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Old 03-16-2011, 12:11 AM   #1
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Default No Bubbles to Lots of Bubbles

I brewed a Belgium Blonde on Sunday (3/13/11) and everything went according to plan for the most part. I used a smack pack for the first time, and a few hours before brewing popped the inner nutrient pack. By the time I was ready to pitch the packet was fully inflated so I pitched , put the lid on the fermenter, attached the airlock, and put it in the closet.
In the past all of my brews have began to show signs of fermentation within a few hours, they were all with dry yeast. This time there were no signs, I know that liquid yeast can take a little while, especially w/o a starter, to show signs. After 48 hours i began to worie slightly and decided to peak. When I opened the lid there were clear signs that the blonde was having fun with the yeast so I put the lid back on. As soon as i set the bucket back in the closet it began to bubble like crazy. There was nothing blocking the airlock and I did swirl the bucket slightly but I can't explain why there is lots of CO2 being released all of a sudden. Is there any reason that I'm over looking as to why this might have happened? Would using Whirlock have anything to do with it?


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Old 03-16-2011, 12:16 AM   #2
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Because you disturbed the integrity of the co2 in the fermenter .
That's really it....
Usually the simplest reason is the right one.


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Old 03-16-2011, 02:56 AM   #3
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Because you disturbed the integrity of the co2 in the fermenter .
That's really it....
Usually the simplest reason is the right one.
WHat do you mean by "integrity of the co2"?
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:59 AM   #4
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i think you might have pushed the airlock deeper, and pushed it into the seal, when you were putting the top back on
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Old 03-16-2011, 03:02 AM   #5
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i think you might have pushed the airlock deeper, and pushed it into the seal, when you were putting the top back on
the airlock never moved in relationship to the lid
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:06 PM   #6
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It was probably leaking somewhere.
Now it's not.
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Old 03-16-2011, 03:16 PM   #7
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It sat there not needing to bubble, forming it's co2 layer but not enough to NEED to go out the airlock, you're airlock is not a magic fermentation gauge, it's a vent, a valve to release EXCESS co2 to keep your beer off the ceiling, nothing more. It did need to release any excess co2, or it was getting out somewhere else, but more than likely it was just sitting in a stasis- it was sitting in a nice blanket on top of your beer.

THEN you took the lid off, because you wanted to peek, and then you put it back on, and what happened when you did that? You pushed a little oxygen in ahead of the lid, so you changed the integrity or stasis of the volume of gas in the space....so now with the lid back on it's doing what it's supposed to do.....VENTING gas....

When you start thinking in terms of the real purpose of an airlock, as a vent it's not too hard to fathom why bubble or they don't, why the start and stop for reasons other than fermentation.

The cat can brush against your fermenter and cause the airlock to stop or start bubbling, changes in temp or atmosphere can cause an airlock to start or stop bubbling, but that doesn't mean the beer is or is not fermenting (that's why a hydrometer is the only true way to know what's going on. You could also have kicked up the yeast which kisktarted fermentation, but how can you distinguish the why, just by looking at bubbling?)

You can nudge the fermenter and a bunch of co2 that was trapped in the trub at the bottom of the fermenter can decide to break the surface and change the amount in the headspace, as as can opening the lid like you did.

When you're dealing with a volume of gas in a set space (the head space) with a vent on top, sometimes it's going to release the gas....or it's not. It's going to do it because of fermentation, or because of agitation.....Gas expands, it contracts, it moves...it's fluid, and it has a way out if it needs it.

You said it yourself, you put a lid on, then you moved the fermenter, no matter how careful you were, you changed it, you sloshed it around a bit, you disturbed it.....All it takes is a little common sense to realize that that's gonna change the nice quiet situation the co2 layer was in in prior to you messing with it.

I mean I know that fermentation is a new thing to a lot of people and when starting something out we're so scared that we often forget to look at the obvious- when you move a volume of liquid, you're also moving whatever gas was around it, whether it's the air that's around us or in the case it's mostly co2 in the fermenter, and the conditions prior to doing it, in this case no bubbling is going to change. When you move your arm, do you not feel a little breeze? A little disturbance in the integrity of the air in the room? Why would it be any different inside the fermenter?
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Old 03-16-2011, 05:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dzlater View Post
It was probably leaking somewhere.
Now it's not.
I think thats what it had to be, unless all of the CO2 was trapped under the trub and/or in solution. There is no there way i can think of for there to be no significant pressure decremental between the system and the outside. I am fairly competent in fluid dynamics and understand when I opened the lid decreasing the internal pressure when removing the lid, therefor causing the air in the bucket to partially interact with the outside air. Then when replacing the lid the air in the bucket would have had a slightly increased pressure requiring the airlock to release the excess pressure to fall in the direction of equilibrium.

As soon as i opened the bucket it seamed clear that fermentation had begun. I am fully aware that bubbles are a very bad way to judge fermentation, especially in a bucket. But the rate at which the CO2 was being produced should have shown some bubbles, unless there was a leak. If there was a leak by which the CO2 could escape with less resistance than the airlock it would do so, completely ignoring it. That is the only thing that i can see explaining the drastic release of CO2 through the airlock all at once. It was not like a few bubbles popped through. As soon as I sealed (and checked real good) the airlock started to show signs of steady CO2 being released and has yet to slow down (as of this morning when i last checked).

I appreciate your response revvy but i think that would explain if only a few bubbles were released right after closing it back up. My understanding of what you said is that i must have stirred up both the liquid and air (which I definitely did by moving and opening the bucket) therefore changing the system causing it to vent. But since there were no major changes to the system (temp, barometric pressure) the vent should have been venting the same before I opened as when I closed.

In the end I have no doubt that the beer is fermenting, and after opening and seeing the beer I am sure it was already fermenting. I am positive that the only way to see if fermentation has began, ongoing, or finished is by using a hydrometer. With that being said there will always be signs that indicate what is going on. The release of CO2 from the yeast is a guaranteeing side product of fermentation, so if you cant tell it is being released either fermentation has not started (at this point pull out your hydrometer) or what most likely happened in my case, I was simply looking in the wrong place (ie. an unsealed lid on my bucket)


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