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Old 10-28-2012, 02:28 AM   #1
rbnfrance
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Default Air seal worries

Hi All,

I live in China and have put together a pretty good home brewery thanks to everything being so cheap here. We had a custom made brew kettle and conical fermenter made for us, and we are really happy with it. There is one issue though.....

We started making a Brown Ale just over 3 weeks ago. It was a partial mash recipe that we are using to test all the equipment. It fermented quite vigourously between 24 and 48 and then just stopped bubbling completely. The conical should be completely airtight, so i started looking for a leak in the seal. Basically, long story short, I found a small leak in the silicone seal and we are now waiting for the new seal to arrive. We also think that we started the secondary fermentation a bit early since we dumped the trub out the bottom, and think that actually we just dumped everything, trub, yeast and all until it was just beer coming out the bottom. We have been monitoring the gravity readings and they are now stable, but at the same time we have been tasting it to keep track of the flavor. In the last few days, there has been a slightly tangy flavour to it. It doesn't taste 'bad', it actually has a nice aftertaste, but the tangy flavour is starting to creep in. I'm a bit worried that the air can get to it and might be harming the flavour. We bottle in a few days, and I'm hoping it will improve slightly with age (30 days).

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Old 10-28-2012, 03:30 AM   #2
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I'm a complete n00b, so this being my first post take with a grain of salt.... you'll be fine. Your beer will be fine. Airlocks don't tell the whole story of fermentation and a young beer is gonna taste tangy.

You're gonna make beer. Good job!

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Old 10-28-2012, 03:37 AM   #3
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Airlock not bubbling after a couple of days or so - Can be completely normal especially if your ferm temps were high and the yeast pushed through quickly.

Seal being broken - Fine. There is a heavy layer of C02 on the beer protecting it from oxidation. You'll be fine until you get the new seal.

Starting secondary fermentation early - How early again? If after even a few days, it should be completely fine. You dumped out trub and a "yeast" layer, but i guarantee there was still a nice bit of yeast in suspension.

A tangy flavor is hard to pin point. There are so many things that affect taste. Yeast count at pitching, pitching temperature, fermentation temperature, oxygen level within the wort at pitching, chlorinated water (horrible), etc. Tell us your process from the start and we can work to find what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, and how to improve in any way.

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Old 10-28-2012, 04:01 AM   #4
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OK I am going to offer you some advice:


stop messing with your beer!

I cannot say what will happen with this batch, but what I can do is point out a few errors you made.

1. Seeing the bubbles stop after a few days is not the end of the world. Bubbles are not the end-all be-all indicator of fermentation, because...
2. Having a small leak in your fermenter headspace is not the end of the world. CO2 is heavier than O2 (and air). If you have active fermentation, your beer is producing CO2 which is, generally speaking, keeping bad stuff from getting in there. I have fermented beer with just some plastic wrap sitting on top of a plastic bucket with some tape to keep it from sliding off, with no off flavors. After fermentation ends, you can maybe start worrying about bad stuff getting in there if it's in a particularly windy and/or dusty environment. What is more likely to get in there is oxygen, which over a long time can cause some off flavors to develop.
3. You do not need to worry about secondary so much unless you are planning to condition your beer for a substantial time. By which I mean on the order of months. Normally I will let my beer just sit on the yeast & trub for a few weeks, than transfer it to kegs or bottles. If it is a beer I plan to age for some months, I will let it sit there for 3-4 weeks in primary still before considering racking it. Racking too early can be an issue because the yeast do some cleanup work after primary fermentation finishes up. Typical off-flavors that indicate early racking are acetaldehyde (green apple) and diacetyl (buttery/butterscotch).


Next time, just leave your beer alone. Don't keep checking the gravity. Don't open it up to look at it. Don't worry about it if it bubbles for a day or two and then stops. Just let it sit there for 2 weeks, minimum before checking the gravity. Learn to be patient. You will find it much more rewarding.

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Old 10-28-2012, 04:21 AM   #5
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Ok. Thanks everyone. I already know a good bunch of things to do different next time. Just wondering how important it is that the seal is exactly airtight. I know air can get in, and just wondered if the beer was likely to go bad before bottling (in 3 days). If so, I'd start bottling now and then it is air tight at least. If not, I'll leave it until my new swing top bottles arrive. Thanks again.

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Old 10-28-2012, 04:26 AM   #6
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If its gone bad them whatever is in there is already there, and bottling now vs later won't make much difference. IMO you are better off waiting.

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Old 10-28-2012, 05:08 AM   #7
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People seem to go all nuts about air tight seals. There is a lot of beer being brewed out there commercially in open vessels. It's not a deal breaker.

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