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-   -   My First Brewing Disaster. (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/my-first-brewing-disaster-389457/)

kkotwas 02-12-2013 02:22 PM

My First Brewing Disaster.
New brewer here… I just finished up my second brew day this Saturday. It was an Amber Ale, and everything went pretty smoothly. I got it in the fermenter, sealed it up, and BOOM another brew day in the books. My starting gravity ended up at 1.046, which was in the expected range. I woke up Sunday morning to happily find that fermentation had begun. The 3-piece airlock on my carboy was starting to bubble and a small bit of movement could be seen in the fermenter. By mid-day, fermentation began to get very active. By the end of the day, the krausen had risen to the top of the carboy and was starting to get in the airlock. Here is where things start to go downhill. Firstly, I should have realized that the krausen overflowing in to the airlock was a bad thing and put a blow-off tube on the carboy right then and there. I did not do that. I went to sleep Sunday night, simply content that I had obviously done something right being that the fermentation was so active. I woke up early Monday for work, and headed in to the spare bathroom where I keep my carboy. Can you guess what I saw when I walked in? Krausen & wort, EVERYWHERE. I mean it looked like someone shot Marvin in the face while he was in the middle of taking a dump in my toilet. Overnight the pressure had built up so much that the bung and airlock were forced out of the carboy and hit my ceiling so hard that it left a dent. But the mess was not my primary concern. I had eyes only for my beer. I quickly grabbed a backup airlock and tossed it in a bowl of sanitizer. I removed the old airlock (which was full of gunk) and tossed the bung in to the sanitizer as well. I then replaced the bung and new airlock to seal the carboy. At this point fermentation was still very active, and krausen was pouring out of the open fermenter. As soon as I replaced the airlock, it began to immediately bubble again. I would have taken the blow-off tube route right here and then, but I did not have the proper tubing to do so (remember, newbie here). So I headed off to work, praying that I didn't come home to yet another blowout. When I arrived home later that day, it seemed as though fermentation had stopped. It had obviously been going on during the day because the airlock was once again full of krausen and wort. But upon arriving home, it was no longer visibly fermenting and the krausen had dissipated. Now, with no fear of another blow out occurring, I sanitized the unused airlock and replaced the soiled one currently on the carboy. Although visible fermentation could no longer be seen, the airlock was still bubbling pretty regularly (maybe once every 5-10 seconds). My concern is this… First, is it normal for the active primary fermentation period to be so intense and short (less than 2 days)? And second, although a solid coat of krausen is stuck to the walls of the carboy, there is barely any on the top surface of the wort. Is it a bad sign that almost all of krausen has dissipated this early in fermentation? On the first batch I did, after fermenting for two weeks there was still about an inch thick layer of krausen on the top of the wort before I racked it for bottling. I’m concerned I may have contaminated the wort during the time period the bung had been blown-off and I replaced it, or when switching the airlocks. Is it normal to have little to no krausen (after having a ton) this early in fermentation? Should I be worried, or and I just being paranoid?

RM-MN 02-12-2013 02:40 PM

Relax. Your krausen has simply fallen back into the beer just like it is supposed to. That usually takes 2 to 5 days from pitching yeast. It would be darned hard to get contamination into the carboy when so much krausen is flowing out. Bacteria aren't real good swimmers.

kkotwas 02-12-2013 02:43 PM

Well that is exactly what I wanted to hear. Thank you very much. I figured it was probably ok, but the inexperience in me was kinda freaking out that I had ruined a batch. Thanks for the reassurance. Any advice on how to get all the gunk off of my walls and ceiling? Haha. It's pretty caked on there.

ApothecaryBrewing 02-12-2013 02:43 PM

Drink a beer, wait it out. Every fermentation is a little different.

You will have beer soon.

LovesIPA 02-12-2013 02:55 PM

Step 1: Relax.

Step 2: Don't worry.

Step 3: Have a home brew. :)

Your beer will most likely be fine. Go look in the "mistakes" thread and you'll see that dozens of people have had their airlocks blow off and end up with fermentation exposed to the atmosphere for hours on end without any ill effect.

freisste 02-12-2013 03:32 PM

As far as cleaning:

1. Tell SWMBO to do it.
2. Put ice on well-deserved black eye. :)
3. Use a rag, sponge, mop, etc and a lot of water. You are going to have to dilute that sticky mess. Keep in mind it is essentially syrup on your walls.

JohnnyO 02-12-2013 03:47 PM

Seeing a clogged airlock and going back to bed is like seeing a hoard of zombies at every door and window and deciding to shut off the lights and call it a night. LOL

You're fine, man. As for blowoff tubing, do you not have siphon tubing? That fits perfectly in the center hole of a 3-piece airlock.

ApothecaryBrewing 02-12-2013 03:56 PM


Originally Posted by JohnnyO (Post 4894843)
You're fine, man. As for blowoff tubing, do you not have siphon tubing? That fits perfectly in the center hole of a 3-piece airlock.

LIES! I had to rig a blow off tube yesterday after an unexpectedly active fermentation. I tried to fit my siphon tubing onto the middle post in the 3-piece air lock i have and the diameters of the post and tubing are exactly the same!

The tubing is 3/8" ID I believe. You need 5/8" or so for that to work. Luckily the 3/8" works on the carboy cap I have... just had to plug the second spout on it.

JohnnyO 02-12-2013 04:25 PM


Originally Posted by VTrookie (Post 4894867)

To be honest, I'm not sure the dimensions of my siphon tubing. It fits my airlock perfectly though.

atreid 02-12-2013 04:34 PM

The art of Paragraphs seem to have been lost... ;-)

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