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Old 07-01-2009, 02:34 AM   #1
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Default Out of control - advice?

Out of the hundred or so batches that I have made thus far, the only other time I have experienced this was with another wheat beer that was infected and ultimately discarded...

I started a batch into primary fermentation last night - 6# DME Wheat Extract, 1 oz hops, ale yeast pitched at 64* into plastic. My sanitizing was done as normal, without exception, nothing special about this batch whatsoever. Been in primary for 24 hours.

The fermenter was placed in my basement with an ambient temp of ~67*F, and the fermentation running at around 73* according to the tape thermometer.

When I got home tonight from work, the krausen has filled the airlock. I sanitized a new airlock and replaced the clogged one, and now there is foam filling the new airlock as well, with a notable pressure bubble under the lid of the pail.

I assume that the beer is infected, and running out of control. However, if it is not, what is my best course of action?

Leave a clogged airlock in the lid?

Pull the airlock and leave the hole open for gas / foam to escape

Sanitize my bottling hose and stick that in the hole? (Bear in mind, this is I believe a 3/8" hose, so using it as a blow off, I believe it will be clogged quickly)


I figure I want to do whatever I can to preserve sanitization on the off chance that the beer is not so far infected.

As I said before, I've only had this happen once before, with a nearly identical wheat recipe beer. Generally, I don't have krausen touch the lid, let alone put pressure under it and plug my airlock.

Thanks in advance!
~D~

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Old 07-01-2009, 02:39 AM   #2
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Sanitize my bottling hose and stick that in the hole? (Bear in mind, this is I believe a 3/8" hose, so using it as a blow off, I believe it will be clogged quickly) </snip>
That's probably your best option. I wouldn't say it's infected until you had a chance to taste it.
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Old 07-01-2009, 02:40 AM   #3
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What yeast type did you use?

Wheat beers can have very volatile fermentations. Pull the airlock and install a blowoff tube. It should calm down in 2-3 days. The CO2 production should inhibit any critters from taking hold in the next 24-48 hours. RDWHAH.

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Old 07-01-2009, 02:41 AM   #4
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I'll start sanitizing the hose now and setting up for a blow off setup... Hope the hose diameter matches the airlocks.

Looking forward to more feedback on this... Come to think of it, this (And the previous ruined batch) are the only two I have made using a full six pounds of dried wheat extract... The Cherry wheat I made last year was a converted kit...

Do wheat batches tend to foam more?

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Old 07-01-2009, 02:42 AM   #5
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What yeast type did you use?

Wheat beers can have very volatile fermentations. Pull the airlock and install a blowoff tube. It should calm down in 2-3 days. The CO2 production should inhibit any critters from taking hold in the next 24-48 hours. RDWHAH.
It was a munich wheat ale yeast, in dry form, no starter used.
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Old 07-01-2009, 02:44 AM   #6
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Wheat beers tend to be like that! They have a higher protein content, and it forms a bigger and more vigorous krausen.

First thing, I'd try to get the fermentation a little cooler. Maybe put it in a plastic rubbermaid tub with some water and maybe a little ice to get it in the high 60s. Also, I'd go ahead and fix up a blow off tube. Put your 3/8" hose in the hole, and stick the other end in a pitcher with sanitizer, so that the opening is covered. Unless you have a ton of debris, it shouldn't clog. But if it does, simply remove it, clean it up and resanitize.

If your blow off tube is just too small to relieve the pressure, you can pull off your lid, and then just set it back down on the bucket. Put a piece of cotton or something else clean and sanitary (sanitized foil?) over the hole for the airlock. In a couple of days when it settles down, you can put the lid back down tight and reinsert an airlock.

It'll be fine. A bigger krausen just means a bigger krausen, which is very common in wheat beers. I've only ever needed one blow-off tube, but it was in a wheat beer and in a hot summer. Don't worry about it. Contaminates can't crawl, and you have enough co2 pushing out of the fermenter that nothing else can get in. Just protect it from critters like fruitflies, and you'll be fine!

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Old 07-01-2009, 02:48 AM   #7
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If you have a racking cane, you can stick that into the stopper and attach the hose to that.

I've done several wheat beers, and they do tend to try to escape.

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Old 07-01-2009, 03:00 AM   #8
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Got the bottling tube set up as a blowoff, pulled it to let the pressure out of the bucket, and got a face full of krausen... going to try and chill it down a little bit, I have a couple gallons of water in the 50's, that should do it.
Thanks all for your quick replies.

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Old 07-01-2009, 03:03 AM   #9
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I've yet to NEED blowoff but have been on high alert a couple of times. A really fresh pack of yeast could be the culprit. When I had junk all up in my bucket air-lock I just shoved my 3/8 tubing directly onto the airlock tube.

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Old 07-01-2009, 03:26 AM   #10
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Got the bottling tube set up as a blowoff, pulled it to let the pressure out of the bucket, and got a face full of krausen... going to try and chill it down a little bit, I have a couple gallons of water in the 50's, that should do it.
Thanks all for your quick replies.
Oops, I forgot to mention that. When you pull out the airlock, the pressure inside kind of explodes out. Next time, open the bucket slightly by lifting up on one side, then, pulling out the airlock. Hopefully, it got only into your face and not your white ceiling. That's one of those things that most of us have learned the hard way, so now you can be in our club!

Try to keep the fermenting beer at 65-70, for the best taste and least explosive activity. It sounds like you're all set.
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