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Old 10-18-2006, 12:19 PM   #1
schismatic
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Hi guys,

Just started my first brew and am about 18 hours into the fermentation stage. I've noticed a fair bit of foam forming on top of my liquid, and I was wondering whether it was ok to leave it there or whether I should somehow remove it. I'm fermenting 5 gallons in a bin that's slightly bigger, and I estimate that at the moment I have about 5" of space for this foam above the liquid level. Is this enough?

Another question I'm keen to ask is about the lid of the fermentation bin. It's currently just resting on the top of the bucket to allow CO2 to escape, however will there come a point where I have to fully lock it down, or do i just rest it until fermentation is complete. I intend on transferring it all to a barrel eventually. How often should I be checking it and taking the top off the bin? I've read that it can be useful to stir it occasionally in the first few days so that yeast does not collect on the bottom. Is it a good idea just to leave it?

Thanks,

Tom

 
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Old 10-18-2006, 12:58 PM   #2
Brewno
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schismatic
Hi guys,

Just started my first brew and am about 18 hours into the fermentation stage. I've noticed a fair bit of foam forming on top of my liquid, and I was wondering whether it was ok to leave it there or whether I should somehow remove it. I'm fermenting 5 gallons in a bin that's slightly bigger, and I estimate that at the moment I have about 5" of space for this foam above the liquid level. Is this enough?

Another question I'm keen to ask is about the lid of the fermentation bin. It's currently just resting on the top of the bucket to allow CO2 to escape, however will there come a point where I have to fully lock it down, or do i just rest it until fermentation is complete. I intend on transferring it all to a barrel eventually. How often should I be checking it and taking the top off the bin? I've read that it can be useful to stir it occasionally in the first few days so that yeast does not collect on the bottom. Is it a good idea just to leave it?

Thanks,

Tom

The lid should be on tight from the moment you pitch your yeast and close up the bucket. An airlock should be used to let air escape. You shouldn't stir it either, it needs to be left alone to do it's thing. The foam (krausen) "is" the beer (wort) doing it's thing. That needs to form as the beer ferments and then it drops to the bottom as fermentation completes. If you have been stirring I hope you have been sanitizing your spoon.

Tommy

 
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Old 10-18-2006, 01:13 PM   #3
simzy
 
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The foam is called krausen, it's a sign that fermentation is at its peak, and you'll be fine just to leave it on top of the brew. I don't think any off flavors will be detectable from leaving the krausen on the beer. After a couple days the krausen will subside.

If your bucket had a hole and rubber bung you could use an airlock. This would allow you to snap the lid completely shut, and not have to worry about taking it off to release pressure, and also will lower your chances of infection significantly since you won't have to keep opening your lid. I would recommend keeping the lid on as long as possible to minimize the chance for infection.

As for stiring the beer, I don't think I'd do that either. Once again, more opportunity for infection, and you could oxygenate the beer which would stall the attenuation process.

 
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Old 10-18-2006, 01:19 PM   #4
schismatic
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Oct 2006
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ok cheers guys. my bin doesn't have a hole, and hence doesn't have an airlock. might it be a good idea to invest in one that does have one?

 
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Old 10-18-2006, 01:22 PM   #5
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Airlocks are a very good idea.
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Old 10-18-2006, 01:25 PM   #6
simzy
 
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yes, I would say it is almost a must.

 
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Old 10-18-2006, 01:49 PM   #7
schismatic
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ah ok, well i will buy one for my next brew. i'm quite worried about this first batch now. i stirred it once this morning, and i don't think i sanitised the spoon before stirring it, although the previous day when sanitising the bin i stirred the cleaning solution thoroughly with the spoon but since then have just washed it in water and it was sitting in my living room overnight.... i'm also worried that i've let too much oxygen into the bin cause i've taken the lid off it about 4 times in the last 2 hours when i was checking it. i guess it's not a good idea to seal the bin completely if it's still making CO2, i don't need an explosion hehe. any suggestions on how best to go about brewing it with only a lid and no airlock on the bin??

 
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Old 10-18-2006, 02:01 PM   #8
simzy
 
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I would seal the lid, then about every few hours crack it open just enough to let the air escape and seal it back up again. If you think you could get by with doing it less often then every few hours, I would.

Once your krausen subsides, I think you could get by with just cracking the lid once or twice a day.

 
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Old 10-18-2006, 02:21 PM   #9
Yuri_Rage
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schismatic
ah ok, well i will buy one for my next brew. i'm quite worried about this first batch now. i stirred it once this morning, and i don't think i sanitised the spoon before stirring it, although the previous day when sanitising the bin i stirred the cleaning solution thoroughly with the spoon but since then have just washed it in water and it was sitting in my living room overnight.... i'm also worried that i've let too much oxygen into the bin cause i've taken the lid off it about 4 times in the last 2 hours when i was checking it. i guess it's not a good idea to seal the bin completely if it's still making CO2, i don't need an explosion hehe. any suggestions on how best to go about brewing it with only a lid and no airlock on the bin??
Geez, leave your beer alone already!

Airborne bacteria can't "crawl" into your fermenter, rather, they settle like dust. Although an airlock is a great idea, as long as you just leave the lid loosely on top (and quit opening it up!), you don't face any serious risk of infection, especially if the fermentation is as active as you describe.

Avoid stirring the krausen back into the beer - it's normal and a sign of good fermentation...allow it to happen. Stirring, agitating, or otherwise messing with your fermenting beer should be avoided UNLESS you are using a highly flocculant yeast strain, in which case you could GENTLY rock the fermenter every few hours for the first few days of fermentation. In general, you want to keep oxygen (and your hands, spoons, sticks, etc...) out of your beer once fermentation has begun.

The bottom line:
RDWHAHB!!! ...and buy an airlock.
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Old 10-18-2006, 02:48 PM   #10
Bobby_M
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I don't agree with sealing the lid without an airlock because any average to vigorous fermentation will blow the lid off within 15-30 minutes. Just lay the lid on and leave it alone. I would say though, that if you rack to a secondary vessel, you'll want an airlock. Drill a hole just big enough to jam a piece of hose into (tight fit). You put the other end in a beer bottle or jar half full of water or sanitizing solution, just below the waterline. DIY airlock.
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