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-   -   My first airlock contamination! (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/my-first-airlock-contamination-337600/)

ianhoopes 06-25-2012 02:02 PM

My first airlock contamination!
Hey all,

My first IPA went apes*** this morning and clogged my airlock/bubbler. It's been percolating like crazy for the past day or so, but never seemed like it had any chance of reaching the top - it has almost 4 inches of headspace.

Anyway, I got out of the shower this morning and stepped into my office (I have an apartment and not a lot of places to stow a fermenter, so I put it under my desk which is dark and cool), and hear a whining noise. At first I was like, "Is my wife making tea? We don't have a whistling kettle. WHAT IS GOING ON?" and then I realized it was my ale pail getting angry!

I had about two inches of beer in the airlock and a bit of kraeusen stuck to the bottom of it. I took it out, washed it clean, sanitized it with plenty of StarSan, and also soaked a paper towel in StarSan to clean around the stopper. I made sure to clear the stopper of any kraeusen to prevent further clogging, and gave the entire area a good wipe down with StarSan. Lastly, I cracked the lid on the fermenter for a good couple of minutes to let the beer chill out. I then locked down the lid, replaced the airlock and let it be. It started bubbling again within a few minutes.

My question is this: I am relatively sure everything is OK, but did I do everything right? Do I have to fear contamination? I did not thing I had enough malt in this thing to cause such an insanely vigorous fermentation, but I suppose I got a live batch of WLP-051 that loves living in a hoppy environment.

Let me know what you all think! I am excited for this beer to be moving like this - it's a single hop Citra IPA with 4 oz in the boil. I'm planning to dry hop with 4 more oz and I can't wait to try this thing! Hope all will be well.

brewn00b4 06-25-2012 02:04 PM

Replace the airlock with a blow-off tube?

ianhoopes 06-25-2012 03:01 PM

Yeah, I may end up doing this if it keeps burping into my airlock. I'm hoping the big burp gave it enough stay to work out.

I will share my recipe in case anyone sees anything suspect that would cause the thing to go insane:


7lb Light DME
1lb Crystal 60L
1lb CaraPils

8oz Citra 13.9 percent AA, pellet

1 vial White Labs WLP-051 California Ale V

Steeped cracked grains at 170F for 30mins
Began boil, added 1lb DME and 2 oz hops
3lb DME at 30 mins
1oz hops at 15 mins
3lb DME at 10 mins
1oz hops at 5 mins

Let steep after flameout for 10 mins, cooled, aerated, pitched, etc.

WooHokie 06-25-2012 03:16 PM

The whole purpose of putting starsan in the airlock is to prevent contamination. You should be perfectly fine. Sounds like a great recipe!

If you really love hops and want crazy awesome hop flavor, consider putting all of your late hop additions together at flameout and let them steep for about 25-30 min.

ianhoopes 06-25-2012 04:10 PM

Yeaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh but I wanted more bitterness. I'm almost going for an IIPA, but I think I needed more malt. The OG was JUST at 1.070.

homebrewdad 06-25-2012 04:20 PM

Swap out for a blowoff tube now, or be prepared to clean up beer.

NordeastBrewer77 06-25-2012 04:34 PM


Originally Posted by homebrewdad (Post 4200347)
Swap out for a blowoff tube now, or be prepared to clean up beer.


ianhoopes 06-25-2012 04:38 PM

OK, I will do so when I get home. Is it possible for me to use my existing bottling tube, or will I need some more specialty equipment? I have a normal ale pail, so it has the grommeted lid made for a plastic airlock.

Greenbasterd 06-25-2012 04:40 PM

most likely fine. my 1 1/2 year old nephew was over and i had a bucket in reach, sure enough he ripped the airlock out threw it on the floor. my dad thinking hes doing me a favor put it back!!!!!! but he pushed to hard and stuck the bung plug right through the hole!!! i see it it about na hour later WTF!?!?!? haha clean it all up, put it back come time to drink it, i though it was genna taste like SH@*t, turned out ot be one of the tastier beers i've maid!!!!!

WooHokie 06-25-2012 04:53 PM

Ian - you need a piece of vinyl tubing that will fit snugly in the hole at the top of the lid. I don't know the exact size unfortunately. I had to get two different size tubings b/c my Northern Brewer bucket has a slightly smaller hole than my other bucket. I recommend getting 1-2 ft worth at Lowe's once you figure out the size. Then a coke bottle or an old jug or something to put sanitizer solution in. The other end of the hose will go into this. I just use 1ft of vinyl tubing into a 12oz coke bottle. Never had any problems with it.

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