Yesterday was brew day - Brewer's Best Holiday Ale. I followed by typical brewing process (four batches total) with two alterations.
First, I used Star San for the first time. Second, I used a 6.5 gallon plastic carboy for the fermentation vessel rather than a plastic bucket.
So, I get a call from my wife while I'm at work that my beer has exploded. After doing a video chat with her, it looks like the plastic stopper (that had a three piece airlock) was ejected from the plastic carboy, rotated 180 degrees, and landed upside down in the carboy's spout.
Other than a video chat, I haven't been home to see what's going on, but I have a general question and a few related smaller questions.
So, what's going on?
I assume that the pressure from the fermentation (I observed bubbles this morning) has built up in the plastic carboy and was not released through the airlock.
What would cause the airlock not to function?
My only thought is the foam from either the beer or the Star San has somehow clogged the airlock? Seems a little odd, but its all I've got at the moment?
Should I not have fermented in the carboy?
And most importantly: Is my Holiday Ale ruined?
I see two infection possibilities: 1) the airlock landed upside down in the spout of the carboy. Water from the airlock likely leaked into the fermenting beer. 2) the beer was exposed to air. We took the lid off the airlock, the same problem presented itself. Right now, as a stop gap measure, I've asked my wife to remove the airlock from the stopper so that there is a larger hole for the CO2 to pass through and she's loosely placed plastic wrap to lessen contaminants.
Overall, I'm inclined to try and fix the exploding issue (ideas?) and hope it works itself out without getting an infection.
Sorry for the longish post, but I'd appreciate any feedback. With any luck, this will just be a funny story to tell as I drink this beer!