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Old 02-18-2013, 07:50 PM   #1
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Default Terrible, terrible experience - failed spigot.

I just had to share my awful experience I had today... when checking on the 11 gallons of Old Stock Ale I have been fermenting for a week, I noticed that there was beer leaking out very slowly from somewhere. It appeared to be the spigot. I turned it a little bit, hoping to stop the leak, and instead, the spigot failed completely - it was apparently shearing right in two.

So, I had beer spewing out from everywhere, and I grabbed the fermenter (a vittles vault that I had discovered has a small air leak somewhere around the rim, but that's another story...). I tipped the fermenter on its side, propped it up on its side to keep the beer from flowing out completely, slipping and sliding around in beer, trying to balance 11 gallons of liquid.

I somehow was able to get a 6 gallon bucket sanitized, trying to siphon out the beer from freshly exposed hole, which did not work very well. The only thing I could do was pull airlock off, empty it, plug a hose in to it, and turn the fermenter upside down while holding the stopper/hose assembly for dear life as it slowly flowed in to the spare fermenter.

Of course, everything was sanitized, and I flushed the new fermenter as well as I could with CO2. I got as much as I could in to this fermenter, without being close to done.

I decided instead of throwing out the remaining 3-4 gallons, I would go to the LHBS to pick up another 5 gallon bucket. The rest of the ordeal went somewhat smoothly (if you could describe a disaster as 'smooth'), and I was able to transfer the majority to the two fermenters, which are now bubbling away again.

Of course, this all happened the day before I am supposed to get three Speidel fermenters delivered.

I'm not too worried about an infection, I covered everything as it happened as well as I could with StarSan soaked paper towel... but oxidation is going to be the real test of whether this was a batch-killer or not.

Someone please tell me that I should be OK. I guess a couple of weeks from now it will be obvious, if there's any wet cardboard flavors going on... but I hope that's not the case.

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Old 02-18-2013, 08:23 PM   #2
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The only thing that would worry me would be oxidation. I would keg it and drink it fast

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Old 02-18-2013, 08:32 PM   #3
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It's certainly better than the alternative - 11 gallons of beer on the floor. You're very lucky you noticed it leaking before it failed completely. I suspect that the beer will be fine - you may or may not have oxidation, but in my experience I've found that beer is not as delicate as some would suggest.

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Old 02-18-2013, 08:57 PM   #4
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No bueno! Were you fermenting in a bottling bucket?

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Old 02-18-2013, 09:10 PM   #5
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I was fermenting in a vittles vault, the square 'fermenters' that AHS used to sell for 10 gallon batches. I had drilled a hole in the bottom corner and put a spigot on it. It was one of those plastic white ones with a plastic nut on the back, and a white rubber washer. It seemed to work well, until this incident. I threw away the fermenter, it's not worth the trouble to try to seal the air leak anyhow.

I am definitely worried about the oxidation, especially since this batch is an old ale, and needs to sit for 4-6 months before drinking. I'll be testing the gravity in a week or two, so we will see if there are any hints of a problem...

On the plus side, I put the remainder in my newly finished fermentation chamber, so temp swings won't be an issue!

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Old 03-09-2013, 04:30 PM   #6
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For the record - it's been fermenting for about a month, just transferred to two kegs to get it off the yeast cake, and no signs of contamination, and nothing that would indicate oxidation, yet. Surprisingly, both fermenters had exactly the same gravity reading, and it's down to 1.017, from 1.100.

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