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Old 01-22-2013, 03:20 PM   #1
thistleglassgirl
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Default Secondary Cap Popped...Any advice?

I'm brewing an IPA and this is the first time I've racked to a secondary. It seemed like the fermentation was complete when I moved it over to a 5gal carboy, threw in some hops and put on a closed stopper (no airlock). I stuck it in the garage and went away for the weekend. When I came back, the cap had popped off. After a minute of looking around for visible signs of bugs or weird smells, I sanitized and re-capped.

Tomorrow I'll be kegging, so I can look for bugs again through the siphon tube, but is there something else I should have done, or should do, to make the beer better? I'm worried about all the oxygen that got in, and I dunno, maybe a roach or something. Bugs are gross, I'm a girl.

How can I prevent this from happening again? I was so sure it was done fermenting and it was past the time the recipe said it needed to ferment. I could just use a keg as a secondary but I'd prefer to reserve those for finished beers.

Thanks!

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Old 01-22-2013, 03:26 PM   #2
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How can I prevent this from happening again?
Thanks!
Never cap your beer in a fermentation vessel....ever. There is no reason to, and it is dangerous. Even if your beer is finished fermenting there will be some CO2 in solution that may wish to escape. Lucky the cap gave way to the pressure before the glass itself did. Always use an airlock or a blow-off tube. This is how you prevent what happened.
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:32 PM   #3
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A few possible scenarios....

1. Yeasties were still busy, resulting in CO2 blowing your cap off. Use a hydrometer next time to check your gravity, and always put an airlock back on. Not a stopper.

2. Fermentation was complete and when you dry hopped all those fresh hops got agitated and blew that stopper off. If you shake your carboy around with fresh hops in there you will get all kinds of bubbling out of an airlock, and some wonderful aromas too!!

3. Could be a change in temp or air pressure that blew the lid!!

Next time just use an airlock and a bung and you will be good to go

I hope you didnt get any nasties in there either.... just keep an eye on it and taste it.

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Old 01-22-2013, 03:44 PM   #4
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I could just use a keg as a secondary but I'd prefer to reserve those for finished beers.
The fact that you're kegging and not bottling is a good start for keeping your beer delicious. I'd have warned against bottling since adding priming sugar invites whatever infection may have gotten in to readily reproduce, so force carbed is the way to go.

As far as what to change, everyone else is spot on. Especially since you live in Florida, the warmer air and thus warmer secondary means that dissolved CO2 from the fermentation won't stay in solution as well as, say, in -15 degree Michigan. The beer probably just slowly allowed the CO2 out of solution and built up pressure in the head space.

Is your garage well insulated? Leaving a fermenting or finishing beer in an area of the house with large temperature changes isn't the best idea, since it not only stresses out yeast but large temperature drops can actually cause a vacuum in the carboy and siphon your airlock liquid into the carboy, exposing it to open air and you may not even notice for weeks. This is most dangerous with a secondary or a long rest in the primary as the yeast stop producing CO2 for a positive pressure in the carboy.
When you go to keg, make sure you give the keg a couple good rinses with CO2 to help make sure you don't expose it to any more oxygen. And let us know how it turns out!!
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:49 PM   #5
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Thanks guys!

So my brew shop guy lied to me...I asked if I should be using a stopper or an airlock and he said a stopper is ideal because you don't want oxygen getting in at that point.

Luckily I was using a plastic Better Bottle so there was no explosion! Would it be better to just put it in a keg next time with a blanket of co2 and then purge and siphon to another keg when it's ready?

What's the ideal temperature to store a secondary in? It's winter so the garage isn't too hot, but I don't know the exact temperature it's been sitting in. I could have controlled it but figured the garage would be cooler than the house while I was away and the AC was off.

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:03 PM   #6
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The airlock will prevent oxygen getting in...that's 50% of it's purpose. And you only want to leave dry hops in for around 10 days....fishing them out of the keg will give you other problems. I would advise you to dry hop in your primary (or secondary if you prefer using one) and then rack into your keg once dry hopping is complete.

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Old 01-23-2013, 01:24 PM   #7
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What's the ideal temperature to store a secondary in? It's winter so the garage isn't too hot, but I don't know the exact temperature it's been sitting in. I could have controlled it but figured the garage would be cooler than the house while I was away and the AC was off.
Most ale yeasts would be fine from about 64-72. You should look up your yeast online form the manufactuer, and they will gve you the ideal temps.
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by thistleglassgirl View Post
Thanks guys!

So my brew shop guy lied to me...I asked if I should be using a stopper or an airlock and he said a stopper is ideal because you don't want oxygen getting in at that point.

Luckily I was using a plastic Better Bottle so there was no explosion! Would it be better to just put it in a keg next time with a blanket of co2 and then purge and siphon to another keg when it's ready?

What's the ideal temperature to store a secondary in? It's winter so the garage isn't too hot, but I don't know the exact temperature it's been sitting in. I could have controlled it but figured the garage would be cooler than the house while I was away and the AC was off.

Your brew shop guy is an idiot. Sorry, but it is the truth. Never leave beer uncapped. Oxygen is not getting through your airlock, they design them not to allow air inside.

Ideal temp depends upon beer, but typically it is good to rack and store below room temp. Your garage is perfectly fine.
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:30 PM   #9
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Yeah, I'm gonna have to back Cleveland up on this one. No one with good brewing experience--especially if its your job to help brewers and sell them proper equipment--should have told you to cap a finishing beer. If I were you, I would make a little noise about it next time you're there and get something out of it

And like they all said, ideal temp in secondary isn't as crucial as primary, and depends on the beer. Since you're clearly not lagering, you can secondary anywhere from 50-74F; cooler temps if you're cold crashing it, but higher temps will allow for a diacetyl rest. I usually shoot for 60-64 in secondary.

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Old 01-23-2013, 08:39 PM   #10
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If you go from room-ish temps to garage temps at this time of year, I can all but guarantee it will suck in air through the airlock. The reality is, it hasn't made a hill of beans difference when it happens to me. If you are paranoid, soak a cotton ball in vodka or starsan, and stuff it in the top until temperate/pressure equalize.

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