Hi All -
Long time reader, first time poster. On Friday night, my roommate and I brewed our third batch of beer which was our first specialty grain batch: A Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA clone. Everything during the brew went very smoothly, had an OG of 1.064 and we pitched our yeast (Nottingham Dry Ale) at 70 degrees after rehydrating for 15 minutes. We threw the fermenter (6.8 gallon plastic bucket) with an airlock in the closet and let the yeasties go to work at 68 degrees.
At 3:30 AM on Saturday night I heard a loud bang that woke me up and I went to check on the beer. The fermentation was so active that the lid/airlock had blown off.
. The krausen was everywhere and the bucket was back down. I quickly cleaned off the bucket lid and airlock and replaced it as the bucket was back down to about 5 gallons in the fermenter. I thought 1.8 gallons of headspace would be plenty. After going back to sleep, 1 hour later I hear another explosion. Same thing had happened. I cleaned off the bucket lid and just set it back on the bucket. The krausen was still foaming out and I just thought it would be best to let it go and this point. It was 4:30 in the morning and I did not have the sense of what I should do at this point, as I did not want to keep going through the same process every hour.
Finally, it was around noon of the next day and we had the sense to rig a blow off tube for our fermenter. We used our siphon hose, threw that with a stopper where the airlock should be and ended it in a bucket of water. As soon as we placed the rigged blow off tube into the bucket, we noticed that it was still fermenting very actively as bubbles and krausen were being blown off at a steady rate. We finally had it under control and the siphon rigged into the blow off tube has been working ever since.
I am just wondering what my risk of infection was after the second time the lid blew off and I just placed the lid over the fermenting beer for about 7 hours. I am thinking that of course it is possible that it was infected, however, I am hoping the very active fermentation blowing off the CO2 prevented this from happening. I understand this was probably not the best way to handle it but seeing as it was 4:30 in the morning, I was not thinking correctly.
This taught me a lesson to always use a blow off tube and not think 1.8 gallons of headspace above the beer/krausen will be enough.