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Old 04-19-2014, 03:26 PM   #1
roogs25
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Default A Comedy of Errors - Recommendations?

So, I brewed my first stout on Thursday night (a 10.5% recipe from my brew shop) and put the fermenter in my closet to do its thing as I have done with my previous ales. I woke up this morning to a loud pop (thankfully I had prepared for that at least and hung old sweatpants around the fermenter that absorbed the mess). I whipped up some sanitizing solution at dutifully sanitized the top and airlock and cleaned up the mess and went back to bed. I awoke an hour and half later to find the airlock had once again become full of gunk and the top was getting close to performing an encore act so I moved the fermenter outside and got some more sanitizer ready and then the fun really began.

As I re-santized the airlock opening the rubber gasket that the airlock goes into was pushed into the beer. At this point I had foam bubbling out of the open airlock hole. I opened the lid once again hoping to find the gasket floating (it was not) and made a quick dip with my sanitized spatula trying to get it, but was unsuccessful. At this point I reattached the lid and watched foam explode from the hole as I thought about the next move.

For the next two hours I watched foam explode through replacement airlocks (which weren't really held in, but there was so much foam that an airtight seal could be achieved), and through the open hole itself, and finally through and around a sanitized rubber hose I was running to a pale of water.

I eventually gave up and decided to transfer to my 5 gallon carboy to finish the primary fermentation. During the transfer I retrieved the rubber gasket AND my thermometer, which I keep on top of the fermenter in my closet to track temp (I had no clue it was even missing). It took about 5 minutes after transfer to go through the first airlock and now I have it set up using the rubber hose to the pale of water and it is draining just fine and it looks like this will be how I finish the fermentation.

So here are my questions for those of you with more experience:
1. Should I just throw in the towel and start over or would you finish it out and see how it turns out?
2. My biggest concern is the obvious contamination concerns from a blowout, removing the lid again, transferring, and biggest of all, finding an un-sanitized thermometer in the beer. So far all my beers have at least been drinkable - will there be any question if the beer is contaminated?
3. Has anyone ever transferred their beer during primary fermentation and if so, what were the results?
4. Would you recommend just leaving the beer in the carboy until bottling or would you rack it to another carboy?

Thanks for the insight and help.

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Old 04-19-2014, 03:57 PM   #2
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Happened to me on my 1st stout don't worry about the gasket that has happened to me also with no ill effect on the beer.Pun in a new sanitized gasket and run a sanitized blow off hose into the bunge and put the other end into a sanitized solution or bottle of vodka problem solved.

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Old 04-19-2014, 04:47 PM   #3
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Real quick, don't take your blow off tube to a pale of water. Use a sanitizing solution or vodka like the poster above me said. While the release of CO2 might help deter bacteria from going up the tube, it might still be a possibility when the fermentation slows down.


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Old 04-20-2014, 02:15 AM   #4
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I would not dump it, let it ferment out and chances are it will be fine. With all that activity going on, it will be difficult for foreign things to get in a take hold.

I wouldn't move the beer around too much. The more you transfer the beer around, the greater risk of infection occurs (which is still very low anyway).

Good luck

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Old 04-20-2014, 02:16 AM   #5
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Never toss out a beer until it's done, is undrinkable, and you've aged it to see if it improves. Beer is highly resilient.

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Old 04-20-2014, 02:25 AM   #6
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High OG, probably relatively high fermenting temp(remember that the beer during the active phase could be as high as 8-10 degrees above environmental temp), and maybe not a lot of head space, all equals blowout.
Luckily all that outgassing helped prevent anything from going in, so probably you'll be OK about infection. But it sounds like you may have lost volume, and a high initial temp might lead to off-flavors. This one will probably take quite awhile to mellow out.
In the future, if you decide to try another high gravity brew, start off with a blowoff tube, and work hard to keep that temp. down at the low end of your yeast's range. Good Luck!

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Old 04-20-2014, 03:08 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the feedback. Lots of lessons learned on this one and hopefully it is still a drinkable beer. I have lost volume as the thing was spitting out foam for about 15 hours total. It finally mellowed out tonight and now is just venting gas into the blowoff bowl (which I refilled with sanitizer - thanks for the heads up on that one). Will definitely just start with a blowoff tube next time around on this high of an initial gravity. Thanks again for the advice.

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