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Old 08-31-2012, 04:00 PM   #1
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Default Help! Costly mistake; can I salvage?

I did a BIAb of the all-grain NB/Surly Smoke kit back on July 28th. All went well even though I only hit 1.082 instead of 1.087 per the instructions.

Primary fermentation also went well. I used a 6.5 gallon carboy and blow-off tube in a bucket of sanitizer. I did 2 weeks at a very controlled 51 degrees, then on 13 August did a 6 day diacetyl rest at 65 degrees F. Again, following the instructions.

August 19th I dropped the temp to 33 degrees F. Occasionally I would visually inspect the carboy and check the temperature via the Johnson controller's readout attached to my chest freezer.

Today, the horror. I noticed sanitizer in the blow-off tube. That's not normal. I look in the's nearly empty. I look back at the carboy and realize floating on top of the wort is a few gallons of sanitizer.

This was an expensive, big beer. How can I salvage this or is it even salvageable?

Two possible saving factors; I used sanitizer in my blow-off bucket and the Surly Smoke is quite a bit more dense than the sanitizer. So, I may be able to just rack off the less dense sanitizer. Think it'll work?

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Old 08-31-2012, 07:55 PM   #2
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Whoa whoa whoa. Alright. So by looking at your fermentation schedule this was a lager? Correct? I hope so.

I see a few mistakes that lead up to this happening, first why so much sanitizer? A few gallons? I work at a 15bbl brewery and even we only use 4 gallons of sanitizer in our blow off buckets... At home I brew 12.5 gallon batches and I only use maybe 2 cups of sanitizer in my blow off "bucket". The reason this happened is because you cold crashed it, so the pressure inside the fermentor decreased so much that is started sucking in sanitizer, which normally, is alright, thats why a blow off tube goes inside sanitizer and not.. Crap water otherwise who would care? Lol. So because there was soooo much sanitizer in the bucket it basically just kept going until the pressure leveled out or the fermentor was filled to the top. Sanitizer (star San which I'm assuming you used since you're homebrewing? Actually in small amounts is a sort of yeast nutrient, so it's not bad for it in small amounts, that's why u dont need to rinse it. Also another thing, when lagering a beer, a blow off isn't needed, close the vessel up n let the yeast work, blow off is only necessary during primary fermentation, however a lot of people myself included use some sort of air lock during a secondary phase for ales, but in reality for lagers, a blow off is completely unnecessary, the lager yeast will work under moderate amount of pressure and low temperature so allowing a air escape or co2 escape isnt necessary especially since you don't need to worry about it blowing up from active fermentation.

Fixes: I would say if you need, to drink the beer then try to siphon as much sanitizer off the top without mixing it into the beer. I don't think the beer is ruined, but it's probably not going to be how you wanted it. Being that your gravity was so high anyways, it might taste more like it was around a beer that was 1.060 or so. Also because this was post fermentation your pH drop will help you out just in case your sanitized water wasn't very sanitized. Things normally don't like to grow in fermented beer as opposed to unfermented beer, or wort simply because its harder to because of the decrease in the pH.

Good luck man. I hope it turnout good. Let me know what you did, and how it worked for ya.

- the yeast wrangler

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Old 09-01-2012, 12:13 AM   #3
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wow. yeah, unless you anticipate a blowoff at 33 degrees you can just use an airlock.
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Old 09-01-2012, 04:00 AM   #4
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These pictures are THE reason I've been very happy to stick with buckets for primary and vodka for the airlock! Sorry to see it bro, but it's a hard lesson learned and cautionary tale for the rest of us. (yes I realize this is a secondary pic)
"Perhaps wisdom for me is understanding how truely small I am, and that there is no smug self centered moment of clarity when there is so much more to learn" Anthony Bourdain
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Old 09-01-2012, 11:40 AM   #5
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I use the S-type air lock when cold crashing because it works both ways blowing out and sucking in.
Primary: American Amber Ale
Kegged: Wicked Wheat IPA
Bottled: Mocktoberfest
Future: Cream Ale

A beer in the hand lightens the heart.
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Old 09-02-2012, 03:41 PM   #6
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I think I would try racking off the beer to a clean fermenter rather than the sanitizer. Then take a taste to see how it is.

I bet you won't use so much sanitizer in the futiure.

I run my blow-off to a bucket like you, but I put the end in a mason jar (in the bucket); probably only about 8 ozs of sanitizer.
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Old 09-02-2012, 04:57 PM   #7
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If that is starsan, it might make your beer pretty acidic. If you adjusted the pH if it tastes funny, it might be ok.
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Old 09-03-2012, 03:37 AM   #8
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This happened to me too! I racked it off of the star San as best I could but it still didn't taste right.

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