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Old 07-21-2011, 04:29 AM   #1
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Default I need someone to tell me not to freak out

I got a note last week that the people from my apartment complex would be coming around to "inspect" my apartment on Wednesday (they do this about once a year for routine maintenance). I was a bit worried because I have almost zero closet space and I always leave my beer buckets in the kitchen to ferment, which in this case means a swamp cooler to combat the North Carolina summer.

I got home from work and immediately went to check the beer. I saw the towel was still carefully wrapped around it, but that the fermenting beer had bubbled up into the airlock. I thought this was a bit strange since it wasn't fermenting as fast this morning as it was yesterday, but I replaced the airlock, and cleaned the old one out, then headed out for a bit.

I just got home and saw that the airlock wasn't bubbling. Figuring that was a bit odd since it had just bubbled up this afternoon, I checked the lid and realized that WHOEVER CAME FROM MY APARTMENT COMPLEX TODAY OPENED THE BEER UP (I'm almost positive this is how beer ended up in the airlock now) and didn't properly seal the lid and that it's now been open for anywhere from 7-14 hours.

So ... I'm a bit hacked off (understatement). I'm still a bit of a noob, but not so much that I'm panicking and thinking about dumping the beer. Still, beyond contamination (I haven't ruled out the possibility that some effing moron stuck his hand in the fermenter, which actually seems downright likely to me at this point) I'm wondering what else I should be concerned about.

More info: Brewday was Sunday, pitched a 1L starter into 5 gallons, OG was 1.068 so I expected a few days of good fermentation. Now that lid is back on, it's bubbling away again. Also, I'm full of rage (partially at myself for not realizing that things weren't 100% right sooner than midnight), but I suppose that's neither here nor there because right now I'm most worried about the beer.

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:36 AM   #2
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Don't freak out.

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:36 AM   #3
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Don't freak out. Are you SURE it was opened? No bubbles means nothing. Airlock bubbles is not a sign of fermentation or not fermentation. The only way you can know for sure if fermentation is taking place is by taking gravity readings. Now, that being said, if your lid was opened and not put back on properly, you are still probably ok. The escaping CO2 will be pushing more out than anything airborne can push in. If someone actually put their hand in it, well, you could possibly be screwed! Either way, leave it alone. Unless it starts growing crap on it it will be fine.

I would damn sure be asking about people coming into my apartment and digging around in my stuff though. An inspection is one thing, but they have no more right to open your bucket as they do to dig through your underwear drawer! I would talk to my manager tomorrow!

Good luck.

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:37 AM   #4
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If there is still a lot of fermentation activity, then the escaping CO2 would probably prevent most things from getting down into it. If there isn't much activity, then you've probably got enough alcohol in the brew to prevent a major infection. I know it happens, but when you consider how beer was made successfully for centuries before knowledge of bacteria, I would think the odds are in your favor. Just watch it carefully.

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:38 AM   #5
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I'm 100% positive it was opened. Not only had it been bubbling all day Monday, Tuesday, and this morning, but the lid wasn't completely sealed when I checked it tonight and as soon as I sealed it it started bubbling again.

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
I would damn sure be asking about people coming into my apartment and digging around in my stuff though. An inspection is one thing, but they have no more right to open your bucket as they do to dig through your underwear drawer! I would talk to my manager tomorrow!
Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm super, super pissed about this. But I can't do anything about it until tomorrow whereas I figured you guys could give me some answers about the beer right now.
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Old 07-21-2011, 04:41 AM   #7
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If it was still bubbling then you are more than likely ok. Like I said above, the escaping CO2 has more pressure than anything trying to get in.

I'd love to know what your landlord has to say if you talk to him.

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:45 AM   #8
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RDWHAHB 1)you know your batch didn't stop fermenting just because the lid was off so there was always a positive pressure coming from the bucket which should keep the outside air at bay. 2) realistically, why woulld anybody stick their hand in it? 3) you've already spent time and money on this brew so let it ferment out and see what happens.

just my two cents. Good luck and happy brewing!

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
2) realistically, why woulld anybody stick their hand in it?
Well, I mean, if you're going to open it, why not stick a hand in it and see what it is? Maybe an irrational fear, but once it's open, who knows what a non-homebrewer will do to it?

Anyway, yeah, I'm definitely going to let it keep going and I figured that since it's still fermenting pretty vigorously and releasing C02 that it's probably OK. I was mainly just looking for some outside reassurance, which I appreciate you all providing.

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Now that is a fine suggestion.
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Old 07-21-2011, 04:57 AM   #10
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way way back in the day, i had a maintenance guy try to get into my closet to get access to a malfunctioning A/C.... I had to stop him, "NO, don't open that closet... it isn't time for a light cycle for a few more hours." hahahahahaha. if you know what i mean, then you know what i mean. Luckily the dude was "cool" and came back a couple hours later.

Sorry, back to your regularly scheduled ass-kicking of idiot nosy bastards.

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