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Old 08-18-2011, 03:26 PM   #1
BarlimanButterbur
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Default Airlock off for unknown time (weeks?)

Argh!

I brewed a four gallon 1.080 batch of ale about 6 weeks ago. I was away for about the last two weeks. I returned to my apartment yesterday, I looked in the closet, and I was horrified to see that my airlock wasn't on my fermenter, and that there were some fruit flies hovering about.

I resanitized the airlock, and sealed it. I can't say how long it's been off. There have been some people checking in to catsit. They might have done it by accident, but I could have done it (somehow) before I left. I think it smells fine but I know that fruit flies can be a harbinger of vinegarization. I was planning to bottle soon anyways. I think I'm going to do that today. I know that fermentation was complete long before I left.

My hope is that the CO2 has maintained a nice blanket in the carboy, and that the fruit flies have stayed out.

Anyone have insights?

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Old 08-18-2011, 03:28 PM   #2
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there should have been enough alcohol in it by then to kill any nasties.

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Old 08-18-2011, 03:31 PM   #3
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I would let it sit in the carboy for another week or so and see if anything bad is in there. I would hate to spend the time bottling up an infected batch. Also it will be easier to see any bad stuff in the carboy than it would in the bottles.

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Old 08-18-2011, 03:33 PM   #4
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Fruit flies are a bad, bad sign.


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Old 08-18-2011, 07:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildwest450 View Post
Fruit flies are a bad, bad sign.


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I second this. Try tasting it first, before going through the trouble of bottling.
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Old 08-18-2011, 08:31 PM   #6
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I suspect that there was another source responsible for generating the fruit flies, and that they weren't spawning in my beer. I tasted and proceeded to bottle. The beer did not taste bad, nor did it taste good. I thought it tasted more or less how the other beers I've made tasted at the time of bottling.

Fingers crossed.

At this point I have another question: can infection result in bottle-bombs?

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Old 08-18-2011, 08:43 PM   #7
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fruit flies carry acetobacter, which is what makes vinegar. fruit flies can survive on beer or wine for their entire life. they woulnd't reproduce in it, all they need to do is land on it and take a drink. fully fermented alcohol makes a much better vinegar than just hitting some apple juice with acetobacter.
i'm not saying your brew is bad and you need to dump it, just telling you how this works.
personally, i would bottle it, put it someplace really warm so it carbs up in about a week, then drink it as fast as i could. it takes awhile to turn into vinegar and if you wait to see if it's contaminated, you just wasted some beer that you could have drank. if you bottle it tomorrow, i bet you would have two weeks or so to drink it before you began to taste weirdness, depends on when the fruit flies found it though. i just hate wasting beer.

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Old 08-18-2011, 09:04 PM   #8
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From what I've read, acetobacter making vinegar is an aerobic process, given that there isn't much oxygen in the bottles, and the yeast might even now be absorbing that oxygen, how much vinegariness should be expected?

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Old 08-22-2011, 10:30 PM   #9
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In case anyones still holding their breath, and for anyone else who finds themselves in this boat:

It's only been about 4 days since I bottled but I poured one to see how its doing. Its only partly carbonated but it tastes great. I'm not really picking up any overt acidity, I think it will be ok.

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Old 08-22-2011, 10:38 PM   #10
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I love it when a plan comes together. Glad you followed up. I was kissing this beer goodbye until the last post.

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