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Old 06-01-2010, 05:16 PM   #1
tartan
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Default A couple questions

I've completed the wort for my first batch about 2 days ago. It has been sitting in my fermenting bucket for the past two days and there has been plenty of bubbling in the airlock, telling me that it is fermenting.

My problem seems to lie in the airlock though, it doesn't seem to be able to relieve the pressure being built up fast enough. The lid of my supposedly air tight, home depot fermentation bucket is bulging. I'm afraid that before to long the top will pop off completely compromising my batch.

The reason the airlock doesn't seem to be working is because the hops are clogging the tiny holes on the top. It would take 5 seconds at most to pop the cap off the airlock and clean it, but I want to be certain that doing so won't ruin my beer.

That's question one.

My others ones are more about the general idea of brewing...

Is the point of the airlock simply to relieve the pressure in the bucket and prevent contamination?

Does the optimal temperature differ with the type of yeast you are using?

Can you ferment essentially anything that is high in starches? Or are other ingredients in the wort essential for reasons other than taste?

Thanks for taking the time to read/answer these.



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Old 06-01-2010, 05:27 PM   #2
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Go ahead and pop that top off to clean it up. If that lid were to blow it would be a much bigger mess to clean up.

Yup - you're airlock is giving the CO2 that the yeast is creating a way to escape without blowing up your fermentation vessel.

Carbonation will come later with the addition of bottling/priming sugar (or kegging) at which point the CO2 being produced will not have a way to escape and will thus be absorbed by the beer and carbonating it.

Each yeast has a temperature it works best in. I usually just Google the strain and get all the info.


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Old 06-01-2010, 05:29 PM   #3
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the airlock is a pressure release valve not a fermentation indicator. it keeps the air out while letting the pressure vent.

the only time you would pressurize a brew to carbonate it would be in a keg not a bucket.

yes the yeast affects the temp you would use. different yeast produce different flavors at different temperatures. also they have different ideal temp ranges. it should say on the package or the manufacture's website.

now to address your problem. you can take the airlock out, clean it, and put it back in with no problems. with that much CO2 being pumped out nothing can get back in. for future batches i would suggest using a blowoff tube for the first few days of fermentation instead of an airlock. it will prevent exploding fermenters.
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:32 PM   #4
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You can fit a blow-off tube to your fermentor or just crack the top to relieve the pressure temporarily. Do a search for blow-off tubes for further instructions.

The point of an airlock is to keep bacteria that may ruin your beer out, while also allowing excess CO2 to vent from the fermentor.

Carbonation is not done in the fermentor, it is done in the bottle or keg. You keep the fermentor sealed to keep infection out.

Optimal temps can vary from yeast to yeast and there is quite a bit of debate about what temps are best for what yeast.
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:42 PM   #5
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Good stuff, I'm really surprised as to how quick the response was.

Thanks for all the help.

Have any of you made your own recipes? I'm not one for using them when cooking, but of course I used one for my first batch, but hopefully in the near future I'll be experimenting. What considerations go into choosing the ingredients and the proportions for the beer?
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:55 PM   #6
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There are traditional guildines that go into the proportions for a beer. One of the main considerations is the GU:BU rating. What potential for alcohol to what bitterness the beer will have. This is the first thing you look at when building your own recipe. That balance can either give you a hefeweizen at one end of the scale and an IIPA at the other.
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Old 06-02-2010, 03:00 PM   #7
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Choosing a recipe is sometimes a hit and miss thing. There are things to remember, like how much malt and how much hops, that sort of thing. There are a few good books on formulating recipes. I've got Brewing Classic Styles, and Designing Great Beers. Also Radical Brewing, by Randy Mosher, which is just a good read. His other book, Tasting Beer, is also a very good read, and I highly recommend them both.

Almost anything can be a good beer as long as you keep the GU:BU ratio where you want it. But there are plenty of variables besides that, which can affect the final product. Yeast strain, fermentation temps, steeping grains...

Read up on what the different grains do for a beer, as well as the descriptions for the many types of hops, and descriptions of different yeast strains. It can get very complex and interesting.


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