but wait and see now.
With a little luck you've had positive pressure and kept a flow going out.

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Old 11-04-2012, 10:36 PM   #4
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Thanks Yooper. Not sure if that's a common mistake or not, my gut tells me if any bacteria got in I would see it by now but Fingers crossed! I have heard of open fermentation with no airlock but never wanted to give it a try.

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Old 11-05-2012, 07:46 AM   #5
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the problem is not bacteria. the problem is oxident if the yeast hve oxident you'll not get any alcohol.. but I belive it will be OK... coz the CO2 flow out most of the time is able to stop the oxident flowing in..
open fermentation is also possible although the prosess efficency is lower...

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Old 11-05-2012, 02:54 PM   #6
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It'll be fine. There's a nice thick protective layer of CO2 on top of that beer.

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Old 11-05-2012, 05:10 PM   #7
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the problem is not bacteria. the problem is oxident if the yeast hve oxident you'll not get any alcohol.. but I belive it will be OK... coz the CO2 flow out most of the time is able to stop the oxident flowing in..
open fermentation is also possible although the prosess efficency is lower...
Yes, absolutely, if the yeast are exposed to oxygen they will not produce alcohol! Now I wonder why it is recommended to oxygenate the wort for high gravity beers
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:16 PM   #8
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Yes, absolutely, if the yeast are exposed to oxygen they will not produce alcohol! Now I wonder why it is recommended to oxygenate the wort for high gravity beers
It all depends on where the yeast are in their life cycle. They need O2 early while building up their cell wall and other internal organelles preparing for division/budding. Once fermentation starts, it is an anaerobic process for the formation of Etoh and CO2 and any oxygen is detrimental.

Some folks support a second O2 application very early in the fermentation of very high gravity beers to support the growth of the newly budding cells in a rather harsh osmotic environment.
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:32 PM   #9
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It's doubtful that bacteria would get through your airlock as long as the airlock itself was clean. Pasteur's swan-necked flasks were essentially s-shaped airlocks with no liquid in them. Those flasks remained sterile for years.

The oxygen is the main concern, but I don't think you have to worry.
CO2 is denser than air and your yeast are most likely still producing it unless fermentation is finished. As a result, the CO2 will sit on top of your beer and keep the Oxygen from getting in. If the only opening to the atmosphere is through the small opening of your empty airlock, then you probably don't have very active gas exchange.

As for the question of why yeast need O2 early on--the main reason is because fermentation is less efficient at harvesting energy than cellular respiration. Without going into the biochemistry, respiration harvests between 15 and 20 times more energy than fermentation does. As a result, providing yeast with oxygen early on allows them to get to high population density earlier than if they had to rely on fermentation. This high population allows them to outcompete any other organisms. Once they have scavenged the dissolved oxygen, they shift over to anaerobic fermentation which produces ethanol and carbon dioxide.

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